August 16, 2015 (Sunday??) – In Bozeman
We awoke after a peaceful night of sleep. Due to Zoe not having ice cream? Or that she recognizes on some level that the C’mon Inn is truly heaven on earth? We shall see.
The continental breakfast was eh, except for the conveyor belt pancakes, still delicious. We set out for the Museum of the Rockies – rated the #1 thing to do in Bozeman by tripadvisor, and we would agree. This museum was outstanding! We actually all got in FREE with our Building for Kids national membership (even though this isn’t a children’s museum, we did not question this stroke of luck). It is well done, lots of technology, big dinosaur exhibits, a planetarium, and lots of great exhibits. What’s so neat is that it is clearly at an adult level for most of the exhibits but they have just enough for kids that the kids think it is a museum for them. Yes kids, put the dinosaur bones on the touch screen into place, while mommy and daddy read the exhibit about the slaves that died of smallpox on the boat over to the Americas.
Also, there was an entire exhibit about the history of chocolate!!
To the kids, this was the chocolate and dinosaur museum, the best museum ever!!!
To Sarah, she met her foe again:
Afterward we headed to Biankini’s, a deli and sandwich shop, where we picked up some truly excellent sandwiches. On the way, Sarah heard from her friend Nicole; Nic was a colleague of Sarah’s at the clinic in Waupaca , who just moved to the Bozeman area with her husband Bill, and their two kiddos, Brayden and Danni. We were so pumped at the chance to see them! Their family was headed to a local park, so we went over and spent two hours there, talking and letting the kids run off some energy and hanging out. Afterward, we headed back to the hotel to do laundry (yes, we are the people who do our laundry in hotels – with detergent powder that you purchase at the front desk, classy folk that we are). The kids destroyed the room and Zoe refused to nap. They hit the pool and created a ruckus. THEN we got a text and our friends were heading to a local restaurant for supper and invited us! (Apparently we had not scared them off yet ). We drove over to the Garage and the waitstaff made us wait long enough that we were suspicious they just wanted us to leave. (What, our 5 kids were out of control? We were letting them play on the sidewalk with cigarette butts and broken glass – or “crystals” as they called them – geez, what do they want?). We had an EXCELLENT meal!
We headed back late to the hotel for fun in the pool and after Zoe finally passed out, the boys tiptoed in and went to sleep. Matt and Sarah were keeping a close eye on THEIR hot tub, which initially a sketchy guy with three empty bottles of beer appeared to be passing out in. Then he left and biker tattooed bald guy and his bikini girlfriend showed up. WELL. That hot tub was located next to OUR room, and so we joined them. Take THAT! We aren’t really sure what the etiquette is for sharing a hot tub in the atrium of your FIVE HOT TUB hotel. Then, because the hot tubs close at 11, they dimmed the lights at 10:40 pm and our hot tub friends scattered because they were all scared. Come on, folks – it’s like last call! Then we realized we were the only ones ballsy enough to stay in past that. Yeah, we rock.
Today we also realized a miscalculation. We leave Bozeman on Tuesday, and were planning on taking the northern route home and doing it in two days. THEN only today, we realized that we are sleep deprived and that would get us home on Wednesday. Clearly, we want to avoid going home THAT early. So we are considering staying another day IF we can stay in this glorious palace, OR we would take the southern route and do 3 days of travel? It’s like a logic puzzle but we just have stopped caring. Ahh, vacation…
Miles driven: negligible! Yah!
Soda crush levels beaten: can you believe Sarah hasn’t played at all today?? It’s like the world ended or something.
August 17, 2015 (Monday, for sure) – Still in Bozeman
Last night wasn’t terrible, so we are pretty sure all the ice cream at Glacier is what made Zoe scream. We awoke around EIGHT (I know, right??) and laid around playing on electronic devices and fighting over chargers. B always whines about the Leprachaun right away in the morning and every day, on cue, Sarah forgets that he means Lucky Charms (a special treat on this trip) and thinks he is talking about the car fairy and car presents and everyone is all confused and upset. EVERY DAY this happens.
Matt and Sarah (well, really Matt) wanted to go to the American Computer museum (ranked #2 attraction in Bozeman on trip advisor!) (won’t lie – looks like an electronic hoarders apartment and the free admission was a tad creepy) but the kids outvoted us 3-2 and they ended up playing in the pool in the morning.
