Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Vacation 2016, Part 5

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 7
Up in the morning, continental breakfast at the hotel lobby (which doubled as a souvenir shop and fireworks store), then we were off again. Headed to Minnesota this time.

This part of the trip was the most boring, scenery-wise. On the plus side, it had the highest speed limit, so that was fun.

Not much to report. We drove east for about 8 hours, stopping for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Mitchell. Thought about visiting the corn palace while we were there, but we didn’t. Then more driving, and we got to our destination in time for dinner. Stayed with relatives, not at a hotel, so that was good.

We went from 100+ degrees and dry and windy to this:

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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Vacation 2016, Part 4

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 6
Up in the morning, another round of pancakes for breakfast, and we were off. Packed up the van, checked out of the hotel, and left Custer. Destination: just a couple hours northeast to Wall.

First stop: the Badlands.

Of course, we got in free again. Showed the gate attendant the 4th grade pass, and had the 4th grader wave to her because she had to verify we had him with us.

At first glance, the Badlands looks like a lot of nothing. And it is. But it’s a scenic nothing. In fact, if you look at it the right way, it can resemble the Grand Canyon.

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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Vacation 2016, Part 3

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 5
Up in the morning, another round of pancakes for breakfast, and we were off for a day of hiking.

One of the reasons I chose to stay in Custer was that it was in the middle of Mt. Rushmore (day 4), Wind Cave (day 3), and Cathedral Spires (day 5)

It was not that long of a drive to the trailhead. But to get there we had to go along a twisty scenic drive.

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

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Vacation 2016, Part 2

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 4
Since we were staying in Custer, there was not much involved in going to see Mt. Rushmore.

First off, and I don’t have any photos of this, was the hotel’s breakfast. This was a pancake buffet. There was a pancake machine that made pancakes. You grabbed a pancake or two and then added whatever toppings you wanted. It was a novelty that was fun the first time. My suggestion would be to have some protein available also – bacon, sausage, eggs, etc. Because the kids love pancakes with whipped cream and chocolate chips and everything, but it doesn’t last them very long.

After breakfast, we headed to Mt. Rushmore. I had heard the light was best in the morning, so that’s what we did. Got there around 9:30.

Our national parks pass was useless here, as the monument itself is free. You have to pay for parking (considered a “concession”) though.

It was just like it should be:

image of family vacation to Mt. Rushmore

We had perfect weather and sunlight for photos that morning.

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Vacation 2016, Part 1

Here’s a recap of our summer vacation. This year, it was driving to Mt. Rushmore.

Day 1

The first day was just a long day of driving. Made it to Des Moines, IA. The hotel there was fine – standard chain fare that meets our requirements (pool, breakfast, sleeps 6 per room, has a fridge, etc.). The main item of note with our stop in Des Moines was that our hotel was within walking distance of a Pizza Ranch. My wife had memories of visiting Pizza Ranches in her younger days, but I and the boys had never even heard of it.

If you have never been to Pizza Ranch, you need to change that. Especially if you have growing boys who like to eat. It’s an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet, with additions such as fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, corn, and – my favorite part – dessert pizza. It’s a good thing we walked across the parking lot, because we needed that walk back to burn some of the calories we gained in the restaurant.

After a bit of time for digestion, we spent some time in the pool, then watched some TV because that’s tradition on vacation now, and then off to bed.

Day 2

The second day was just a long day of driving. Made it to Sidney, NE. Home of Cabela’s. The hotel there was great – it met our requirements and then some. It was called a lodge, so it had timber throughout the lobby and hallways to make it look lodgey. Our room was the closest one to the breakfast area, which was convenient. It was one of our favorite hotels of the trip.

We got there around dinner time. I took the kids to the Cabela’s store, which was about two buildings over. It was not as impressive as the newer Cabela’s back home, but it was a fun distraction after being in the van for 8 hours. We got back and had dinner than my wife had made in the room’s kitchen.

After a bit of time for digestion, we spent some time in the pool, then watched some TV because that’s tradition on vacation now, and then off to bed.

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Backpacking Trip, Part 2

I do not like camping. Details can be found in my previous post. Now on to the recap of my backpacking trip.

We started off in the parking lot. Not much there other than a dirt area for parking and some permanent porta-potties. Perma-potties?

I paid the post in order to leave my car overnight, and off we went. It was mid afternoon, overcast, and warm.

Since the area is used for a variety of activities, there were a variety of trails available. Those closest to the parking lot looked like this:

image of hiking in the national forest

And that’s what we started on.

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Backpacking Trip, Part 1

I do not like camping.

Camping is pointless.

Campgrounds are annoying. I am not a social person. Why go somewhere to get away and relax when there are a bunch of people right next to you?

I take each kid somewhere individually each year. For example, this year I took Beta, just him and me, to Cedar Point for the whole day.

And I took Alpha backpacking.

People who know me were curious as to why I was rounding up camping equipment.

“A tent? I thought you hated camping…”
“I do. That’s why I’m not going camping. I’m going backpacking.”
“What’s the difference? You walk around, you go to a campsite, and you sleep in a tent.”
“No, there’s no campsite. The difference is you make your own camp, wherever you want.”

Some people still weren’t quite clear on the concept.

The key is to find a national forest or national park that allows for backpacking (or what they call “dispersed camping”). That way you can camp wherever you please. Well, almost – they don’t want you camping next to the trail or near water. But it’s great – you walk along as far as you want and then you camp there. No “we have to make it 3 more miles to the campground”. And from the time we left the parking lot to when we returned to it, we did not see or hear any other people.

If you’re going camping to enjoy nature, then backpacking is the way to go, not camping. Or “campgrounding” as some call it. That’s the way to enjoy crowds and inconvenience.

After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.

Matthew 14:23