After our Montreal “bike riding, bread eating” extravaganza, we came home to good ol’ yyc for 2 days before packing up our little diesel Jetta to hit the road on another adventure!
Wade’s grandmother lives in Rapid City, South Dakota and he spent a lot of time in the summer visiting her and playing in the Black Hills. This year one of his aunt and uncles rented a large house in the Black Hills and invited us all to come and spend time together!
Since the Jetta is no stranger to long drives (See: #allofthefitness #Portland) we decided a road trip it is. And to make it more adventurous we decided to pack all the necessary gear to camp along the way!
On the way down we split the 13 hour drive into 2 days, we left on the morning of Friday, July 1, and drove all the way to Billings, Montana. The drive went fairly smoothly, only added an extra hour or so at the boarder. The boarder was busy for the long weekend!
Once in Billings we went to a Brewery (surprised?! 😉 ) to figure out where we should sleep for the night. Wade was looking up hotels, when I said, “we should just “tent”, we have all the stuff, and it will be cheaper!” (Anyone who knows me well is currently raising their eyebrows and thinking, “you did not suggest that”…, but I did. I actually wanted to “tent”.)
So tent we did! Since it was pretty late we took the easy route and went to a “KOA”. If you don’t know what KOA’s are, I suggest clicking the link and checking it out. It is not what we would call real camping. Which is why I use the term “tented”. That being said, I have not camped or tented much in my life so this was an adventure for me for sure! But I was ready! Before we left we had spent too much time at MEC getting me my very own sleeping bag and sleeping mat! My sleeping bag is awesome, I look like a giant caterpillar in it!
By the time we got to the campground, set up the tent and got a little organized, it was dark and we were both ready to go to bed! (That and the mosquitos were awful!)
The next morning we got up packed up and hit the road, this time to make it all the way to Rapid City! Most of our drive was beautiful sunny skies and warm weather. Once we arrived in Rapid we went to get some grub and just happened to run into Wade’s dad, sister (Ellen) and her boyfriend Jeremy. It was awesome. We ate lunch and then headed to do some touristy things that Wade and Ellen wanted to show newbies Jeremy and I. Wade and Ellen spent a lot of summers visiting the area as “younger people”. So off we went to “Storybook Island” and “Dinosaur Park” (Dinosaur Hill to Wade.)
Storybook Island is definitely meant for children… and we are just a bunch of “big kids”…
We had some fun…
Dinosaur Park, I mean hill was also pretty fun. It’s basically a big hill you drive up that over looks Rapid City and has a bunch of very large dinosaur statues…
That night, us “big kids” were exhausted after all our running around and fresh air and slept well at Grandma’s.
The next day was the day we were to head into the Black Hills. But in the morning there were more touristy things that needed to be done!
I didn’t realize just how cool Mount Rushmore was until we got there. It was super cool. I find it absolutely incredible they built that so long ago and using some of the most manual techniques imaginable and yet no one blew off a nose or anything. Incredible! I really had a great time checking out this astounding human accomplishment! If you’ve never looked into the history of Rushmore, I recommend it. If you’ve never been there, I also recommend it. In person beats pictures by a lot.
That afternoon was one of the crazy rain storms I have ever witnessed. It delayed our departure for the Black hills a couple of hours. But eventually we got packed up and on the road. It was only about an hour drive and soon we were all enjoying the beautiful back yard and sunshine.
Not before a stop at a fireworks stand *eye roll*…oh Wade, most people who know Wade know of his love for Craft beer, but something you may not know is he is a bit of a pyro with fire… fireworks …etc. So even though we are not allowed to shoot off fireworks in the Black Hills he needed to stop and get some anyway. (Something he can’t do in Canada and misses…) Just to add comedy to the story when we arrived at the stand it had rained so much and the ground was so soft they were trying to create a better walkway up to the tent for people. Unfortunately, I stepped in a soft spot that resulted in clay like mud covering my feet and sandals up my ankle! I was thrilled.
The next 4 days were a wonderful time with family. We ate together, played games…
the boys went shooting….
fishing in the pond…
had fires and played with sparklers….
laughed and just enjoyed spending time. We celebrated July 4th (first time for this Canadian)!
I even opted to go on a hike with Wade’s parents. Yes, you heard me, I chose to go on a hike, without Wade. Crazy. It sure was beautiful and worth the sweat. (finding hiking…)
I won’t go as far as to say I love hiking, but I have been enjoying it… a little.
We even rented Razors and went on an off roading adventure! We splashed through mud and puddles and ripped around corners, up hills and over rocks.
Thursday morning with all that fun in the rear view, we decided it was time to head back towards home. Our road trip home was a pretty fun adventure. We left on Thursday with zero plan! We only got about 3 hours drive in before we stopped in Sheridan, Wyoming for lunch. Once we arrived there, we realized we didn’t really want to drive more and that we should camp in the Big Horn Mountains for the night.
Some nice gentlemen sitting near us on a patio gave us a recommendation and off we went to the grocery store and then headed out to find this camp area.
There was no one there except us. It was Beautiful.
The river was right there!
We grilled and relaxed.
That night Wade slept like a baby, but this newbie camper didn’t sleep much. I lied awake most of the night just thinking about being attacked by animal or human in my sleep. Tent walls don’t offer much protection from anything but rain, was all I could think. I just lay there in my caterpillar sleeping bag, listening to the loud river. Trying to hear past the rush of water in case something else was coming. At least the stars were out and beautiful. We really were in the middle of nowhere. Eventually I slept a little.
In the morning, we ate a snack, packed camp and then heading out on one of the most beautiful hikes I have every been on. The Big Horns in Wyoming are a must see for any hiker! Stunning! We hiked through the Canyon and weaved above the river. Seeing meadows and big boulders and amazing views. I took a couple pictures, but they don’t do it justice. This was a sight that needed to be seen and just taken in!
After this hike we got back in the car and continued on our way. We stopped in Great Falls, camped at another KOA and then the following day made a mile to get home. The rest of the trip doesn’t have a lot of fun story, other then the air conditioning dying about an hour before the boarder. We drove the rest of the way home with windows down and the loud wind sound filling the car. (kinda funny)
It was a great trip. So many laughs and little adventures. I learned a lot too. (Lots of “findings” – start the findings, go!) Mostly about camping. Since the end of this trip kinda just ….ends…to end this post I am going to let you in on my biggest camping lessons:
- KOA’s are not camping
- A “spork” is not stupid, but the coolest and best camping utensil (Wade had one I didn’t, I called him a nerd, then was jealous and I bought one when we came back!)
- Camping requires a great deal of fitting things into small bags that seem like they won’t fit but somehow do (sleeping bag, sleeping mat, camping dishes, tent…)
- True camping = no sleep due to fear of death (need to work on this)
- I need to get better at peeing outside
Until next time…