Badlands National Park, SD

This moment might be the single moment that makes our entire trip worth the time, money and effort. We had driven into Badlands National Park and stopped at our first vista pull off. We went walking into the dry, dusty landscape and up to this opening in the rock wall. Esme, a couple of steps ahead of me, waited for the previous visitor to move aside and as she walked up to take in the view exclaimed, “Oh my!” And not in a canned sort of way, in a slow, amazed, full of awe sort of way. It was perfect.

De Smet

It was another Laura Ingalls Wilder kind of day again today. We stopped in Walnut Grove, on the Banks of Plum Creek and then ended the day by pitching our tent on the Ingalls Homestead in De Smet, South Dakota. I just really love walking where Laura and Mary, et al. walked, smelling the prairie and feeling the hot wind.

February 7, 1867

What is an hour detour, when you’ve come this far already? We diverged from the highways onto county roads (Lettered, here in Wisconsin, we travelled on P, N, SS and C) to make a pilgrimage to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birth site. Or there abouts. I think their Little House in the Big Woods was originally located in the middle of the current street, so I’ll forgive the local historians for that one.

Sweet little replica cabin in the cornfields to mark Laura’s birth site, and I couldn’t be happier to have visited!

Miner’s Castle

Most of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is best (and only) viewed from the water. The girls and I had hoped to take a lake cruise to see the sights, but, despite how it looks in this photo, the water was too rough and most of the day’s sailings were cancelled.

So we made lemonade and drove up to the Miner’s Castle overlook and we overlooked it. Gorgeous. Waves rushing in and out of the cove, the wind in our hair. We could have stayed there for hours, except for the other visitors wanting a spot to overlook as well.

Superior Shenanigans

This little beach on the shores of Lake Superior was directly across from our campsite in the Hurricane Beach campground in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. We discovered that the lake has some amazing rocks and spent a good amount of time playing with them this evening.

Our campsite has a (tree filled) view of the lake and we can hear the waves crashing constantly. Beautiful!

Meyer May

I think that ever since I’ve known about Frank Lloyd Wright I have wanted to see his work in person. Today was finally that day. When researching our trip I discovered that the Meyer May House was only a few blocks from where we were staying in Grand Rapids. For a couple of months I mourned because it is only open a few days a week and I didn’t think we’d be there on the right day. And then I actually looked at the calendar and realized that if we didn’t run out of GR right away we could catch the first tour in the morning.

And I am so glad that we did. The tour starts with a movie giving a history of the house and then details of the restoration done in the mid 80s by the Steelcase corporation. It was fascinating for this history and architecture fan!

The house was beautiful inside. Warm and light, the girls and I were impressed and ready to move right in. My photos do not do it justice. The photo above is from the Morning room, just off of Meyer May’s bedroom. Even the help’s quarters were drool worthy!

I know this won’t be my last Wright house tour, but I am very glad it was my first.

The American Horse

Ohio has been left behind and we are continuing on our westward journey. Today and tomorrow we are in Grand Rapids, MI, visiting my college roommate from the fall of 1999 and her wife and sons. It has been sixteen years since we’ve seen each other, but we picked up right where we left off, and it was so great to meet her family! The best part, as most parents might agree, is that our kids hit it off from the very first moment!

We spent the afternoon at Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park enjoying each other’s company and the beautifully designed gardens and art installations. (Photo above with The American Horse).

Give Me a Wiggle

The girls had a fun day with Grandma and Grandpa today, capped off with a Pizza Picnic with lots of “almost cousins”. The Carter kids taught the Wood girls a new game, “Give Me a Wiggle!” It is a variation on hide and seek that had all the kids shouting and laughing and having a grand old time.

The photo above was taken mostly to catch these two cuties shouting “give me a wiggle” from jail:

By happy coincidence, I also captured Caleb having a little trouble with the wagon.

And then, way in the back, Uncle Steve jumping out from his hiding spot behind the car to give a wiggle.

All in all, a great night at Chestnut Cottage!


80% of our drive today was on I-80 through Pennsylvania and into Ohio. A preliminary look at the route confirmed my memory that there was very little to see or do along the highway. We hopped on the road and just a short ways out we saw a sign for the Patterson Great Falls National History Park.

A quick swerve into the exit lane and three minutes later we were in the parking lot. It was too early to get into the Visitor Center, so we have no stamps in our passports, but the view of the falls was really nice. We read the pamphlet and the outdoor information boards and made some great comparisons to the Lowell NHS.

I am so glad we stopped there, as the rest of the drive was 100% tree lined highway and periodic construction zones. We made good time to Grandma and Grandpa’s and arrived just as the dinner bell rang!