Monday, July 7, 2014

South Dakota: Day Two- Prairie Dogs, Badlands, Bear Country and "Home"!

We really wanted the kids to experience feeding the prairie dogs at the Prairie Dog Ranch store.  We remembered these little guys being so cute and friendly and willing to do ANYTHING for a peanut!  Unfortunately, the store proper was closed.  So no peanuts for sale.  We were still able to visit the little prairie dog colony that lives there, though.  And, even without peanuts, we had some close encounters that we'll remember forever!


The next stop was Badlands National Park.  The kids were in awe of the rock formations that seemingly come out of the prairie-land!  This park was not as dog-friendly as most--dogs are allowed in the parking lots, but not on the trails.  We may not have known this at the first walk-out we went to, and Kolachi got to come along for one little walk.

 As you can tell from the rain gear, it was overcast and rainy....some of the time.... While it made for slippery trails, it also made for some stunning photography!  I was able to catch pockets of sunlight in-between the rain clouds!

 The photo below cracks me up-- there are prairie dogs everywhere....even on the side of the road!

 Apparently my constant prompting to "look out the window" was annoying to some in the back seat.....
 Once we visted the Badlands, there was only one plausible spot to stop for lunch!  Wall Drug--  During our lunch, Justin exclaimed loudly "Look- those heads are on this cup!  But they are not bears!"  Grandma Mary brought Justin a "Bernstein Bears Road Trip" book which features Mt. Grizzmore, a mountain with four bear heads.
Alex had fun exploring the 'back yard' statues and exhibits.  She also spent $12 of the $20 she'd saved for the trip.  It was a bit hard to let her spend her money on a pink plastic pet crate with stuffed dog, but it was her money.  Justin had some money to spend too, but after holding a personalized license plate for his bike for a while, he realized that he wouldn't get his $3 back if he spent it. 
 We made it to Rapid City, as a reward we got to tour Dave's favorite drive-through wildlife park.  Bear Country, USA.  The kids were allowed to be out of their seat belts as we slowly inched our way amongst the elk, lynk, wolves, and, oh, yes, bears....
Kolachi was along for the ride, but she snoozed through the entire trip.

 We finished up, grabbed a snack at the café, and hurried on our way to our new "home".  Kiddville Vacation Home- a VRBO site that was worth every penny.  It not only had tons of amenities, but was originally a gold miner's camp and boarding house in the 1800's.  Totally cool! (See my review at the Kiddville Vacation Home website, and if you go there, let Kay know I say "Hi!", she's the best!)

This first night we relaxed a bit, and then decided to go on a hike through the Black Hills National Forest (which borders the property!)

 Rock hound alert!  There is so much quartz around, it's amazing!  Alex said "Why did the miners leave when there was still so much treasure everywhere?"
 Our super long and super fun day ended with a game of Uno and some hot cocoa before bed.

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