Adventures from Kansas to North Dakota and way beyond…

Recently, my hubby and I took our 1st road trip. We had been on vacations before and even around the world but we had never gone on a road trip. So, we decided to visit Kansas, Nebraska, South + North Dakota, Montana + Wyoming in, oh you know 8 days! We loved a few states and have decided we have seen enough of the others. We spent a lot of time driving, and laughing.

Endless_Sky_Kansas_FBWhen we left Dodge City, the owner of the Bed + Breakfast we stayed at told us to visit the Monument Rocks before we left Kansas. Mind you there isn’t a lot to see in Kansas, so we gave it a go and we happy we went out of our way. When heading back to paved roads, this was the image in front of me and all I could think to myself was…’now that is Kansas’.

Nebraska_Deer in the Snow_Agate_FBAfter our long drive from Dodge City to Chadron, Nebraska and seeing Carhenge. A cold front blew in from the west and brought lots of snow, ice and more wind with it. Mr and I had quiet the adventure getting to the Agate Fossil beds that day. With blowing snow, dirt roads, and snow banks a foot or so high…it made driving quiet the adventure. Once we arrived we found, as we suspected, to be the only ones there, except for the White Tailed Deer that greeted us as we came into the Monument! We even hiked a 1 mile trail in the freezing cold…all for the sake of an adventure.

SouthDakota_Badlands_FBAfter our freezing adventure in the snow and almost running out of gas {story for another time} we went to South Dakota, home of the Badlands, Mount Rushmore and Wounded Knee. And we saw all 3. We first darted east towards Wounded Knee, then up and drove through the scenic drive of the South Dakota Badlands National Park. We saw our 1st wild porcupine, bighorn sheep and several sets of deer. Plus the views took your breath away.

Mount_Rushmore in the Snow_FB

The next day we went to Mount Rushmore, in the cold and freezing weather. Rapid City received 10 inches of snow the day we arrived, thankfully the roads where clear upon our getting there. After Rushmore we headed to the Jewel Cave National Monument…did a 1/2 mile scenic tour of the cave. We then headed back to our hotel to shower and have a nice dinner out.

NorthDakota_Baby Buffalo_FB

After we journeyed out of South Dakota, we found ourselves in one of my new favorite places. Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Home to buffalo, prairie dogs, coyotes, wild horses, cougars, elk, longhorn and deer. We were in awe of their nobility and admired their power from afar and in the car. We decided all dog squeaky toys are mocking prairie dogs and the cattle raisers that came out here and killed buffalo for land were idiots. This was the 1st buffalo we saw entering the South Unit of the Park, he is a young buffalo and he even talked to me for a bit. After settling in for the night, we made plans for the next days adventures…hiking the petrified forest, going to Elkhorn Ranch and visiting the North Unit. The Petrified Forest involved a 7 mile dirt road and 2.3 mile hike into the park…hiking along side the animals we viewed the day before from the car. Our next adventure was the 30 ish mile drive to Elkhorn ranch on dirt roads and less than 1/2 a tank of gas…we made it…not sure we were going to make it out though. The last dirt road in was deeply rutted and nasty for the toughest of trucks…my little Vibe was brave and proved her worth. We made it out {and got gas} and arrived at the North Unit just in time for sunset. The North Dakota Badlands, are just as impressive and awe inspiring as those in South Dakota Badlands.

Montana_LittleBigHorn_Custer'sGrave_FBWe then began heading in what I like to call the right direction, West. Towards Montana and Little Bighorn. A goal of our trip was to stay off interstate roads as much as possible and really see the state. We did stop at Road Side Geology stands along our drive in Montana, they are quiet proud of their dinosaurs there. We arrived at Little Bighorn with an hour to spare and did the 5 mile driving tour then visited the off road memorials. The Black grave above is Custer’s although his body was relocated to West Point a while later. That night we watched, Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. It helped me understand how Wounded Knee and Little Bighorn were related and how horribly we treated those truly Native to this land. The next morning we got up and visited Pompey’s Pillar along the Yellowstone river. It hold one of the last remaining pieces of evidence that Lewis + Clark 1) are real 2) passed through here. William Clark signed his name on a piece of Sandstone Pillar on the South Side of the river. While there we were able to see a Yellow Bellied Marmot, something neither of us even knew it existed. We then headed South towards Wyoming and Devil’s Tower.

Wyoming_Devil'sTower_FBWe had a lovely stroll around the Tower and were even able to witness a few folks brave enough {and I assume experienced enough} to climb it. At this point in our trip we were enjoy the 60-70 degree weather and were able to do more hiking as we had planned. Afterwards we headed to Sundance for dinner before arriving at the Kindness Ranch to spend the night.

20130428_2013 badlands_Kindness Ranch_Hiking with the Dogs-FBKindness Ranch is an Animal Sanctuary that helps rehabilitate animals used in Laboratory testing before adopting them out. We met a few of these animals that come to KR with the mental and personality traits of an abused pet. The Beagles shown above were used in Lyme Disease Research, the pigs was used to teach students how to implant medical telemetry devices, the sheep are the babies of sheep used in infectious sheep disease research, and the horses were used for multiple research reasons including to develop female hormone drugs. Yes, this still happens folks. Thankfully, the Kindness Ranch has made great strides in earning these lab’s trust and allows them to pull these animals that would normally be put down at the end of their ‘usefullness’. To learn more about the Kindness Ranch, I encourage you to visit their website and LIKE them on facebook.

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