The weather was nice, Harper didn’t, have school, the entrance fee was waved and it’s my birthday so we went outside to Badlands National Park. We did a few small trails including a juniper forest and massive canyon but mostly we climbed and explored.
I’m a borderline crazy Christmas person. Having kids creates a new level of magic in that you are responsible for creating it and in return receive the pleasure of watching it all unfold.
This year we finally made it onto the historic 1880 Train‘s Holiday Express. The ride was out of Hill City, about halfway to Keystone you arrive at “The North Pole” and pick up Santa. On the way there they pass out delicious hot chocolate and sugar cookies. I was shocked at how good they were. After Santa boards the train he comes around and talks to each child while handing out silver sleigh bells. The cost isn’t cheap but for under $100 for our family it was a special and you can’t put a price on memories.
- You can bring food/drinks onto the train, we went on the 4:15 so I knew my boys would need more then a sugar cookie so I brought snacks in containers.
- The trains are mildly heated, meaning on a cold night you’ll be comfortable but with your coat left on. Remember you don’t get on the train without waiting in line outside and it’s in Hill City which is probably a few degrees cooler than Rapid.
- The speaker system on the train is awful and with so many kids you are unlikely to hear what they are saying, therefor you’ll want to read (or watch) The Polar Express before your ride.
- While it’s a great ride for all ages, our 3 year old loved it the most so I’d say if you only plan on going once, wait for that 3-4 age range. Our 5 year old, who loves trains, had fun but was a little unimpressed afterwards.
- If your family has a busy schedule or you feel particular about the times book your tickets early, as in November or the first week of December.
- Take the train during the summer as well, it’s a great experience.
Sometime in June I started to feel the itch to get out. I’d been in SD too long and needed a trip, even a little mini trip to ease my soul. My first proposal was to Chad “lets go to Denver, take the kids to the zoo, do some shopping” but the mere thought of that stressed Chad out. I understand, we have 3 kids now, but any short lived stress seemed worth the experience to me. Chad was out but I wasn’t. I’d driven with 2 kids alone and figured 3 wouldn’t be much different, maybe some new challenges but nothing I couldn’t handle. Though, it did sound lonely just me and 3 kids so I thought it best and I mean BEST to invite my sister. It worked out even better than I imagined because she deals with my kids amazingly well, helping a ton, plus who wouldn’t want to go shopping with their sister? Just like old times in AZ only adding in 3 crazy boys.
I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. There was some stress involved but the memories that are taken away from trips like these make a life. Harper still tells people about going to Denver and both boys now jump in any elevator they get into, high speed or not.
Went on a little hike today to the rock maze. It’s a super short walk from the car but provided tons of entertainment as the kids explored the “caves” forcing both Chad and I to squeeze through the tiniest crevices. Please excuse Willem’s mid 90’s “coming out of the grunge” style. Part of the boys terrible twos is wanting to pick out his own clothes so denim shorts, tye dye and cowboy boots it was.
Snack break was pathetic. As a mother to boys I know that snacks make the world go around and can prevent any meltdown. I should have been prepared with a pack full of food however I grabbed what we had, crackers and craisins. Apparently any food is good food because Harper was thrilled by it and kept thanking me for bringing a snack
Of course we stopped on the way home to fulfill the promise of throwing rocks in the water.