Monday, September 19, 2016

Our Black Hills Journey!

The children have all heard about Mt Rushmore in our home school
but getting to see it in person was a wonderful learning experience!

First stop-
Badlands National Park!

Absolutely gorgeous views!

We took the loop through the park and
stopped at three different spots to take in the scenery and stretch our legs!

The children loved hiking around the hills!

God is such an amazing artist!

Hubby and I have been here 2 other times with the big kids.

It was such a joy to be able to take this crew on this adventure!

Sarah loves to do handstands where ever she is!
The Florida beach and now the Badlands!
Who knows where the next handstand will take place?

A storm was rolling in as we were finishing up our drive.

It was quite stunning!

One minute it looked like we were heading right into it

but then the road would twist and turn and it seemed that we would miss it!

It was a race and we had quite the good time trying to beat the storm!

We ended up in one minute down pour in Wall, South Dakota!

Next, we stopped at Wall Drug for a root beer float!

Sarah just so happened to have a friend from her orphanage
that lived in Rapid City, SD!

The timing was perfect and we met them for dinner!
Buffalo Wild Wings seems to be a good fit for large families to meet at!
They have 11 kids(9 came to dinner) and we have 19 kids(14 kids came to dinner).
Plus two sets of parents!

Thank you Rhonda, Ryan, Janelle and family!
It was such a joy chatting, laughing and getting to know you!
I LOVE meeting up with other families that have adopted!
There is an instant bond and understanding!

Sarah is 16 and Janelle is 20.
The girls are from the same orphanage in Jiangsu Province.
There are not very many kids that are adopted from this orphanage.

As I have said before~
There is something incredibly healing with a child/teen reconnects 
with another child/teen from their orphanage.
It's freeing them for their future and at the same time validating their past.

The next day was the moment we had all been waiting for

Our turn for a pic!

This is official documentation that
were there!
Yes children, I am talking to YOU!

We brought Johnny here when he was 5 years old.
It didn't make much of an impression on him because he has
"no recollection"
of ever being here.

We were able to secure 16 headsets for our walking tour.
(They did not want to give them to us... but we insisted and we got them!)

All of the children know the faces that are up there!

They loved listening to the walking presentation!

Everybody did a good job!

It's a trip worth taking!

No one dropped their headphones!

We returned 16 intact and working headphones!

It's an amazing story!

And an incredible site to see!

Mia goes to the beat of a different drummer.
She doesn't always want to do what the other kids are doing.
That's okay!

Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum worked on this project from 1927–1941.
It was the vision of Gutzon Borglum but sadly he passed away before the project was finished.
His son, Lincoln Borglum finished the it for his father.

And what do we have in common with
George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln?

Well, all four were homeschooled!

The walk is under a mile and takes you closer to the site.
After this we stopped in Keystone for some fudge!

Lunch was at a pizza place in Keystone where the children got to practice tossing the  dough!

Then off to Jewel Cave National Monument!
The cave was fantastic but my pics didn't turn out...

Note to self- no cell phone shots in caves!

We drove through part of Custer State Park.
We sometimes wondered if Sylvia was going to make it through 
some of the tight spots?

We saw many deer and other wildlife!

One of us is not happy...hmmm?
Can you guess which one???

Take two with Mom!
Okay, we got a little smile now.
She was probably a little hypoglycemic and cranky...
Plus being a teen and a tad carsick...
Well, that will do anyone in, I guess!

The temperature would be 90 degrees and then 
a quick cool front comes in and it drops 30 degrees!

Love our State and National Parks!
Way to go Teddy Roosevelt!

This is the "Needles Eye"!

That's a little jeep going through there!

We decided not to take a chance

with Sylvia...

My luck...
we would have gotten stuck in the middle!

I can see the headline now
"Large Family Stuck in Needles Eye"

Black Hills- you are beautiful!

We then came to the conclusion that we were all hypoglycemic and that Taffy was in order!
So we got some...
okay, maybe more than some...
we got a lot!
15 pieces of this flavor and that flavor and we just couldn't stop ourselves!
(Hubby refrained and was kinder to his teeth than I was!)

Day three-
 Out door playtime and then off to find some buffalo!
We also got some bad news...

Our doggy Mimi was not doing well...
We weren't sure what to do...
We love our doggy so much and did not want her to pass without us.
The news surprised us.
Yes, she was old at 13.5 yrs but she seemed to be maintaining just fine.
Thankfully we had an awesome doggy sitter who helped her be comfortable
buy taking her to the vet for fluids and medicine.

AND our three big boys
spent time loving and caring for her until we could get home.

We drove through the other side of Custer State Park.
We saw some pronghorns but not much else.
So we followed a couple cars off the beaten path and
a herd of 500-600 buffalo!

It was a sight to be scene!

They dotted the countryside!

Over each rolling hill more buffalo appeared!

They were right next to our vehicle.
We could reach out and touch them...
but we didn't!
(No thank you!)

Next were the burros!

For the most part, they were very friendly.

