Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Schimstock Family Vacation

Last month we took a much needed break from the farm.  We packed the Chevy and headed west on I-90.  It was a round trip tour through five states that took us nine days and required only 143 stops of getting in and out of the car (but who's counting?). So settle back, and I'll regale you with a smattering of our vacation photos (in no particular order).

eastern South Dakota

Much of the drive from Wisconsin west on I-90 is flat and wide.  We made this trip once before on our honeymoon and were excited to share it with the kids who had never been more than one state over.  We were constantly pointing at the sights out the window.

a balancing act

Inevitably the miles get long for an eight year old after all the sing-alongs and license plate games have been played out.  But the scenery improved greatly as we went along.

the South Dakota Badlands

The Badlands were by far my favorite part of the trip.  Yes, the Rocky Mountains are majestic and impressive, yada, yada, but there's just something romantic about the Badlands that tugs on my heartstrings.
the Roosevelt Arch on the northern entrance to Yellowstone
Of course we did stop the car once in a while and stretch our legs.  Afterall, the plethora of billboards along I-90 aren't there for nothing.

1880 Town, Murdo, South Dakota

We stopped at the 1880 Town and my daughter got her cowgirl on.

Wall Drug Store, Wall, South Dakota

We stopped at Wall Drug where Hank and I made friendly with the jackalope.

Crazy Horse Memorial, Crazy Horse, South Dakota

We saw Crazy Horse.

Mount Rushmore National Monument, Keystone, South Dakota

We saw Mount Rushmore.
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Among the many sights in Yellowstone Park, we saw the amazing Mammoth Hot Springs...

Paint Pots, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
...the eerie Paint Pots, the Sulphur Springs and the Geyser Basins.

Dakota Dinosaur Museum, Dickinson, North Dakota
We stopped at the Dakota Dinosaur Museum where the kids got to touch an actual dinosaur bone...
  ...and my daughter filled her SD card in a single hour of sight-seeing.  Before the trip my husband bought each of our kids a cheap digital camera at the pawn shop.  They took pictures of whatever they wanted.  We'll print the best ones for their scarpbooks. 

This was also the stop where Hank started playing around with the sepia setting on our camera.
1880 Train, Hill City, South Dakota

We took a ride on the 1880 steam train that runs between Hill City and Keystone.  It was a fabulous day to sit in the open cars and take in the landscape.

After a short education on railroad history, my son decided he wanted to become a hobo.  "But hobo's have no home, no money, no one to take care of them," I said.  After a short consideration on this point, he replied, "Yes, but if strangers see a small child that doesn't have a home, they'd be nice and let me stay at the hotel for free."  He rationalized that begging for pity from strangers would be the easier route to securing a hotel swimming pool for the evening than begging his parents.

Meanwhile I was dreaming of my swank, new leather hat that I'd just bought in Hill City before boarding the train.  While we were visiting western South Dakota, the Sturgis Bike Rally was in full swing.  It was both spectacular and insane at the same time.  We never actually went into Sturgis proper, but the surrounding areas were filled with as much black and leather as I'd ever seen.  Main streets in almost every small town were blocked off to cars and parked four rows deep with motorcycles.  We had plenty of company while traveling west and admittedly is was sort of lonely through North Dakota and Montana without the hum of Harley outside your window.  Anyways, my hat made me feel more "biker" and when in know.

obedient prairie girl

In fact we made use of several occasions in which we tried to adopt the flavor the surrounding countryside.  My daughter was torn between her desire to play the classic Laura Ingalls and the defiant Calamity Jane.
tough-as-the-boys cowgirl but still stuck in this dress
deerskin dress

But then there was the ever popular Sacajawea who really had the corner on comfortable yet practical attire. 

This museum was at Pompey's Pillar in Montana, a national monument, along the Yellowstone River.  A few days earlier, we had picked up the Lewis and Clark Trail out of South Dakota, what is now Highway 83.  Heading north along the Missouri River into North Dakota, we then continued west into Montana along Interstate 94.  William Clark etched his name and the year 1806 into Pompey's Pillar.  And we couldn't resist a bit of role-playing at the top of the pillar. 

Pompey's Pillar National Monument, Montana

And of course no trip out west would be complete without the requisite wildlife sightings.  Unfortunately we never did see the great herd of bison that we had so eagerly hoped, but we saw a little bit of everything, including a couple of moose that eluded our camera.

bison in Yellowstone Park

pronghorn in Wyoming
longhorn in South Dakota
bighorn sheep in South Dakota
prairie dog in South Dakota

The fan favorite was the prairie dogs.  They seem to be everywhere, and I'm sure the locals would agree that they can be quite a nuisance.  But if we could have coaxed one into the car, we would have our own prairie dog town in Wisconsin right now.  And I'm still unsure why no one took up my suggestion to herd the bighorn sheep into the car.  Whatever.

my new handtowel made by

I'm not sure if I have any readers from these parts, but know that you live in a special part of the country.  We're already planning our return visit to places that we didn't have time to see.

The scenery was unparalleled; the towns were steeped in history; and every mile along the road brought something unexpected.  But apart from all that, I enjoyed sipping coffee in a bed that I didn't have to make myself!


  1. Looks like a ton of fun and a wonderful experience for the kids. Thanks for sharing your lovely pics. I can't believe the scenery!

  2. What a great trip. I have been to Yellowstone several time and love it each time. The kids looked like they had a great time and it something they will remember. I am with you on the coffee in bed.

  3. wonderful!
    thank you for sharing your great trip! gorgeous pics of your cute kids!
    and yes, some new wild sheep on your homestead would be great - no? ;-)

  4. I live in WI now, but I was born and raised in South Dakota and will always be a "Dakota" girl at heart!!
    The Black Hills is one of my favorite vacation spots.


Thanks for your thoughts! Come back to visit again soon!