Our Trip Home for the Wedding travel blog

Yesterday was an awesome day! We got up bright and early and made our way to Mount Rushmore. We stopped at a Peggy's Place for some home cooked breakfast and then continued on our way. We're camped pretty close, so it's easy to get around to all of the attractions, which is nice.

Amazing is about all I have to say! Absolutely amazing. If you ever get the chance, this is something worth seeing. Rhonda convinced me to walk the trail and since we haven't been exercising for about a month now, I thought I was going to die with all of those stairs. But, I made it!! Haha And I was no worse for the wear. Rhonda got some pretty great photos and I can't wait to get them onto my computer so I can see them better.

After Mount Rushmore, we visited Old McDonald Petting Zoo. It cost us $22 to get in and we were pretty much in awe at how this place is raking in the doe without much effort at all!! Crazy, easy set-up and maintenance. Whomever thought of the layout is a genius!! It's pretty much a self guided tour, with minimal staff. You can go in and pet things like goats, sheep, chickens, baby chicks and calves and then pet others through the fence like horses, donkeys and highland cattle. Although it was expensive, it was cute and I did love the baby goats a whole lot.

From there we made our way to Bear Country USA which is a drive through wildlife park. Who knew we were visiting on the busiest week of the year? Wow! What should have taken a half hour to 45 minutes, took us much, much longer. There was a line of vehicles from the entrance to the exit, with no spaces in between. But, I can't complain too much because we got to see and photograph some pretty amazing animals up close....with the windows rolled up, of course, or we'd have been lunch. The enclosures were more like paddocks and the animals could have cared less than there were vehicles. They entertained us just by being who they are and doing what they do. The wolves, white bison and bears were on the top of our list of favorites with the bears being at the very top. When we entered that area, we couldn't have imagined that we'd see dozens upon dozens of bears wandering around. It was breathtaking and we just couldn't stop saying things like "look over there" and "look what those ones are doing" and "oh my gosh, this is amazing." The bears played with each other, played alone, slept, climbed trees, walked in right beside or in front of your car and we even seen a number of small fights. Then a couple of workers drove in and suddenly the bears all ran towards the truck as it drove. I'm not sure if it was a show for us watching, but the guy driving drove all around the paddock, with dozens of bears running and following behind. It was amazing to see. Then they stopped, one guy jumped out and hopped into the bed of the truck and started shovelling food out to the bears. I think that's when we noticed that there were wolves in with the bears. At first I thought they were wolves that escaped from their pen but we soon realized they belonged. After we left the drive through part we got out in the baby area and got to watch baby bears and wolves plus see a few other animals like badgers, porcupine, lynx, bobcat and fox. We loved this place and would go back in a heartbeat!

After Bear Country we headed over to Reptile Gardens which is right across the street from our campground. The grounds there are beautiful and we got to see some pretty amazing reptiles, birds and small animals. The Prairie Dogs are so cute and fun to watch, but my absolute favorite was meeting, sitting with and petting the long necks of the Giant Tortoises. Quasimodo, who is a 40 year old male weighing about 400 lbs, became my friend. I sat down beside him and scratched his long neck, which he absolutely loves. He stopped eating grass, closed his eyes and layed his head down because he enjoyed it so much. I just spoke softly and told him how beautiful he was. Yup, he and I are besties now!! :) I wanted to take him home but for some reason, Rhonda wouldn't go for it. Haha Meeting Giant Tortoises is the highlight of my trip and it'll be hard to find something to top that.

By this time, it was supper so we found a Safeway, bought a few groceries, headed back to the camper to eat and play with the dogs for a bit before heading out again. The original plan was to relax for the evening but we decided to take a drive up the mountain and through some tunnels; most of which only housed a single vehicle and some that were only 8 feet wide. The drive took a couple of hours and it was dark once we got past Mount Rushmore. We decided to use our 2010 entry pass (yup, you pay once and get to go in for the entire year on that pass) to go watch the lighting of the monument. We stood there with hundreds of others and watched while they lit up Mount Rushmore and sang the national anthem, which gave me goosebumps. It was a pretty amazing thing to see and be a part of.

I think it wasn't until the drive back to the camper that we decided not to leave in the morning. There is just so much to see and do here that we've decided to spend another day here and enjoy everything. There is nothing on the agenda but we're just gonna drive around and stop wherever we want, to see whatever we want. Sounds like a perfect day!

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