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Column: Final days of road trip, Part 3

<p>photo by STEPHANIE DAVIDSON</p><p>My daughters (Lynnlee, left, and Kelley) were supposed to be the subject of the photo while we were in the Wind Cave, but I had to find a way into the picture. Even the wife provided her own photo bomb. (Her’s was better. I was just being a ham.)</p>

photo by STEPHANIE DAVIDSON

My daughters (Lynnlee, left, and Kelley) were supposed to be the subject of the photo while we were in the Wind Cave, but I had to find a way into the picture. Even the wife provided her own photo bomb. (Her’s was better. I was just being a ham.)

A quick recap.

I’ve discovered that I don’t mind long road trips.

When you’re traveling with 15 other people there are going to be delays.

The Big Tex restaurant in Amarillo is a bit overrated, but certainly go for the atmosphere (it’s like Cracker Barrel on steroids and with a bit of a pulse) — and the beer garden.

Pre-teen girls can handle a couple of waterfalls. However, seeing more than five waterfalls in the course of two days will cause them to retreat to ipods and DS.

I possess far more patience that I normally allow myself. Traveling with the in-laws in the same car for two weeks can test that.

I also discovered that combination of coffee and Hot Tamales (the cinnamon-flavored candies) can keep me alert enough to drive for great duration.

Day 10 — This was our final day in Yellowstone. We left to visit the West Thumb Geyser Basin and the Fishing Bridge. There wasn’t really many people fishing and it didn’t seem that much like a bridge. Perhaps it was the time of day.

Nevertheless, we made our way to Cody, Wyo., and after we checked into the hotel we made a quick walk down the street to visit the Buffalo Bill museum.

We found a small exhibit highlighting the efforts of Karl King, a composer. This was only significant because my oldest daughter did a paper on King during the last school year.

We were walking through the museum and my oldest spotted a plaque with Buffalo Bill’s full name.

Her: Oh, his real name is William Cody?

Me: Yeah.

Her: He’s named after the town?

The evening ended… you guessed at another local restaurant. This time is was Tex-Mex. We hadn’t had Tex-Mex since the trip began, and it was nice to actually taste something that was spicy.

Day 11 — We headed to Rapid City, SD. This was going to be one of our last major stops for the trip. On the way there we stopped at the Devil’s Tower. I had been fascinated with the Devil’s Tower ever since I saw “Close Encounters” back in the 1970s.

We walked around the entire base of the tower. Saw a snake. I had a near religious experience (but that wasn’t because of the snake) and then was caught in a rain storm.

On the way to Rapid City we drove through Deadwood, because my sister in law wanted to see it. At first, I wasn’t very impressed with the idea of visiting because it was getting late, I was hungry and out of Hot Tamales. However, it was impressive. They managed to squeeze in every kind of casino into a small area and there were even slot machines inside a real estate office.

The “downtown” area reminds me of downtown Van Buren if it had been lit up advertising various gambling establishments and slot machines.

Day 12 — This was probably my favorite day of the trip. We covered a lot of ground and saw a lot. We began at the Cosmos Mystery area.

Look it up on the interwebs and come back here. Okay, got an idea now? The whole thing is an elaborate con job. It was neat for about 45 seconds, but once I caught on to what was happening, it became a game of figuring out the gag.

We visited the Crazy Horse monument. Not much has change with the monument since the last time I was there, but a whole tourist trap has sprung up.

We wanted to go to a cave, but most of the tours were booked up. The crew finally made our way to the Wind Cave, which was probably the neatest one I’ve visited.

After that we made our way to Mount Rushmore.

The youngest: This is it? It’s kind of small.

We made it in time for the lighting ceremony. It was rather moving.

Day 13 — We start to head home, but not before making a couple of stops. We visited the Badlands and got to climb around on some of the rocks.

The last park we visited was a monument to the Minuteman missile.

It was a fitting end to the trip. We began the trip reveling in the marvels of nature (that didn’t include The Big Tex) and the great American experiment to preserve as much of it as possible.

We ended the trip bearing witness to another great American experiment that could easily have destroyed all that we (man) have built and what God has provided for us.

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