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Road Trip Finale

Day 8:  Thursday, June 10th
Hunted dinosaurs this morning.  The museum was very interesting...incorporating speculations of the past with what has been found in the present, then using both to make predictions for the future.  I read their info...I just don't always agree with it.  The museum had hands on things for us to do..."digging" for bones, finding hidden objects, figuring out clues to answer questions...and many things of interest to see...fossils of all shapes and sizes of differnt insects, animals and plants, Native American clothing, weapons, and beadwork, animals one will find in Utah, and so much info on dinosaurs.   One of the funniest things was when Alex started striking the same poses as the dinosaurs.  It was hilarious!  He did a great job at copying them.  Tim got some dinosaurs in the giftshop and so the next part of the roadtrip we were listening to dinosaurs interact with Toy Story characters.  His imagination never ceases to amaze me. :)
We drove through Flaming Gorge, UT on our way to our next KOA in Douglas, WY.  You first caught a glimpse of the reservoir from the roadside overlooking it.  As you drove down by it and over the dam, the views and reality of how big the dam actually was set in.  A storm was coming in and the sky took on a new look which added another dimension to the beauty of it all. 
Driving through WY again and seeing more structures that deal with the drifting snow of winter reminded me that I am perfectly content in a warm weather climate.  It would take a special calling in life to live out there, I think.  Not many cities along our route...glad our motorhome kept on moving!
As we drove, or rather as I drove the camper, into Douglas KOA the sun popped out in the midst of a rain shower.  Alas, a rainbow!  A bright, huge rainbow appeared right before my eyes.  God's promises are "Yes!" and "Amen!" (2 Cor. 1:20)  I always think of this when I see a rainbow.
When the rain subsided, the boys and I took a walk and were getting ready to play putt-putt golf.  Alex walks over to a boot yard decoration and finds a rock with KOA painted on it.  Finding that odd, but not knowing what it was about, I told him to put it back where he found it.  We then headed inside for the golf clubs and balls.  I noticed a sign on the window about finding KOA rocks and getting a free prize of whatever is painted on the other side.  Alex ran back for his rock and it had a fee putt-putt game on it.  We took it inside and the lady said there's more rocks if Tim wanted to find one too.  We found his in a flower pot in the putt-putt area.  How fun!  Despite being cold and damp, the night turned out to be a very relaxing one for us all.  Next stop we return to South Dakota.
Day 9:  Friday, June 11th
Today was a full day of driving and sightseeing.  We stopped at Jewel Cave Nat'l Park, but didn't take the tour since it would have been an hour before one left.  We walked around outside and visited the welcome center.  Looks like a very cool cave.
Our next stop wasn't a planned one, but I'm so glad we took advantage of visiting the Crazy Horse Monument. Amazingly enough, although cold and windy, the rain held off while we were outside taking picutres. I am intrigued by Native American history...their lifestyle, their ways, their survival. I am saddened by their stories most times, too. The Crazy Horse monument is going to be huge when it's finally finished...that will be years from now, however. They showed us that Mt. Rushmore fits well into just Crazy Horse's head...that's just incredible. They have a very nice museum there and have plans for alot of things to be built on the grounds surrounding the monument. Maybe we'll go back one day and see the progress...only time will tell.

Next stop was Deerfield Dam, where Grandpa Miller worked 67 years ago.  He was in South Dakota from fall of 1942 to the spring of 1943.  There's now a memorial stone that tells who built it and was part of Grandpa's W2 service.  Pretty amazing that we were able to get back there and take pics for him to see after all these years.  When we got to Dutchman Road that leads to the dam, it was blocked off to traffic so the final mile was on foot.  Thankfully there was a gravel road to walk along which made the walk rather a nice one.  It was so quiet back there...made me even more aware of the beauty of it all.  We had almost turned back due to coldness and Alex's weariness, but we gave it one more corner and, sure enough, that was just the corner where we saw the dam.  So glad we persevered!  Hiking back took no time at all...funny how that always seems to be true.  A matter of perspective, I guess.
Loading up again, we stopped in Hill City to pick up some steaks to grill for dinner and then hit the road again.  On to the highlight of Alex's trip.....Mt. Rushmore!  He was so excited to be going to see it for himself.  He kept exclaming "I got to see Mt. Rushmore and I'm only 7 and a half!"  Quite young compared to me, who's seeing it for the first time, too. :)  The weather held up nicely for us while we were here, too.  God is good to have let us enjoy these sights without rain falling on our heads!
We drove on to Interior, SD...rained off and on, but we were able to get our steaks grilled and Tim especially loved that!  Only one more day of sightseeing in the Badlands and our trip will be wrapped up!

