Thursday, July 25, 2013

Nine States, Four Presidents, Three Hailstorms, Two Zoos and a Wedding

As I wrote in my last post, I had a wedding to attend. I may not have mentioned that the wedding was in Michigan, the bride's home state. Since we were flying all the way up there anyway, it seemed logical to combine the wedding and our summer vacation in one trip. We had some options: stay the whole week with my sister's family at their rented beach house, attend the wedding and then tool around Michigan and nearby Canada, or drive out further west after the wedding and see Mount Rushmore, and incidentally visit four states I've never been to. We decided on Mount Rushmore. 

The Mount Rushmore trip I had always planned in my mind consisted of us flying to Minneapolis, driving up to Lake Itasca to spend five days or so, then driving through North Dakota to Rapid City,  South Dakota and then back to Minneapolis to fly home. The name Itasca is not derived from a Native American language. It is from Latin, veritas caput, the "true head" (source) of the Mississippi River. Since we were beginning our trip in Michigan, we had to do it a little differently. The day after the wedding, we drove from Michigan through Indiana to visit my brother in Moline, Illinois, then through Iowa to South Dakota, north to North Dakota, and back east along Interstate 94 to Minneapolis, Minnesota; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and finally back to Grand Rapids, Michigan to fly home. The longest stop on our trip was the four days we spent in Rapid City, seeing not only Mount Rushmore, but also the nearby Chief Crazy Horse Memorial, the Devil's Tower just over the border in Wyoming, the town of Deadwood, the Mammoth Site, an actual paleontological dig where mammoth bones and tusks can be seen in situ, and the Air and Space Museum at Ellsworth Air Force Base, where we got to go down into an old missile silo. Naturally I will have much to say about these adventures in posts to come (with pictures, many pictures). At the moment I just want to add that the shoes I bought for the wedding worked perfectly - no pinched toes or aching arches, and that two weeks is about my limit for being away from home. I wish I could just tap those non-ruby wedding slippers together and be back in Baton Rouge right now, instead of heading to the airport to catch a plane tomorrow.

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