CC Day 4 – The Prairie and The Badlands

The prairie was a completely new experience for this lifelong New Englander. Though I had never been there, a love for the prairie settled in my heart years ago when I first read the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. If not for her books, I wouldn’t have known that the prairie isn’t really flat but a series of low, rolling, green and gold hills. Nor would I have been prepared for the giant dome of sky and the inescapable sunshine. For those of you who have never been, the prairie (in June anyway) is an awful lot like being at the ocean: hot under the big, blue sky and bright sun with a constant warm blowing breeze. The land is flat and covered in low growing grass and one feels that just as she reaches the top of the next hill, there she will find the ocean. But instead she sees only more hills, more grass, more sky.  There are waves, not of blue and white, but of green and gold, and instead of the smell of salt air, one breathes in the dry scent of prairie grass and earth. Yet it is quiet. No surf pounding against the shore. Just gentle, sweet rustling. What a beautiful, free place!

I imagine that prolonged time on the prairie can get rather monotonous and when the Ingalls arrived here there were no trees, no barns, no silos – just grass and sky. I can hardly imagine it! My family endured several stops to satisfy my Little House affections. We visited Walnut Grove, Plum Creek, Silver Lake (sort of) and two museums. We rode on a covered wagon, made corn cob dolls (I made one too), went in a sod hous and two actual houses Laura lived in and wrote about. It was wonderful!

After that we drove on to the badlands. What a difference! We left the rustic but relatable stories of family life on the prairie and walked into the surreal, dreamlike rock formations of the badlands. I have experienced nothing like it before and I am not sure I will again. This is one of those rare occasions where I am at a loss for words. So today you get to see our first picture! We are limited by Doug’s wireless access account as to how many pictures we can upload. This means most of our pics have to be uploaded via hotel internet access and we just haven’t had time. Enjoy this one to the fullest…not sure how long it will be before I upload the next one!

We ended the day by racing a storm to our hotel. The lightning was an awesome sight because out here you can see the storms miles and miles away. We were driving west into the setting sun and the sky behind us and to our south was almost black. The result was a giant double rainbow rising from the farms up into the dark clouds. The combination and seeming paradox of such beauty and ferocity at once reminded of our God: mighty, beautiful, strong, compassionate…simply awe inspiring.

Well, we’re off again. Hope you can feel my cyber hug!

Cross Country Day 2 & 3 – By Jacquelyn

    Hi Everyone! It’s Jacquelyn. On Day 2 of our journey we passed by Niagara Falls one last time and then headed for the border. Once back in America we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast and drove through NY, PA, and OH until reaching Cedar Point resort around 4 PM.

     We decided to eat dinner at TGIF as our park passes were good from 5 until closing.  The first ride we went on once entering the park was TOP THRILL DRAGSTER.  Christina and my mom waited while my dad and I experienced a 420 ft. drop from the front row. It was definately worth the wait for me, although Christina disagreed. The rest of the night made up for it though, as she rode the carousel, a roller coaster, and some other rides as well.

     After the park we returned to the hotel and took a walk on the beach. The sand was incredibly soft and felt great to walk on after a night at the amusement park. Next, we had plans to go swimming but when we looked in the outdoor pool and hot tub we quickly decided to head inside because the surface was covered with dead insects.  Christina and my mom spent some time in the indoor pool while dad and I grabbed ice cream to bring back to the room for everyone – a delicious ending to the day:)

     Day 3 was fairly uneventful, but we did drive through a total of 7 states. After stopping for dinner in Walnut Grove, we watched the sunset across the Minnesota sky. A remnant of the sun’s rays could be seen on the horizon until 10:45 or so, causing the horizon to look like one beautiful rainbow. We checked into our hotel in South Dakota around 11:30 central time and quickly fell asleep.