One of the best things about small towns is the cafes. We had driven into town the night before to check out the scene and Josh was so excited for the café. (Keep in mind we were in Pettibone, ND, population 69). Josh’s favorite meal is breakfast and when we eat out as a family (which usually only happens when we’re traveling), he wants to order everything on the menu. Lucky for him, we have three kids who never finish their meal.
So we woke up on Friday, packed up, and headed to the Pettibone Café for breakfast. It’s the kind of place that serves pancakes as big as your plate. When I asked the waitress (who was probably the owner) how big the pancakes were, she just kinda laughed. The kids have just recently discovered how awesome French toast is, so they had pancakes and French toast, which worked out well for Josh.
After breakfast, we loaded up and started driving. We knew we wanted to make it to Rapid City, SD because that’s pretty much the only big city along our route. And just in case you’re wondering, there’s pretty much nothing to do in North Dakota. Before this trip, I searched high and low. I came across Devil’s Lake, but the Top 15 list on their website included watching a sunrise AND watching a sunset, pushing your kids on the swings at the park, and throwing a Frisbee in the park. Hmm… that’s pretty much the whole state.
We knew since we had a long and boring drive ahead of us that we had to be prepared. Josh’s parents bought the kids some sticker books at Walmart, which helped keep them occupied. And Ava was just in the most incredible mood, which really helped. Usually when we travel, she and Max just crack each other up and play games in the car. But the first half of this trip, they were not having fun and that definitely affected everything.
That didn’t happen this day though. They were able keep each other well entertained most of the very long drive. I also bought them a candy bar at Walmart and wouldn’t let them have it until they had behaved in the car for several hours. I am definitely not above bribing for good behavior, especially when it works.
One of the things Josh and I have always tried to do when we travel is to bring our own fun. We can’t always stop and do something fun because often times there is nothing to do. Driving through North Dakota, all we saw was farmland and bales and bales of hay. Josh pulled over in a spot and we let the kids play up on some hay bales.
We love doing things like that… we got the kids out of the car and having fun for twenty minutes and it was totally random. My only regret is that the hay bales we stopped at were surrounded by tall weeds, which turned out to be tick infested. I found a tick on Lia later, but luckily got to it before it could get in. EEWWW! Ticks seriously creep me out. And of course, half a mile down the road, there were hay bales right in the open with no weeds around them. Oh well!
The tick debacle did come back to haunt us the rest of the day though, as Lia kept insisting that she had more ticks. I finally had to dig out a fresh change of clothes, strip her down, and completely change her.
The one thing I did run across was something called the Enchanted Highway. It runs north to south between Gladstone, ND and Regent, ND and is accessible right off Highway 94. Josh and I have driven Highway 94 before and let’s just say it’s a very boring drive. It’s a beautiful drive, but there’s nothing to do and nowhere to stop. So we knew the Enchanted Highway was a must.
We drove the entire route and stopped at all of the sculptures. The kids really enjoyed it until we got to the last sculpture or two. By that time, they were hot and totally over stopping for photos every few miles. Several of the sculptures had play structures for the kids to mess around on, which helped. By the time we got to the gift shop at the end, we were all really excited to see that they sold ice cream!
After the Enchanted Highway, we booked it to Rapid City as quickly as we could. We decided to go ahead and camp since we hadn’t done it yet. I booked a campsite at the Rapid City KOA and wouldn’t you know that it started raining just as we checked in. Lucky for us, it was a light rain and it stopped pretty quickly. We got our tents set up and got the kids tucked into bed.
And that’s when everything fell apart. Well, specifically Ava fell apart. Our campsite was right next to the playground and kids were screaming and yelling until well after 9:30 pm. The kids had a terrible time going to sleep and Ava just screamed. And that’s about the time we decided that maybe we’re just not camping people. I think we’ll try it again another time, but maybe just go to the lake and only go camping instead of trying to go camping during a two-week road trip.
So really I think we just weren’t prepared. We showed up with a tent and some sleeping bags after bedtime. And the KOA we stayed at was awesome too… they had a pool and a hot tub, a playground, an arcade. So many things to do and no time to do them. Camping was on our summer bucket list, but I’m going to count this as a big fat fail! Hopefully we’ll get it right next time!
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