After our last night in Spearfish, we checked out and began working our way towards home. Spearfish was getting smacked with more snow, but the roads were ok as we traveled to Rapid City.
With two days of vacation left, we had more than though time to stop and check out a variety of places. I had booked a room for us in Pierre, so we’d be able to check out new places and take a different route home. Our first stop was at Reptile Gardens, a interesting wildlife spot in Rapid City. Donara and I had been here last year, and while William was a little apprehensive at encountering snakes, we went anyway.
We attended the bird and snake shows that they put on there. The handlers always have interesting things to say and the kids are riveted the entire time. Some time I’ll have to bring em there during high season and we can see the alligator show too. We walked around and checked out the exhibits and left.
We grabbed lunch before leaving Rapid City, drove back to Wall Drug so the kids could buy some junk. They did, and it was kinda fun being back there for a bit. After that, we began the long journey to Pierre. The terrain was sometimes rolling, sometimes prairie. I’ve enjoyed walking across grasslands this year, and I wished there had a been a place that wasn’t fenced up ranching land, so I could just stroll out into the wide open spaces. But it was ok just moving on.
After checking in at our motel in Pierre, we went out and checked out the town some. It was pretty cool. We headed up the Missouri to the Oahe Dam, since I’ve been digging that sorta thing lately. It is really fascinating the way they make these giant reservoirs out west. I’ll have to tour some dams on future trips. The Glen Canyon and Flaming Gorge dams would be good options, even though I’m not sure you can check out the latter.
It was windy and rainy at the dam, and back in town, so we went out for supper. After eating, it had stopped raining and we drove out to an island on the Missouri to hike. A half mile into our hike it started raining a bit, which turned into snow, and by the time we got near the car had to deal with a quarter mile of heavy wind blasting hail into our faces. That was interesting, to say the least.
We went back, and I let the kids swim until the pool closing time. It was a fine time, and it’s been really great watching Donara get better at swimming, she’s made huge improvements since last summer, from just trying to figure out how in motel pools. William has gotten quite good himself, but I barely remember the early days of that. I vaguely remember trying to help him be ok with jumping in, which he totally likes doing now.
The next day, we just drove back. It was nice traveling back a new way. There wasn’t a lot to do on the way home, but there really isn’t the normal way anyway. There were a few oddities that we checked out though, like a strange land bridge, some weird peace sign shaped manmade body of water, and the real life homes that the Little House on the Prairie book series were about.
The drive home was mostly uneventful. There was a long stretch of slushy road that wasn’t fun to drive. We stopped for Mexican food for lunch, and it was better than I normally find on the road. The kids both tried the hot sauce and it was hilarious as they panted and tried to put out the fire. We also stopped at a waterfall in Redwood Falls, and that was pretty sweet as well.
I guess that’s about it. We got home as darkness fell, and all in all drove a mere 1988 miles on this trip, low for me but not bad at all. I enjoy the road plenty, but cutting back on the driving wasn’t so bad.
It was a good trip. I’m glad I was able to give both the kids a trip during the school year, and I obviously had a great time exploring some and getting kickass photos. Life is pretty sweet right now. I’m determined to not let being back bring me down this time. I’ll be leaving again in a few weeks, and in the meantime hope I can maintain the confidence I’m feeling and the warm glow of recent travel.