Our drive out of Wyoming, heading towards the Black Hills of South Dakota, was one of our longer days driving. As a rule of thumb, I always try to keep our time in the car to no more than three to four hours. Tourist attractions along the way always have us pulling over and exchanging parental high-fives.
Ayres Natural Bridge was one such place. Hidden well below the seemingly level surface of Wyoming's endless prairie, this beloved attraction was created over a million years by the flow of one single river.
We loved Ayres! Having arrived early (eager to get out of our sad and dirty hotel room, smack dab in the middle of a very depressed small town), we had the entire park to ourselves. We spread our grocery store bought breakfast over two tables and probably three benches (we couldn't decide!) and ran all around exploring, in and out of the water, up and down the grass, and around and around the playground. There was so much diversity in this tiny park compared the endless flat praire up top. The kids would have been happy to stay all day.
Later that day, right after having crossed over into South Dakota - hay bales made another great roadside attraction worth stopping for.
We arrived in Deadwood, South Dakota late. While I LOVED this historically rich town in The Black Hills, it was fairly far from all the attractions we set out to see. But our hotel was great - pushed back up against a cliff, is had a huge pool for the kids and a well appointed room for Mom and Dad. As soon as we woke-up the next morning, we headed straight out to Mount Rushmore.
We made it! A lifetime of dreaming finally became a reality for me.
We made two purchases at Mount Rushmore - another national park bandana for each of the kids, and an ice cream for everyone. Did you know that Jefferson is reportedly the author of the first known ice cream recipe in America? Neither did we. But they were pushing the story hard and so everyone was walking around with an ice cream in hand, including us. I was later telling this litte fact to another tourist I met who was on her way to Mount Rushmore. She looked at me, made a funny face and said, "That's weird. We were just in Philidelphia where they are telling everyone Dolly Madison is the inventor of ice cream." Haha!