Wednesday, August 13, 2014

On The Road Again!

The Sew*CakeMakers have hit the road again!  We were home a whole two days from our Church History Trip with our youth group before we packed it all up again and started our very slow crawl to Utah to visit old family and friends.

We stayed a night in Fairmont and shot a couple family sessions, then headed over to see our long lost Arizona-to-Minnesota friends that have moved across the country with us {without planning to ;0}.  Lindsey and her family live a good four hours from us now after we moved to the Twin Cities area, so we haven't seen them all since the wedding last fall.  After a two night, one day marathon of game playing, we finally got serious about this Utah thing and started driving.  

I am thinking my husband is super, duper excited he was not with us for the trip.  You see, as an engineer he likes to look at a trip like a work project.  We measure the miles, subtract wasted time from potty breaks {even though he would rather just pretend those are not even going to happen}, divide it all by the safe, under the limit speed he plans to drive, and then we are efficiently arrived at our planned destination.  

WELL, me on the other hand, I want to see everything.  I want to stop and get cheesy road-side pictures with every strange attraction and actually enjoy the journey.  We started said enjoyment with a quick stop at Mitchell, MN's Corn Palace.  I thought, " I have never been to the Corn Palace.  It is nearly 8 hours from my house....Let's go!"  Some people would have been discouraged by the fact the palace was closed for construction, but not me!  I got my cheesy picture and didn't have to pay admission.  Score!  Got gas and fresh soda across the street and hit the road again.

Next stop, The Badlands!

If you have never been to the Badlands, you have to go!  It isn't like the Grand Canyon where you would plan a trip just to see it, but it is magnificent all the same.  I really consider the Badlands to be the Northern Mid-West's Grand Canyon.  You drive the four hours of flat farm land that spreads across South Dakota, and about an hour before Rapid City, you come to the off ramp for the park.  One would never suspect that three miles south of the freeway this mountainous land begins to unveil in a crazy vast valley below.  The rocks are simply breathtaking, huge mounds of layered colored minerals, made intriguingly detailed by erosion and thousands of miniature caves that I can only imagine house all the little mountain dwelling critters in the area.  

Even the grassland areas are beautiful.  One of my favorite aspects of this park is that there is a short little u-shaped path you drive, maybe 30 miles long, that takes you from the freeway, through the canyon, and back to the freeway again.  You can seriously speed-tourism through this National Park on your way to more fabulous destinations.

We were just about out of the park when we spotted two mountain goats standing on some steep cliffs just below the road.  I quickly made a U-turn, then another U-turn just before a super nice elderly motorcycle gang came upon us {mid U-turn...Thanks guys for waiting so patiently}, then pulled over at the spot we saw the animals.  They were already gone.  Don't even ask me how they were standing on the lose rock on that jagged cliff, let alone managed to get themselves off of it!  Just as I was ready to start driving again, my kids spotted this...

One..No Two... Wait!  There are three and then four goats popping up the backside of the mountain!  I threw down the phone and grabbed the nice camera to take pictures.  Unfortunately for you, you only get to see phone pictures today.  Maybe I will post those good pictures another time, but for now, you are stuck with these.  Anyway, I grabbed my nice camera and hopped out of the car to get a closer picture.  That goat on the right, he started walking right toward me.  I am thinking, it's a goat.  No problem.  He won't charge me or anything.  

He didn't.  He walked right up to me, but at the line in the middle of the road turned to the left and walked away.  

The whole while I am thinking, "I am totally fine.  It isn't like this is a buffalo coming at me," my kids were all, "Who will drive us to Utah.  That animal is going to eat Mom!"  The second goat followed the first and stopped for a grassy snack two cars behind us.  By the time we pulled back on the road headed West there was a whole heard of goats...maybe 20 that had popped up over the cliff.  I still have no idea how they can do that.  Maybe there is a hidden staircase back behind the cliff's edge?

Remember Hula Bobble Head?  She liked the trip.  She was getting a little tired of seeing nothing but green trees there in Minneapolis.  Some people travel with a rubber chicken.  We Sew*CakeMaker's travel with Hula Bobble Head Girl.  

Ever heard of Wall, South Dakota?  Come on!  You have to have heard of Wall, South Dakota.  You know, Wall Drug???  Well, it just so happens that our little Badlands loop ends at Wall, SD.  We ran over to see Wall Drug just so my kids could say they have been there.  It apparently was biker week, cause we were one of the only four wheeled vehicles around.  We managed to find a post office there to mail my usual I-will-just-take-it-with-me Bubble Box order.  I always love finding a post office during  my travels.  Not the usual stop on the tourist list, but it always seems to be on mine.  They were closed from noon to 2pm, and didn't have a package drop, so the traveling package had to wait until Salt Lake City before it got mailed.  

Now Hula Girl can say she has been to Wall Drug too.

