AMY: Jon was busy working hard this week, so the girls and I did a lot on our own. Natalie is joining me again for this week’s post. Yay Natalie!
NATALIE: Actually, my friend asked me to do another blog post.
AMY: I thought I had a great idea after last week’s failed attempt at floating in the creek; everyone liked the idea of a creek hike!
NATALIE: I came up with the idea of a creek hike!
AMY: OK Nat, you had been asking to hike in the creek, but I was hoping it would get everyone used to the creek and willing to try floating again. We did the creek hike, but no one ever “warmed” up to the floating idea.
NATALIE: I didn’t like floating, it was scary!
AMY: So, we found some other things to do. There was a historic fish hatchery right next to our campground that we visited one morning.
NATALIE: My favorite part was feeding the rainbow trout. I had been wanting to see them since I had seen pictures of them because their skin looked like it had different layers of colors.
AMY: Is that what they looked like in person?
NATALIE: Yes, you can see in the picture the red, green and blue colors on the fish.
NATALIE: Feeding them seemed overwhelming for the fish. As soon as you would throw food into the water, they would all scurry to the same place to grab the food. It looked like the water was boiling.
AMY: We also drove to Deadwood, SD, not expecting much, but hoping for a fun afternoon.
NATALIE: There were a lot of casinos, some gift shops and stores. It was overwhelming and my feet hurt.
AMY: We also took a field trip to Wind Cave National Park. It was a 2 hour drive, but since there was a heat advisory and temperatures forecasted to be over 100 degrees, a cool cave sounded like a great place to spend an afternoon!
NATALIE: I was cold! My favorite part of the cave tour was the crystals that looked like popcorn.
AMY: It was a good tour and we saw some beautiful boxwork, a rare cave formation prevalent in Wind Cave.
AMY: When we emerged from our dark, cool refuge, we saw the sky filled with smoke from a nearby forrest fire. A ranger we found wasn’t able to give us many details but advised us on the safe route to take back to Spearfish. From other news reports, we learned this fire had started the morning before from a lightening strike.
NATALIE: It was very, very scary. We could even see flames.
AMY: We left Spearfish on Friday, heading further east toward Minnesota. It was another long day of driving.
NATALIE: I hate the long drives, they make me feel nauseous when I try to read.
AMY: Poor Nat, you do have a tendancy to get carsick. Although, you seem to have a much harder time riding in the car, right?!
NATALIE: Yes, I hate that feeling! :(
AMY: When we stopped for gas, it was so hot, Jon recorded the temperature:
AMY: We made the drive to Pipestone, MN without anyone getting sick. The next morning, we stopped at the Pipestone National Monument. Aside from this site belonging to the National Parks, I didn’t really know what to expect. We found an interesting museum with good stories about the history and natural resources of this place.
NATALIE: There was a small table with three pipestones. We could carve into them and I tried to make a turtle.
AMY: The pipestone found here has been quarried for hundreds of years and crafted into pipes, valuable to the Lakota tribe living nearby. Here is a craftsman demonstrating his work. There was great skill and pride shown by the artisans here. It was a wonderful place to visit.
NATALIE: After watching them, I got an idea to make a buffalo, but it was too hard. The curves and horns are not easy to do!
AMY: There was a short walk through the pipestone formations to this lovely waterfall. Another good shot, Jon!
NATALIE: It started to rain in Pipestone. That was my least favorite part about the hike. I loved the waterfall.
AMY: This formation, named “The Oracle,” was well pointed out by this hole in the sign.
AMY: Good job, Natalie, for getting all your Jr. Ranger questions right.
NATALIE: Woo-hoo! I like doing the Jr. Ranger activities and games!
AMY: Then we drove just a little more than an hour to Walnut Grove, MN. There are many Laura Ingalls Wilder sites spread throughout South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri, but Walnut Grove is certainly what I remember best from the TV show. It was fun to see all the exhibits and memorabilia in this small museum. However, the weekends in July are very busy and we were quickly overwhelmed by a crowd of visitors, so we didn’t stick around.
NATALIE: My favorite part was the model of their house. I wish I could build one and play with it.
AMY: Emily, our resident safety inspector, leaves us reminders:
AMY: Now, if you saw my itinerary Jon posted, I made no mention of this next stop. Emily, however, saw that we were close to a large city, so she started to check out the airport and the potential for plane spotting. Before I knew it, she had a day planned in Minneapolis. We were less than 70 miles away from the airport, so I was game.
AMY: In her research, she found this hill where we picnicked and watched the planes come and go. We even saw a fighter jet take off, our bonus for the afternoon!
AMY: Part of Emily’s itinerary was to stop at the Mall of America, conveniently located near the airport.
NATALIE: My favorite part of the mall was the American Girl Store! I really wanted the camping gear, but I didn’t have enough money. :(
NATALIE: I didn’t care about the rides, I like to shop!
AMY: Emily was immediately drawn to the “Peeps” store. She loves them! I wasn’t expecting much, because I am a chocolate girl. However, we were greeted with free samples of their chocolate Peepsters when we walked in. Oh my, the dark chocolate variety is very good!
NATALIE: The milk chocolate Peepsters were good too. I also loved the giant stuffed bunnies you see in the background (which I wanted, but I didn’t even have enough money for the medium-sized one).
AMY: I don’t think they would have fit in the RV either!
NATALIE: These were great Lego sculptures! My favorite one was the warrior with the big horned sheep, but you can’t see that one in this picture. Mom also made a challenge for us: if we could figure out the new price of an item on sale she would buy it for us. I got some mix-and-match socks and fake nails that smell like fruit. Little Miss Matched was my favorite store!
AMY: Here’s Emily with one of her purchases of the day. Imagine that…building a Lego plane!
AMY: We will be camping near Rochester, MN for most of the week. Next weekend, we will travel through Wisconsin for a few stops, then back to Indy. Unbelievable. This journey has taken us places we never knew existed and taught us more about our country and ourselves. I have loved the life lessons we have learned and will now face the challenge of incorporating those into the next chapter of our lives (whatever that ends up being!)