Saturday, April 29, 2017

Z is for Zee End?

It's already the end.  I was already worried about the end and now it is here.

Like the A to Z challenge, my vacation will also have to end and we will have to return to normal, everyday life.

Go do all the work, go do all the derby, go do all the things you didn't have to think about while on vacation.

What was your favorite part of the challenge?  Did you survive it?

Link me with your favorite post.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Y is for Yellowstone

Yellowstone!  We are spending three nights and two full days there!  I am excited.  It's going to be a long drive from the Devils Tower area to Yellowstone.  I am opting for a route that is about forty miles longer than the shortest.  Reason why?  Because I will need to grocery shop at that point and I do not want to do it near the national park.  They are tourist trap towns with inflated grocery prices.  My sister warned me about them.  The grocery stores inside the park are considerable cheaper than the ones right outside but the variety of food and brands lacks.  We will be doing our grocery shopping in Billings, Montana.  Plus, I wanted to add Montana to our lists of states visited.

In Yellowstone, we will be staying in the Bridge Bay Campground.  It's a large campground for both RVs and Tents.  People have mixed feelings on the place.  I figure, we aren't going to be spending much time at our actual campsite, so I'm not super worried about things. 
Picture from
Yellowstone is a caldera geothermal hotspot.  It's one big super volcano.  There is so much to see there.  I like watching the webcam for Old Faithful.  Right now, there is snow on the ground but there are still visitors hanging out. 

I remember watching Old Faithful on my trip to Yellowstone when I was little.  I remember the large amounts of water and wondering where it went.  I don't remember the crowds though.  We have been warned of the crazy crowds.  My plan is to get up early on our first morning there, we aren't going to sleep well in the tent anyhow, so we might as well get up and going, grab a cold breakfast (We love Poptarts and granola bars!) and drive over to Old Faithful. It's only about thirty miles but the drive is an hour and a half.  This day, we will hit up the Upper Geyer Basin, this is where the majority of the geothermic activity takes place in the park.  It's also known as the Lower Loop.  If we get there before the big crowds, we can get some quality walking and hiking time in to see the features.  We will hit up the rest of the Lower Loop, I'm guessing with traffic it's pretty much going to take up our whole day. 

Let me back track a little.  We will be driving in through the North Entrance of the Park.  Near the North Entrance of the Park, we will find Boiling River.  One of the best kept secrets of Yellowstone.  I am hoping that is open since we will be visiting in Spring.  If it's not, that's a bummer but we will move on and see other things.  The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is on our way to our camp site.  Actually that whole highway is full of things to do and see and fall in love with. 

I want to hike Lamar Valley for at least half a day.  I do want to venture down into the Grand Tetons for a look see.  It's about 100 miles from our campground.  I don't know if we will have time. 

Our Yellowstone time is one that I do not have detailed and planned out.  That's why I want books, so I can try to decide what to do.  I know three days of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons is not nearly enough.  So we will just have to go back sometime. :)

What are your favorite things to do in Yellowstone?

writers workshop: Where Would You Go?

You have to move away from your state in one month. List 6 destinations you wouldn’t mind relocating to.


I want to live there.  I want to live in a place that I don't know the language.  I want to live in a place that eats "weird" food.  I just want to live in a place as beautiful as Iceland with abundant natural features to discover.  That island of fire and ice could keep me busy for a very long time.

Eureka Springs, Arkansas

I love Eureka Springs.  They have Turpentine Creek, the Crescent Hotel, the big Jesus statue and lots of outdoor space.  Hiking, climbing, caving, camping all in the mountains of Arkansas.  Yes, Arkansas has mountains.  Mountains that are much older than the Rockies.

New Orleans, Louisiana

Why not?  Only for a short short though.  I don't think I could handle it for very long.

Somewhere on the big continent of Australia

Another why not?  It's not hurting anything, is it?!  And there is a lot of roller derby there.

Out in the Middle of Nowhere South Dakota

I could do all those awesome homesteading things.  It might be fun for a while.

I cannot think of a sixth one right now.  Actually, I can, but I'll keep it a secret. 

