Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Out West Trip

After 12 States (Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), 5,100 miles, 3,200 pictures, 10 days, and lots of memories, it's great to be home from our trip out West!

I thought I'd share some of the highlights with you all!

After being on the road for only 5 hrs., the three year old decided that she had to go 'potty' about every 10-15 min. but every time we stopped, she wouldn't 'go'. After about an hour, I was starting to think the trip might be a very 'BAD' idea at that point! Thankfully, she finally settled down and fell asleep and we didn't have anymore problems 'of that kind' the rest of the trip!

I've never been a fan of Illinois and after driving over snakes on the road multiple times - it helped to confirm the way I feel about that state - I'm still not a fan of Illinois or the snakes!

Iowa was flat and full of corn fields - I've seen it a few times in my life, so not much exciting there. We drove through most of it at night though, as we were trying to make up some time!

We crossed the river at the Winnebago Indian reservation to get into Nebraska using a toll bridge - the area we crossed was pretty, but it was early morning and foggy out, so we didn't get very good pictures.

South Dakota turned out to be one of our favorite states! As soon as we crossed into SD, we started seeing signs for Wall Drug - I told Stephen, we should've counted them - I bet there were hundred's!
 We went to Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD. The falls were cool. The kids enjoyed playing on the rocks and feeling the spray from the falls.

Next was the corn palace in Michelle, SD  - not quite as great as we expected.....


After crossing the Missouri River at Dacoma, SD the scenery changed  - it was so lush and green with rolling hills and wide open spaces - just beautiful! I think I could live there!

The Badlands were by far our family's favorite part of the trip! Stay tuned for another post on them! Wow - what a beautiful sight! I think we could spend a week there just exploring it!

We Spent an evening in Rapid City, SD - it was the kids first time to stay in a hotel, so they thought that was fun! We ordered pizza and let them swim in the pool!

The next morning, we took the kids to Story Book Island in Rapid City - it is a park with all kinds of different scenes from Disney stories/movies - all the kids loved it. Oh, and admission is FREE!

We stopped at the Chapel in the Hills - such a beautiful church with detailed wood carvings!

Mt. Rushmore - another place we all thought was neat - we hiked up all the steps to get as close as we could! It was one of those places that you can hardly believe you are there after reading and hearing about it all through school - we watched the documentary and enjoyed the exhibit hall.

Custer State Park, (it was full of one lane tunnels and sharp turns)

The Black Hills and drove down Needles Highway!

Wyoming was our other favorite state! Hubby and I both said that we'd love to live in NE Wyoming - (just not so sure we could handle the cold temps in zone 3 though!) - sorry about the picture, I was driving and taking pics at the same time - some didn't turn out so great!

 We walked part way around Devils Tower and up the stone bed.... we would have loved to walk the whole way around the base, but it was getting dark and cold, and we didn't think that was a good idea, at night, all alone! It was neater than I thought it would be though and I'd definitely go back again!

After an overnight stay in Gillette, WY - we saw our first snow capped mountains - The Big Horn Mountains - they were breathtakingly beautiful!
Ever since I was a little girl, I've wanted to go to Montana! It seemed so unreal that here I was, actually in this great big sky country state!

We spent a few days with my sister in Bonner, MT, went shopping in Missoula, visited friends up in the mountains, and visited my husbands great uncle in Clinton.
We enjoyed endured a day long (15 hr.) trip around the state of Idaho. We drove down the Salmon River Scenic Byway, Bitterroot National Forrest, Anaconda Pintler Wilderness, Salmon-Challis National Forrest, down to Stanley (two of my Sister's have worked at Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch there). Saw the Sawtooth Mountains, Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway, Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway, and Boise National Forrest.

We came up the west side, Payette National Forrest, the Hells Canyon Wilderness, Seven Devils Mountains, Nez Peirce Indian Reservation, Clearwater National Forrest, and came across the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway (the never ending road - when it's dark out, and you're extremely tired, and there is no sign of life, lights, etc. for over 99 miles with a winding road, and sharp turns that drops off right beside you with no guard rails into a river - it can be a little nerving!) and came across Lolo Pass.

We spent two days at Yellowstone, which is another wonder in itself! I didn't realize how cold and windy it would be at Yellowstone... we were there on the first day of summer and it was snowing! The wind was fierce and cold! There was also still snow on the ground in some places. But Yellowstone was beautiful to see.....
 Our favorites were the Mammoth hot springs,

 geysers, and  paint pots,

 Yellowstone Canyon, and Artist Point, wildlife (Elk, Mountain Goats, Black Bear, Buffalo, Bald Eagles, etc),

and Yellowstone Lake (with the Tetons in the background).

Old Faithful was rather a disappointment to us as it was too commercialized, it had thousands of people all around and we simply didn't enjoy it.

We took the kids to the Grizzly and Wolf  Discovery Center in West Yellowstone also.


North Dakota was rolling, with lots of water - not flat and dry like I had  pictured it to be in my mind!

MN and WIS were much the same as they've always been the many times I've been there.

We took the SS Badger (car ferry) from Manitowac, WI across Lake Michigan to Ludington, MI (4hrs.) We all enjoyed it!

We watched them load and unload semi trucks hauling huge wind turbine parts  - it's amazing how tiny the semi's looked inside the ferry - our ferry had 4 of them semi's on it along with lots of other vehicles!


We ate doughnuts for breakfast in Ludington State Park and then walked almost 2 miles to the Big Sable Point Light House, Stephen and Faith walked up in the tower. The kids loved playing on the beach!

and took the kids to Silver Lake Sand Dunes - the kids the sand!

We ate lunch at Sam's Grill and Pizzeria in Whitehall, MI - the best bread sticks (we had ours topped with cheese) I have ever eaten! His Pizza was great too! - We're talking of going back to Michigan just for more of his food!

I loved our trip - but, when we crossed the IN line - it was a great feeling to be headed home!

  Home is one of the greatest feelings in the world!

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