Monday, July 21, 2008

Mini vacation to Medora, ND

We arrived in Medora Sunday afternoon for our mini vacation with Kysa and the gang. Our first stop was at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, where we checked out the Painted canyon. It is beautiful scenery as you can see from the pictures below.

Gage, Dustin, Emma and Colton checking out the North Dakota Badlands.

It was a blazing 93 degrees out. The kids (mostly Gage) wanted to hike down into the canyon; however, the park ranger didn't advise it unless we had at least 1 bottle of water per person. She said it's not too bad going down, but coming up is another story. We had plenty of drinks in the car and Gage was determined to go for a hike.

Here they go headed down the trail.

Emma and I started down the trail with them, and it wasn't long before Emma petered out. The park ranger was right, it was brutal coming back up, and we hadn't gone that far down! I'm thankful Emma wanted to turn around because we got back just in time for a much needed bathroom break!

After the gang arrived back from their hike, they found a nice shaded picnic bench to take a rest and drink some of that refreshing water! The park ranger we had talked to earlier uses this spot for her lunch breaks and always has her binoculars with her so we were able to take a peek through them and check some things out, since none of us remembered to bring our binoculars!

Ted, Colton, Dustin and Kysa on their first ever family vacation.

The Stephens' gang. This is one of our first family vacations as well!

After leaving the painted canyon, we headed into Medora to check into our cabin. It was a really nice little place. This cabin sleeps 10 people. Even though it may not look that big, it was pretty spacious on the inside. There was a back bedroom with a queen size bed, 2 futons in the living area and a loft area above the porch which had a queen size air mattress.

The kids were quite excited about the loft. Even though it was meant for 2 people to sleep in, all 4 of them were determined to sleep there. There was plenty of room on either side of the air mattress, so it wasn't too tight of a squeeze. Having all 4 of them up in the loft gave Scott and I each our own futon while Kysa and Ted had the back bedroom.

Emma and Colton snuggling up to Kysa. Emma really enjoyed her time with Aunt Kysa, and even Uncle Ted. She clung to him pretty tight at times!

Dustin found a little cactus when he was out walking through the grass. OUCH!

The kids wanted to take a dip in the Medora public swimming pool, so we headed over to the pool. It was very close to our cabin in the campgrounds. What a nice backdrop for the pool, huh?

Emma floating on a few noodles.

While the kids were swimming, Scott took Kysa and Ted over to the Cowboy Hall of Fame building to check it out. I attempted to get a few pages in my book read while the kids swam, but I wasn't too successful at that.

After we finished swimming we went into Medora to look around in the little shops around town. We found a few neat little souvenirs before we headed to the Pitchfork Steak Fondue and the Medora Musical.

Just after we left town to head to the Burning Hills amphitheatre it started pouring down rain. Thankfully we were in the car at the time. It didn't last too terribly long and then we went to wait for our steaks to be cooked fondue style. They literally put steaks on a pitchfork and then dip them into a big kettle of hot oil to cook them.

Here are a few of the pitchforks they have ready to cook. The steaks were really pretty tasty and the supper was very filling. We went through a buffet line where they had carrots, broccoli and cauliflower with dip, cole slaw, baked beans, garlic toast and baked potatoes. They then gave you your steak. The 3 smaller kids had hot dogs with their meal. They had really good lemonade and delicious brownies for dessert.

Before we ate we took a few scenic pictures. There was a lot of lightning off in the distance and we were praying it wouldn't rain out the musical, since it is outdoors.

At one point we looked at Emma and all of her hair was standing on end from static. When there is lightning in the area, that is NOT a good sign! Emma was upset we were all laughing at her hair so she would not let me take a picture of her. I got one of Kysa, but it's hard to see her hair standing on end. Scott promptly lead us to shelter!

What a beautiful rainbow!

You could see the stage where the musical takes place from the area where the pitchfork fondue is. What a neat place! They have escalators that bring everyone down into the amphitheatre which is a wonderful thing for people who have a hard time with a lot of walking or stairs (hint, hint Mom!) This really was a neat place. I recommend it to everyone!

Kysa, Dustin and Colton. The Little Missouri River runs through in the background. (Ted decided he didn't want to be in anymore pictures if you're wondering where he is!)

I'm sure glad we brought the jackets as it cooled off quite a bit after the rain.

Colton and Dustin making arrowheads.

This neat wagon was at the entrance of the Burning Hills Amphitheatre where the musical takes place so we stopped for some more pictures.

