All 50 Road Trip-June 2, 2018, Day 22

(click here for today's pictures)

Glendive, Montana to Hot Springs, South Dakota + Roosevelt NP, North Dakota

Again we all slept well last night. Graham’s coughing was too a minimum, and everyone seemed refreshed this morning. Though when Robby says, “if you don’t get up now, you will miss breakfast,” it always does light a fire under the kids. No one wants to miss breakfast. Although the breakfast attendant probably wants for us to miss breakfast. We certainly do get our money’s worth out of a hotel breakfast. The boys each drink at least 2 cartons of chocolate milk, and everyone took a cinnamon roll to go this morning.

It was about 8:30 when we hit the road. We were on an interstate this morning which was nice after yesterday’s miles and miles of seeing no one on the road. Though the interstate was kind of deserted as well The kids played their ipads this morning until our first stop at Roosevelt National Park.

On the way there, we crossed the state line into North Dakota completing Whitman’s 50 state journey. We jumped out of the car for him to take his picture with the state sign. Then everyone joined him for a real “We’ve been to all 50 states” picture. The one in Alaska was a bit premature since Whitman had not yet completed his 50th state, which we knew, but it will make for a prettier Christmas card picture.

After jumping back in the car, Robby and I discussed that we have probably been to all 50 states at least twice now. We finished our 50th state with Reagan and possibly Anderson were babies. Now, we have gotten 4 more kids to all 50 state so I guess that means that we should have us a sign reading “we’ve been to all 50 states at least twice!” 

It was crazy windy when we were taking our picture. The sky was filled with clouds, and the temperature wasn’t too chilly. The wind, however, was wild! Ar Roosevelt NP we drove around some of the park loop road stopping at Prairie Dog Town to take a picture or two. It was pretty difficult opening the car doors due to the wind. 

Then we walked through the Visitor’s Center. We watched the movie, walked around the museum, and took our picture with Roosevelt, his wife and son Quentin. When we left, Campbell asked, “is he crazy?” 

Then we were back into Montana to head towards Wyoming for our next stop. The road was just as straight as last nights road except it didn’t feel straight because Robby was fighting the wind the entire time. We would swerve all around the road. The kids didn’t notice too much since they were watching a movie while we listened to an old church service.

Whitman has had 2 bathroom accidents in the car so now whenever he mentions that he needs to potty, we pull over. I was the one that got out this time with him. It was so, so windy. I thought for a good while trying to figure out which way they wind was blowing and which way I wanted to aim Whitman. He was facing in the right direction and we didn’t get wet, but he water the grass for at least 10 feet in front of him.

We hadn’t gone that much further when Keaton said that she needed to potty as well. There was nothing for miles. We could tell this because we could see at least 5 miles in front of us at all times. We pulled over and she went. It was much more of a challenge than when Whitman had to go. Anderson and Graham also decided that they should go as well. Whitman didn’t want to be left so he climbed out of the car as well.

After everyone was back in the car, I quickly looked at the GPS to see how much longer we had to go before we made it to a real stop. It was 2 hours! We probably should passed out the kids water bottles and lemonade so quickly this morning. 

We were less than an hour away when we saw it, an oasis. A gas station that looked open. It was my favorite thing that I have seen all day long. Campbell, Keaton, Whitman and I rushed in. We all pottied and eve marveled at probably the whole town of wherever we were inside the gas station having Saturday lunch. There were just 8 of them but everyone seemed to know each other. 

After our blessed potty stop, we jumped back on the road. I passed out lunch, and everyone ate while we listened to a podcast about Devil’s Tower. We soon were at the parking lot at Devil’s Tower. We walked through the Visitor’s Center. Then we did the short little trail around the tower. It was a bit over a mile, and all of the kids enjoyed climbing over the boulders off of the trail.

Then it was back on the road to Sundance. We listened to a podcast on the way there about the film festival. We listened to most of the podcast when we discovered that the Sundance Film Festival is not in Wyoming, but it is in Utah. Oops. Now, we know more about Sundance at least.

We listened to a podcast about Wild Bill Hickok on the way to Deadwood. He was actually killed and buried in Deadwood. We stopped to watch a man carving things out of wood. Campbell and Whitman were sleeping so I stood by the car. I have always wanted one of those bears at my house. I did see the price tags so maybe another day.

We then walked through Mt. Moriah Cemetary to see the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Then we headed to find something to eat. Robby had found a spaghetti place. The kids and I jumped out and waited to put our name on the list. Robby was back from parking the car when the man finally came. I told him we had 8 but could do 4 and 4. He told us it would be over an hour and pretty much said nope. 

