Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Whirlwind Weekend

On Thursday afternoon of last week, Josh and I found ourselves rather bored and decided we should tackle a few of the activities on our "Summer Fun List." Quite quickly the whole idea snowballed out of control and soon Josh was researching tents online and I was planning a three-day itinerary.
We left about 8:45 on Friday morning.  Our first stop was the Wal-mart in North Platte where we picked up our tent and got food supplies for our weekend.
Then we were on our way to Lake MacConaughy for a lunch picnic and some sand and splashing.

(Lake McConaughy, check!)
Next stop Chadron State Park!
The tent was set up with relative ease.
We roasted hot dogs and later s'mores.
We drove the scenic route.  It was really pretty--not so much a "majestic pretty" like you think of in Colorado, but more of a "peaceful pretty."
My favorite part was the whisper of the wind in the pines--it was a constant sound and especially lovely at night.
The kids rounded out the evening with a bit of fishing.
Overall, the camping experience was great (particularly considering the lack of experience both Josh and I have in this area!).  The kids loved it!  When I asked Jackson what was his favorite part of camping he informed me, "The sleeping." ;o)  Will we do it again?  Yes--but first Josh and I need to make an air mattress purchase . . . We are too old to sleep on the hard ground. ;o)
We were all up at the crack of dawn, in fact we were able to shower (at the bath house), have our breakfast, and pack up the entire campsite all before 7:30!!  Josh marveled at all the other sleeping families because as soon as the sun peeked over the horizon our tent was awake!
(Camping, check!)
We headed up towards South Dakota, driving through Custer State Park.  I was amused at the signs posted.
And thus warned, when we happened upon a grazing buffalo I did not get too close. ;o)
I wish he would have looked up so I could have gotten a better shot.
But then again, maybe it was better he paid me no mind. 
Next stop, Crazy Horse Monument.  Did you realize they've been working on it since 1948??
We enjoyed watching the documentary about the family behind all the work.
(Crazy Horse, check!)
We then made our way over to Mt. Rushmore and admired that for a bit.
(Rushmore, check!)
At this point we were passing lunchtime so we snacked on pretzels and fruit and continued onto Rapid City, SD.  There we crashed a kids' festival in the downtown square--splashing in fountains, petting chickens, and hula hooping the afternoon away.
That evening we checked into our hotel ((soft beds)) and enjoyed the pool and its massive slide (we were all quite shocked to discover such a big slide in an indoor hotel pool).  And then we slept (yay room darkening blinds!!). ;o)
The very last day involved the most driving.  We briefly drove into Ft. Robinson State Park.  If we had more time I would have liked to check out all the historical stuff there.  We then continued onto Scotts Bluff.
We drove up the "scenic" winding road while I attempted not to hyperventilate.  I'm told there were some awesome sights on the way up. Unfortunately, there will be no photographic evidence of that. ;o)  We all set off to hike over to the bluff.  I was found tearfully facing the inner wall next to the trail determined it was not in my best interest and returned with the youngest two boys to wait by the van.  Josh claims peering over the edge like a crazy person gazing out over the bluff was the highlight of the whole trip for him..  I leaned in on the way down and prayed hard that the van's brakes would not go out during our descent. Can you imagine? *shudders*  Josh didn't exceed 12 mph. Have I ever mentioned how much I despise heights?  I'm blaming it all on my mother. ;o)
(Stand on Scotts Bluff, check!)
With our feet back on solid ground and my crazy tucked safely away we set off to explore the Oregon Trail.  I have loved the history surrounding the Oregon Trail since I was a girl--I always wanted to be a pioneer.  Now that I'm older and a mother I have to say I can't fathom doing what these families did. 
We are actually standing where pioneer wagons once drove! So cool!
(Stand on the Oregon Trail, check!)
And finally our last stop, Chimney Rock! We explored the welcome center a bit and then set off for the remaining four hours of our trip, pulling into Arapahoe just after 9:00 p.m.
(Chimney Rock, check!)
It was a busy three days, but overall the kids have become pretty good travelers and because the trip was so full of activity a lot of van napping went on (which is always lovely).  Josh and I really enjoyed exploring the Sandhills of Nebraska, the Black Hills of South Dakota--very different scenery.  And I must say, Arapahoe now has nothing on being remote!  You get up in northwest Nebraska and you can see for miles and miles--uninterrupted rolling green hills and scarcely a tree. If you ever need to be alone I think it would be a great place to visit. ;o)
P.S.  Emmett wasn't overly photogenic the whole trip, I could probably do another posting just with photos of him and what we'll refer to as his "crazy spastic" moves.
P.S #2 It is possible I wasn't the best traveling companion/conversationalist and read four books over the course of three days.  I'm thankful for a hubby who weathered the silence graciously and knew to nudge me if he needed a response. ;o) 


sarah j. said...

looks like so much fun! and i can totally relate on the heights thing!! totally! ;)

Mom said...

Sorry about the heights thing, Janna! Love the pictures and the story of this adventure.

Anna said...

Oh, how FUN! This looks like such a great trip...we'll have to take our posse on a similar one some day. Great did very well planning.

...and I'm glad your brakes didn't go out and also that you didn't have to get your van strapped to a flatbed for all the hills! :)

And may your kids be so exhausted they will be napping for days on end.

bswilliams said...

So much fun! I can't believe you did all that in 3 days! I've always wanted to go to Mt. Rushmore. I might have to copy your itinerary next summer! Definitely not camping this year with my pregnant belly!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like alot of fun and history for 3 days! Nebraska has a lot to offer. I'm from NW Nebraska and I still have a soft spot for the sandhills. Glad you are having a fun summer. Carolyn

Natalie said...

You really packed a lot into this trip! Sounds like fun. We took a similar trip when our 3 oldest were in grade school. We had studied NE history in school and made all the stops on our way to Ft. Robinson. It's actually more interesting than you might think, isn't it?