Linking up with Mama Kat this week for the Writer's Workshop.  You should check it out.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Thursday, April 27, 2017

X is for Xenagogy

There are around 400 words that start with X.  That does not include proper nouns.  I'm sure there are lots of made up X names out there.  I've seen a lot of them and trust me, those parents get pissed if you pronounce it wrong.  Stop flipping making up names and maybe I'll be able to pronounce them.  The "ghetto name" is a thing.  It's real.


I found the word Xenagogy.  It means a guidebook for tourist or visitors.  It's a very rare word.  Barely used in today's vernacular. 

You know I have perused many of online guidebooks.  I even looked at numerous book stores for good guidebooks to places.  I wanted some off the beaten path, maps and stuff like that.  They are hard to find, if one even exists.  I like to read about things and have as much knowledge as possible.

Maybe, I can write one.  Hahaha!  I'm not an xcellent writer.  I do it for fun.  I like to have my thoughts on paper...okay...written somewhere where I can go back and look from time to time.  I can at least write my tips and tricks and things I learned a long the way.  Right?

Xcellent X-Words is where I found my word at.  So if you need help with coming up with a word, check there.   There are so xtraordinary choices on there.   

Only two days left....I am feeling sad that this is coming to an end.  I have enjoyed all the comments and finding others blogs to read.    If you want to stick around after this all ends, I'm okay with that too. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

W is for Weather

I've been researching the weather for the places we are going to visit during vacation. 

So far, Wyoming is looking fantastic.  The first night we are staying in Wyoming, it is calling for abundant sunshine.  I'm down for abundant sunshine.

For Yellowstone, they are predicting 60s during the day and on the day we are leaving, they are predicting snow.  Snow happens in June?!?

But since we are leaving and traveling to southern Wyoming, we will have high 70s.

For our South Dakota part, we are going to have some lovely mid-60s with scattered storms.  I'm totally okay with this.  Spring storms are fun.

The night we stay in the Badlands, it will be warmer.  Temperatures in the Badlands are historically higher than other parts of South Dakota. 

It looks like we must prepare for all types of weather, dress in layers and not forget our rain fly. :)

What's your weather like?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

V is for Vacation

That's my whole theme here.  Vacation.  This is how my dumb brain works, I actually was having a hard time thinking of a V word.  So I looked up V words that pertained to vacations.  Guess what the first word was?

Other words on that list included: vehicle, video, video camera, visit and voyage.

Decent V words.....

Vacation.  I have a ton of vacation time.  It's because I'm always at work.  I'm not to the point of use it or lose it...yet.  After this vacation, I will still have over a week and a half of time left.

Working for the Government has its perks.  Like vacation time and a ton of paid holidays.  I like paid holidays.  Especially Truman Day.  Nobody else gets that day off.  It's coming up next month and I'm excited about that. 
On vacation, we will be traveling to nine states.  Two that I have never been to before.  One of those things that I want to accomplish before my last day of my thirty ninth year, is to visit all of the United States.  I want a cheesy vacation picture in front of every state sign (except Kansas and Missouri because that's every day)

I want to have fun and not worry about school, so in the thirty so odd days until vacation, I will finish all of my classes for the semester.

I want to write reviews for all the places we visit.  I actually love writing good reviews, even though I really love reading all the bad ones and the responses of the places.  Do you like writing reviews?  What websites do you utilize for making/reading reviews? 

I want to pack minimally and use resources wisely.  I/We don't need a lot of extra stuff.  Think of all those things you have packed and never thought of or used during your actual vacation.

I'm excited to use the drone and the go-pro to make some videos.  Even though  I suck at editing, but the only way to get better is to keep doing it and learning.  I mean, I didn't know even a simple code for my blog when I started and I know some stuffs now. 

The most important thing about vacation though is that I don't have to work for almost two  full weeks.  That's important, yo.

