We left Washington on July 5, 2006. We were all sad but anxiously looking forward to get to Wisconsin and seeing all kinds of cool stuff on the way. The first day we drove through Washington, Oregon and Idaho. We stopped for the night in Couer d'Alene, Idaho. We played at a big water park there for excitement. 7-6-06 we drove up the mountain passes we had been dreading, but our little Toyota Truck pulled the trailer up just fine. We stopped at the top of one of the passes for lunch and it POURED down rain with lots of lightning and thunder. It was really cool, but then it was really humid.
Our next stop was the Lewis and Clark Caverns. One of my friends told me we needed to stop at them, but we kind of found them by accident.
We enjoyed the 2 hour tour since it was nice and cool (about 50 degrees) inside and was super hot and humid outside....did I forget to mention that our trip across the country was the same time we were having that horrible heat wave?).
We saw stalagmites, stalagtites, a cool little pigeon, a dead bat in the process of becoming a fossil, a pool and a really cool tunnel at the end.
We got reservations to stay in Three Forks, Montana. There were bunnies and horses at the campground so we were very happy with that. That evening a big thunder and lightning, buckets of rain and wind storm rolled in. Anisa got to feed the horses and the girls swam while Cindy got to do laundry (the fun never ends). Oh, there were also chickens (Cindy's favorite).
Our next big stop was Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. We spent 2 days there. On the first day we saw the south end of the park with lots of geysers including Old Faithful. Wow! Tons of people were there to see that geyser. It was cool to see. There were lots of bubbling pools and sulfur smells. We saw mule deer, geese, bald eagles, buffalo, cutthroat trout, pelicans, elk and we even saw a moose. We REALLY wanted to see a bear, but they didn't show themselves. There were beautiful waterfalls and canyons there.
The second day we saw the north side of the park. It was a wonderful trip, long, but we saw lots of really cool things there.
We had to PAY to see bears in a cage. Darn. There were also wolves in the cages, and Travis got them howling. They put on a little show for us.
At the campground, we ran into an old friend who we hadn't seen in about 7 years! She happened to be walking her dog and we took double takes and realized it was US! One of her girls was in Sara's preschool class. It was fun to catch up with them.
We left Yellowstone to head to Devil's Tower, Wyoming. On the way we stopped at the Battlefield of Little Bighorn and heard about Custer and his men. We saw a guy who we all think was Lex off Survivor.
We passed through a little TINY town called Ashland and there was a sign at the bank with the outside temperature on it. It said 106. We didn't think it was right (it was right out in the sun). We stopped for gas later that day and the temp there was 97 but the lady said it had peaked at 106 that afternoon, so the sign WAS right. We got to Devil's Tower and went to explore. There was a field of Prairie dogs called Prairie Dog Field (duh). They were EVERYWHERE!
OK, Devil's Tower is a big rock. It was made from volcanic magma (I'm not sure about all the details, but that's the jist of it). People come to climb it and it was the rock in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We hiked around it and got to see a climber on it. Lots of birds nest on it too. Around it there are Ponderosa Pines and we smelled the wonderful Vanilla-y smell of them.
Our next desination was Mt. Rushmore. It was VERY COOL. You see pictures of it, but they look different once you've been there. We went during the day and saw the Visitor's Center with all the displays about how it was made. We had some Lemon Ice and got our souvenirs. We went back at night to see the light show. They tell all about the carving, why the men were chosen to be up there, and put the lights on the monument. They also called all veterans down to the stage, so Travis went down there and each person told their branch of service and time they were in. It was very nice.
From Mt. Rushmore, we headed to Wall Drug Store. It is in Wall, South Dakota. The story is the store was out in the middle of nowhere and the owner wanted to get some business, so he put up billboards offering free ice water to travelers. Now there are TONS of billboards and there is still free ice water, but it's like a little mall. There are different little "shops" inside and a restraunt.
From there we were headed to Mitchell, South Dakota to see the Corn Palace. We had to stop at Wal-Mart and next to the store there was a Cabella's store. We went in and it was HUGE. Like a big log lodge with animals (stuffed, real ones) and even a little stream with live trout in it. We had fun in there looking at all the cool stuff.
The second day we went to the Corn Palace. They decorate it with all corn products. The whole outside is decorated every year with a new theme in corn. Inside it is a sports arena and they had lots of corny displays in there. We packed up and started to head out, but before we left the campground a guy came over and talked to us. He was a Coastie transferring from Seattle to Sault St. Marie and his friend had seen our CG stickers. Later we were eating lunch at a rest area and this girl walks up to us. It was the guy's friend from the campground, but she asked if we were Cindy and Travis. Um, yes. She introduced herself and it turns out she was one of my friends' sister. They were driving the camping guy's Mustang across the country for him. It's a small world!
We went to the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN. Ok, I know it's a big deal, but IT'S A MALL! I wasn't too impressed. We did see a store called Grillz. I didn't know what it was all about, but Anisa filled me in. For those of you who don't know what a grill is, it's Bling for your teeth. They make this piece of "jewelry" and you put it on your teeth - kind of like those sports teeth guards. Inside there is an amusement park. The girls went on some of the rides and we saw Hello Kitty!
We got to go to Ikea too! Woo hoo. We got swedish meatballs for lunch and some swedish fish. Unfortunately, we didn't buy any big things.
Weather-wise, WOW! I used to think it was humid in WA, but I hadn't felt anything until we got to MN. It was so hot and sticky. Ew.
We were almost to WI by then, so we headed out and went to Wisconsin Dells, WI. It's the waterpark capital of the world. OK. Noah's Ark was our main destination, but we got free tickets from the campground to a little waterpark, so we went there the first day since the day was half over. That was fun. We were going to go to Noah's Ark, America's largest waterpark, but the guy camping next to us said the lines there were really long and they had gone to another park and had way more fun. So, we checked out Noah's Ark, and the lines were HUGE. So we ended up going to Mt. Olympus. There is a waterpark on one side and roller coasters and rides on the other side. We had a blast. We went on all the waterslides during the day, then went and got a late lunch then went to the roller coasters in the evening. There is a ride there called Hades and it goes under ground (the parking lot) 2 times. It was VERY FUN. We rode the little go-carts. It wasn't Formula One, but Travis liked them.
Well, we were in WI, and headed to Sturgeon Bay, but had to stop in Green Bay at the mall and TitleTown brew pub. We finally made it to Sturgeon Bay safely. What a great trip!