Today's adventure started with a visit to Wall Drugs in tiny Wall, South Dakota.

It's changed quite a bit since our last visit 10 years ago, 

 Horse hitching posts

becoming more mall-ish but retaining its kitschy cuteness.

 Part of the original soda fountain

The girls had a blast,

having their pictures taken 


at every 

photo op

that presented itself.

Then it was on to Badlands National Park,

 Swearing-in ceremony

where Leia earned her third Junior Ranger badge (she has two from last year's Alaska trip).

 Rachel bought Junior Ranger vests for both girls which they looooooooove.

We drove the Badlands 35-mile loop road,

from the Pinnacles back to Wall,

stopping often so Rachel could take photos (see below)

of the scenery and wildlife 

 Big Horn Sheep

and Leia and I could walk the parking lots looking for license plates to complete the girls' list of 50 states. (Only 9 still to go!)

We'd originally planned to visit Deadwood but time ran out, so we settled for a delicious dinner at Ruby House Restaurant (bison ribeye steak - yummmmmm),

 My absolute, very most favorite souvenir from this trip.

and having the girls' picture taken in Keystone. We laughed so much while the pictures were being shot. Leia couldn't stop giggling in her Southern belle finery and Addy was a total bad*ss gunslinger, complete with bull whip. So. Much. Fun.

 Sleeping with all her new friends - a chipmunk, deer, fox, bear and 2 dogs. Grandma might need a stuffy-buying intervention. . .

Tomorrow we are up and on the road early so we can reach Nebraska before the eclipse does. Wish us luck avoiding the predicted traffic eclipse-pocalypse!


Bears and Bison

Today was all about animals. Our first stop was Bear Country USA, just a short distance from our hotel in Keystone. 

I handed my phone to Leia and let her take pictures (through the car windows)

 Photo by Leia 

while I sat back and enjoyed the view.

 Photo by Leia 

We drove through the first part of the park, 

 Photo by Leia 

where the larger animals are located,

 Photo by Leia 

then walked through another section where baby animals 

 Bear Country USA Photo by Leia 
and smaller species are housed.

 Photo by Rachel 

The 15 or so brown bear cubs were especially cute. 

 Photo by Leia 

They knew it was feeding time and kept falling over each other with excitement and getting up on their hind legs looking for their food. Super fun to watch.

 Photo by Rachel

After lunch and a nap, we headed out again at 6 for Custer State Park.

 Trying a fancy root beer at lunch.

 We'd been told that the animals were most active in the early morning and towards dusk.

 Deer At Dusk by Leia 

Since we aren't early morning people, dusk it was!

 Photo by Rachel 

At first it looked like we were going to get skunked (ha!), 

 Photo by Leia 

spotting just a few deer and antelope instead of the 1300 bison that roam the park.

 Photo by Rachel 

But shortly before dark we found part of the herd,

 Photo by Rachel 

spread out on both sides of a dirt road,

 Photo by Rachel 

crossing back and forth at will

 Photo by Rachel 

not really caring what the people or cars were doing. It was amazing to see them so close, literally within touching distance of the van.

 Photo by Rachel 

Tomorrow is Deadwood, Wall and the Badlands. Can't wait!


Keystone Fun

Day 2 of eclipse weekend:

An excellent lunch at Ruby's on the Keystone boardwalk,

where another sarsaparilla fan was born. (Raise your hand if you knew sarsaparilla had 2 "r's". I didn't.)

A bit of panning for gold -

that's a hard way to get rich but the little girls enjoyed trying.

A visit to the Crazy Horse Monument

where the visitor's center has changed significantly since hubby and I visited in 2007.

The mountain? Not much change there. This is going to be a very long-term project.

The girls went for a swim in the hotel's second floor swimming pool

while we waited for evening 

and the lighting ceremony at Mt. Rushmore.

So glad we got to see this - very moving and patriotic with current and former military personnel on stage for the lowering of the flag. 

Tomorrow we're probably going to Custer State Park and Bear Country. And swimming, if the girls have anything to say about it.