Yesterday we saw the Badlands of South Dakota. I read Mornings on Horseback this past year, which is a David McCullough biography about the young life of Theodore Roosevelt. I wish that my book wasn’t in a storage unit in Dothan, and I could give you some of his quotes about this mesmerizing land. From the cliffs that seem fragile enough to be made of sand, yet strong enough to stand firm through the harsh winds that rip through the prairies…
To the herds of buffalo,
that sauntered right by our car.
To the prairies dancing with wheat, and sage and even a few baby cacti:

We all delighted in the opportunity to take in something so very new to us all.
In an effort to have an adventure of our own, we decided to take off on our own trail. It wasn’t against any rules we could find, and the girls were both begging to climb a “mountain.” We spotted one in the distance that looked like it could handle two small children.
I’m just going to tell you that it was a little scary walking through that tall and prickly grass. I kept envisioning the large replica of a coiled rattlesnake I’d seen in a shop window in town the night before. While there weren’t any written rules against walking in the grass, there were lots of rules warning about the danger of wild buffalo and RATTLESNAKES. I started thinking about stories of compartment syndrome I’d heard Jeremiah tell, from patients he’d seen in the ER with snake bites. I also thought about all those corn fields…without so much as a small town and wondered where in the world we’d find anti-venom. I had just finished reassuring myself that snake fangs were surely sharp enough that the actual bite couldn’t hurt too badly, and surely Jeremiah could fit me with a really awesome prosthetic leg, when we finally reached our mountain. (I will mention that Jeremiah and I were flanking the girls in a line through the grass and I felt pretty safe for them that a snake would either attack the front or the rear).
And so, Jeremiah helped/took them to the top–

And the reward for our effort, and all that fear of snake bites :), was great.

Can you see the confidence?
We continued on through more wonders of the Badlands, until our stomachs (and more loudly our children) reminded us that it was lunchtime.
And the fearless adventurer parents had not thought to pack a lunch! Shouldn’t there be a snack bar somewhere in a National Park? We did eventually find a picnic area with some drink machines, and we broke out the sandwich toppings and other odds and ends Jeremiah’s mom had packed for us for a picnic our first day. The girls had a lot of Peanut butter with Ritz crackers and Jeremiah came up with these little concoctions for us:
That would be two saltine crackers with a slice of tomato, a couple of banana peppers, and a smattering of tostito cheese dip. Lunch of champions.

After lunch we encountered my favorite view of the day, at the “White River” overlook.
I thought of Roosevelt and his lonely winters alone, trying to keep a herd of cattle alive in this strange wilderness. I thought of how creative God is, to weave lines of color through rock that ripples on and on. And I thought about all the flips my insides were turning at having myself and two little babies so close to that drop off with the wind whipping our hair.
At around two, we left the Badlands,
And drove the 75 miles to Mount Rushmore:
It was an iconic moment. To smile with my very own family in front of the statues I remember staring at in my History book as a little girl. When did I get children of my own? And when did it become Ok for me to drive around wherever I want to and stay in hotels with the man I’m crazy about?
Am I really aloud to have this much fun?
We hiked the half mile trail around the monument. And went to the artists’ studio, where I learned that 90% of these beautiful carvings were made by dynamite, AND Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln were meant to be pictured to the waist like this:
but the base of the mountain became too variable.
All in all, it was a wonderful day. But the little girls were pooped (and battle scarred):
So we headed off across the Black Hills and then the Rockies.
Today we’ve driven to Cody, Wyoming. We’ll stay here tonight and head into Yellowstone tomorrow. Whew, and today is our seven year wedding anniversary on top of all that!

10 Responses to “Day Four and Five”

  1. Marianna says:

    Abby, you will adore Yellowstone and you are so lucky to share this experience with your family. Ryan and I met in Yellowstone 9 years ago and it is a truly special place to us. Hayden Valley being my absolute favorite place. Enjoy it!

  2. Tegan says:

    I am loving every minute of you trip! What an amazing journey you guys are on. I love the family picture at the end!! Praying for safe travels! Love you guys!

  3. Konie says:

    I've been so looking forward to your next update!! Been waiting all day!!:):) I'm ready to take off across the U.S. again!!! I'm so so excited you all are traveling this way. Looks like the girls (and mom and dad) are having fun along the way:) Can't wait to see what's adventures you take tomorrow! Sleep tight:) AND HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!

  4. Darby says:

    We HAVE to do a cross-country trip. I've been dying to for a couple years and as soon as the little Rover is old enough we are DOING IT! Your pictures are AWESOME in every way but my heart is a little sad that you seem SO FAR I still don't know how you've gotten so far, didn't y'all leave yesterday? You probably feel like you've been in your car for years! 🙂 The pictures breathtaking… I cannot wait to see more! Please don't keep us waiting!!!! We love y'all!!!

    Maybe Justin and I need to drive out to visit rather than fly! 🙂

  5. Kendall Boggs says:

    I have always wanted to do this!!!! Am so happy for you Abs!
    be safe and keep us up to date on your journey!

  6. Brittny says:

    beautiful!!!! we are in our last year of residency and i'm hoping to have a fun adventure like this when we move next summer!

  7. Anonymous says:

    this is such a small world. My mother-in law just returned on sunday from a tour group traveling to the very places you are visiting. At least you are a 21st century visitor using 21st century blogging. She sent us a post card. But a post card will last – do send some post cards to friends too Abbie — at least for the post marks — the dates — I always wait in line at a small town post office to chat and have the post card hand canceled with the circle date stamp—will that what we knew the post office vanish ?

  8. mitzi says:

    Abby, this is so neat. Happy Anniversary.

  9. Gail says:

    You're in a novel!!! What fun, fun, fun!!!! I can see that you MUST write this into a book one day!!!! Safe and fun travels. God Bless and God Speed….

  10. aedozier says:

    WOW! It just looks like so much fun. Glad the girls are doing so good…makes it so much better! I couldn't help but to see Alex in that pic of Pace when she and MA are sitting down on the curb! Happy Anniversary! Safe travels!!

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