Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Few More Summer Roadtrip Pics

#3, #2, and #1
 One of the really great stops we made that was sort of an after-thought, was at Devil's Tower National Monument. In fact, it was the first National Monument, made so by Teddy Roosevelt, in the era when he really got the National Parks movement off the ground to preserve spaces of natural beauty and wonder in the U.S.  As we drove up to this place, Augustus and I were thinking, "What in the world did we do, stopping off to just see this big thing made of rock columns sticking up into the air?".  Once we got closer, though, we could tell that this was a really great stop and a special place; so neat, in fact, that we stayed right in the campground facing the tower and went back up to it the next morning to get a closer look and let the girls get their Junior Ranger badges for completing their required work.  Incidentally, the Devil's Tower is open for climbing 24 hours a day, 11 months of the year, and if you saw it, you might wonder how anyone could climb up such a rock structure.  Before we went to bed at night, we could actually see 3 climbers at different stages of their climb on the Tower with their headlamps on (actually, the headlamps were the only part of them that we could see).  So, I would definitely recommend this as a great stop for anyone traveling in the northeastern part of Wyoming or the southwestern part of South Dakota (near the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore, Sturgis, etc.) 
 Devil's Tower

Contemplating a rock, or some other fascinating object at the campsite.

View from our tent.  Pretty awesome!
The next pictures are out of chronological order in our trip because we drove through Sturgis even before arriving at Mt. Rushmore and then drove on to Devil's Tower.  Anyway, we knew that the Sturgis Rally (motorcycle) was starting up just days after our stay in the area, so we drove through town just to get the sight and feel of what goes on.  It definitely is a unique event and almost makes you want to own a Harley, just so you could drive it to Sturgis for the Rally every year.

There are bikers and bikes everywhere.

The History Channel had a truck for their cross-country cookout show in town.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

School Is Back in Session!

I was almost lazy and didn't get the camera out this morning, but thought better of it.  There is only 1, 1st day of school each year and it is fun to capture the moment.  Then, #3, Arianna, told me that I needed to take her picture so that I could write that it was her "1st day of 1st grade"; she was very enthusiastic about it!  Also, Grandma (my mom) took the girls school shopping this week for new outfits which made the first day of school even more exciting (Yay for grandparents, and thanks to Grandpa and Grandma for the fun shopping trip!)!  So, here are my oldest 3: #1, Isabella; #2, Selah; and #3, Arianna; as they head back to school.

 Sprinting Into 4th Grade

Serenely Entering 2nd Grade

Cheerfully doing her respiratory therapy before heading off to school.

Flying into Her First Day of 1st Grade

All Together Now

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Summer 2012: Travel Tip #4

When your children are old enough to be excited about going on trips and understand the idea of destinations, start including them in the vacation planning conversation.  This happened for us, more inadvertently than on purpose, but it turned out to be a happy coincidence.  We love to take trips and road trips as a family and we always start talking about it ahead of time.  Last fall, we planned to stay home for Christmas, but the older girls mentioned that we hadn't been to Oregon for a Christmas vacation for awhile.  We took them seriously, took a week of our 2 week Christmas break, and went to my in-laws house for Christmas and it was a wonderful time. 

While beginning to discuss our summer plans in the late spring this year, our girls mentioned that they had heard about Mt. Rushmore in school and would really like to go see it.  So, as we planned our summer driving schedule out, we put Mt. Rushmore in the plan.  I was a bit wary that it wouldn't be all that exciting, for the kids or us either, but I was definitely wrong (for which I am happy).  Mt. Rushmore is a sculpture on a grand scale done right into the face of the Black Hills in South Dakota.  As we found out more about how it had been sculpted and the lengths that were taken to achieve this monument, we were all amazed by it.  The 3 oldest girls did the Junior Ranger Program that most National Parks and Monuments in the U.S. have and it kept them engaged and gave them a badge to take home as a memento of their trip.  So, if you have a chance to visit Mt. Rushmore one day, I would definitely recommend it as an interesting family stop.

Little D at Mt. Rushmore.

Mommy and Dakota


Monday, August 20, 2012

Lilah at Mount Rushmore: In profile with George Washington

As you leave Mt. Rushmore taking the highway south, there is a spot where you can stop and see just the profile of George Washington very clearly.  Here is our "Lilah gnome" looking at him.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lilah at our North Dakota house

Being a good girl and staying in the yard, unlike last time when at 9 months she would take off running around town laughing her head off (in a doggish way, of course) and getting joy in the chase.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer 2012: Travel Tip #3

Well, despite my best attempts at getting to wifi, it just didn't happen that often during this summer vacation.  Maybe by the next time I try this, I'll have a smart phone (hopefully), and be able to blog on the go.  Anyway, I'm going to put some vacation posts even though we are finally home.

As we were driving on the last leg of our journey, I asked my hubby if we should stop for something (a bathroom break or, maybe, lunch) and he said, "My rule while traveling with the kids is, 'If they don't need to stop, then neither do I'."  After traveling approximately 4000 miles this summer with 5 girls, ages 9 and under, I would have to say this is a pretty solid tip for traveling with little ones.  We definitely stop when they need to: for "potty" breaks, running around breaks at parks or open spaces, meal breaks, etc.  So, when everyone is back in their seats and settled and happy, there is no need to bother them.  We just keep on trucking until the first complaint or request comes and then assess the situation.  Our last day of travel was from Salt Lake City, UT, to SoCal again, just a little over 700 miles.  We made it in almost exactly 12 hours which was a pretty nice accomplishment, if I do say so myself.  :-)