U is for Ulimate Must See List for South Dakota

Here is my family's must see list for South Dakota!  We are ready to check off these things!
  • Falls Park in Sioux Falls
  • The Sculpture Walk
  • Sleeping Under the Stars
  • The 1880s Town
  • Badlands National Park
  • Cosmos Mystery Area
  • Hike Black Elk Peak
  • Wall Drug Donuts
  • Dinosaur Park
  • The Berlin Wall Exhibit
  • Wonder around downtown Rapid City
  • Panning for Gold
  • Mt. Roosevelt Hike
  • Dough Traders Pizza
  • DC Booth Fish Hatchery
  • Mount Rushmore (Kinda)
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Rush Mountain Park
  • Caputa Alpacas
  • Scenic Ghost Town
  • Galena Ghost Town
  • Spokane Ghost Town
  • Eat German food in Hills City
  • Eat Indian Tacos
  • Concrete Outline of USS South Dakota
  • Six Ton Prairie Dog
  • Corn Palace
  • Homestake Mine and Make a Hole in One
  • Deadwood
  • St. Peters Rock Grotto
  • Lonely dinosaur along I-90
Is that enough for South Dakota or do we need to add more?  What are your "Bucket List" items? 

Monday, April 24, 2017

T is for Town....1880s Town that is....

You know my oldest is all excited about the Ghost Towns, he's just as excited for the 1880s Town.
This stop is located about 22 miles west of Murdo, SD.  This town offers a nice stop during our long drive through South Dakota.  People have described it as being in the middle of nowhere.

We will be hitting up this place a couple of days before Memorial Day weekend, so I am hoping it won't be too crowded.

Have you ever been here?  Tell me your stories of visiting replica old West towns!

Friday, April 21, 2017

R is for Relaxation

Vacations.  Relaxation. They are supposed to go together.  More and more, I hear, I need a vacation from my vacation.  I don't want our vacation to be like that.  I want us to be, we get there when we get there.  We will still be able to see all the places we want to see even if we take it slow.  We don't have to be on the road traveling long distances every day.

Sometimes I relax by watching the webcam for Old Faithful.  The abundant crowds of summer are not upon the park and somehow the steam calms my nerves at times.

What do you do to relax, while on vacation, or just in your everyday life?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Q is for a Quite a While Ago

Once upon a time, I went to Yellowstone with my grandparents.  I don't remember it being extremely crowded and I don't remember the trip taking that long to get there.  I know we stopped in Loveland, Colorado for a few nights.  I loved the campground we stayed at.  It had a pool.  I remember my grandparents telling me about a boulder that fell on someone's car while they were driving, so I was always looking out for falling boulders.
It has been 27 years since I have been to Wyoming.  I have wanted to go back for the longest time.
To stick my feet in the water of the river.
One thing I can remember is that I dropped one of those plastic t-shirt holders past the boardwalk.  Remember, this was the early nineties.  I had an awesome watermelon shirt and matching shorts with my t-shirt tied on the corner, because that was the thing.  I was playing with it and dropped it.  I was so upset.  My grandpa didn't think twice.  He jumped off the boardwalk and grabbed it for me and scrambled back up. 

So happy throw back Thursday!  Show me your nineties pics!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

P is for Packing

P is for Packing
With every vacation comes packing.  With packing comes a list!  I love lists!  So very much so!  Especially when I check mark something off of that list.  It makes me so gleefully happy.
My Camp Kitchen List
  • Cast Iron Skillet/Dutch Oven
  • Cast Iron Flat pan
  • Table Cloth/Picnic Blanket
  • Trashbags
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Napkins/Paper Towels
  • Matches/Lighter
  • Dish Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Antibacterial Wipes
  • Dish Towels
  • Dish Tub/Sponges
  • Cooking Oil and Spray
  • Cutting Board/Knives
  • Oven Mitts
  • Can Opener
  • Scissors
  • Mixing Bowl/Spoons
  • Camp Stove
  • Propane
My Inside the Tent Tub
  • Toiletries – I don’t have to list them, do I?
  • Shower Bag
  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Jackets/Sweatshirts
  • Rain Gear
  • Lanterns
  • Flashlights
  • Blankets
  • Pillows
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Sleeping Mats
  • Flip Flops/Sandals
  • Hats
  • Sunglasses
Camping Supplies
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Spray
  • Toilet Paper
  • Glowsticks
  • Bug Candle
  • Rubber Mallet/Hammer
  • Compass
  • Pocket Knife
  • Tarps
Misc. Stuff
  • Cooler
  • Firewood
  • Water
  • Air Mattress and Pump
  • Swimming Stuff
  • Food
  • Reservation Info
  • Paper Maps
  • Coupons/Budget
  • Camp Chairs
  • Roasters
  • Tent
 What am I missing?!?

