My husband, whom I met on an airplane, also has a amazing desire to travel (God knew what he was doing when he put us together!). For for our first anniversary, we flew to Chicago for a week of wandering and exploring downtown. One of our fondest memories was walking back to our hotel from Navy Pier and watching the family in front of us. A mom and dad walking with a stroller, baby, and 2 small children. It was late and raining, they were probably tired after a full day of fun (we were!), but they were happy and loving the moment. My husband and I have burried that memory deep within our hearts. We want to be the kind of parents who take our kids on big trips and small adventures. We want to give them that travel bug. We want them to grow up appreciating God's creation and understanding that we are just a small part of His creation. There is so much more to the world than our little neighborhood, school, church, and city. We want them to see the diversity of His creation, the beauty and splendor of it all. We hope and pray that they feel the joy that we do when we see amazing places with our own eyes.
We have traveled every year since the kids were born. Some trips were small and only a few hours away. Others, have been long road trips with a 9 month old and thousands of miles. Traveling with kids is fun, it gets easier as they get older, and is very different from traveling as childless adults. We pack backpacks full of activities and stock up on lots of snacks to have on hand at all times (snacks can cure all sorts of crankiness!). Then we just go. We go and we go until we come and home and it's a blast. Our kids grow so much during these adventures and that might just be my most favorite part.
We stayed in Custer for 2 nights and it was probably one of our favorite parts of the whole trip. Mt. Rushmore at night is my absolute favorite and it did not disappoint. Ethan was able to get his first Jr. Ranger badge and he was hooked. We had bought some really neat leveled readers about Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone before we left, and Ethan had learned a little about Jefferson and Washington at school. He was so proud that he knew some of the answers to the questions all ready!
The next day we did Wind Cave and it was amazing. Weston wasn't too sure about being that far underground, but he hasn't been able to stop talking about it! The kids thought it was so cool to see prairie dogs in their natural habitat and not at the zoo (along with elk and antelope) We spent the afternoon vegging out and doing laundry. The kids watched lots of tv and played roblocks. . . after going non stop for several days, we just needed to take some time and rest . . . and clean our clothes. That night we ate this delicious restaurant. We knew it was going to be delicious because we had tried to eat there the night before, but it was a really long wait. This time, we got there before they opened so we could get in right away! It was worth it. We also had to try some of the local dessert shops. Ethan had the biggest ice cream in a waffle cone at the Purple Pie place. I found a place that sold macarons with the nicest owners that just talk to you like you are old friends.