Several months ago, Mom told us that she’d like to take our family and my sister’s family out west to visit Montana and Wyoming. It was a trip that she and Dad had taken with us a few times when we were kids, and it would be a fitting way to honor Dad’s memory. Dad loved this area of the country, and we could relive old memories while making new ones with our kids. We had been trying to figure out a way financially to make this trip anyway, so we were excited and definitely wanted to go.
We set our dates and made some plans and then waited for July to come.
Fast forward to:
3:15 a.m., July 9
That’s what time we woke up in order to get to the airport on time. It’s so hard to sleep when you know that if you don’t wake up on time, you will miss your airplane. We got all of the kiddos up and loaded the car and we were off. 10 minutes down the road, Will realized he didn’t bring his iPod. He had his headphones, but no iPod. There was no time to go back, and his disappointment was unmistakable. Bless it. Every teenagers needs music. We had to set his problems aside, though, because getting five adults and six children through airport security and onto the plane on time was our main priority.
So thankful that Southwest Airlines lets you check two bags free; we had so much stuff. What a circus!
We were some of the last people on the plane, but we made it. We connected in Chicago and landed in Denver. We were in the Denver airport for about two and a half hours, gathering all of our stuff and then schlepping it all to the rental car place. People were lined up out the door at the rental car place. We had been up for hours, snacked on granola bars for breakfast, and were seriously sleep- and food-deprived. We finally got our two cars and were on the road. Chick-fil-A was clearly the first stop on our great big trip out west.
After eating, we settled in for the long haul. We were traveling from Denver, Colorado, to Keystone, South Dakota, close to Mount Rushmore. Mount Rushmore was a favorite memory for me.
The drive took about seven hours. It was beautiful!
Keystone was not beautiful, but it would do. Our hotel rooms were small, but we did not care! It was about 8 p.m. mountain time (10 p.m. eastern), and we had been up for almost 19 hours. However, I really wanted to go see the Evening Lighting Ceremony at Mount Rushmore. We were all going to visit the monument the next day, but my guidebook said this ceremony was a good one to see. I was afraid I would be the only one up for it, but our whole family went, leaving Mom and Sam’s family at the hotel.
There was just enough daylight left to see the monument, take a selfie which only showed parts of Emma and Will and none of the presidents, and find a place to sit.
We sat and ate our sandwiches and just enjoyed being outside after a day of sitting in one mode of transportation or another. The weather was lovely; a welcome change from our South Carolina heat. We met the people who sat in front of us, a family of six. Both parents taught school and they were spending the summer traveling from Pennsylvania to Washington state and camping along the way.
The lighting ceremony was informative and patriotic; a ranger led the talk and we sang the the Star-Spangled Banner. They lit up the presidents one by one and talked about each one and why they were up there. At the end, they lit up all four.