O is for Outdoor Fun

On vacation we are going to be outside….a lot.  A lot of the things we have planned take place outdoors.  I know I’ve already blogged about quite a few of our activities; adventure parks, ghost towns and national parks. 

Cooking, tent camping and hiking.  All outdoor fun things.

Pretty much everything on our trip will be a big bunch of outdoor fun.

Monday, April 17, 2017

N is for Nighttime

Vacation.   The nighttime during vacation. 

Nighttime will be filled with campfires, star gazing and visiting a few places that are amazing in the dark.  I already blogged about the nighttime at Devils Tower we are excited for.

We will be visiting Crazy Horse at night.  My sister and brother-in-law told me it was better at night when everything was lit up.  They were also not crazy about Mount Rushmore and loved Crazy Horse.  I’ve heard the opposite from another person though.  I’m going to go with my sister and brother-in-law though; I trust their opinions and my sister and I are similar in some of the things we like.

The admission for Crazy Horse is normally $28.00 per car for over two people.  The weekend we are going, we can donate three cans of food per person and have the admission fee waived.  I need to get twelve cans of food for us to donate.  I believe it goes to a local food pantry.

The memorial has a Legends in Light Laser Show at 9:30 pm while we are there.  It turns the side of the mountain into a light show.  My sister said it was pretty awesome.  Have you ever been?
The stargazing is supposed to be wonderful.  Less light pollution.  I can’t wait. The stars outside are big and bright, deep in the heart….of South Dakota.
Picture from NPS website
The smell of the campfire and roasting s’mores and hanging out.  Possibly falling asleep next to the fire.  Never done that before.  Not ever.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Once upon a time, I was the cute little girl in the background with the bunny ears.  Once upon a time, my grandpa was a funny character who puts paper bags over his head.  I found this picture at my moms house and I love it so much.

Happy Easter friends!  I am not a religious person.  My church is the church of derby.  But Easter is a time for family and to get together and eat good food.  I'll share our Easter menu in another post sometime soon.  

I love to dye eggs and watch the kids hunt for them.  You are never too old for egg dye and Easter egg hunts.  I love to decorate my ugly mantel to make it look a little less ugly.

What do you enjoy doing for Easter?

Friday, April 14, 2017

M is for Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore.  Sigh.  I know this is a place that everyone wants to visit while in the Black Hills.
I have to tell you though, this is the place I am least excited to visit.  I'm torn on a few things.
I know I need to take the children here so they can say that they have been to Mount Rushmore.
I know it's an amazing feat of sculpting, but the person who designed it, their values hit me in the wrong spot.

Let's start out with the sight.
There is no entrance fee, but you do have to pay $10 to park.  The fee you pay for parking does not go to the monument.  It actually goes towards the company running the parking garage. 

Once you get into the memorial area there is a visitors center and a Presidential Trail that leads you closer to the memorial.  It states on there it is a .6 mile hike, so not very far.  They have an audio tour you can go on.
They have some Ranger Programs.  When I go to parks, most of the time I really enjoy the programs, so depending on the time of day we make it to Mount Rushmore, we will have to take in a program or two.
I was reading Josh Gates "Memoirs of a Monster Hunter" and I came along a little bullet point list of the places that didn't live up to their hype of being as awesome in real life as they were in pictures.
He mentioned Mount Rushmore.  Sure, it looks awesome in pictures, but it looks awkward in real life and the creator was a member of the KKK.
Now, that made me gasp a little. So being the person I am, I had to research it.
Gutzon Borglum.  He was in the KKK, even though after a falling out with them (he was dismissed from the Stone Mountain in Georgia project) he claims to not be a member.
He worked on the Mount Rushmore project from 1927 until his death in 1941.
His son took over the project for one year after he died.  He finished all that his father had needed to do for completion.
How many people know about Gutzon Borglum?  He was a fantastic artist, but still.

That's why I'm torn.

Have you ever been to Mount Rushmore?
Share your experiences with me!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

L is for Lunches

L is for lunches!

