Wednesday, September 28, 2016

staycation 2016

Our summer was so packed with activities and youth trips that by the time the first day of school came on August 22nd, we still hadn't had any sort of break or vacation as a family. Remembering the gifted cabin we had been given months ago we arranged to do a staycation in the Hills. 

Our first stop on Wednesday August 31 was the Badlands. I had visited maybe once when I was little (or was that just to fish somewhere out there?) and Terry had just never been there. We were glad we went. Actually, I think it was my favorite day of the three.

The only bummer was that Snap wasn't allowed to walk anywhere in the park. This was our second stop and I had the kids for this great overlook.

I made Terry stop the Envoy as we were driving from the north to the south of the park so I could jump out and take this shot. It was so beautiful there. As a bonus the overcast sky kept shadows to a minimum. 

Terry's turn with the kids to walk around and learn about billions and billions of years... 

My turn consisted of a mile hike up through these trees. 

We turned around from there and went to one last place to hike - that sort of shaded gully to the left in this picture.

Terry took the kids while me and Snap lazed around below.

They had quite a steep climb but they were rewarded with some fantastic views. 

So pretty! Ezra sure seemed to be enjoying himself... ;)

One more looking southeast. 

Zoom... If you look to the right of Evie's leg you can see twos specks that are me and Snap dog sitting on against the hill. 

We drove home along highway 44, which was also beautiful and came out on the east side of Rapid. We decided to eat at On The Border since Mexican is usually semi-cheap. What a hazy day it was! It sure made for a cool sunset. 

Ezra had napped in the Envoy and was full of energy in the restaurant! 

We had originally planned on spending two nights at the cabin, however, we finished so late that we just went home. We started bright and early the following morning, Thursday September 1, by dropping our stuff at the cabin first.  

Next we drove south to Custer State Park to drive through the Wildlife Loop. We drove for what seemed like forever before we finally saw some wildlife - donkeys. 

The kids were getting rather squirrelly so we decided to stop and go for a short hike. 

We have this silly ongoing game with these tall weeds beginning last summer on the ranch. The kids like to fight them as if they're orcs. This one got the most of Samuel. HA! 

Finally near the end of the loop we found the buffalo. If we hadn't turned off on a side road we would've missed them entirely. 

We were all pretty worn out but I said I'd like to drive up Iron Mountain Road. I'm glad we did too. It was a lot of fun for all of us! At the top we got out and hiked around a bit. 

Picture of us (and Samuel!) thanks to Noah. 

What a great view of Mount Rushmore! 

Look at that view! I simply love living here!!! 

We had so much fun on the tunnels (thanks to the sunroof) and the pigtail bridges. 

And finally we came out and went to Mount Rushmore! We thought we might as well do the whole tourist thing properly. 

We hadn't been there in forever, probably since Evie was a toddler (now she's 8!). 

Ezra gave Evie this impromptu hug that was just adorable. 

We traded favors with some other tourists and had them take our picture. 

We did the entire hike, which I'd actually never done before. 

We ended up on the old platform overlook. I remembered this from when I was a teeny little kid! 

We splurged on ice cream for the kids. 

Next we did a quick run through my first place of employment - the giftshop! I worked there for five summers.

And finally we drove further north and had our first Sugar Shack burgers. YUM!!!

At long last, we made it back to the cabin.

Terry and Noah played Pokemon while I hung out with the others in the loft.

After a surprisingly good night's rest, on Friday September 2nd, we set out for a hike around Sheridan Lake. 
Our children are rather slow.

Samuel wanted to climb and jump off everything in the beginning. That was before we had walked seven miles and been gone four hours with no lunch. Not such great planning on my part.

Dawww cute little girl. 

To Ezra is seemed like forever until we arrived at water close enough for him to toss his long held rocks into. 

When we got to the end of the lake, we continued hiking down below the dam along Spring Creek. To the left of the main path I could hear the creek and see what looked like a waterfall. We discovered that Sheridan Lake has a spillway!  

Selfie smelfie. 

Another Teva shot thanks to Noah. 

I hiked up the spillway and discovered that there was indeed a waterfall above it. I should have known. I used to cliff jump just beyond the waterfall.  

The first of four bridges. 

It was only September 2nd and already colors were changing. 

Wonky bridge! 

The next bridge was also all bent. 

After eating our scanty fruit snacks, we had no choice but to keep on hiking. This time we crossed the creek and went up the hill in search of the flume tunnel we had hiked two years ago when Ezra was a baby. 

Thankful for our camera timer! 

Ezra was quite tired so Terry carried him most of the way. Plus it was rather steep up there. 

When we arrived home we devoured our lunch, packed and cleaned up, and went to the beach for one last hay day. 

I think this is the best picture I have ever taken. 

What fun we had on our stacation!

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