Day 9:  Saturday, June 12th
Awoke and prepared for our last day of vacation...outside of the airport anyway.  Plans were to drive through part of Badlands Nat'l Park this day...everything went accordingly.  At the visitor center, the boys did a packet of activities to earn their Jr. Ranger badges.  That was fun and so cute to see them saying their pledges to get their badges.  I had left my camera out in the camper, so unfortunately no pics, but I'll have that memory for awhile (I hope so anyway!)  Heading in, I really thought that my moments of amazement over piles and peaks of rocks had to be at its max...but I was wrong.  It was beautiful, and once more, before I could even think about stopping myself, "Wow!" escaped from my lips again and again.  Along with the beauty of it all, when you add the thought of people traveling West way back when on horseback and in wagons, it's surprising they even attempted to cross these badlands and move further westward.  They were true pioneers!  Our fun was going out and climbing around on the rocks with no chance of getting hot or sunburned while doing so.  The boys again took to climbing the rocks like they had been doing it for years.  Praise God no one ever got hurt on our adventures!
On the road to our final destination, Rapid City, where we first began our RV travels, we stopped by Wall Drug in Wall, SD.  This is the most advertised place in all of SD.  It's a collection of shops and cafes just to draw you in to spend money, but how can you skip such a place that tries so hard to lure you in.  Mind you, the freshly baked cake doughnut I ate was worth the stop!  Yummy!  They have a kids play area called the "Backyard" and Tim rode a giant jackalope.  That was funny.  We spent just about an hour browsing around and then off to dinner at Sanford's and then to our KOA, coming full circle to where it all began.  Sanford's was a great restaurant.  Alex ordered the "Big Dawg" off the kids menu and hoped it was going to be big!  Big doesn't begin to describe it...gigantic or humongous, may be a better start.  He attacked it with all he had in him, but still had about half left when he was finished.  A fun way to end our driving journey, indeed. 
Back at the campground, it was time to pack...mixed feelings about it.  Blessed to have been on the trip and know there's more world out there to explore, but really looking forward to going home for awhile...especially to sleep in my own bed and be warm again.  Bring on HOTlanta!
Day 10:  Sunday, June 13th
Airport day!  Flights didn't look good to return to Minneapolis coming in to today and they proved to be correct.  And, if by some chance we had made it to MN, we most likely would not have made it out to Atlanta from there until Monday night last flight out.  After trying several flights to MN, we switched to Salt Lake City.  We made it on the 6 something flight...I liked just being in a new surrounding.  At least there were more people around to keep you company and the sun was shining.  In fact, there was a beautiful sunset and I had a perfect view of it, even if I was inside.  It was one of those sunsets that gets better and better as the sun disappears.  We stayed at the airport trying for a 1 AM flight to Atlanta...Doug, my father-in-law, got the last seat on that flight.  Off to a hotel for a few hours sleep...won't be making it to the 1st day of VBS after all.  
Day 11:  Monday, June 14th
Airport day - take 2!  Decision time.  I approached the ticket counter with the boys and my tickets...her first words were that it didn't look good for a direct flight to Atlanta and that, after a couple of minutes of checking, we needed to fly to Los Angeles to get on the 11:35 flight to Atlanta from there.  Every ounce of my being knew instantly that we were headed even further West to go East and I felt good about it.  Scott said he was staying in SLC and that we probably should too, but it was up to me.  I went with my first thought and had seat requests for 3 for the 8:35 flight to LA printed out to get us through security.  Saying goodbye at the concourse division, off we went to fly to Atlanta one way or another.  
Good news on the first flight...made it to LA without a problem.  Let me just say that LAX is a crazy place...chaotic and unorganized, but the people were nice amid the unorganized chaos.  A huge thanks to the lady with the cart that gave us a ride to our were a blessing!  I was so hoping to get seats on this flight, but I knew there were at least two other flights with open seats in the afternoon if need be.  I felt good about my decision, but when our names were called I felt great about my decision.  And, for the first time the entire trip we were back on a real Delta flight...gate attendants that knew what a buddy pass was and how they worked, a huge plane, individual tv screens, roomy seats...the list could go on and on....but, best of all, the plane was headed to Atlanta!!!  I ♥ LA for getting me home.  
What a wonderful trip!  Thank you, God, for Your handiwork and grace!      


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