We went back to lay around a tad more, and Sarah spied two people getting into OUR hot tub. Oh no they don’t! She and B immediately got in as well to defend the turf. Turns out it was a woman and her daughter, and they are from Seattle, but the daughter goes to Montana State (in Bozeman). She informed us move in was happening Tuesday and Wednesday this week and the town would be overrun with college students. Noted, and we will be leaving TUESDAY then, and taking the southern route we guess.
We fed the kids PBJ (the only thing they will eat now) and took off for the Palisades Waterfall. We stopped at a fusion burrito place that Bill had recommended called La Parilla – Matt had a gypsy buffalo burrito and Sarah had a jambalaya burrito that was so hot she couldn’t finish it. Delicious! On our way into Gallatin National Forest to see the waterfall, the temp dropped to the low 50s and it began hailing. Sounds about right. The drive and surrounding mountains were gorgeous!
There was a “hike” of just under a mile to the waterfall (AKA, “walk” is what we told B it was – the word “hike” causes a meltdown these days) and it was a beautiful waterfall off the side of a cliff. This entire area was amazingly beautiful and so close to Bozeman!
Now, Bozeman sounds like the perfect place to live – mountains, national forests, awesome restaurants and parks, not too big, good climate. Housing prices are terribly high though. But honestly, it all seems TOO perfect. Everything is gorgeous here. Sarah compared it to Cypress Creek, when in the Simpsons (we swear everything isn’t a Simpsons reference), when Homer went to work for Globex Corporation. It seriously is perfect here!! We couldn’t find the hammock district, though.
We headed back to the hotel after picking up the most awesome looking growler of beer from Bridger Brewing company, and our friends came over came over for pizza and then a pool party! Good times. We are so sad they are living so far out here in Montana, but happy for their adventure and we are already scheming about more trips out here (hello, Yellowstone! And maybe back country camping at Glacier someday?!?) and now we have another reason to come.
The night ended after kids were asleep – college kids have taken over the hotel, our hot tub is mysteriously closed due to “jet” issues, and Sarah feels itchy all over from too much chlorine or something she caught from a hot tub (you knew it was going to happen). Matt is just happy to have his beer. Nic brought over some fun Montana beer to try as well! We have decided to start back tomorrow but do the drive in 3 days instead of 2 days – that is just insane to drive 10 hours a day twice with all the kids screaming about ipads and movies and snacks and pacifiers and the Car Fairy presents and the filth covering our entire vehicle (maybe the car fairy is responsible for that, too). We are getting too old for this.
Miles driven: negligible
Soda crush levels beaten: none, Sarah gave up, remember?? 😉
August 18, 2015 – Bozeman, MT to Rapid City, SD
So in prep for today, we reviewed our trip log from three years ago. We did this exact same drive, along I-90, and it went down as the worst day of driving of the entire last trip (for no clear reason – I mean, really, when the kids went all bonkers at 2 am and we couldn’t find a hotel room in Bismarck the first night – that wasn’t worse in our minds at the time)? Funny how history repeats itself.
We were awakened by shrieking from Zoe like a smoke detector today at about 5:30 – we could only get her to rest in our arms, so after Matt did his magic, Sarah took Zoe and snuggled up with her. Every kid was fast asleep. Matt woke up around 7 am and went out for donuts from Granny’s Donut Shop (thanks to Bill for the suggestion!) and even picked up coffee and came back – and all the kids were still asleep.
They slept until 8:30. I mean, really. The one freaking day we actually had to leave at a god awful early hour? We packed up, and were outta there. It was raining and 50. Weird how we bring rain to places.
Got on I-90 and drove through to Billings where everyone argued about lunch and we finally settle on McDonald’s. It was pouring rain there and 50 degrees. We continued on through southern Montana and into Wyoming. This drive sucks the life out of you in a way we cannot describe. The landscape is pretty but monotonous. The only license plates you see are not from Wyoming. The speed limit is 80 mph. I mean, it should be great, right? NO. I think it makes a person mad to make this drive. We even stopped a few times to break it up – the kids peed by a fence, we went to our usual rest stop in Gillette WY (we should NOT have a usual rest stop but we do), Matt went to a brewery in WY and sampled beer so he could continue drinking beer in every state, etc. But we all just wanted to be DONE.
FINALLY as we were partway through WY, we realized something had cracked our windshield and there is a large crack extending its way across the passenger side. We argued about whether it was getting bigger or not, whether to have the windshield replaced in South Dakota, whether it was illegal to drive with it like that, whether if Sarah just lightly touched the windshield it would cause the entire windshield to shatter and spray glass over the entire family at 90 mph, because god forbid she just lightly touch the crack!!!!!
THIS DRIVE MAKES EVERYONE CRAZEEE!