Lunch, more gas, and not even two hours later...Mount Rushmore!  My happy travelers were waning, but we still managed to have a good time.

Mt. Rushmore is a fabulous quick stop too.  You have to pay $11 to park, but on the bright side, it is free to tour the whole amazing visitor's center, AND the parking pass is good for the whole year.  I actually used my same parking pass from our insane trip in May to get into the park for free this time. 

One other stop on my agenda was the Battlefield of Little Bighorn, or Custer's Last Stand in Crow Agency, Montana.  It is about 4.5 hours from Mt. Rushmore and right on the route to Yellowstone.  I remember going here as a kid and being amazed at all the graves and hearing all the stories in the visitor's center.  Unfortunately, we missed getting into the visitor's center by about a half an hour, but we were still able to slip in the gates and see the sea of grave markers on the site.  There is no way to forget them once you have seen them.

Another fun part of the trip for my family was to see all the Latter Day Saint temples we came across along the way.  We drove a few miles out of our way to see the Billings, Montana Temple at about 10 pm their time.  It was worth the crazy GPS instructions to get there.  The Temple was lit up and beautiful.  We consider the temples to be a symbol of eternal families.  I love to see the temple and know that my family will be together even after this life.  

From Billings, it was about three more hours to the North entrance to Yellowstone.  We got there at about 1am.  I drove until we found a bathroom right on the road, part of a campground, then found a road-side pullout and parked it  for the rest of the night.  I would have camped, but the last time we came to Yellowstone, there had been a little boy pulled from his tent and eaten by a bear just the night before.  No camping in Yellowstone for this family!  We leaned the seats back all the way and took a quick snooze.  In the morning, the whole park was just majestic.  There was a thick haze all over the park until about 10am.  I am glad I started driving while the kids were still asleep because I ended up pulling over every 5 minutes to take more pictures.  As least they could sleep through my crazy spontaneity.

This is actually a reenactment photo-ish.   We have a picture of Scott holding Madison at this very sign when she was one year old.  Emmalee was pretty upset that there wasn't a sign that said her name, so I took her picture in front of the next sign...

Kinda fitting, 'ey?

Don't ask me what is going on here.  Emmalee looks like she is flashing gang signs.  Then I started thinking it kinda looks like scissors, so maybe it can be the Sew*CakeMaker gang sign.  Just remember that the next time you see me.  It can be our sign that we too are fellow crafters of the cloth, or something like that.  

Clearly I have not caught up on my sleep yet!

We saw paint pots and geysers and got to Old Faithful just in time to see it blow.  We bought the t-shirts and weird breakfast they had available at the lodge, then waited to see Old Faithful blow one more time before we hit the road.

After Yellowstone we drove the not quite 2 hours south to Rexburg, Idaho.  Madison was born in Rexburg 16 years ago when Scott and I were students at the college there.  In just two more years my Madison hopes to go there for her own college education.  The whole idea blows my mind.  My baby is clearly too young to go to college!!!!

We made another quick Temple stop in front of the Rexburg, Idaho Temple.  It was a gorgeous day.  Couldn't have been more beautiful.

By now you have to know I am a weirdo.  When we were driving away, I saw this bride and groom walking out into the wheat field across the street from the temple.  It was so beautiful a scene I had to stop and take a picture.  If this is you, let me know.  I will send you a prize for having the best wedding photo location in town!

A trip to Rexburg is not complete without a trip out to Big Juds.  We got the Big Jud special; a giant hamburger {it took the whole family to eat it and we still had leftovers}, two baskets of fries, four sodas, and ice cream for the road.  Whew.  It was a ton of food.  Good thing we only stop there once ever couple years!

Before we made it back to the interstate we managed to squeeze in one more Temple Visit.  
This is the Idaho Falls Temple.  When I was pregnant with Madison, Scott and I would come down once a week to go to the Idaho Falls Temple.  It is a very special place for me.

Finally only four hours from our destination, we started seeing signs of being close to Utah, other than the sudden flood of temple visits ;0}

This Smith's truck was parked right by us.  That is the local grocery store I haven't even thought of in years.  We must be getting closer!

Sinclair gas stations.  The one by my grandma's house had a giant green dinosaur statue we always longed to play on.  You don't see these stations in the mid-west!

And how about these???  Check out those mountains!  We have spent the majority of the last then years either in flat farm lands or sparse deserts.  These mountains are definitely a sight for sore eyes, don't you think so Hula Girl?

We only passed 6 or so more temples on our way to Grandmas.  Love it!

We arrived safe and sound and totally exhausted.  Emmalee only sat about two minutes before this happened.  Rest up girl!  We have a busy couple of weeks ahead of us!
I will be back with some stores you will wish you were at with us.  Utah is the best when it comes to fabulously creative craft stores!

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