Badlands Road Trip

Let’s be Bad!

We recently took a road trip from Texas up to Minnesota for my grandparents 70th wedding anniversary. Yes, I wrote that correctly… 70th! Since we were already going to be so far north we decided to make the most of it and what’s another 8 – 18 hours or driving when you’ve already traveled 17, right? So over to South Dakota we went and then home via Colorado.

Route: Distance Traveled was over 2,900 miles (with baby in tow!)

Where we stayed: Family in OK, Hotel in Kansas City and then Jackpot Junction in Morton, Minnesota, The Badlands Minuteman RV Park & Lodge outside of , Tru Hilton Cheyenne, WY

What we saw: Kansas City, MO – Grandparents Farm in Minnesota – Sioux Falls, South Dakota – Badlands National ParkCuster State Park , Sylvain Lake – where they filmed National Treasure! – Garden of the Gods, Colorado

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Photo above by Tre Dunham

Anyone interested in taking a baby on a road trip may find this helpful. Our son was 7 months old and did fantastic in the car! We timed everything so we could stop every 3-4 hours or less for feedings and stretches and cuddles. The Graco car seat we purchased has 3 reclining portions that made it nice for him to take longer stretches of undisturbed, non-neck crunching sleep. Also, I hid a bag of his toys a couple weeks before and would slowly bring them out over a few days while on long stretches in the car and it was like he had never played with them before. Worked great!

The first day we headed out and made it to Dallas for dinner with family. After dinner we headed out and made it to Oklahoma City by midnight. Thankfully we had family there and awake to greet us. We got a good night sleep and then spent the next morning relaxing, catching up and watching our sweet boy wiggle around.


Kansas City

Kansas City is known as the city of fountains. And we made it just in time to check into the hotel and find a fun local restaurant for dinner, McCoys’ Public House. A few beers later, a huge 2-handed sandwich, and large bowl of bacon mac and cheese we were feeling good. The worst/best foods after a long first day on the road.

While walking to the restaurant we saw a beautiful tribute to the Kansas City Veterans at one of the many city fountains. If only we had more time to spend here. A friend was so kind to provide us a list of the best of the city and we just didn’t have enough time to explore. Next time for sure. Now only 464 miles to Minnesota!


Fairfax, aka The Farm

As we headed up the driveway leading up to my grandparents farm I had flashbacks of some of the best times of my childhood.

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Sweet corn, secret gardens and blackberry bushes, the smell of horses and gasoline, old cars my grandpa built that dad would drive us up and down the driveway in, my grandmas homemade pickles and all the joys of a simple life. The house is situated among a cluster of trees surrounded by miles of crop fields and methane tanks. Just up the main road is the quaint little town of Fairfax that will take you back in time to an easier life, a simple life with all the basic necessities and a public pool that rings home many more memories…but surprisingly.. a town with fiber speed internet!

This time everything flew by – my past came and went with the novelties that decorated their house springing up a memory here and there. The old organ in the attic that I would play as a child; the photo albums of my father as a boy, the sitting room that was so perfectly untouched because no one goes in there. The perfectly manicured lawn and flowers that only grow in the north. The old barns have mostly been cleared out, in fact one is about to literally collapse on top of itself. As time passed there are no more horses, but there were sheep and they reminded me of Iceland.

My extended family was mostly there and on the second day we had a beautiful open house tribute to my grandparents at the local event center. They were married at 15 and 17 in the small town of Fairfax, MN and are still married to this day. They are an example to our whole family of how love can really last a lifetime. Sure, they’ve had their hardships and struggles but they’ve perceived and made it to this huge milestone that most of us will never reach. I loved exploring their property and hope one day to bring my son when he is older so he can feel that sweet soft grass in his toes like I did as a child running around without a care in the world.


South Dakota

We left the farm Sunday morning and started on the long stretch across South Dakota over to Sioux Falls and then our room for the night just outside Badlands National Park. 425 miles to Wall Drug!

Sioux Falls Street Art:

Badlands National Park covers over 242,000 aces of protected mixed prairie grasslands  mixed with amazingly colorful eroded buttes and pinnacles. The park is co-protected by the Oglala Lakota tribe.

One nice thing about the Badlands park was that everything is relatively easy to do and if you are crunched for time even a quick drive thought the park is just a lovely as being able to hike around. We were able to hike the Window Trail and explore the Big Badlands Overlook. Follow the scenic road one way and you’ll cross some of the most amazing canyons and valleys you’ve over seen. Tre got up early one morning to capture a gorgeous sunrise over the park.

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Sunrise series by Tre Dunham

Custer State Park

Have you ever seen National Treasure part 2? (Only one of the best Nicolas Cage movies of all time!) Do you know that scene toward the end when they’re looking for the entrance to the City of Gold an poured water on the rocks to find the bird? Well, we found it!  Not the city of gold, haha I wish, but where they filmed that famous scene, at Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. We spent the afternoon having a picnic lunch surrounded by the most amazing scenery, the cutest geese chasing us, and a sunset walk around the lake behind the boulders and through the crack.

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Everything about the Badlands and Custer State Park is incredible. This is the kind of place we could see ourselves going to every summer… if only we lived closer.


Garden of the Gods

Our third time to Garden of the Gods and first time for the little man. Epic as usual! Garden of the Gods is located just outside Colorado Springs, parking is fairly easy and walking around the monumental cliffs, rock climbing and picnicking is made available to all.

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Ah well, back to Austin. Untill nextime, Adventure On Y’all!

 

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