Finally we made it to Rapid City. Apparently this hotel thinks a sofa sleeper jammed together with a king bed is a “suite with a room divider” when the only area divided from the room is the bathroom. NO THAT IS NOT A SUITE, BAYMONT SUITES HOTEL.
The kids ate left over pizza from last night and we went to the pool. Maximum capacity: 12. Kids in the pool: 142. Parents who left their kids in the pool and went elsewhere: all of them. Who’s in charge: Matt, as usual.
It took us an hour to get the kids to bed (stop kicking each other, no more water, please stop talking, Zoe stop shrieking and how did you spill your milk cup all over all of us (even though none of us are near you), yes mommy will break the sofa sleeper if she lies with you so she has to rest on the king bed). We ate salads (we are CRAVING veggies at this point) and cheese bread while sitting on couch cushions on the floor near the bathroom (behind the divider wall, remember?) in the dark. We drank beer from the growler from WY.
Can’t wait for tomorrow! We swore to the kids they could go to Reptile Gardens, then we get another soul sucking drive across South Dakota to Sioux Falls. Or Sioux City. Whatever.
Miles driven: 500 billion (529.1)
Soda crush levels beaten: none. And Sarah was trying!!!!!
August 19, 2015 – Rapid City, SD to Sioux Falls, SD
Had the best night of sleep of the night of the entire damn trip at the Baymont Suites. Go figure! We woke up and staggered around the hotel room a while – the plan was to wake up and head over the Reptile Gardens at 8 am when they opened. WELL…. We were there by 8:45 am which was a minor miracle. We stopped for coffee and bagels at Black Hill Bagels. We drove over to Reptile Gardens, which is simply awesome. It has the largest collection of reptiles in the world. And a promotional poster for the sequel to the GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE.
Lots of gators, crocs, spiders, snakes. There was a giant board illustrating what happens when you get bitten by a prairie rattlesnake, which apparently is very venomous and lives in South Dakota – BAD BAD stuff. There is a lot of information and animals here and beautiful botanical gardens – it is actually very pretty!
The highlight of the visit for the kids was a large sandbox and play area – by this point we were so freaking tired we collapsed on benches and let the kids build an elaborate sand castle. They had no interest in the snake show (actually, wait, MATT had no interest in the snake show as he is terrified of them) or the gator show. On the plus side, all these other families were walking by and their kids were all whining that they wanted to play like our kids were, and their parents were like, “No, you need to come look at the animals”. Yes, for once we were the cool parents. Because we stopped caring enough to argue.
For 200 miles yesterday the kids had talked about the prairie dogs, so they promptly spent 2 minutes at the exhibit and went back to the sandbox.
We also saw a large turtle take a dump, which thrilled the kids and was the ONE TIME it was permissible to use bathroom words in public (not like that has ever stopped them before).
We were off after that! Matt forced everyone to stop at Wall Drug and Sarah refused to get out of the car on principle. We got some more amazing donuts there!!
We did hit the Badlands (mostly to get Zoe’s National Park passport stamped, we won’t lie) and it was just a shitstorm. At the first overlook B nearly fell over a goddamn cliff, and on some rickety wooden stairs, Sarah dropped Zoe and then fell on top of her. Zoe was not injured, but Sarah was scratched badly. AND a whole bunch of McPerfect families totally witnessed it and gave Sarah the “eye”. Assholes. And then we were driving around and there was a bighorn sheep (boring, saw those already) but Sarah had her window down and it came up and almost attacked us!!! Sarah took one picture and rolled up her window screaming.
Then Matt mentioned that he saw a sign that the prairie dogs had plague there, which led to frantic hours of googling if you can get the plague from scratching yourself on wooden steps several miles away from the prairie dogs. Then as we were getting on the highway, we saw the most amazing roadside attraction – the National Minuteman Missile Monument. OMG, Sarah’s fantasy come to life. Unfortunately, the kids were wrecked after almost dying in the Badlands from the plague and cliffs and being dropped, and it was decided this was more of an adult interest, and thus someday (next year) we will come back and dispatch Sarah in there alone to enjoy Cold War era artifacts AND to get the underground tour. It looked so cool!! Yes, that’s right, our trip log documents where we WISH we could have gone. 🙁
Got back on the road. Wow, it is so boring in South Dakota. There are no curves or hills. We ate from a veggie platter that we bought in Rapid City and it was delicious. The kids ate smoothies from the Bagel place. We drove. All we know is this was so boring, but the drive didn’t make us crazy like yesterday. It was sleep inducing. Sarah’s driving privileges were rescinded when she said it felt like she was sleeping with her eyes open. Sarah read celebrity gossip out loud to Matt, who was numb and no longer cared. We then lost an hour because driving west to east sucks. The rest stops were scary…
THEN we finally got to Sioux Falls and were rewarded – the Staybridge Suites there had the warmest pool we had encountered in TWO WEEKS! Oh, it was glorious. Plus, while Zoe was screaming and refusing to go to sleep, there was a baby next door that sounded worse! YES!
