Monthly Archives: July 2012

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out west 2012 | pictures

Finally went through our trip pictures and chose some to share here on the blog. There were over 1,300 so it’s a wonder I was able to narrow these down to the 39 here.

On our first day of sight seeing, we stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD and it was really interesting to hear the story behind it and how it was built when the state was competing to see which city would become the Capitol. They ended up losing out to Pierre, but it still became this huge deal and people traveled from all over to see it.

Next stop, the Badlands, which was just about the coolest place on our trip. It’s amazing how it’s just flat land all around and then here are these canyons and rock formations just sticking up in the middle of nowhere. Pretty amazing!

Jake zoomed in!

Jake zoomed out! Makes you think about just how small we are in this big world.

This was just before they went on a little hike up the staircase you can sort of see really tiny in the background behind them. They walked up and around and into an area with lots of trees and bushes and saw some wild turkeys and then they suddenly heard that rattling sound you don’t want to hear after seeing the sign on the right and they booked it out of there.

Love the way the shadows from the clouds floating by changed the look of the rocks.

Then, as I was driving along, Jake yelled “Stop the car!” I freaked out and pulled over, slamming on my brakes, thinking it was some big emergency or something. No emergency, just a field full of prairie dogs. :P We gave Jake the nickname “Prairie Dog” on the trip because every time he spotted them, we had to stop for him to take more pictures. haha!

No trip to South Dakota is complete without a stop at Wall Drug. As you drive across the state, you can’t help but notice the hundreds of signs begging you to stop there. We came out the west end of the badlands and took the road that led straight up to Wall and had dinner there before we headed to our hotel in Rapid City for the night.

Mount Rushmore! Love it.

Visited Crazy Horse next. Left is the progress they’ve made so far and right is what it is supposed to eventually look like. It was cool to see. Had lunch at the restaurant there before heading on west to Devils Tower.

Devils Tower is another one of those crazy things that is just sticking up out in the middle of nowhere. It’s very cool up close. Jake and the kids were climbing on the rocks at the base, which completely put me on edge. I was so freaked out that one of them might fall or get stuck between the rocks or a snake would be coiled up in there somewhere. Danger! Danger!

But I guess if they hadn’t been up there, I wouldn’t have got this cool shot, which is one of my favorites. You can see how grumpy Chloe looks after Jake and I both yelled at her to stop climbing higher.

Next day, we made our way across Montana and down into Yellowstone, driving down the west side of the park to the Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful.

On our last day, we went down the east side of the loop of Yellowstone. Lots of beautiful waterfalls.

When my family visited Yellowtone in 1990, it had only been 2 years since the big fires in 1988 that wiped out a huge chunk of the park and took out a bunch of beautiful pines. We have pictures somewhere of the hills and trees all black and charred. Now, more than 20 years later, it’s got some green and growth and tiny little trees are sprouting up.

So gorgeous!

Rocky Mountain snow. Jake couldn’t resist eating some.

At the bottom of one of the waterfalls, the sun was hitting the mist just right and it made a beautiful rainbow. <3


Lake Yellowstone.

Left the park and headed through the Grand Tetons. They are so cool and jagged.

Stopped in Jackson, Wyoming for dinner and then headed south to our hotel in Rock Springs. As we were driving, we saw this line of clouds, or so we thought. It was actually smoke from a nearby forest fire.

It was a wonderful trip! The west is so beautiful. Can’t wait for the next trip so we can explore more of the beautiful places in our country.

scarlett’s 2

Scarlett waiting for the guests to arrive

Can’t believe it’s been two years already since I shared in the joy of Scarlett entering this world. We went over to Heather and Jeff’s on Saturday afternoon for a little cake and ice cream to celebrate the birthday girl.

Being silly with MiMaw.

Time for the presents.

She was more excited by the tissue paper than seeing what was in our gift bag. This picture makes it look like she’s floating. haha!

I think she likes our gift a little bit. :)

Ryan was a good helper.

Playing with her new toys while Uncle Jake put together her new tricycle.

She got a little shy when we all started singing to her. Last year, she started crying, so she did good.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl. We love you. <3

out west 2012

Amazing. It’s the only word I can think of to describe all the wonders we saw last week. I’ll just give a quick rundown of the trip from day to day.

Day 1 – Left on Friday night at midnight (yes, we are crazy) partly to avoid Chicago traffic and partly to get us to the first hotel in time for the kids to enjoy the indoor waterpark for as long as possible. Stayed at a Ramada in Sioux Falls, SD. Not the greatest hotel ever, but the kids had a blast there.

(Side note: We decided before we left that we would book hotels as we went along since just about every hotel has free wireless these days and that worked out pretty well for us, except for the nights when we got back to our hotel late and I had to spend time online looking for a hotel for the next day when all I wanted to do was sleep. Advice when traveling … give yourself an extra day or two so you can rest and have some downtime. I did not plan for that and ended up exhausted to the point of tears one night.)

Day 2 – Took our time driving across the state of South Dakota. Stopped at the Corn Palace in Mitchell SD. That was interesting to see and learn a little history about it. Next stop, the Badlands. Oh my. The picture above is from our first stop as we drove through them and they were awesome! Jake kept taking the kids a little too close to the edge for my comfort, though, but it made for some great pictures. Then it was off to Wall Drug. You can’t drive across South Dakota without stopping there. It’s a fun little souvenir place and so much more. Stopped for the night in Rapid City, SD.

Day 3 – Black Hills! Mount Rushmore! Crazy Horse! Deadwood! Devils Tower! Prairie dogs (Jake’s favorite!). LOL! Then we drove northwest a few hours to Billings MT for the night.

Day 4 – Made our way west to Livingston MT and had lunch. Checked into a hotel there and decided to head an hour south into Yellowstone for the afternoon and evening. Drove down the west side of the road that loops around the park. Saw Mammoth Hot Springs, waterfalls, buffalo, and Old Faithful before driving back north to Livingston for the night.

Day 5 – Drove south again, this time heading along the east side of the park. Beautiful waterfalls, The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone (gorgeous!), Yellowstone Lake, then out the bottom of the park and through Grand Teton National Park (awesome!) south through Jackson Hole to our hotel in Rock Springs WY. As we were driving along on a beautiful no-clouds, blue sky evening, we thought we saw a line of storm clouds ahead, but the more we looked at them, the more we realized it wasn’t clouds at all, but smoke from a nearby forest fire being blown across the state of Wyoming. We thought it might be from some fires in northeast Utah, but I read online later that there were some fires in the southwest part of Wyoming so I think the smoke may have been from those since we drove right near that area. Kind of scary how many fires were going on throughout Utah and Colorado and Wyoming the past couple weeks.

Day 6 and 7 – Drove home. Found a hotel for the last night that had another indoor waterpark for the kids (and Jake) to play in. They were happy to end the trip the same way they started it.

I will share some pictures from the trip later. Ever since we got home, I have not been feeling the best. Upset stomach for days, maybe from our long, exhausting travels, which were totally worth it, by the way. For now, I will share what Chloe was “up” to on vacation. She decided she wanted to do a headstand at every place we visited.

Here she is at:
1. A rest stop in SD | 2. The Badlands SD | 3. Mt. Rushmore SD | 4. Crazy Horse Monument SD | 5. Devils Tower WY | 6. Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone WY | 7. Old Faithful, Yellowstone WY | 8. Grand Canyon of Yellowstone WY | 9. Grand Teton National Park WY

AJAXed with AWP