SUNBURNED! - film at eleven

Busy day consisting of:

Mt. Rushmore
Flintstones theme park
Wall Drug
Wounded Knee
Days Inn, Mitchell

Check out our stops on the way to Keystone here.

Mt. Rushmore

It was interesting. It was beautiful.

We went early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and though I'm glad we did (by 10:00 a.m. they were really packing in) the kids wanted to do something more exciting. There's only so long most six year olds can stare at a statue and be amazed. They didn't want to sit down for the (free) movies in the museum, and Dennis wasn't feeling the audio tour, so we went for a walk on the President's Trail instead. (Somewhat by accident. Denn turned down the walk and then when we were leaving, he took a wrong turn and viola!)

It's not the best for people with a physical condition. One side has 250 stairs and many viewing areas. If you have health problems, or are really out of shape, it could kick your ass. Our kids thought it was tiresome, but fun, but by the top I didn't even want to stop for photos anymore. I just wanted to go. By then, a lot of people were in the park too and the temp had picked up. I think I would do this first thing and then go back to the museum.

There is a little area near the end, a small bend before you hit the tipis, where you can enter a small cave. I couldn't get a picture, but there is a wonderful view here of Washington. I'm kicking myself for not having the camera, but I really enjoyed the experience. The kids also found out they could fit through the rocks and go up by the mountain! lol

Dennis got a lot more out of this stop than any of the rest of us. It's a part of his childhood experience, and it's a monument that was very interesting for him as a child, notably because kids were the ones who raised the funds.

I'm more interested in the creator, Gutzon Borglum. His parents were Danish immigrants swept up in the crazy of Mormonism, then discarded just as easily. Borglum's mother was the "cast away" wife his father abandoned in Idaho before moving back to civilized Omaha. I like to think his determination to get away, become famous in his own right, was some reclamation of the importance of her ... of who he was.

They say Gutzon was extremely charming, high energy and egotistical. He was also as much of a failure as he was a success. For years, Rushmore was the biggest joke in South Dakota ... makes me think of Crazy Horse (which we skipped this time, but will see in the future).


Looks very interesting, but we stopped for groceries and moved on to the Flintstones theme park.

Flintstones Bedrock City

There's an 1800's train that takes you slowly around the park and campground, and a Flintstone car built on a golf cart base that buzzes you once around a track. Those are the rides. The rest are buildings to look through, a theater where there is a short animatronic show, a free theater where they play cartoons (but you can buy refreshments, popcorn, etc) a play area with non-bedrock equipment, and three rows of Bedrock buildings (which are not true to the cartoon, as Dennis will gladly point out to you.)

BUT the kids LLOOOOOOOOVED it. The $45 was worth it for that alone, and the cost wasn't so bad considering its good for the year BUT YOU HAVE TO REQUEST IT! If you don't say anything, they'll just give you a day ticket. This is a nice break for small children, and kids 5 and under are free.

Wall Drug

It's a blast (once you get through the actual stores to the backyard). There's a splash pad, dozens of places to get tourist-y photos taken, a roaring T-Rex, fortune teller machines, the works! (And it's free.)

Wounded Knee

This turned out to be just a little too tame for our children at the time. They were wound up and too loud for the other visitors, so we left. I will say this - first, it's $10 a family. The exhibits are not interactive but they are very interesting, and engaging. They chose the perfect graphs to demonstrate settlers' impact on the tribes in America, the pictures they chose were very direct, and ... they give all children a feather when they come in which does work to keep them busy. If there hadn't been anyone else there, I think we would have stayed a long time. Oh, and how could I forget, they have a lovely bison in the parking lot?

The Badlands

Very beautiful. Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring. Why Rushmore is the biggest draw to the area, I have no idea, because these kick any man-made sculpture's behind.

A pass into the park is $15 per car, and it lasts a full week. We went through the Loop in a few hours ... used about a quarter tank of gas. There are several points you can pull off and tool around, take pictures, check things out more indepth. Nathan was really freaked out by the Warning: Rattle Snakes posted here and there ... swore he even heard a few rattling off in the tall grasses. lol

Dennis got pulled over for a "rolling stop" pulling away from a viewpoint, but got away with a warning. Nice cop ... had Lian talking about how he might want to be a police officer when he grows up. He was very concerned though over whether or not they get to use swear words. If not, he doesn't think that's the job for him. Oy! He said he wants to work from home for Pizza Hut. (I'm thinking eventually we might just buy into this franchise. lol Make it a family thing.)

The Fossil Trail by far was the best stop. They have a long bridge to follow with samples of fossils contained in glass boxes along the way. You aren't supposed to get off the trail, but people do. I'm not saying if we did or didn't, but Strata found out the hard way that powdery stuff is harder than it looks.

Days Inn

After all that coming and going, seeing and playing, it was time to get serious about getting home. We thought we only had enough for one more night in a hotel, and we didn't want to spend the whole next day driving. We went until Midnight and finally pulled off in - would you imagine - Mitchell, SD. Home of the Corn Palace, and very interesting costume rental shop. The Days Inn gave us a HUUUUGE room for under $100, and the place has a water slide and a free breakfast. It was probably the kid-friendliest hotel we stayed at the entire time (yeh "water slide" lol) and it was a nice end to the trip.

The ride back was not so fun. I acted like an idiot and didn't stop at some places we could have seen for free, and we did great on gas so we could have afforded splurging a little. Oh well ... Next Time.