We ate take out from Chevy’s, a crappy tex-mex chain place that we loved in WA. Yup, even worse now then it used to be. Matt drank some kind of nasty beer from a can that was from SD, completing his quest to drink a beer from every state in that state. Sarah drank Pig’s Ass Porter from Belt, MT (thanks, Nic!), which was great.
Miles driven: a billion (394)
Soda crush levels beaten: NONE (and Sarah is trying, which makes it even more pathetic)
August 20, 2015 – Sioux Falls, SD to home!!!
(sorry for sign pic – our windshield is so full of bugs, Sarah’s iphone wouldn’t even focus on the MN sign, just the dead bugs)
Woke up all off kilter due to losing an hour – we were all packed up and putting stuff on the luggage cart, and Noah was like, “when do we go to the pool”? Too late, bucko. To be fair, he only asked after we packed his iPad. We loaded up, hit Starbucks, and were off. Drive, drive, drive, boring, boring, boring. South Dakota, Minnesota. Boring boring. Matt found a geocache at a rest stop (nerd). We stopped in Albert Lea at DQ (corporate, not a rogue one) and picked up food to eat at a rest stop. Again, we have gotten classier with each passing moment. We ate at the awesome rest stop (and dragged out the vegetable platter from yesterday) and Sarah tried to find a geocache there and failed. Matt found it right away (super nerd). Kids played on the equipment and we were off again.
(yes, a pic of the rest stop, because we have nothing else to talk about or show for this day of the trip)
Drive, drive, drive. Stop at Starbucks in LaCrosse. Drive, drive. Put on Wreck It Ralph for the nth time. Blood coming out of our ears from listening to that soundtrack again. Zoe making the EXACT same sounds that Curious George makes for hours. Matt actually wants to WATCH Wreck It Ralph to see what happens after hearing it so many times.
THEN, we made it home. Where Grandma and Grandpa Kolinski were waiting for us to welcome us home. And now we are settled in bed, eating fast food and drinking a Cosmo and a martini. Ahh…
Miles driven: a million more (424.9)
Soda Crush levels beaten: NONE and if you know how to beat level 375 please contact Sarah
Grand total: 3392.1 miles and 73 hours and 36 minutes in the car!
BONUS!!!! (if you like these, contact Sarah to subscribe to her newsletter) —
PRO TIPS FOR travel with kids:
1. Make sure to have a catchy iTunes list for the kids that you marginally enjoy. You will hate it by the end of the trip after setting it on repeat. Never put more than 5 songs on it because children cannot comprehend more than 5 songs. Our songs were “Working for the Weekend”, “We didn’t start the fire” “2 legit to quit”, “Life is Highway” and the Back to the Future soundtrack theme song. Matt also threw in Holiday Road, which was from the Vacation sound track, infuriating the children.
2. TRY to get “suites” so that you can have 10 minutes to yourself after sedating the children with large amounts of non-drowsy Zyrtec and forcing them to sleep, so that you can watch HGTV and eat your swill in peace.
3. Never buy good hiking gear for your children – YOU need the good shoes when you are carrying them, and besides, the kids in 150 dollar hiking boots they will fit in for 6 months are tools.
4. VERY IMPORTANT: There are McPerfect families out there – with matching hiking gear – and they look well-groomed at all times. If they have 5 or more kids, guaranteed they are Mormon (check for Utah plates). IF not, they are not perfect and likely from the Midwest and trying really really hard (they are hiding their dysfunctional family better than you are).
5. Don’t kid yourselves – iPads are GREAT babysitters!
6. Illinois is to Wisconsin as California is to the mountain West.
7. Anyone who judges you for eating fast food on the road is a) from a McPerfect family or b) lying/hypocritical.
8. Once you’ve done 88 mph “legally” in an 80 mph zone, 55 mph SUCKS.
9. Just think about what 2 outfits you own that show dirt the least and can be adapted in a wide variety of weather conditions, and just bring those. You need nothing else. As a woman, bring leggings to wear under the outfit when you choose to stop shaving.
10. Wyoming is creepy.