Back to Jennifer's Home
Today was the first day of a long vacation out west. It all
started at 5:15 am when Mom woke me up. We all quickly pulled out
clothes on, packed some last minute things, and left. We
arrived at the airport, checkout in our stuff, went through
security, and were soon on our way. Next stop was Pittsburgh,
PA. There we snacked on Ben and Jerry's ice cream and soon after was
on our way to Denver, CO. There we picked up our luggage,
rented our car, and were out to meet Grandma and Poppop in Rapid
On our way we took a tour through Wind Cave National Park (it was on the road we were on!). We saw a whole bunch
of prairie dogs, which are just the cutest things! Then a wild
coyote came along and we got to here the prairie dogs bark. Their
bark sounded like lots of bird chirps. It was really neat. We also
saw one buffalo, but it was pretty far away. We stopped to eat at
Wendy's. We got to Grandma's camper around 9:30 pm (in Mountain Time
- 2 hours earlier than the time we're used to.) When we caught up
with the news we all quickly fell asleep.
Yesterday I forgot to mention that Uncle Joe, Aunt Joann, and
Daniel were also on this vacation (they have their own camper).
Anyway, we woke up that morning and took our showers down in the
camp bathrooms. Then we had a yummy breakfast of eggs and potatoes.
Then we went over to Uncle Joe and Aunt Joanne's camper and they had
got each of us a present. We all got a hat and jacket that said "RRS
2002 Western Expedition". (RRS stands for Roberts, Rhodes, Scamuffa.
Daniel's last name is Scamuffa.) And they told us each place we go
to we can get hat pins for it.
The first place we were headed
was the geographical center of the U.S. It's in Belle Fourche. But when we got
there, there was a sign saying it was actually another 20 miles away
but it was private property so they use this as the
spot. So we were all disappointed. So we all got back in the
cars and headed toward our second stop, Devil's Tower.
Devil's Tower was pretty cool. We took a hike around the
mountains and after we did that we all agreed we didn't need to take
anymore hikes anytime soon. We did get a couple of good pictures
though. After that we went to Fort Meade, but because Taz (Grandma
and Poppop's dog) came that day, I stayed outside with Poppop and
him and didn't go into the museum. I did get to see the army men
though. After that we went back to the park and watched "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". (Dad had brought some "themed" movies
to match with some of the sights we were going to see. Devil's Tower
is the main location in the movie.)
Today was crammed full of stuff to do. First thing we did was go to Bear Country USA. It
was really neat. It was sort of like Lion Country Safari except different animals. We saw
wolves and coyotes and buffalo and of course lots of bears. The bears were especially cool.
They were just laying around or crossing the road right in front of our car!
After that we went into the baby section in which you get out and walk around and see
them playing in their habitat. We saw a baby badger that came when called and didn't know
he's supposed to be mean. We also saw the cutest little bears. They climbed the trees,
played in the sprinklers, and chased each other around. At one point there were 13 bears
in one tree!
The next stop was Mt. Rushmore. It was pretty neat. We went to a talk about how
America's flag changed throughout the years. It was kind of boring. We also saw a movie about how
Mt. Rushmore was built. We got some good pictures. Next we went to lunch at a place called the
Alpine Inn. I had a yummy taco salad and chocolate ice cream peanut butter pie. Mom really
enjoyed her dessert, which was a chocolate waffle ice cream thing.
Then we split up and Mom, Dad, and Grandma
went to a gold shop and Poppop and I went to a pottery shop. At the
pottery shop we had a coupon to make a free pot. So we got there and
you had to pick out one of the small pots. Then you took it to one
of the tables and put it on a little contraption type thing. It
rotated while you applied the blue paint to it. After it dried you
took little pointy utensils and scrapped a design in it. Mine had little triangley designs on it. We also bought one for Mom and Grandma. I took my pots back to the camper, showed Mom mine and was showing her hers'. I laid my pot down on the couch, and next thing I know I hear a loud crash. I look up and there's Taz up on the couch looking down at the pot he had just picked up and dropped and now lay in pieces.
That night we went to a play called "The Trial of Jack McCall"
which was about the trial of the murderer of Wild Bill Hickok. It
was in Deadwood, SD. It started out in the middle of the street and
they had a gun fight. Then they walked into the court. Then they
picked a jury from the audience and at the end the jury ruled Not
Guilty! Then we went back to the camper and to sleep.
Happy 4th of July! Today we went to the Badlands. It had some very pretty scenery. At
the beginning it rained, which made all the trails that we went on at first all slippery
and wet. It also made our shoes all muddy. We saw lots of prairie dogs. At one point we
went to a place called the Prairie Homestead. There you could feed some prairie dogs
peanuts. Then we went to lunch. We went to a little family restaurant. Dad had a buffalo
burger. He said it tasted like a regular hamburger.
After that we went back to the Badlands. We saw some more
overlooks. Then we went through a fossil trail. We also went to a
talk about fossils and what kind there are and why. They said during
the time of the dinosaurs that South Dakota was under water so they
had sea animals instead of dinos.
