Sunday morning Rich and I were mostly awake because we had no choice. Everyone was dressed, the minivan was packed for the five hour trip to Rapid City, and all of us were HUNGRY for breakfast. Upon scoping out the breakfast situation at the Econolodge, the most accurate description I can think of is 40 cranky travelers and their kids, one waffle maker, six four-seater tables, and Torke coffee, all in an area the size of two smallish mini vans. Now, I am usually one that does not pass up a free breakfast, however, there is a point where I believe I invite my own pain (as this continued blogging of this trip will prove). As we were standing in line, I looked Rich. Rich looked at me. Our eyes met. I mouthed the word, “Perkins.” Rich nodded and sighed in relief. We quickly herded children, making sure we only herded the ones that belonged to us, and headed out the door.
After an uneventful trip to Perkins and Wal-mart, our clan was on the way to the Corn Palace. Anticipation was high. The temperature was higher. Tempers were even higher, but once we settled our bottoms into our seats, the intricate dance for which electronic device needed to be charged in the one working lighter plug-in began in earnest and kept the clan quite occupied. We arrived in Mitchell with a minimum of piddle emergencies* and trauma. The family watched the twelve minute video about the history of the Corn Palace. (Please note: Brandon did so under extreme duress, which caused me extreme stress.) Three of the children had their picture taken with the cheesy plastic corn on the cob in front of the Corn Palace; Brandon refused (little did I know that would be another reoccurring theme throughout the trip. Please reference the family photograph in front of Mount Rushmore).
Since no one in our group was overly impressed by the CP, it was time to lock and load the mini van and head off to the Badlands National Park. It was so cool to watch the kids scamper and jump all over the Badland formations. Rich was convinced that Lauren was going to tumble over and down, down into one of the seemingly bottomless canyons of which she kept peering over the edge. The boys, upon seeing the “Beware of Rattlesnakes” sign, admittedly lost some of their bravo and the Badlands lost some of their mystique and coolness. Rich and I wanted to climb Harney Peak, the top from which you can see five states, but our kids were definitely not up to the 3.2 one way climb over unkind terrain, so that idea was quickly shelved as Rich and I were not up to carrying four kids over unkind terrain. We made a few more scenic stops in the Badlands and then proceeded to Wall Drug for our free water.
Wall Drug, in short, is another word for a tourist zoo. Ugh. Been there, done that, took some cheesy tourist pictures and was so very happy to leave. The best word to described Rich’s feeling of Wall Drug: appalled.
Once again, the adventure became interesting when hit our “homebase” located in Rapid City. We checked into the AmericInn and went to forage for supper. Rich and I, with the blessing of the children, decided that the T.G.I.Friday’s seemed like our best bet on a Sunday night. Here is a word of advice to future travelers: When the waitress tells you there has been a fire in the kitchen, just leave. No matter how hungry the kids are or how much the waitress reassures you everything is fine, just leave. Rich and I knew better then to stay as there were all kinds of invisible restaurant “red flags” that we chose to ignore. Noah summed up the experience best when he said, “Promise not to take us back there the entire time we are in South Dakota! That was not worth it!”
Rich and I agreed with Noah! It was then back to the AmericInn to set up our homebase for the next four days and try to get some shuteye. Everyone was quite tired, so everyone slept. In fact, some people snored, but it wasn’t the grown ups!
*piddle emergency: One of the kids screaming quite forcibly and at top volume, any of the following phrases: "I have to go the bathroom!" "I am going to wet it!" I have to go piddle right now!" The following phrases may be used as a follow up: "I am not going to make it!" "I reeaalllyyy have to go super badly!" These phrases should only be used after a gas station with a bathroom or a rest area have been passed on the interstate.