- We made a rare appearance in a hotel on the way out and the way back. On the way there, we were able to take advantage of a discount we discovered, which enabled us to have two rooms for a total of $50! If you know me at all, you know how very euphoric I was.
- Perhaps because our family is giant and loud, or perhaps because we just look unbelievably approachable (you know which one is more likely here), we tend to meet people everywhere we go, and this vacation was no different. We made several new friends, and even discovered that two of the families live only a couple hours away! Camping tends to make every chatty, and we really enjoyed getting to know (and in some cases, become Facebook friends) so many great people!
- We hit Wall Drug while en route. It's possible you've seen one of the many signs across the country for this giant complex. It is an institution, and we had to stop. The couple who founded the store in the 30s had an inspiring story. We had a pleasant two hours there and I enjoyed one of my last fountain cokes (little did I know we were embarking on a fountain-coke wasteland).
- In Custer State Park we camped next to The Silent Family. They had two kids and I never heard a PEEP from their campsite. As you can imagine, we made up for their silence in spades. We are the absolute antitheses of The Silent Family. We are The Incredibly, Painfully Loud Family. What can I say? The truth hurts.
- We had little to no data on our phones most of the time, so I had to use a map. Yes, a map. I had to juggle the bendy, foldy pages in my lap and try to figure out what all the swirly lines meant. They made my head swim! Worst of all, I had to determine where we were, without a blue dot bobbing along. As you can imagine, it was a challenge. I recall doing this very thing only a few years ago, but somehow I have lost my touch, if I ever had one. Feel free to pity me (If you think I'm a big baby, don't tell me. Judge me to yourself).
- In Yellowstone, I had issues with Old Faithful. Once I called it Old Yeller, and another time I called it Old Geyser. Regardless, we got to see it, and it was pretty incredible! My newly-minted-8-year-old enjoyed singing "We all live in a Yellowstone Submarine" while we were there, and also renaming areas of the park. We were staying in the West Thumb area of Yellowstone, causing my funny guy to ask daily if we would be traveling to the East Pinkie of Yellowstone. Sadly, the East Pinkie remained elusive.
- The evening lighting ceremony at Mt. Rushmore was incredibly moving. At the end of a video, they asked all the service men/women present to come to the front of the amphitheater. Our eyes were bright as we all clapped fervently for their service to our country. One of my children was not overly impressed with giant mountain carvings, however. "This is not really as big as I thought it would be." Apparently many of the children had watched a Phineas and Ferb episode about Mt. Rushmore and were basing their expectations on that. Oy.
It was a great trip, full of memories, mosquito bites, souvenirs (a certain white-headed-wonder wanted to hit every general store we saw) and God's wonders beheld. Now back to real life!