We tried to arrange our kids in similar height order to the heads of the presidents, and told them to look serious, like the presidents. This is what we got. Apparently, they don't really know how to look serious. :)
Mt. Rushmore was another place that I figured we absolutely needed to see, based on how famous it is. It's also the last famous place we're stopping on our adventure. I'm getting pretty sentimental about that!
Mt. Rushmore was enjoyable. It was neat to see pictures of what the cliff had looked like prior to the carving, to read about all the dynamite used to create it, and to see the picture of what the artist planned, vs. the way it turned out. It was neat!
South Dakota has been surprising to us. For no good reason, I'd pictured it as mainly desert, but the Black Hills are quite beautiful! We're camping in Hill City, and the campground has a nice river for swimming. Equally importantly to our family, the campground also has another full-time RVing family, and so we have new friends once again. It's been great!!
In our last few days of this adventure, it's been good to think about relationships. I've loved investing in my family, and I've loved that we've had time while on the road for other families, too. I love having a free enough schedule to be able to make a spontaneous decision to sightsee and hang out with another family for a few days. I love how there is a lack of separation between people full-time on the road, and that you can become quick friends with strangers in a way that doesn't happen at home. Friendships within our own family, and friendships with other families have been just as wonderful on this trip as seeing the sights of the U.S.
After our new friends left, our family got to check off the last item I'd had on my wish list of traveling the country activities: experiencing mining. I'd tried to have us visit a coal mine in West Virginia, but it was too cold. I'd looked into mines in other places, but they were too expensive. Here in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we found a little family-owned gold panning / mining operation. It was so fun, and the members of the family gave us lessons on panning, stories of their family business, and helped us find gold. All four kids successfully found gold and garnets, and they were so happy!
Learning to let the current in the river wash the dirt and stones from the rocks, garnets, and gold
B shows off his treasures
With our last activity checked off the mental list I'd had, the timing was perfect for what happened. We'd wondered what we'd do with our fifth wheel when we return to Ohio. Our new driveway is too steep and has a switchback, which would make it too hard to keep such a large fifth wheel there. So, Char put our camper on craigslist while here in South Dakota, and a man from the area is buying it, at a price of almost what we paid for it! We're now in the process of trying to get all of our belongings to fit into our truck, and how to make it back to Ohio with a few motel days. It will be a clean break from this adventure, onto the next phase of life. This, of course, makes me sentimental, but it will be exciting to see what happens in the next season of life, when the Utter adventure will continue, but be based in a traditional home. We look forward to seeing many of you in August!