Emma absolutely loved the musical. They invited kids down to the stage before it got started and she quickly got up from her seat and headed down to the stage. I was surprised she did it, especially when none of the boys wanted to join her! Ted was a little worried and thought I should go down there to make sure she didn't get lost on her way back to her seat (he does have a soft spot deep in there somewhere!) As soon as she turned around to head back up the steps I stood up and gave her a big wave and she spotted me almost immediately, so she made her way back to us without getting lost in the crowd of kids.

The musical was a 2 hour production. There was an intermission and a variety show act. It was a famous juggling act and this guy was AMAZING! He was very funny too! At the end of the musical they light off fireworks on the stage and in the mountainous areas in the background.
This really was a neat thing, and I recommend it to everyone. Anyone who decides they want to check it out sometime, be sure to give us a call as you have an open invitation to stay at our house on your way there. This may be the way I can entice more of my family to come and visit. Not only do they have this awesome musical, but the Bully Pulpit golf course is quite amazing as well!
Kysa and the gang got up at the crack of dawn (actually I think it was before the crack of dawn) and took off for South Dakota where they planned to check out Mt. Rushmore, Reptile Garden and explore some caves, as well as check out the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD on their final day of travel (Tuesday). I checked on them later this afternoon and sounds like they are doing well. I know they must be tired, because I am exhausted!

We got up a few hours later and left for home. Gage wanted to stop back at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and hike through the painted canyon again. However, he wanted to hike to this red butte area you see in this picture.
It may not look like it's that far away, but believe me, it is!!! Scott decided he would let Gage give it a try, so we stopped by the Medora Convenience store for a light breakfast before heading out. Gage also found a walking stick that he really liked, so we got that for him as a souvenir. It came in quite handy he says.

Emma and I were going to stay back and hang out until they returned, but Emma decided at the last minute she wanted to go. I figured it wouldn't be long and she would turn back, so I stayed back at the top to wait for her. She never turned around! I stood and watched for quite awhile and talked to a gentleman that was admiring the view. I finally saw them again as they passed through a clearing. I then saw them again as they made it to the base of the red-colored butte. I was so happy to see them arrive at the top. I hollered "YOU DID IT!" and Gage hollered back, "I MADE IT TO THE TOP MOM!", then again I yelled, as proud Mom tears welled up in my eyes, "WAY TO GO!" I decided I would go to the car and get my book to read while they were hiking back. After I got my book and sat down at a picnic bench I about crapped when I saw a HUGE bull bison in the grassy area of the parking area! I sure enjoyed watching him as he roamed and grazed on the grass. There were many tourists stopping to take pictures. Unfortunately Scott had my camera with him so I didn't get a picture of him. Soon after the bison left the area I went to check on the hikers and I saw them coming up the ridge not too far away. They were so proud of themselves!
Here are the hikers atop the big butte!
Gage has his walking stick that has a snake carved in the top of it while Emma holds onto a trail marker.

Scott was quite hot and sweaty when they made it back. I told them I should have gone too but I didn't know that I would have made it. Scott tells me I would have, but I would have been hot and tuckered out when we got back. I didn't even have to go on the hike to be tuckered out! I think Scott was very excited that he discovered the kids could go on that type of a hike. He was already talking about the fall hunting season coming up and getting Gage excited to go. I think Emma is going to want to be right with the boys! Anything they can do, she can do too!

We made it home around 11:30 this morning, just in time for the kids to start swimming lessons at noon. Gage had a baseball game at 5:45 and an end of the season pizza party followed that. I was glad to get them into bed this evening. I should have headed there myself, but instead, I came down to get my blog updated with our Medora adventure. Gage is very sad that Dustin and Colton are gone. He cried quite a bit later this afternoon because he missed them terribly. He wants you guys to come back for Christmas! :-)
Thanks Kysa for letting them come and stay with us. We had a great time and enjoyed every minute they were here. I also want to thank you for taking time off work to come visit us. I am so happy we have finally gotten you to come see where we live! I wish I had been successful at that when we were in Mississippi, Tennessee and Montana!
Oh, and before I forget, I'm supposed to tell Georgia hi! "Hi, Georgia!" :-)

1 comment:

Kysa said...

The hat came from Reptile Gardens!!! Dustin chose to take the cash instead of buying he kept telling me..."buy it for him Mom"....I owed him only 15 by the time we got home....that wasn't too bad...could have been lots more but an extra set of eyes were always watching me and what I was doing and buying!!!
Good job Gage and Emma on climbing that big red hill....I love your walking stick!!! Maybe we can work something out to line one up for Dustin and Colton....we miss you all and will keep in touch as always.....Did you know Mom and Dad got a new puppy....Dolly!!!