Road Warriors Part 1: Getting There

So I’m home from vacation! And it was great, let me tell you. I’m not even being sarcastic when I write that. Our summer trip this year was to the Black Hills for some camping, then visiting Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, Badlands National Park and Deadwood. In two days. Yeah. We’re insane.

Did I mention we live in North Texas and it’s a 16 hour drive? One way?


We spent the last month or so buying gear. Well, I should say the husband was buying the gear. It really hurt his feelings to have to purchase all that fun stuff like a tent, sleeping bags, day packs and all the miscellaneous things that go along with camping. I contributed too. Bought some of those cool blue speckled dishes to take along plus a percolator. Neither one of us has ever made percolated coffee. YouTube to the rescue! Husband watched a video with an Amish woman who showed how to make it. It was pretty darn good, too. But more on that later.

We planned the route so we would drive for two days and sleep in a hotel on the way up and back. That way we wouldn’t be driving later into the night. Plus we were going to share driving duties. I didn’t want either of us to get too tired driving. Cuz it was a lot. of. driving.

I wish I’d thought to take a picture of how packed the car was (I have a Chevy Equinox which was wonderful to drive—comfy and just big enough and great gas mileage!). We didn’t have an inch to spare. The back was piled to the ceiling. The backseat next to the kiddo was too. You’d think camping for three people would involve so much…stuff. But it did. And it was a lot! I guess I never realized how much stuff you need to camp. Cooler, chairs, tent, backpacks, clothes, camp table, camp stove. Ya know. All that stuff.

Anyhoo. We left early Wednesday morning. I’d boarded the cat (which we deemed kitty jail – poor kitty!) because I didn’t like the thought of him roaming the house that long. With the car packed to the ceiling, I took the first shift and drove the first four hours. I think we stopped somewhere in northern Oklahoma so we could trade places. And then came Kansas and Nebraska. I nodded off there just typing that. Just kidding. 🙂

We stopped at the travel center just inside the state line in Kansas for a potty break. I was amazed at how clean the bathroom was. We got lucky in that respect. Lots of those places in small towns had SUPER clean bathrooms. It was refreshing.

I snapped this picture roadside somewhere in Kansas because I HAD to get those clouds and sunbeams. So gorgeous.


And look at this pretty little Lutheran church. We could see it from the road. I can’t tell you where it is because I don’t remember the road we were on but it was definitely rural. Isn’t it cute?


And here’s the long road. An empty road. I love pictures like this. It gives you an idea of infinity. I don’t know why.


Back in the car until we drove into Hays, Kansas. We spent the night there, charged up our phones, enjoyed the last night in a bed and had our last shower. Oh, I didn’t tell you there were no showers at the campsite? Yeah, we were totally roughing it, i.e. we stunk by day three. More on that later.

Day two we got up early and started driving. Again. I took the early shift. Husband isn’t much of a morning person. Not that I really am either but I’m more alert then and found driving easier. We finally made it through Nebraska that day. I think I’ve seen enough cows and corn and hay to last a lifetime. 🙂 I’d never seen so much corn.

It’s a lot. And you know… I got to thinking about it. Nebraska and Kansas are the backbone of America. It’s those little farming communities that help feed us. Those people work hard. I don’t think I really had an appreciation for it until then.

But I digress. We made it to South Dakota that afternoon. Husband took a scenic route so we wouldn’t see Rushmore from the road and spoil it. Not that we don’t know what it looks like but there’s something special about seeing it for the first time in real life. We did see Crazy Horse on that route but we didn’t stop and we never made it back there. The face is done and even from the distance it’s amazing. It will be so cool when it’s finished.

We found our campsite with ease and the hosts were super nice. We checked in and made it to our site – number 30. Here’s a view of the site.


We got the tent up in record time. Then busted out the camp stove and I cooked my first camp dinner.

Let me just back up a second and say that my 11 year old son was AWESOME in the car. Never complained. Never whined. Never asked if we were there yet. He just sat back there and was happy as a lark listening to his iPod or watching movies on the portable DVD player. Thank goodness we brought that. It kept him entertained.


The temps up there were great. Not what I’m used to in summer in Texas. Sixties at night and 80s during the day. In fact, we were wearing jackets by nightfall. We finally climbed into our tent at dark, curled up in our sleeping bags and slept.

Until the thunderstorm rolled through around 2 am. Thunder, lightning and heavy rain. It was interesting. And I thought, “What have we gotten ourselves into?” But we made it through the night and the tent didn’t leak which was a great thing.

It was still rainy the next morning so we had to re-evaluate our daily plans.

Tomorrow: The Badlands and Mount Rushmore

By Michelle

I wish you all could be inside my head. The conversation is sparkling.