Well HELLO! We just got back from yet another wonderful RV trip the other day — and this was by far our best one yet. If you’ve followed me for awhile you know we take one RV trip a year in the summer. Usually it’s tied to my husband’s work and we’ll head up to Wisconsin or Minnesota. This time we went a little further and recreated a trek I’ve been waiting 30 years to take.
When I was young we didn’t have much money so we didn’t travel much at all. (For my local friends you may be familiar with Indiana Beach — an overnight there was the furthest and most elaborate trip we did.) 😉
I was in the Girl Scouts and one year when I was 11 I took off on a 2 1/2 week trip across the country with my troop and many others from Indianapolis. I still can’t believe my Mom let me go but I’m so glad she did! We traveled to Wyoming, stopping in many spots along the way in South Dakota as well.
That trip changed me in so many ways. For the first time ever I got a glimpse of what was beyond our state and it was AMAZING. We camped under the stars, white water rafted, panned for gold, hiked up a mesa and stopped at some incredible places.
In all my 40+ years it’s still the trip that has affected me most and one I’ve always wanted to recreate, especially when I got older and had a family. We planned this trip for months and I was GIDDY to show our son what I had seen at almost exactly his age.
Our country is a beautiful, wondrous place. It overwhelms me at times when I get to see it first hand. You know how you see things as a kid and they don’t seem as big when you go back as an adult? Not so this time. Everything was so majestic and beautiful.
We started our trip in Six Flags, Chicago, rode some roller coasters and had so much fun. We traveled on to Wisconsin Dells that night and had a great time at the Kalahari Resort there. We’ve been to the Dells before and it’s SO fun.
That night we drove to Minnesota and shopped till we dropped at the Mall of America the next day. The drive through South Dakota was by far the longest, so we stopped in Sioux Falls at an RV park for the night and then continued on to the Badlands the next day.
Like I said, I was worried I would be underwhelmed going back. But they were all I remembered and more:
Here’s a video I took of the first outlook point. As you can see there are parts that jut out and you can just walk out on the rocks. I was tempted to keep going out but the walkway got a little too skinny and my hands were sweating and my husband said NO. 😉
This park is MASSIVE. I know for a fact we didn’t even get to the really huge rocks, but I was so thrilled to be back. We saw prairie dogs and buffalo and sheep with the giant horns — they walked right in front of the RV at one point. All stuff we don’t see often in Indiana — as much as I love our state. 😉 The park has a great little museum/gift shop with a quick video that we enjoyed.
We drove on to Rapid City where we were staying for the next couple of days. Our first stop was a fantastic Mexican restaurant we found online:
We are Mexican and margarita freaks and consider ourselves connoisseurs. This place did not disappoint. The food was amazing — my mouth still waters when I think about the chicken ranch quesadillas and the queso.
They had a huge selection of tequilas and our margaritas were delicious:
We loved it so much we went back the next night. 😆
The downtown area is SO quaint and beautiful. Next time we will go back and spend more time there. So many great restaurants and shops:
And HELLO. There was a little ice cream shop around the corner and they had New England Brown Bread ice cream — I had never heard of it so tried it. Um…delicious. I mean…de.li.cious. OMG. Now I want to make this mysterious bread on my own:
The next day we made the short trip to the Mt. Rushmore area. The trip is a gorgeous one through the Black Hills. It surprised me 30 years ago and still does today that you can be at the dessert Badlands and then less than an hour later are in the lush hills.
The smell of pine hit us as soon as we got off the RV. I was obsessed with the pine trees:
A little sad that I was wishing I had these at home to cut at Christmas. Ha!
Mt. Rushmore was everything I remember and more. I was so excited:
We sat down to just look around and this was one of a few times on the trip that I got emotional. Pictures just don’t do it justice!
There was a trail around the park that goes under the monument and you can get a closer look. The scenery is beautiful — the shimmering granite, the smell of the trees, the views. It was awesome:
You really get some neat views from the trail. If you go, take the entrance to the left — the right has way more steps and looked like a much more difficult trek. (You still have a lot of steps but not as many.)
We were thrilled to meet the last surviving Mt. Rushmore worker that day, Nick Clifford. He is nearly 96 years young! He signed his book for us, showed us his tools and shared lots of interesting details about how they did it:
It was fascinating and I’m so glad we got to meet him.
There is SO MUCH to do near the monument. We visited Rushmore Cave and they had a ton of fun activities. Their coaster was SO FUN. They also had a zipline that you sit in and ride down. I’m not a fan of heights but LOVE this stuff. So I scream like a little girl and then want to do it again right away. Here’s a quick video:
We also visited Bear Country USA — a park you drive through to see the wildlife. It was a highlight for sure.
We wanted to get to Crazy Horse to see the progress but we didn’t have time. When I went 30 years ago not much had been done, but I’m so glad they’re building this monument. On our next trip I really hope we can get out to Wyoming to revisit the places I saw there too.
On the way out we visited Wall Drug — a tourist spot we heard you can’t miss! It was closing so we didn’t get to see most of it or try the donuts, but it was a fun (and big) shop and we were happy to just say we had seen it:
My husband drove us all the way home — it took 20 hours with stops! Holy cow, that took forever. But he loves driving and for long distances. We rented a class A RV this time — I prefer the smaller versions that I can drive (no way I’m attempting this one), but my family loves the big ones and my husband likes driving them:
Not pictured is the king sized bed in the back! We love that we can eat, use the bathroom or sleep on a bed during the trip — I can heat pizza up in the microwave and then go take a nap while we’re driving. 😉
When you stay in RV parks you do have to know how to connect the electricity, water and sewage. Most offer Internet, TV, and a bunch of amenities like a shop for food and firewood, pools, mini golf, basketball and even arcades. The nicer ones will have laundry rooms. We stayed in hotels for the most part this time, but it’s always fun to stay on the RV!
Technically we didn’t travel ALL the way across the US — it felt like it on the way home though. 😉 But we did visit six states in six days. These trips are so important to our family. We love getting away from real life and being in the little cocoon of the RV. We make so many wonderful memories on these trips and this one was by far the best. I’ll treasure these times forever!
Have you taken a similar trip? Does your family RV? It’s not for everyone — but this is definitely my favorite way to camp. Or “glamp.” 😉
from Thrifty Decor Chick http://www.thriftydecorchick.com/2017/06/our-rv-trip-across-usa.html