Day Two: Keystone, SD to Billings, MT

Good morning, South Dakota! We woke up, packed up, and went on the hunt for a substantial breakfast in Keystone.  TripAdvisor suggested the Powder House, and it did not disappoint! Some of us had the regular fare of pancakes and bacon, and some of us had trout and bison for breakfast.  It was all delicious and a very pleasant way to start the day. We headed up the hill to Mount Rushmore to see it with the rest of the family in daylight. And we took a better picture of our family (actually, someone else did).

IMG_6531Woo hoo, day two with the Prezzies!

We stopped in at the visitor’s center to pick up a map and plan our visit. We knew that we had 400 miles to go to get to Billings, so we didn’t want to stay all day. This worked out nicely, because really, there is only so much gazing up at presidential heads that one can do, so we felt like everyone would be ready to go when it was time.  The entrance has all of the state flags, and we looked for ours:

IMG_6534Then we gathered the whole motley crew for the obligatory group pic:

IMG_6538What a bunch of good-looking peeps, huh?

We hit the Presidential trail, a little over half a mile long, nice and easy, to get up close and personal with the Presidents.  I’m surprised there’s not a cable car to George’s forehead. I think you can take a helicopter tour. Whaaat! That’s some serious love for granite sculptures. We did not look into it.

On the trail, we got some closer views of the presidents. Here’s Abe and George:

IMG_6543And here’s Sam and I acting like juveniles, trying to stick Sam’s finger up Abe’s nose. Darn auto-focus!

IMG_6544Oh well. The kids loved climbing on the big boulders and generally expending some pent-up energy.  We told them to all look serious in this picture (Maddie didn’t hear or opted out):

IMG_6551I’m not sure what Emma and Jack are looking at, but it looks like something out of the Hunger Games.

After doing a brief tour of the Sculptor’s Studio and watching the obligatory video on the creation of Mt. Rushmore at the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, we were getting hungry. Thankfully, Mount Rushmore serves very good ice cream. Who needs lunch?

IMG_6553Jack got a souvenir stamped penny.

IMG_6557And Ford got a mountain goat, which he was super proud of:

IMG_6559Sam and Trevor gave their kiddos a spending budget for souvenir purchases during the trip. I thought this was genius, because the kids thought a little harder about how they wanted to spend their money instead of clamoring for every toy and stuffed animal in sight, and they knew that once they had used their money, that was it! We didn’t do the same for our kids, but they are old enough to not be so souvenir-crazy, so it wasn’t an issue.

After ice cream and souvenir purchases, it was time to load up the vehicles and start the trek to Montana. We drove forever, but like yesterday, it was still beautiful:

IMG_6570Another smart thing my brother-in-law did was to bring along some walkie-talkie radios.  Let me tell you, the cell phone service in that area of the country is sparse! You definitely can’t get on the internet (or stream music, which was a sad discovery for me), and often you can’t make or receive calls. So the walkie-talkies were great for communication between the two vehicles!

IMG_6574We stopped to eat in Broadus, Montanta. There was no fast food, so we went to the grocery store and loaded up on picnic-type fare. We had seen a cute little park just a couple of minutes back, so we headed back there with our food. It was so nice to be out of the car for a while and watch the cousins play together. This was what the trip was all about, just enjoying spending time with each other in the great outdoors!

Reluctantly, we all piled back in to the vehicle for the final push. I had wanted to stop at the Little Bighorn Battlefield (where General Custer staged his famous Last Stand), but we got there right after it closed. Probably just as well, since we needed to keep pushing on to get to our hotel in Billings at a decent hour.

We made it to Billings probably around 9:30 or 10 p.m., ready to crash. The next day would include a lot of driving again, but we would end the day at the vacation home in Paradise Valley that Mom had rented for the week, and we were all looking forward to getting there!

IMG_6562I tried to buy this for Justin as an early birthday present, but he said he would pass. Sadness!

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