Guys. I have almost zero pictures of our last three days. I was so.freaking.tired. by the end of our trip. On our last day in South Dakota, and we still needed to check out Wind Cave National Park. The exhaustion though! I felt like I had been hit by a truck.
We planned to spend the morning relaxing and letting the kids swim and play. The KOA complex where we stayed had a pool, splash pad, and huge playground that the kids had been begging to use. In actuality I spent the morning cleaning (decontaminating) the van and doing laundry while Jake entertained the kids. Life on the road is not always glamorous.
After I removed a metric ton of discarded applesauce pouches from the backseat of the minivan, we headed down to check out Wind Cave National Park. We managed to get tickets for a tour that started in about an hour, so we tried to burn some time with the kids. I made the mistake of taking Abby into the gift shop. I regretted it. Every other patron of the gift shop regretted it. It was not pleasant.
Most of the family headed off to wander around the visitors center and explore, while I stayed back with my mom and Abby. Bless my mother because I was simultaneously trying to parent and nearly dead on my feet. I had some serious guilt going on because Abby was NOT being very cooperative and I know my mom was probably tired too. I took a quick 5 min power rest on a picnic table bench and then jumped back into the fray.
Also. I’m grumpy when I’m tired and trying to parent. #sorrymom. Parenting is never ending, even when your child is 30 years old.
Earlier this year Jake and I took the girls to Mammoth Cave National Park for a 2 day camping/hiking/caving trip. Abby loved the cave and Olivia HATED it. Like. We carried that giant four year old the whole time. So I had a feeling that Olivia would not love this as much, but I hoped that the presence of Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt Molly could sustain her spirits. I was so wrong. So. So. Wrong.
Jake and I carried both girls the entire time. They were upset, cranky, and overall just unhappy about the experience. Also, my knees were not happy about the whole 300 stairs while carrying a 50lb kid the whole way. Family memories people! Even though it was kind of a shit show with the girls, I’m glad we went. I checked that off my bucket list and now I’m DONE taking the kids into caves for the rest of my life.
Day 19: Everyone gets up way too early to catch flights.
Most of the group was up and out before 4am to catch their flights. I woke up briefly to say goodbye to Jake and Abby, who flew home with my mom and Molly. I woke up around 6ish to a string of texts from Molly:
So she ended up being able to get on her flight, but for a second we thought we would have to make a little detour at the airport. This was also complicated by the fact that her messages weren’t coming through immediately because of the crappy cell reception there.
The rest of the day was mostly uneventful. Me, my dad, and Olivia drove for maybe 13 hours? I didn’t really keep track but we drove from Custer, S.D. to just south of Chicago before we stopped for the night. It was possibly too much driving in one day, but the next day felt short in comparison. Also. I HATED driving through the construction in Chicago. How was there so much traffic at midnight????
Day 20: HOME.
We finally hit cell service and cornfields. Not much to say about a boring six hour drive from Chicago to home. We made it. Olivia was very excited to come home and find her very best friend on our street was outside playing when we pulled up. She missed that girl something fierce.
And that is the entire trip. 20 days, 4,978 miles. And we still like each other. And I can’t wait to do it again!