Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Going Home

It was the "what day will we be home" questions from the boys that got the crazy idea started.

Jen was hotel shopping as we relaxed in our room at the Wyoming Inn after dinner. At the time she was planning to stay near Rapid City, SD the next day. As soon as the boys asked the question I was ready to drive straight home. I was past the "let's just move out west" thoughts I'd had the day before and ready to get home. (yes mom, I even had a position with my current company located in Colorado) We didn't really set it in stone to drive straight back but would see how it felt the next day.

After a second good nights sleep we packed the Jeep, had breakfast and grabbed sandwiches for lunch at on the way out of Jackson by 8am. In Wyoming style we hit road construction within 45 minutes. We were lucky to only wait a couple of minutes, mosquitoes swarmed the Jeep the minute we stopped. Once clear of the construction we were flying towards Casper. We managed to only get stopped at construction once more where we sat for a couple minutes and then bailed up a side road after consulting the map.

Lunch was eaten at a wayside, a good breeze made it bearable but hard to keep wrappers under control. With lunch over we headed to get gas as we passed Casper and continued towards Mount Rushmore. Up until Casper there had been mountains to see in the distance to the north and south, now we were back to nothing. We did hit a dust storm that even got the boys attention. The temperature had been climbing all day and by the time we turned north it was 98. Twice we hit a bit of rain and I'd watch as the temperature outside would drop. When we finally got to highway 16 we stopped for gas and snacks before heading into South Dakota.

Our next stop was Jewel Cave. Unfortunately all the tours were sold out for the rest of the day, Kevin stamped his passport and we headed down the road. Custer State Park was up next, it looked nice and might be a future vacation spot.

Highway 16A is known as the Needles Highway and is it curvy. I would have enjoyed the road more in my Subaru but the Jeep was faster than those in front of us anyway. Once the two drivers in front of us decided sightseeing shouldn't be done in traffic at 10 under the speed limit we had a nice ride through the curves, tunnels and corkscrew bridges. In order to get the boys to look out the windows I offered $5 to the first person to spot "the faces" as Zack referred to Mount Rushmore. Jenny won and told the boys they could split the money.Looking back we should have spent more time at Mount Rushmore, not only are the faces impressive but the whole area is quite impressive. Since this was it for visitor center stops and the boys had put up with the long drive so well they got pretty much whatever they wanted. Kevin had not asked for much the whole trip and here Zack said he wanted a puzzle because "mom and grandma like doing them". Yeah either I've got really good kids or they play me like a violin. Two coins featuring Mount Rushmore for their collections added to the pile before checking out. We walked around a little to shoot photos which all were overexposed in the sky, next time I'll get it right.

Back on the road we passed through Keystone which looked like a very lively tourist trap on our way to Rapid City. We grabbed dinner at two drive-thru windows and continued on. The rest of the trip was a blur of drive, sleep, refuel, drink coffee and drive some more.

We got home by 9am or 24 hours after we left Jackson. The Jeep was emptied and gear was lined up for washing or to be repacked for storage until the next big adventure.