Monday, July 20, 2015

Family Vacation, Day 1

Saturday, July 4, 2015
Traveling to Pierre, South Dakota

One of my big bucket list items for this summer was to go on vacation somewhere with my family. Now, if you read this blog often, you may be surprised to learn that there was a time when I once hated going on vacation. Sad, but true! My dad always planned such fun trips but I would have a hard time leaving my everyday life to enjoy the adventure. Now that it's basically my favorite thing, I really wanted to go somewhere with my family and make up for all the traveling together that we've missed out on for so long!

I feel corny posting this, but I hope it makes you grin from ear to ear. ;)

I originally started planning a trip for my sisters and I to take together. I started dreaming big - thinking of all these huge national parks I had never been to - but finally scaled back to something a little closer to home and much more reasonable. I had lived in Iowa for 20 years, and the only state touching Iowa that I had never been to was South Dakota, so it only made sense that we go there! I started doing some research, and realized how much there was to do in the Black Hills region of Western SD. 

I shared my plans with my family, suggesting"maybe we can do this sometime this summer!" My dad's response was "If we do it this week, I can take time off of work!" And that's how we came to plan a vacation with 2 days to prepare! :)

The Corn Palace itself! Inside, there's a basketball court. :)

We left early on the Fourth of July and headed West. Dad was the only one who had been to South Dakota, when he was on a family vacation as a kid. We got some advice from others who had visited the area and searched Pinterest for the most important places to visit. We only had 5 days to see the sights, and we were going to make the most out of every one of them! On our first day, we drove 6 hours to Pierre, SD, with a brief stop at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. 

4 out of 6 of my awesome siblings! (The other 2 weren't able to come on this trip)

A fun fact about my family: When we travel, we love to pack all our driving in and get it over with as fast as possible. No letterboxing or stretch breaks unless it's really important! (Obviously the Corn Palace was!) This is one of the big traveling differences Curtis and I had growing up - his family likes to stop and break up the drive. I've come to like his ways of stopping for boxes and enjoy all the little attractions we're able to see. But sometimes, it's fun to get the 8 hour drive done in 8 hours. :)

We did decide to take the scenic route to get to Pierre - saying goodbye to I-90 for the day and taking the Lewis and Clarke Scenic trail along the Missouri River. We enjoyed seeing the hilly grasslands around the water and the big, glorious sky filled with beautiful clouds. 

Traveling with my family brought back so many great childhood memories of all the times we piled into a big vehicle and went to have adventures together. Even after being away for 2 years, I loved being able to jump right back in to being an oldest daughter and sister. And since I actually like traveling now, I could actually be fun! ;) It was so great to be able to get away with my awesome family and get to know them better while getting to know a new-to-us part of the country together. My family is awesome and they are some of the funniest people on the planet. :)

Pierre is a bit out of the way when you're driving down I-90, but when you're planning a vacation with 2 days notice for 6 people, sometimes you have to go out of your way to find a hotel! We didn't mind at all, and after dinner we enjoyed walking around the state capitol building while we waited for the 4th of July fireworks!

All still smiling after a long drive!

One thing that's great about traveling is all the new things you learn about different places. We learned on this trip that the people of Pierre pronounce it like "Pier" and not the boy's name "Pierre." Mindblown. :)

The capitol building!

¾ of my family :)

The building across the street - it had the word "sailor" on it... 
Enjoying the pond next to the building as some epic clouds move in.

What's on my mind?

As it grew dark, we walked from our hotel to the Missouri River to enjoy the fireworks. They began around 9, before it was completely dark, and I was still marveling at the clouds.

The bridge across the MO River
My siblings playing with sparklers! (I've never been brave enough to wave around a stick that's on fire like that.) 

We enjoyed seeing fireworks all along the opposite side of the river. The only downside was the mosquitos. It didn't matter how much we sprayed ourselves and the area, they were out to get us! I'm sorry folks, but due to the mosquitos and the humidity, I'm going to have to throw out a slightly controversial statement and say that Arizona summers are WAY more tolerable than those in the Midwest. The dry heat is amazing, and I can stand to be out there much longer without feeling sticky or like I'm being attacked. So there. That being said, I am still very glad to be with my family this summer. We are still managing to have fun. :)

As the fireworks were going on, dark clouds moved in over the area and were giving off their own little presentation - lightning! Sorry to say, but some of us called it a night at that point. Between the bugs and the coming storm, the hotel room just sounded more and more appealing. We went to unwind and get ready for another exciting day!

Day 1 Wrap up: Drove 600 miles, visited the Corn Palace, toured Pierre, SD

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