Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dear Briggz,

We left Mt. Rushmore en route to Yellowstone National Park. We are all very excited to get there. We needed to make a couple of stops along the way. The first is Devil’s Tower. Wish you were here to see this!!  In the middle of nowhere the rock, fore volcanic, formation juts out of the earth. We saw people climbing the enormous structure. After a small lunch we took the opportunity to walk short way around the tower.
The boys at Devil's Tower

Our next stop was supposed to be a campground in Big Horn National Forest. This trip was especially difficult for Pokey (the Tahoe). So many steep inclines I though that he was going to poop the bed! Well, we somehow drove past the campground and good thing we did. For one, there was a huge storm that evening in Big Horn, and two, although we drove for approx. 10 hours that day, we found a lovely town called Cody. After boondocking in the Wal-Mart parking lot for the night, the next morning we lucked into one of the most awesome campsites that we have ever stayed at in Buffalo Bill State Forest. It had everything we could ask for in a dry camping experience, mountains all around us and a huge lake/reservoir for our front yard. Unfortunately we were only able to spend one day /night there as Yellowstone was our target.

The view from our campsite for the night
Yellowstone took just over an hour to get to, but our campsite took another two hours of driving. Yellowstone National Park is the size of Connecticut. Just the Park!!! While driving through the park to Madison Campground, We experienced all four seasons. We went from summer to winter in just a few short miles. At one point we were driving though sleet and caught in a bison jam. In another few miles we were back in summer and finally arrived at our destination. At that point we were in much need of rest, but what do we see once we got to our campsite? Elk. Basically in our back yard were several elk grazing just on the other side of the river.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Dear Briggz,

We arrived to Mt. Rushmore safe and sound. On our first day there we went to visit the monument. It was a rainy day and although they say it is best to see it during the morning or evening hours, I have to say it was amazing. To see the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, carved so high was such a sight. We learned that Rushmore was 90% carved using explosives. That is some fancy calculating. An artist by the name of Gutzon Borglum was the brains of the project. He unfortunately died prior to the monuments completion and his son took over to complete the work but never finished

Its heavy

C trying to pick Georges nose

More heavy lifting


We stayed at an RV park named Heartland RV Park just outside of Mt. Rushmore. It was a nice place to stay. It was more of a “glamping” experience than anything. It had a pool, hot tub, laundry, and HOT showers. It was also located just outside of Rapid City, which is a home of a nice culinary establishment named the Firehouse Brewery. Of course we ate there. $16 all you can eat baby backs!!!!

We also took the time to drive the Wildlife loop through Custer State Park. There we were able to see more bison, prairie dogs, and prong horned antelope. We took a trip to Wind Cave National Park and got a guided tour of the natural opening of the wind cave. The views were CRAZY!  To think that we only descended 300 feet down into the earth boggles my mind.
Mount Rushmore was clearly a fantastic sight, which we feel that everyone should have the opportunity and make the voyage to see.

the buffalo roaming
Inside the wind caves


Dear Briggz,

Ok so mom wrote to you regarding what we felt was the near demise of our trip. The Badlands storm was scary. However, we also we able to see and experience some very cool sites. The landscape in the badlands is like nothing I’ve ever seen. We were able to see Bison and several Pronghorn Antelope. The hikes were just as fantastic.

The wind was cool and felt nice after the high climb

We hiked all the way up to the top point in the pic

The whole family at the top
One of our day trips was to this bizarre place called Walldrug. To describe it would be that it is like an old west town turned tourist trap. Because it was the week of the Sturgis bike rally there were tons of motorcyclists. They were even getting into the tourism craze. The huge plus to Walldrug, free ice water and 5 cent coffee.

.05 Cent coffee

The mountains and the terrain is something I would expect to see on the moon. One of our favorite moments was when we found several fossils. We were required to report our find to the Rangers/Paleontologist and they are going to bet back to us via email. The initial reports were that it s a set of three to four ribs from either a prehistoric pig or a prehistoric no horn rhinoceros.
The fossil we found
Next we will be headed westward on our way to some very cool and important historic monuments in Mount Rushmore.

Will write soon,

Love dad.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The storm that could have ended our trip

Dear Briggz,

On our way to the Badlands we stopped at the Corn Palace. A large building were they holds concerts and have sporting events for the community. What makes this building different is the outside. It is covered in corn! They use the husk, stalks, leaves, cob and kernel’s to make elaborate designs. 

Showing how the fill in the design with corn

C not to happy to see the giant corn walking around

After that it was off to the Badlands.  Our plan was to go to a free campsite that buffalo often wonder through, but it became less appealing as we got closer. We opted for a campground with electric and real toilets. It was a lovely campground with views of the badlands and because it was within the park we never had to leave the gates. A storm rolled through all but one of the nights we were there. Most were just rain and a little lighting but one night that all changed.  At around 1:45 in the morning we were all awoken by howling winds, pounding rain and thunder you could feel. I have to say we were all a bit scared, the camper was shaking and you could not even hear each other talk.  When things calmed down we looked outside a bit and saw that the pop-up camper behind us had rolled over due to all the wind. The family of 6 was in the camper when it happened but amazingly none of them even had a bump. We offered them to come into our camper but they went off to the rangers station instead. That morning in the light of day we could see all the damage that was done.  Tents were blown away, campers were moved feet from were they had started and belongings were blown everywhere. The camper in front of us had been blown back a good 4 feet and just a little bit away from hitting our truck!  Everyone in the row were we in had some kind of damage except us. The camper in front of us was so large that shielded us from the wind. We were very lucky and I will admit I was shaken up for the rest of the day. I am now even more thankful for the wonderful trip we are taking and that we are all safe and can continue on our way.

I hope you are doing well Briggz we love and miss you very much.
Love, Mom
Sunset view from our campsite

All set up
The Badlands right outside our door

Thursday, August 8, 2013

So many bugs

Dear Briggz,
            On our way to marble beach in Iowa we went over the border to Minnesota we stopped at the Jolly Green Giant. It was humongous. We took pictures of him. Then we went to Dairy Queen and got ice cream I got a hot fudge sundae. When we got to Marble Beach I was happy to see a lake. We fished each day. I caught a catfish so did J and Dad caught a bass. We dissected my catfish so we could see the insides. I saw its brain, teeth, and eyes. At 5 o’clock every night we were invaded my mayflies. They were nasty and in the morning they were on the ground dead. YUCK
I love you Briggz
Love, C
Jolly Green Giant


No the photo is not blurry those are 1,000s of mayflies

C's catfish

J's catfish

A may not have caught a fish yet but that's not stopping him from trying

Sunrise on the dock

Dear Briggz,  

            Pikes Peak was the next stop on our adventure across the USA.  It lies on the northern aspect of the Mississippi River along the borders of Iowa and Wisconsin. While there we took several hikes, nothing too strenuous though. The first was to the Effigy Mounds, which are sacred burial sites of Indians of the region. They would bury individuals or family groups together and build the spot into a mound, which was done in different shape. Some were in the shapes of bears, conical, birds, or linear to name a few. One of the coolest mounds we were able to see was a bear, which had a single flower growing from what would be the area of the heart.
We also hiked around our campground at Pikes Peak State Rec. area. One of the walks dad and the boys took they were able to spot a bald eagle soaring over the Mississippi. On our hike to Bridal Falls, C was able to spot a deer in the forest right near us. The falls were a little bit of a let down, not as big as we were expecting but nonetheless a pretty sight. Dad decided to venture of the beaten path and go behind the falls.

Love Us
C on a vine turned into a swing

J on vine swing

A was the first to swing

Dad behind the falls

Hiking to the Effigy Mounds