Rest Day

After the weekend's excitement, we unanimously decided today would be a rest day (except for Rach, who had to work).

Leia recently learned - and likes - to play solitaire on the iPad, so I taught her to play old-school, using real cards from our trip to Devil's Tower. She won her first game and is officially hooked. Another life-skill mastered!

When Rachel got home, she and Leia built an Owl Crate color spinner, complete with motor. 

Sure brought back fond memories of making T-shirts in the '90s using the same techniques. 

Even Addy, who came home sick from her first day of school, got in on the fun. 

And now I need to subscribe to a Crate program for the little girls at my house. So much (educational) fun.


Eclipse Day

We rolled the girls out of bed and into the car,

leaving Keystone on the dot of 7 a.m., 

enroute Nebraska and the eclipse.

Wary of the predicted traffic apocalypse, we avoided highways and traveled mostly on back roads, 

passing increasing numbers of people who had pulled off the road and set up eclipse  camp. 

We finally pulled over just north of Scott's Bluff, Nebraska, in the path of total solar eclipse.

The moon was just starting its pass 

and a tiny sliver of the sun was eclipsed. 

We set up our own camp ** and waited,

some more patiently than others,

for the full eclipse.

 Full sun

I knew my camera phone wasn't capable

of taking shots of the sun,

so I concentrated on pics 

 Full eclipse

showing the increasing darkness.

The light not only got darker

but more eerie,

the temperature dropped,

and daytime sounds - like bird songs - dropped off

while nighttime sounds - like crickets - got louder.

It never got quite dark enough to see stars, but Mars was brightly visible.

Then 1 minute and 17.7 seconds later (according to NASA), the process reversed itself,

getting eerily light again.

Such an incredible experience. 

We headed for Colorado shortly after this. We ran into only a few pockets of heavy traffic, thanks in large part to Rachel's navigational planning. Others weren't so lucky - Interstate 25 between Cheyenne and Loveland was still backed up at 1:30 a.m., more than 14 hours after the eclipse. So glad we weren't stuck in that mess.

** Trivia time - who knew Nebraska had cactus?? Sneaky little barbed devils took a liking to me. I had several stuck to my legs (ouch!), pants and shoes. Fortunately it was only me they liked; the little girls would not have been pleased if they'd been the victims. 



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!