Sunday, July 27, 2014

En Route to Parma, Michigan

When we left Dickinson, North Dakota, on a Thursday, the only thing we had to do was be in Parma, Michigan, by Monday morning. It was a 17 hour drive. We had no itinerary, but just started driving. Driving with the kids is actually not all that bad. I make Riley use the bathroom just before we pull out. I have Capri Suns for her and Ella to drink, and plenty of snacks for everyone. One thing that has made life much easier is fruit pouches. All the kids like them. they usually don't make a mess, and they only cost about $1. When Ella or Nolan get fussy, a pouch will usually get things quiet pretty quickly. Then there are the bobbies... or pacifiers as they are also known. As long as Ella and Nolan have their bobby, everything is fine. I don't pull over unless someone has a dirty diaper or is crying uncontrollably.

We had lunch just before we got to Fargo, North Dakota. We weren't impressed! We got back on the road and high-tailed it to Minnesota.

Minnesota was probably the favorite leg of our entire journey.












































Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dickinson, North Dakota

While Daddy got up and went to work at 5 a.m., we tried to sleep a little later and explore Dickinson. Our hotel had the best complimentary breakfast so we ate there every morning. Some mornings provided other diners with a little extra noise, but for the most part everyone behaved.

After breakfast we would go back up to our room and get ready for the day. Our first explorations led us to a Catholic cemetery about 20 miles away. The first burial I found in this cemetery was 1898, so it was an older cemetery. Plus, many of the people buried there were born in Hungary or Germany. Several headstones were in German, so with the help of the Internet I was able to interpret some of those; I thought that was pretty cool. We took the wagon and I just pulled the kids right along behind me as I took photographs.

The first day we headed out to this cemetery I noticed advertisements for "Enchanted Highway." It touted the World's Largest Metal Sculptures. I am so glad we decided to check "Enchanted Highway" out! There were about 8 giant metal sculptures and they were so neat! Riley loved this part.


'Birds in Flight'

This is the first sculpture we saw and it's located right on the Interstate. It was probably the biggest. You can barely see Riley and Ella at the bottom. Nolan was asleep. 


Deer Crossing


Grasshoppers in the Field


Fisherman's Dream



Pheasants on the Prairie


Teddy Rides Again


The Tin Family



Whirly Gigs



Dickinson is also home to a dinosaur museum. Riley was really excited about seeing the dinosaur bones. There was a real triceratops skull. It was pretty good!


Sunday was Henry's only day off the whole time we were in Dickinson. Twenty miles west is the town of Medora and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (the 'badlands').



We got to see a huge buffalo herd, as well as the beautiful badlands.













The national park took an hour and a half to drive through, but was totally worth it. Nolan and Ella slept through most of it and Riley took pictures with her LeaPad. It was great. We looked around Medora, had some ice cream and then headed back to the hotel.



Of course, being away from home means going out to eat for most meals. One night we ate at Sanford's, where Henry's co-worker took a good family picture of us.







Coincidentally, we have friends who live in this same town in North Dakota. I went to school with Lauren, and Joe is my best friend's brother-in-law. She graciously invited us over, let me do laundry, let the kids play, entertained me, and just let us relax at her house. It was so very nice to have a place to do laundry. Riley really liked Lauren's daughter, BreeAnna, who is eleven. They played in Bree's room with the door shut, which is apparently a big deal. I am forever grateful to the Scotts of North Dakota.





Henry's hotel had an indoor pool and hot tub which all the kids liked.



Riley, it seems like you've grown up so much. You're so dependable when it comes to the babies and taking care of them. You continually help me out. While we were at the hotel you always held the door open for me when I was pulling the wagon, and you never let Ella out of your sight.



You and Ella have such a great sister bond. You are truly best friends!






Nolan had a fall out of our wagon. I got into the habit of not strapping him in; usually that's fine even when he stands up. On this particular day, Nolan stood up just as the wagon went over a bump, and out he went. He bounced off the concrete and came up wailing! His face looked pretty bad for a couple days, but got better pretty quickly. 


Nolan turned 1 in North Dakota! I went to Walmart and got him several new toys, which the girls enjoyed more than he did. When Henry got off work we walked across the street to Dairy Queen (which is nothing like a Texas DQ) and had ice cream. Nolan couldn't wait to get his hands on his very own cone! 




We had a great time in Dickinson! It's a cute little town and had enough attractions to keep us interested. If Henry's hotel room would have been a regular room and not a king suite, things may have been a lot different. I could close the door to the bedroom and let Nolan or Ella sleep in the play pen while the rest of us played in the living room. There were days when we had to get out of the hotel and times where I wanted to pull my hair out. Being cooped up in a hotel room for a week and a half can be hard on everyone. (We totally ruined Henry's routine!) The hotel also served a continental breakfast, which we ate at every single morning. They always had good food and things the kids would eat.

We pulled out of Dickinson a week and a half after we arrived, headed for Parma, Michigan; on to other adventures!

*note - I was involved in my second verbal altercation this trip. One night the girls and I were swimming in the pool. There was also a twenty-something man in the hot tub who had broke the posted rules and brought his glass Corona bottle into the pool area. As he got up to leave it was clear he was drunk. He barely made his way to the trash with his bottle and attempted to throw it away. He was able to throw the bottle away, but it fell out and shattered all over the tile in the pool area. He then collected his things and was on his way out the door when I got into school teacher-mode and got his attention. At first, I politely told him his bottle shattered all over the floor and it needed to be cleaned up so someone wouldn't cut their foot. He brushed me off/acted like he didn't hear me, so I raised my voice. Other parents were already watching all of this unfold. Unluckily for the drunk young man, I was the closest parent to him, and thus, felt it my responsibility to alert him to the danger of his mess. So when I repeated myself to him, he was louder and ruder. I told him he needed to alert management and he said ok. It wasn't long before management came and cleaned his shattered bottle up off the floor.