East of the Sun, West of the Moon

2007/7/18

Nebraska, Wyoming and South Dakota

Filed under: Family — Erwin @ 5:27 pm

A week ago all four of us headed to Kansas City to meet up with M‘s dad and step-mother. After a night at a hotel there we began our road-trip.

First stop was Omaha, Nebraska, where we visited M‘s dad’s aunt. She’s 90 years old and still quite talkative. ๐Ÿ˜‰ This is a good thing, because I wanted to fill in some blanks in the family-tree I’m maintaining. I got most if not all of the answers, and some more, so I hope this will give me enough leads to extend it a generation or two in various directions.

After a two hour visit — longer than we expected, hopefully she didn’t overextend herself — we moved on, westward. We had hoped to find a hotel for the night in Kearney, Nebraska, but we hadn’t counted on a basketball tournament that was taking place that week which had all the hotels booked! While eating dinner at a local restaurant I checked for hotels in nearby places on the iPhone and we made a reservation as well. Score 1 for the iPhone, I guess.

The next day we continued west, visiting the Courthouse and Jail Rocks and Chimney Rock. After that we carried on to our actual destination for the day, the city of Scottsbluff, Nebraska. There was a bit of confusion because both Google Maps and AAA TripTiks show the street where the Holiday Inn Express is on the wrong side of the bypass, so when we saw the hotel on the other side of the road upon entering the city we thought it was the wrong one and kept on looking. A few minutes and a bit of driving around later we decided to check anyway (at the very least one Holiday Inn would be able to give us directions to another Holiday Inn, right?) and it turned out to be the one!

On Saturday we attended and participated in the naming ceremony of N, who is part Lakota, in Fort Laramie, Wyoming. He was named in a group of 5, after a group of 3, and before a huge group of over 60. That last group was a lot less ceremonial and after the first dozen or so the names given to the inviduals began to sound somewhat clichรฉ, which was unfortunate. There was also a ceremony honouring army veterans, where they made a point of inviting all veterans to participate (which they did), not just the native American ones. A refreshing approach, I think, although I of course don’t have a lot of experience with such things.

All together we were there from approximately 10 in the morning until around 8 in the evening (I think, with the timezone change I lost my sense of time a bit). It was of course an outdoors event, set up near/under some trees but with it taking that long the shade was a moving target and with it being 90-95 Fahrenheit, we drank a lot of water.

On Sunday we drove north, through Wyoming, to Devils Tower. We got there just before 7, just in time to get cancellation stamps for our passports, after which we walked around it. We then stayed the night in Sundance, Wyoming.

On Monday we traveled east, and south, through the Spearfish Canyon, and visited two sites: Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial. Both were well worth the visit. At the latter I picked up a Lakota-English/English-Lakota dictionary and we verified N‘s name’s translation. ๐Ÿ™‚ That evening we got settled in our hotel rooms at the Best Western in Custer, South Dakota and reorganized the minivan so that it contained anything and everything that could go home, while M and the boys put their stuff in her dad’s rented minivan, in which they’ll be driving around for another 5-6 days.

Then yesterday I drove home in one big 14 hour drive. I started at 7:15 in the morning with a full tank and had to refill twice, plus took 5-10 minute breaks at a few rest-stops along the way, of course. I managed to get past Kansas City and into familiar territory before it got dark, and parked into our driveway shortly after 10 PM. I emptied one 32 ounce bottle of water, 6-7 cans of Dr Pepper, and two 9.5 ounce bottles of Starbucks Vanilla Frappuccino. This kept me awake and avoided dehydration… I think.

Now I’m catching up on emails and finding out what needs fixing, at home and at work. Oh, and aside from the three states in the title, I also drove through Kansas, Missouri, and Iowa. That’s enough states for one road trip, I think. ๐Ÿ™‚

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