Nothing is going to stop us from making this summer as normal as we could. Most of our travel plans got cancelled, but a road trip was something that we could still make happen - and so we did. I have to tell you that it was the perfect decision and was so so good for our mental health.
We started in Washington and drove to South Dakota with stops along the way. The kids did great in the car and thanks to our trusty traveling oils we all slept well and had a great time.
Our first stop was in Couer d'Alene Idaho at the park for the kids to get some wiggles out. I was completely blown away at Finnley's bravery and utter JOY at seeing other kids and wanting to play with them. Ellie was completely in her element with other kids around and finally getting to play with others again. Séamus was also thrilled at all the new and exciting climbing structures and freedom to run and get his pent up energy out. Oh how we knew but had no idea how much our children needed socialization.
Next was a quick potty break at St. Regis MT to grab our beloved Huckleberry Ice Cream and Shakes. The gift shop is adorable and has lots of fun things for the kiddos. Definitely something to include in your itinerary if you're driving through Montana.
We made it to our first hotel destination in Butte, with time to settle in and then head out to dinner at MacKenzie River Pizza, Grill, & Pub. The kids were a little out of there element being in a restaurant again 😜 but we managed.
We drove around Butte the following day and saw some beautiful houses and then stopped at the coolest park ever, Ellie still talks about going back to it. It was huge and had so many different climbing structures and things to do. We were there bright and early and were the only ones there. I only got one picture at the park so you're just going to have to take my word for it.
We made the trek to our first main destination Yellowstone National Park. We didn't go into the park today but did take our entrance photos. Then we had dinner, back to the hotel for a swim in the pool and then ready for our day of driving through the park the next day. So many beautiful sights, the bison were out a plenty, Old Faithful did as she does, and the kids did great in the car.
Our second main destination was The Battle of Little Bighorn, somehow we managed to visit on the anniversary day of the actual battle, but due to Covid they didn't have anything happening as they usually do. The day was hot, the kids loved checking it out, and Thomas was absolutely thrilled with this experience and I loved that he got to share it with his main 3.
We stayed the night in Sheridan, Wyoming and it was an adorable town. Finnley got brave enough to get in the pool, Ellie was crazy jumping in and splashing, and we ordered takeout from a local restaurant - it was delicious but they were definitely struggling with their service due to all the lame covid restrictions - I feel so bad for these small businesses.
Next stop was Deadwood on the way to Rapid City, South Dakota. The town was fun to walk through, we had a delicious meal at The Social Club, the kids found some friends in the square where they played and played and squealed and were just enjoying life. We were once again reminded of how great this trip was for our children and their mental health....it was good for us too, to get to experience bits and pieces of normal.
And then we finally made it to our final destination: Rapid City, South Dakota to see Mt Rushmore and the Crazy Horse monument. RC has theeee best kids park, Storybook, which is practically downtown is free admission and several acres of play space and storybook characters to check out and explore!
We met up with my Dad in Rapid City. Turns out that South Dakota was the only state he hasn't visited and when we told him of our summer travel plans he jumped at the chance to join us. He flew in the day before us, rented a car, and drove out to The Badlands. Then he joined us on our Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse journey and it was so great to have the extra bonding time for him and the kids.
After sightseeing the very Main Attractions of our travel we got to explore more of Rapid City and it is so pedestrian friendly and kid friendly too. So many parks and places for the kids. The weather was fantastic and they had the splash pad open which was the hightlight of the trip.
The next morning we said goodbye to my dad and made our way West back towards Washington. We stopped in Bozeman on the way home. Thomas went fishing in the rain (the only day it rained on our whole trip), I went into a few antique stores, and we were met with our very first major Covid restriction at the hotel: only one family allowed in the pool at a time, you had to make reservations, and we got a noise complaint at 3pm 😑.
Then back to Washington where the restrictions just kept coming. No pools, no splash pads, mandatory masks, parks "closed", and rights taken away. We were heading back to reality and so so thankful that we had a chance to experience just a tiny slice or normalcy for a few days on our trip. We stopped and had visits with both of the girls birthmom's to round off our vacation, something they were both very much looking forward to.
We had a fantastic trip and are pretty sure that most of our upcoming travels will be via road trip.