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).
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:
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:
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?
Sam 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:
Another 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!
We 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!