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16 states in 15 days, part one

September 22, 2010

We have this dream of visiting all 50 states with our boys before they leave the nest. I don’t know how possible that will be, but we decided to make a dent in that dream for our vacation this year. After months of planning and saving money and accumulating hotel points, the big day of departure finally arrived. As we began to load the car, I wondered if pregnancy hormones had caused me to take leave of my senses. Were we really about to pile our 9, 8, and 3 year old boys and their 8 months pregnant mama into the car and spend the next 15 days on the road? Crazy or not, there was no turning back.

I put together binders for each of the boys that were filled with facts, puzzles and coloring pages for each state. I also gave them each a travel-sized road atlas with our route highlighted and our destinations marked. We brought along crossword puzzles, dot-to-dots, Mad Libs and audio books.

Our first destination was St. Louis, MO. The drive went surprisingly quickly and we arrived still excited about our adventure. But after only about 10 minutes in our hotel room, we got a phone call informing us that one of the hotel guests had complained about the noise emanating from our room. Okay, so maybe we were letting them jump on the beds. But seriously, what would you suggest I do with three boys bursting with 9 hours worth of pent-up energy? Duct dape?

We began our second day with a visit to the Gateway Arch, and of course, a ride to the top. Then we continued our journey across Missouri and into Iowa toward our next hotel in Sioux City.

Our trek toward Mt. Rushmore began early the next morning. As we turned west into South Dakota, the winds began to pick up. Our gas mileage for this leg of the trip plummeted from 26 mpg to only 16. By the time we got to Badlands National Park, the wind was so strong the youngest and I did no more than hop out of the car for a quick photo before we clamored back in to escape the gusts.With the wind came a significant drop in temperature. When we arrived at Mt. Rushmore, we all had to change into warmer clothes in the car. Even with long pants and jackets we decided it was too cold to stay very long. We took a couple quick photos and decided to call it a day.

The next day was much better. The sun was shining and the wind was gone. We started the morning with a drive through Custer State Park. It was amazing. We drove past deer, herds of buffalo, pronghorn and prairie dogs.

Then we headed back to Mt. Rushmore to experience it in warmer weather and better lighting. I was so glad we decided to try again. This time we shed our jackets and hiked the trail up to the base of the mountain. It is truly a sight to behold.

Before the day was done we toured Jewel Cave and drove by Crazy Horse, and then made one more trip up to see the Presidents in the nightly lighting ceremony. It was an unforgettable day.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Harmony permalink
    September 22, 2010 9:04 pm

    I’m in love! So proud of you guys! Can’t wait to get some “tips” for our family adventure. We LOVE to travel. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. September 22, 2010 9:13 pm

    Awesome!!!! I mean it, this is really awesome =) Thanks for sharing your trip with us!!!

  3. September 22, 2010 9:19 pm

    WOW! Beautiful post. Wonderful memories!! Looking forward to the rest.

  4. Debby Morton permalink
    September 22, 2010 9:28 pm

    Sounds like you are giving your boys a wonderful childhood of memories. Really enjoyed reading your blog and can’t wait for the next instalment. Enjoy the rest of your trip.

  5. Heidi Stearns permalink
    September 22, 2010 9:33 pm

    Looks like so much fun! We almost got kicked out of a hotel last year for the noise! I can relate to having 3 boys with ton of energy!

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