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Monday, August 16, 2010

Three thousand twenty-six

If you follow me on Twitter or on my Facebook page, you might have seen that I was on a bit of a road-trip last week.  Actually, “a bit of a road-trip” might actually be the understatement of the year.

Our church has a partnership with a church in North Dakota and ministers to their community alongside them.  A group from our church makes the two day drive every June to do a VBS and in August to do an Operation Back to School carnival for the kids on the Standing Rock Reservation. 

Earlier this summer, I decided that it was time for us to begin introducing Sarah to such mission endeavors, so she and I went with our church group to North Dakota to do Operation Back to School then decided to take a little side trip afterwards.

We drove for two days to get up there.  And saw a lot of this.

100_9173 We did an appreciation brunch for the teachers and staff of the elementary school on Wednesday morning.  Sarah and I had been asked to sing a song.  She was dealing with a little bit of nerves, so we asked a friend to sing along with us.  We did the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked and she just did wonderfully.  I was so proud of her for overcoming her nerves to minister in that way.

Sarah and a couple of other girls around her age did face painting for the carnival that we did for the kids at the elementary school as they came to meet their teachers.  Clearly she needed to practice and since both my cheeks and arms and hands were full, our pastor donated his forehead to the cause.

100_9208She and I left on Wednesday afternoon and headed back toward South Dakota for our couple of days of vacation.  Just a few highlights and things you ought to consider doing if you head that way:

We enjoyed the fields of sunflowers as we drove through South Dakota.  I know that Kansas is supposed to be the sunflower state, but we saw WAY more in SD.  Sometimes the fields of yellow went as far as the eye could see.

We made it to Mount Rushmore on Wednesday night in time to see the lighting ceremony.  It was so moving as they played a movie that was very "Rah! Rah! America!"  I cried as the faces lit up at the end of the movie while “America, the Beautiful” was playing.  Then they had the former and current military personnel go up on stage to take down the flag, fold it and pass it among each one of them.  As the woman who was directing the program thanked them for their service, she got choked up which just added to the poignancy of the moment.


We went back to Rushmore the next day and did the audio walking tour that was really good and very interesting.   I took WAY too many pictures.

100_9303(As a side note, you only pay for parking and your parking pass is good for the entire calendar year.  So we only paid for parking once.  Therefore I highly suggest going to the lighting ceremony the night before then doing the walking tour the next morning before it gets too hot.) 

It was the week of the Sturgis Motorcycle rally and people tried hard to talk us out of our trip to Rushmore, but I am glad they did not.  The presence of the bikers was not a big deal at all.  It was comical, even, as we just heard this low rumble of Harley Davidsons echoing among the Black Hills almost the whole time we were there. 

100_9342  100_9329This red light found us behind an entire line of bikes.

We stayed in Hot Springs, SD which is due south of Rapid City on the south end of the Black Hills.  In town, there is a mammoth excavation site that was really interesting.  This is Sarah holding a cast model of a mammoth jawbone.


We also toured the Wind Cave, which was really interesting.  It was about 1 1/2 hour long tour and we went about 200 feet below the ground by the end of it.  The Ranger that was our guide turned out the lights for just a few minutes at one point just to demonstrate how dark it really is down there which can be a little scary for little ones.  But overall, it was really neat.

I also took her swimming at Evans Plunge in Hot Springs one afternoon.  It’s an indoor/outdoor pool with about 3 water slides.  It was the perfect break in our day after touring Mount Rushmore.

There was so much more even still we could have done in the Black Hills.  But alas, our time was up and it was time to head home.

On our drive up, I saw a sign for a Wizard of Oz museum.  My one thought was, “We can’t be here and NOT do that.”  And after seeing a Wizard of Oz alarm clock in a truck stop in Salina, Sarah was dead-set on having one.  I put her off and told her they would have one at the museum.  However, they did not.  So we went back out of our way again to go back through Salina and find that truck stop.  Ahhh, the things we do, right?


I will say that the one thing I was not prepared for on this trip was the spotty cell phone coverage.  I had been warned that I would not have any service while we were in North Dakota, but I was not prepared for the same situation the rest of the trip.  Just a word of advice… if you decide to take a road trip up through the mid-section of the country, please take a pre-paid long distance phone card with you.  You will be glad you did.

The two things I wanted for this trip to accomplish was to a) introduce Sarah to missions with something tangible that she could get her mind around; and 2) have some good quality mom/daughter time with her for an extended length of time before the dreaded pre-teen stuff really hits over the next year or two. 

In my opinion, both objectives were accomplished.  And I would highly recommend doing something similar with your daughter if you have the opportunity. 

So you may be thinking, “That sounds like an awful lot of driving just to do those two things.”  Well, you ain’t kiddin.  Just to prove the point I took two pictures of the odometer.  The first at the beginning of the trip  on Monday morning and the second after we pulled into the driveway Saturday night. 

 IMG_0036 IMG_0110

The Monday morning picture was taken after we were on the road for about 15-20 minutes, so for the sake of argument, I’m going to take about 15 miles off the odometer at that point.  So we would have started the trip at about 108,400 miles.  We ended the trip at 111,426 miles. 

All told, I drove 3,026 miles.

And each was totally worth it.


Tiffany said...

What fun! I will reference your post if I am able to do this trip when I help my sister move from Indiana to Oregon. I am hoping we can make some stops "on the way" there! Love your tips:)

Donna @ Way More Homemade said...

I can't stress enough the need for you to have some kind of a long distance card with an 800 number to use. I had two hotel rooms where I couldn't use long distance at the room and had a heck of a time connecting with my hubby while we were gone. It's imperative.

Amy said...

I love seeing other people experience South Dakota. I am a South Dakota girl. I have lived here my entire life. We actually just moved from Mobridge, right on the edge of the Standing Rock Reservation on the South Dakota side. We are now in the NE corner of the state. I loved your lighting pictures from Mt. Rushmore. I have been there many times, but never at night. Now I need to go.

Deirdre said...

what a fantastic idea. As a working mom I don't get nearly enough time with my sweet girl (she is only two). I'm putting this idea in the memory banks for when she gets a smidge older.