Lunch was in hot springs where we were the main attraction!
The headlines the next day read~
"Large Family Eats at Local Diner"

people literally stopped chewing their food to focus on the newcomers!
We smile, nod, nod and smile!
(and then leave a good sized tip ;-)

Wind Cave was next on the agenda!
It was discovered because of the wind coming out of that hole.

The caves are very different so I was glad we could see both of them!

In this cave the passage ways were very narrow
and we walked single file through the whole thing.

The caves are cool so we wore our sweatshirts.
They are about 49-53 degrees inside.

Golly, I love these children!
So thankful for our out of the norm choices!

In Wind Cave we needed to duck and sneak through a few places.

The walls and roofs are different between the two caves.
In Wind cave has boxwork whereas 
Jewel cave is more colorful and has stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone.
I actually like Wind cave best but many of the children liked
Jewel cave a little more.

The Mammoth Site in Hot Springs SD was our last planned stop.
The children are standing next to an image of a Colombian Mammoth.

So this is where we went on Day 4! 
In this pic they are next to a Woolly Mammoth.

The bones at this site are from a Colombian mammoth.

And all of them were males...
go figure!
The story goes that the male teen columbian mammoths would be 
"kicked out of the nest" so to speak earlier than the females.
Being young and inexperienced they did not use good judgement ;-)
So as they foraged for food along the sink hole they fell in and could not get out.

This is the largest and most intact one they have found.

It was so interesting!

And they are still excavating the site.
When I was young I wanted to be a paleontologist...
until I found out I'd have to leave home to do it!

We had to cut our time short here knowing that our doggy was sick.

We stopped at Hubby's work in Fort Collins, CO
and met all of the very nice people in the office.

And then guess who we ran onto!
Our precious grandbaby Elodie!
Oh yea, and her parents!

This was the first time the children saw her!
They were amazed at how tiny she was!

It was such a treat to spend time with Matt, Caitlin and Elodie!

Papa can't get enough of his sweet granddaughter!
The evening went by too fast but we were so thankful to have the time together!

Our sick doggy was weighing heavy on our hearts so the next day we started heading home.

This cute little guy lifted our spirits!

So what's between Denver, Colorado and Mpls, MN?
Well, that would be Des Moines, Iowa
and that means Lisa Ellsbury and family!!

We met at...
you guessed it-
Buffalo Wild Wings!

The older girls had a table and the grown ups sat with the younger children!

Just like Rhonda in the beginning of our trip, I could have talked to Lisa forever!

It was such a blessing to be able to meet and have time together!

Thank you for having a late lunch with us!

We were very thankful to be able to accomplish most of what we had hoped to do!
Time in the Colorado mountains had to go 
but I have a feeling we will be back there sometime soon!

Thank you Jesus!


Jboo said...

Wow!! Thanks for the amazing photos and narrative of your trip! Have always wanted to go to the Black Hills! Thanks for letting me tag along! Love your big, sweet family!

Jenny Leong said...

Jean, Thanks for the photo journey! Now I don't have to personally tour the Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore~~vicariously "tagged" along by reading this post and viewing the photos of the gorgeous scenery. Seriously though~ Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore are on my To-Do List.

Lisa Ellsbury and her family, especially Jasmine, are an inspiration. As is your family. So very happy to hear you got together.

Susan A said...

it's a lovely trip and loved seeing your pictures. I'm sorry to hear about your dog, hope everything is ok with her.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I've been at Mt Rushmore in December and May. It's spectacular in the winter. We don't do caves as I am claustrophobic and they scare me (I've been to the Mammoth Cave in Ky and that was awesome). When we were in Custer State Park there weren't nearly as many bison as there are now. It was many years ago and I am glad they are making strides in repopulating the area. Massive and wonderful creatures.

2 years ago my mom and I were driving back from dropping off my daughter to her new life in Chicago and we drove past a huge buffalo farm outside of St Paul. We drove 80 all the way to Utah and those were the only buffalo we saw. Go figure.

I hope you have peace with your dog. It's so hard when they are elderly and start losing losing ground. It seems they do it so fast.

Sammy said...

Amazing trip!

Laurel said...

What fun! I have taken my kids to many of those places. And . . . I did do the Needle Eye . . . in my 15 passenger van and towing a trailer. Yikes! My 16 year old got out and ran ahead so that he could take pictures of me driving through. I went soooo..... slow. :)

Where do you all stay on trips such as this? Will hotels allow you to rent lots of room with only 2 adults? Just curious . . .

I think you all should take a trip out to the NW. We would LOVE to host you all at our place.

love & hugs,


K said...

I love the forever smile on your husband's face, especially in the picture of all of you hiking. You are so blessed!

Thank you for sharing all your pictures and giving us readers a grand tour.

Hoffman Family said...

I love see pictures of Mt Rushmore and Black Hills since I live in South Dakota now. But I went there with my family few years ago. Hope in future that I can take my daughter to there so she can learn lot. I love see your pictures of your kids. :)

Thank you for sharing your pictures.