So we headed out to look for something else. I found another spot but there kitchen wasn’t open. Then we walked through another restaurant, actually two more restaurants, not to find any seating at all. Possibly having a few less kids might have helped, but we weren’t looking for a huge table, we would have just taken a table for four. We continually struck out on places to eat and eventually ended up back in the car. I was starving when we made it to the car and was pretty sure the kids were. I handed out their ipads though and surprisingly that sufficed and no one said anything about eating.

As we were driving towards Mt. Rushmore, we drove past another restaurant, pulled in the parking lot even, and it was closed. We finally decided that it would be a snacky supper so I started pulling out food. Unfortunately, our food choices are getting a bit slim. I did manage to pass out peanut butter crackers along with squirt cheese and crackers, followed by cheese sticks which were then followed by cookies.

By the time I cleaned up, we came to a town full of food choices. I think that everyone had enough to eat though so we pressed on towards the main attraction. Tonight they were to light Mt. Rushmore at 9:30. We arrived just a bit before 9. Parking was breeze, and then we pottied before getting out books stamped. 

Then we went to see the presentation. At 9, the ranger started talking about Francis Scott Key and then recited the Star Spangled Banner poem. Then they played a video about Mt. Rushmore. Near the end of the video, the heads all become lit up as America the Beautiful played. It was pretty impressive.

Following that, we all stood and sang the Star Spangled Banner. We thought it was over, when the ranger asked for all of the military men and women to come down and help take down the flag. The stage was full of men and women and the crowd clapped and cheered as they went toward the stage. Then we all stood in silence as they lowered the flag. 

All of that was just wonderful. Earlier in the day, I had told the kids that I thought we could probably put away our coats because things were warming up. Things weren’t warm tonight at Mt. Rushmore. We did have our coats but were still chilly. 

Robby had thought that we were just 20 minutes from our hotel, but when he turned on the gps, he discovered that we were an hour from the hotel. We would have still probably gone to Mt. Rushmore even if we had known our hotel was an hour away, but gracious we were a bit disappointed about the drive ahead of us.

The kids never noticed since they had their ipads. As we left Mt. Rushmore tonight, the ranger told everyone to be careful for deer on their way home. So we drove a bit slower than normal with Robby and I both looking for deer. We have seen at least a hundred today, but didn’t see a one tonight. 

We also didn’t see any elk or buffalo tonight. The signs were everywhere about them, so we crawled to our hotel scanning the side of the road carefully. I hope the animals are out in the morning though when we head back the same way.

Now, getting to a hotel is always, always crazy. Robby checks in while I work on the car. I collect everything that goes in, the kids straighten and then Robby is usually back with the cart. We load up and head quietly into the hotel. Quietly is the goal, but usually my people start losing their mind when we pull into a hotel parking lot. 

Tonight’s hotel is a small, older hotel. We usually park at the side and go in that way. Why? Well, there are lots more of us than should actually be in a hotel room. We usually get a room with 2 beds and a couch but that still leaves 2 folks above the limit. As we were unloading, I asked Robby if I needed to go in with some of the kids first. He said that there was an old lady at the front who had to buzz us in so we might as well go all together.

I tried to tell the kids to act like less people and we headed to the front door. I knew she was counting us as we walked in. Robby, who was pushing the cart, had to ask about the elevator. The old front desk lady said that there wasn’t one and then she said, “now how many do we have?” Of course, Whitman is proud of the number 6 and quickly shouted it out. 

She said, “well, you will need another room.” By this time, we knew there wasn’t an elevator, so kids were grabbing bags off of the cart without being told. I replied to the lady that we would just squeeze and up the stairs we quickly went. 

The kids were absolutely perfect during all of this. Couldn’t have been any better. We thought everything was going to be fine, but Robby’s key didn’t work. So he left us all standing in the hallway holding all of our luggage. Sure enough the lady came upstairs to try out the new key! I should have stood in front of a few kids. She was able to open the door, we thanked her and quickly rushed into the room. Robby said that we will have to go to breakfast in shifts in the morning!

Whitman had a shower, but everyone else just put on their pjs. After a drink, it was time for bed since it was nearly midnight. That is late for my people, and we hope to get an early start in the morning.

Current Dennie Kid State Count (June 2, 2018):

Reagan-Complete at 12 years old-May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Anderson-Complete at 11 years old-May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Graham-Complete at 9 years old-May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Campbell-Complete at 8 years old-May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Keaton-Complete at 6 years old-May 22, 2018, last state Alaska

Whitman-Complete at 5 years old-June 2 2018, last state North Dakota

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