Road Trip 2012-Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Rapid City, South Dakota (May 21, 2012)

(Click here for today's pictures)

I think no one fell out of the bed last night.  I did get Campbell to get in bed with me around one last night.  She had sat up and was trying to cover back up and it was easier for me to just have her climb in my bed than to try to reach her covers.  Besides she is so very snuggly at night time.  Graham crawled into bed with Robby around 5 (Robby thinks) and actually scared Robby when he grabbed his arm to have him scoot over.
Time change helped us out this morning and everyone was stirring at 6.  Normally this would be a bad thing but we had lots to do today and we really needed every minute of it.  Breakfast was uneventful-more yogurt, pancakes, bacon, cereal, juice and cinnamon rolls.  We left at 8:45 and I took my daily picture of the odometer.  The calculation is in for yesterday and it was a whooping 396 miles.  I had actually thought that today was going to be a shorter car day but it turned out that it seemed just a long-not bad, just long.
We were headed to Agate Fossil Beds National Monument and it is in the middle of nowhere.  Seriously, nowhere.  Campbell became so excited when she saw a cow.  Graham kept saying "I see nothing"-there was only empty fields upon empty fields.  Oh yes, Campbell did say "cow" earlier today and seemed to call a few cows by the right name.  Though she quickly learned buffalo and burro later in he day so she is probably just as confused as before.  
At the fossil beds, there were lots of dinosaur bones to look at.  Actually they were from animals that came after the dinosaurs.  Whatever and wherever they were from, the were pretty impressive and the big 3 were really interested in them.  We took a walk along a trail and Anderson was a bit disappointed that we didn't see any fossils but we did see a stream and that was pretty cool.  All of the trails, paths, stops around here have signs that say "Beware Rattlesnakes" so we spend quite a bit of time looking for rattlesnakes on all of our walks.
Robby told the kids that we might be going to a cave next and all Graham wanted to talk about was Robby not bringing his flashlight and how he should have brought his flashlight.  Graham continued to get more and more excited about the cave so when we made it after at least a 2 hour drive, we knew we had to go on the tour.  Robby would be the obvious choice to take the 3 big kids and me stay with Campbell and Keaton.  But Campbell would never have that-Robby can not get out of her sight on this trip or she will immediately start shouting "where my daddy go?"  We didn't even try to split up, we just put Keaton in the carrier and all headed out for the "moderately strenuous" hour and fifteen  minute cave tour with 300 steps.  
The kid were excellent-most of them anyway.  No, they were all good and listened intently whenever the guide talked.  Before we entered the cave, she asked people what they thought about when they heard the word "cave."  People started shouting out answers "water" "stalactites" "darkness" "cold" and then my Anderson added the most logical answer to a 5 year old "bears."  And it is true, I do think of bears when I think about caves and really care to see neither anymore!  There were lots of steps on the tour and Robby said he was holding Campbell's hand so tight that she probably had bruises.  Anderson was the head of our family and made sure that we kept up with the people in front of us.  Graham was right behind him and Reagan was behind Graham constantly reminding him to hold on to the railing.  
By the middle of the tour, Keaton was ready to get out of there.  She started a bit of fussing and I whispered to her "are you ready to get out of this cave."  And Campbell who was walking ahead of me with Robby shouted back "yes."  So funny.  Near the end of the cave, the guide turned out the lights and we just saw by candlelight like the original explorers did.  And then she blew out the candle for us to see darkness.  And really when you think of darkness, it is nothing compared to darkness of a cave.  And that is why I thought the kids would lose it-Robby was holding Campbell with his hand on Graham, I was holding Keaton with my hand on Graham and Reagan and Anderson pressed up against me.  They did fine and then the guide even pushed the limits some more and asked for everybody to be completely silent for a few seconds.  I thought that would never work because Keaton was still fussing a bit and Campbell was quietly whining but when she asked they all seemed to understand and not a peep was made out of the Dennie kids.  
By now it was 3 and we hadn't had any lunch.  We thought we would drive to Custer state park and have our picnic but after the drive to Custer we needed to keep moving.  So we had a snacky lunch and handed the kids a few snacks to tide them over.  Custer is full of buffalo-they are everywhere-all over the fields, all over the roads, everywhere.  We saw so many today that I really had no need to worry about Graham not getting to see them the other day.  There were also prairie dogs to keep us entertained.
But the real entertainment came from the burros.  They are called "begging burros" because most people feed them and they come begging to your car.  The kids had a blast.  Seriously, a blast.  We let them pet them while hanging out of the car.  The burros would leave and Robby would have to swing the car around so they would come back to our car.  Finally when we were finished, we buckled back up and went down the road.  But Campbell started crying-she hadn't got to pet one.  So we had to turn back around so that child could pet one.  She got up to my seat and was not getting anywhere near them but finally warmed up to the idea and petted/poked it a few times.  Oh, my goodness that was so much fun-though Robby had a hard time seeing out of his window today because of all of the burro drool.
Back on the road to Rushmore, Keaton and Campbell started laughing at each other.  They would both say something and then giggle.  Campbell was all cracked up and Keaton laughed more than I had heard her laugh.  We thought all of this was really funny too because those two girls can not see each other at all in the van but they were still laughing with each other.
The road to Rushmore is crazy curvy with tiny one lane tunnels and around one of those bends we caught our first glimpse of Mt. Rushmore.  Reagan exclaimed "I thought that would have been bigger."  Ha!  They don't look that big-we will have to mark out how big they are sometime at home.  Finally at Rushmore, we had a potty stop and walked up to see George, Tom, Teddy and Abe.  Reagan and Anderson know who all was on the mountain and Reagan knows why each president is up there.  We walked a trail closer to the presidents and even managed to get a back picture-I wish Robby would put in some of our outtakes because they are pretty funny.  Taking a group picture is never easy with this crew.
When we climbed back in the car, everyone had their water bottles-which explained why we had to go to the bathroom 3 times during supper and why both boys used the potty at once when we walked into the hotel room.  We ate at an old fire station for supper.  Years ago when Robby and I visited here, that restaurant had been on Rachel Rays show.  I remembered it being really good but alas things change.  No, it wasn't that bad-our waitress started out on the wrong foot when she slammed the tray of drinks down and said "I don't know where to put these."  Of course, I quickly thought of where she could put them but this is a family blog!  It was all fine and the food was decent but the highlight was the giant cookie that Robby ordered for dessert.  We cleaned it up it was so good.
Then just down the road a bit was the hotel.  Robby checks in and then we all come in the side door-like he is hiding us. Maybe he is ashamed of us or maybe hotels frown on having 7 people stay in a room for a max of 4.  Actually, it is just easier walking in the side door and not through the lobby.  It took us a bit longer to unpack tonight since we are here for 2 nights and wanted to get things organized.  The girls took baths and then the boys had theirs.  The kids all played quietly and no one called to complain about us tonight!
You always know when the kids are tired-they crawl into their sleeping bags without us asking.  Even Campbell went to sleep without anyone laying beside her.  Seriously, when I was on the second line of my blog everyone was already asleep.  Vacations with the Dennie family are hard work!

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