Saturday, July 12, 2014

South Dakota Day 2 - Rushmore and Reptiles

Our second day in South Dakota was the 4th!  We knew that Rushmore would likely be packed for the holiday and for their fair/special events so we headed out early to beat the crowds.  In an odd mix of history and marketing, this was the first thing we learned:
Having been indoctrinated by TJ facts at UVA, this was a new one for both of us!  We then headed down the avenue of flags:
 Catherine likes to take her hikes and walks on the zig zag.  I've found that besides pigtails keeping her hair from getting all "road trip gunky" they also help smooth things over with cuteness when she incidentally takes out some older folks at the knee.
A peek at Washington from the "cave":
 An up the nose shot:
 We finally got some blue sky as a backdrop as we headed out:

 Matthew rather enjoyed "blasting" off parts of the monument in the visitor center:
 To keep costs down on our travel we pack most of our meals, but leave plenty of wiggle room in the budget for ice cream stops.  Ice cream at Mt. Rushmore was way overpriced but when we saw "TJ Ice Cream" on the menu and confirmed it was made with the Jefferson recipe we decided to share a bowl!
 After Mt. Rushmore was Reptile Gardens!  We saw crocodilian movie stars (this guy was in Live or Let Die):
 And lots of lizards, snakes and more:
 It was crazy hot when we got there and poor Catherine had gotten sweaty and rubbed sunscreen in her eyes, so there aren't many pictures of most of Reptile Gardens as James and I were both trying to handle this meltdown.  We stopped for lunch and once everyone was calmed down we headed out to check out the tortoises:
 The one on the left is 108 years old, the one on the right a meer 47.

 Matthew enjoyed a close up view of the prairie dogs in prairie dog town, though James wasn't a huge fan of the sweltering plastic tube!
 Of course we stopped for a playground visit:

 When I was younger you could sit on the live tortoises but now it's just the plaster ones:
 We hit up the alligator show where the kids got to pet this 1-2 year old named "Fluffy."  Catherine was pretty hesitant but the gator guy was pretty great and eventually convinced her to give the gator a high five.
When I was at Reptile Gardens when I was 5, to say I was terrified of snakes is an understatement.  I'm not sure if it was this exact exhibit but I remember having to walk under a snake then and we had to walk under this boa constrictor this time.  I handled it well for the kids sake but it's still not my cup of tea.
 We hit up the snake show and Matthew was enraptured.  All day he kept asking to go see snakes, followed by "I hate snakes."  We have a regular, old Indiana Jones on our hands!
 After a short rain storm it cooled off enough to take the T-Rex out for a ride:
 And Catherine wanted some solo time on the turtle:
 When we got back to the campsite, the kids asked to go on another train ride so we headed back down the hill to Flintstones again:

 Matthew took the camera for a bit:

 When we got back to the campsite the kids got their glo-sticks and got ready for fireworks

It involved a dance for some reason:
Custer put on a great little fireworks show.  We headed up to the "hill" in town and had a great view. 

And speaking of dancing, this video has been on my phone for a while.  It was ALL Matthew's idea and totally suprised me when I looked over and he was dancing with Catherine so gently.

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