Randomly-- so, so, so randomly-- we decided to pack up the car and go west for a few days.
We weren't planning to take a spring break trip at all for two reasons. First, Ben already had his spring break, so even though the kids and I are off all week, he has to work. And second, I am the crazy monster who took 4 recently surprised kids out of line to board and airplane and made them drive 20 hours. Clearly we could not plan on flying somewhere for a few days. This narrowed our options considerably because we needed to go someplace we could get to in a day-ish, and the weather near us is total shit this time of year. We almost drove to the Redneck Riviera, but that seemed like a ton of time in the car (16 hours) and not a lot of time on the beach.
Our perfect trip would be Thursday after Ben got done teaching to Monday. Then Ben could go to work Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (he needs to be on campus 3 days a week but teaches online and has tons of flexibility) and stay home with us on Friday to get the house ready for our weekend of family from out of town. We figured we COULD spend an extra day traveling and come home Tuesday, but that wasn't our first choice.
SO. Where the hell could we go?
It was perfect-- cheesy but actually really awesome, less than 11 hours away, and surrounded by amazingly beautiful places to visit and really ridiculous souvenir shops.
We spent about 2 hours debating where to stay. Did we want to stay in a horrible motel with outdoor hallways in Keystone, SD, right by the monument? Or, did we want to stay in a normal hotel in Rapid City about 30 minutes away? Obvi we picked the nicer hotel because OMG of course, but we hesitated because did we really want to DRIVE MORE on a driving trip? We definitely made the right decision. Rapid City was great-- very midwest suburban with a cute downtown with quirky president statues on every corner and decent restaurants. It was near all the beautiful stuff we wanted to see, and our hotel was brand new and nicer than I expected it to be-- a win/win. If you go to Mount Rushmore, stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Rapid City. We had connecting rooms that were large and clean; the kids loved the pool; breakfast was included with our rooms, and the buffet was good as were the made-to-order options; the lobby had a cute coffee and hot coco bar that the kids used about 11 times a day, and we got to watch the Badger game and eat pizza in the actual bar. Loved it.
We really had a wonderful time-- much more wonderful than we were expecting it to be. As a result, I have about 300 pictures to share. No joke. So, I will do this thing in multiple posts.
Here's our first travel day:
We left at about 2:00 and I made us all gather in front of the van to try out the bluetooth enabled selfie stick I bought as soon as we decided on the location. My old selfie stick had no bluetooth and wouldn't fit my huge phone.