DSC_1545 DSC_1566 DSC_1567 DSC_1592 DSC_1597 DSC_1570DSC_1623Brave souls that we are, we recently took our little gaggle on a road trip. As they say, traveling with kids is worse than traveling without kids, but way better than never going at all. This is the truth.
For instance, we made double the stops in double the time on our way to Colorado. We also choose to detour through the Black Hills, South Dakota, in effort to mix up the scenery a bit. On the first evening of our journey, we stopped at Mount Rushmore. It was a lovely time of day to visit and hike around a bit. The light was warm and soft for photos, the air was cool, and the crowds were sparse.

On Day 2, we foolishly booked a tour at Wind Cave National Park smack dab in the center of Penelope’s usual nap time. With 3 small children and 2 frazzled parents, you can pretty much do the math and figure out how this all went down. Much like an airplane, these cave tours require 30 strangers to sandwich together into claustrophobic quarters and play by all the ranger’s rules while stumbling through the dark single file. Once you’re down, there’s no turning back…And so, in order to punish us for this unwise choice of entertainment, Penny wailed for 74 of the 75-minute tour which of course echoed to exponential decibels in the bowels of the cave. The poor park ranger managed to shout over the crying in order to interject his obligatory historical/geological commentary, then promptly expedited our family up the first available elevator at the end of the tour. The. Shame. For this reason, I am offering full refunds to any poor soul who was on this tour that day with us. You know who you are. (;

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Once we made it to Colorado, we joined forces with our giant family reunion crew, spent time catching up and watching flocks of cousins play. We picnicked like it was our job. We also did some soft-core hiking (in other words, the opposite of hard-core) with our kiddos. (: Since it is the 100th anniversary of our beloved National Park system, it was extra special to visit a few along the way! We drove to the tip-top highest point in Rocky Mountain National Park. Technically Jeff drove, and I closed my eyes, clung to the door handle, and prayed for guardrails. But once we reached the top and I reopened my eyes, we experienced some of the most breathtaking views. Plus we frolicked with some moose, a herd of caribou, mountain rams, and some eagles. And looking back at these photos I already so greatly treasure our picturesque little adventures. We are just like the VonTrap family!–Minus clothes sewn from curtains and perfect pitch!

On the return drive, we made it within 100 miles of home before the most epic car seat blow out ensued. From my perch as co-pilot, I turned my head to the sound of jolly coos and squeals of joy. Here are my next 5 thoughts/words/actions:
“Wait. Who gave the baby chocolate!?”
“Wait. I ATE ALL the chocolate.”
“Wait. Then…How does she have chocolate all over her face/hands/mouth/clothes/car seat!?”
“Wait. That.’s NOT chocolate.”
“Jeff. PULL OVER!”
We learned a super valuable life lesson that day…NOT to feed your baby prunes on a road trip. And to ALWAYS pack extra wipes.

Meltdowns and poop stories aside, we had a most lovely trip. Somehow the hassles fade and the bright shiny memories of togetherness always remain. We are gearing up for trip part deux soon. Only this time we are flying…A flight or two with 3 small fries can’t be any worse than a cave tour, right!? (;
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2 thoughts on “we put the wild in the west.

  1. Jenna Lou

    Oh Jess this cracked me up! I’ve been on those cave tours and can just imagine the special kind of hell that would be with tired little ones, but oh how you will laugh at the thought of it hopefully already, but if not then soon.

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  2. Katie S

    This is my favorite post of all time!! I love it!! That pic of the three kids is truly perfectly VonTrapp-family-esque. And WHY do they refuse to put up guardrails!? We did that same drive and I also was glad that clinging to the door handle is a surefire way to make sure the husband keeps the car on the road. :)

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