Lunches while on vacation.  My mind keeps going to McDonalds, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, etc….  Then my mind goes to how upset my stomach will be while on vacation and how much money that it will cost with the four of us.

Here are some things I’ll be bringing with us on our journey to stave off the hunger and won’t make us have to make more stops on the road than we want to.

The Classic Brown Bag lunch (sans the brown bag): Sandwiches!  PB&J, Ham and Turkey, all the things the kiddos enjoy and that will keep well in the cooler.  Chips: same bag variety pack and Pringles.  Fruits and veggies with dips. Granola bars and snack mixes.

Tuna Salad packs.  They have them at Aldis and they come with crackers.  My daughter loves them.  They do not need to be refrigerated, so they are pretty much perfect.

Salads in a jar.  Enough said.  They were the rage on Pinterest a while back, I know because I pinned a lot of them.

Pita Bread and hummus.

Tortilla Roll-ups!  Prepared with cheese and meats ahead of time.

Cheese, pepperonis and crackers.  My favorite.  So much yum!

Quesadillas!  Prepared ahead of time and still taste yummy!

And we could always get Lunchables. J

What are you easy, over the road lunches?

K is for Keepsakes and Kindness

Keepsakes (Souvenirs) and Kindness
Every trip deserves a few dollars in the budget for Keepsakes.  I can tell you, I’m not a huge fan of souvenirs.   I think a majority of them are a waste of money and quite tacky. 
My daughter does like to get patches from places she visits.  I think that is a great idea.  She has a box full of patches from places we have visited.  We need to figure out what to do with them.

Sometimes I’ll get some cute shot glasses that will barely be used, from places I visit.
The boys just want food and candy.  Very rarely do they ask for anything from the gift shops.
Sometimes we get t-shirts.  I think in Yellowstone we will have to get some t-shirts.

What kind of keepsake/souvenirs do you like to get on trips?
Kindness is my second K word.  
We must be kind to those around us and the things around us.  I was trying to think of some kind things I can do for others on our trip. 
I plan on picking up a lot of donuts at Wall Drug to share with people that will be camping around us.  Everyone loves donuts.
At Crazy Horse, they are doing a food donation drive during the time we are going to be there.  I am going to get some food to donate while we are there.
I am going to give people the benefit of the doubt; that we are all here to be kind and visit a beautiful place.
What kind things do you do for people while on vacation?  How do you pay it forward?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

J is for....

Jacket, Journey, Jewel, Judge, Jump.....

J words are hard. 

I know we will need jackets on this grand vacation (JOURNEY!) of ours.  Jackets are okay, but I like hoodies better.  They seem warmer to me.  Maybe I'm cray.

South Dakota temperatures are fairly cool during the end of May and beginning of June.    The temps for Wyoming look to be in the 60s and 70s during the day.

Yellowstone does have a place that we can jump in a river.  It is called Firehole Canyon.  The River is supposed to be warm year round.  This is the only sanctioned swimming hole in Yellowstone that will be open while we are there.  We will definitely have to make the jaunt to jump in this River. 

Jewel Cave is a place that we can go if we have extra time. It's a first come, first serve cave tour.  It's warned if you don't get there super early, that you probably won't get in on the cave tour.  That's why I'm opting towards the Wind Cave instead.  I like caves but I'm not going to spend half a day waiting to tour one. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

::On my shelf:: “The Thousandth Floor”

::On my shelf:: “The Thousandth Floor”

“The Thousandth Floor” by Katharine McGee takes place in New York, one hundred years from now.  And it’s a book set in the future that is not a dystopian novel.  Wha?!  You mean, not everyone is predicting a future of dismal and despair? 
Now that I say that, the novel opens with a girl falling to her death from the Thousandth Floor.  We don’t know who the girl is and how she got into that situation.
The story revolves around five main characters.  After the dramatic opening, it goes back three months to give us a backstory that leads up to the events.
Avery is a GMO, she is genetically perfect, genes taken from both of her parents to be perfect.  She has a brother named Atlas.  He’s adopted.  That’s important.  She also lives on the Thousandth Floor.
Watt, he’s a genius and he has a computer in his head. He makes money using that computer and hacking things.  He expectantly meets a girl, a girl who uses him and then hurts him.
Rylin, she’s an orphan, raising her sister, fell into a job that helps her and fell in love with her boss who loves her.
Eris, she falls from the top to the near bottom when a family secret was discovered.  And then it gets worse.
Leda, her family moved up in life, but that doesn’t stop her drug problem.  Leda has dirt on everyone and wants to blackmail them and make their lives miserable.
The novel takes place in New York, in a skyscraper that nobody ever has to leave to live life.  They have everything within the building.  Parks, churches, movie theaters, stores, streets, street lights, cars, etc… you get the picture.  It’s a self-sustaining environment.  The higher you go up, the better the living.  The bottom floors are depressing and the slums.
When I finished the book, I didn’t realize that the book was a trilogy.  Thank goodness for that because I was going to be really upset if the book ended how it did.  No real conclusion or ending to it.
You will like some of the characters and you will hate and despise a few of them.
I don’t want to go into the plot because it will give things away.  But, I would love to talk to you if you have read it!

I is for Itinerary

Every trip must have some sort of Itinerary, right?   We most certainly do.  I’m going to give a brief outline.
First off, we have to leave home.  Since the oldest child is getting out of school that day, we cannot leave until 2 pm.  That’s the plan anyway.  I have the day off before so I plan on getting everything loaded and packed up then.  Also, to grocery shop and prepare any meals that I can ahead of time.
Our first destination on our trip is Sioux Falls, SD.   It’s almost 5 and half hours of driving time.  We will have to stop and eat at some point.  Kids get hungry.  Sioux Falls is mainly just somewhere to sleep.   If we aren’t too exhausted from all the driving, we will visit Falls Park and Sculpture Walk.  They are free and not too far from the hotel we are staying at.
The next day we will be traversing most of the state of South Dakota.  There are a few places we might stop at depending on what everyone wants to do.  We will have to stop at the famed Mitchell Corn Palace and take a glimpse.  There is also the Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village that the kids seemed interested in.  We will have lunch in the car because I’ve been warned there is NO WHERE to eat along the highway.  Also, I was warned, get gas whenever you see a gas station.  We plan on stopping by the 1880s Town and Wall Drug.  Wall Drug is super important as that’s where we are going to get our breakfast for the next morning.  Donuts.  Enough to share, because who doesn’t love donuts!  That night we are staying in the Badlands National Park. 
Picture from visit Rapid City
After leaving the Badlands in the morning, we will visit the alpaca farm.  We will head into Rapid City for a while.  There is the Museum of Geology, Dinosaur Park (picnic lunch here) and Chapel in the Hills.  We will visit the Cosmos Mystery Area and then head to our campground for the night.  We will visit the Crazy Horse Memorial at night!  Super excited about that one.  It’s supposed to be beautiful.
Picture from Trip Advisor
The next couple of days, we will be camped out in the same place, taking in the places of the Black Hills.  A visit to the Wind Caves National Park, Custer State Park, Rush Mountain Adventure Park, hike Black Elk Peak, lunch at the Alpine Inn, Galena  and we can’t forget Mount Rushmore.
Picture from their website
When we leave our campground, we will be heading toward Wyoming with a few stops in between.  HomeStake Visitor Center, Deadwood things: Broken Boot Gold Mine, Mt.Roosevelt Memorial, Dough Traders for Pizza!, DC Booth Fish Hatchery all before we head to the hotel.  We will have dinner at the little diner than head to Devils Tower for the night show.
The next day is a heavy travel day.  We will be heading from the Devils Tower area all the way to Yellowstone Park via Montana.  The next three days will be all Yellowstone and Grand Tetons exploring.  We could probably spend a lot longer there, but we have to head home sometime.
After we leave Yellowstone, we will travel to Cheyenne to our hotel.  The only stop we have planned is the historic Wyoming Frontier Prison.

From Cheyenne, this is where it gets iffy.  Either we will spend the day and night in Denver than make the long trek through Kansas or we will just knock the rest of the way home in one day.  I opt for the Denver stop over.
I’ve been accused of over planning at times, but hey, I am who I am.