We also went to Wall Drug store. It's sort of like South of the Border. It supposed
to have everything you could need. They had a whole bunch of stores and free ice
water. There were a lot of funny things you could sit on for pictures, like a horse or
stagecoach. We got ice cream there. For dinner we went to another family restaurant and
I had the salad bar.
Today we just drove around and saw animals and scenery. The first
place we drove through was Custer State Park. There we saw more
prairie dogs, buffalo, deer, antelope, and another coyote!
We drove on some more scenic highways and ended up at the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs. There, there was a building and inside was a
guided tour of the site where they were digging for mammoth bones.
There were bones everywhere! It almost looked fake. We also had a
Then we drove back on another scenic route. On some of the
roads there were some tight tunnels. What was cool was that
through them you could see Mt. Rushmore. At one point in the
road there were donkeys. It was really neat. They stuck
their heads in the windows and begged for food. We feed them
There was also a lookout tower where you could see very good
We ate dinner at a restaurant called Sanfords. There
were TVs everywhere. They said they had around 200 TVs.
Today we went to a place called The Big
Thunder Gold Mine. There we took a tour of the mine. It
was pretty cool. I learned some very interesting stuff.
Like they only made $20 total at the
After the tour we went gold panning.
We didn't get much gold, but we did get a lot of garnets. It
was really fun. After that everyone except Dad (who went back
to Mt. Rushmore to videotape since the battery was dead in the video
camera the day we were at Mt. Rushmore) went shopping in
Keystone. We also ate there.
For dinner we went to a place called the Fort
Hayes Chuckwagon cowboy dinner show. We had pork and beans and
applesauce. After dinner they put on a show with music and
Today we got up early and went back to the
Fort Hayes place and had pancakes for breakfast. Then
we drove to Buffalo, WY. When we got there, Poppop found
he had a big bubble on one of the trailer tires. That
afternoon me, Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Poppop went on a scenic
drive to a place called Bud Love Winter Habitat. It was
pretty cool because we saw over 100 deer and antelope. When we
got back we watched a movie called North By Northwest.
It happened on and by Mt. Rushmore.
Today me, Dad, Uncle Joe, Aunt Joann, and
Daniel went to Little Big Horn, the battle field in Montana.
It was OK. They actually had markers where the people actually
died. Dad bought a CD that gave a tour as you drove
around. But it just basically repeated what the ranger had
just said. We had lunch around there and then went to this
Indian reservation that Aunt Joann had helped clean up and paint
some buildings when she was
Meanwhile, Mom, Grandma, and Poppop were
shopping for a new tire. When we got back me and Dad went
swimming. After dinner we celebrated Poppop's
birthday. Then Aunt Joann and Uncle Joe had to take
Daniel to the hospital because he had been sick for
several hours. Later me, Dad, Mom, Grandma, and Poppop played
a game called 3 for All. At the hospital Daniel got a
shot. He felt better the next day.
Today we drove to Cody WY. On the way
there we split up from them and we drove through a place called
Crazy Woman Canyon. It was pretty neat. There were some
pretty streams that people were fishing in. At one point in
the road we almost got stuck. We also went to a museum that
had a lot of different stuff. It had fossils, art, indian
things, wagons, and more. Then we had lunch. When we met
up with the rest of the group at the campground, we found
out Uncle Joe's brakes caught on fire! Aunt Joann
quickly poured on
it to put it out! After setting up camp, we
saw a gunfight that was kinda silly. It was in front of
the Irma hotel (Buffalo Bill's hotel) in downtown Cody. Then we went back to
the trailers and had some soup and chicken helper for
This morning we woke up and had our free pancakes at the campground. (But you had to buy the orange juice, coffee,
and sausage.) Then we headed off to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. It
was made up of five museums: Buffalo Bill, Natural
History, Plains Indians, Rifle, and Western Art. My favorites were
the natural history and the art museum. The natural
history had a lot about animals. Outside, a cowboy from
the rodeo was showing how to rope a cow.
The next thing we did was go on a trolly tour of
the town. It was very good. For dinner we had meatball sandwiches.
Then Mom, Poppop, Uncle Joe, Aunt Joann, and Daniel went to see the
rodeo. Me and Dad went swimming.
Today we drove from the campground (after having our free
pancakes of course) to Yellowstone. We left the campers at the
park though, because we are staying in cabins inside
Yellowstone. The first thing we saw were some geothermal
pools. They were called the West Tumb Basins. They
were all different color pools of boiling water. They were all
different sizes. My favorite ones were the ones of deep blues
Next we went to see Old Faithful. We
got there close to an hour before the next time it was expected to go
off. We then decided to eat our lunch we
packed. It was yummy. We finished just in time to
get a good sit and wait. It started low at first then it got a little
higher, and a little more, until finally it reached its full hight. It was
amazing. The whole thing lasted a good 3 minutes.
Then mom, dad , and I went to see the Old Faithful Inn.
Dad and I tried to climb the stairs all
the way to the top but a sign said that it wasn't safe because the building
had damage due to an earthquake. It was
still neat to look up and see all
the stairs and, faraway,
After that we met back up with our party and moved on. The
next place we went was to check into the Canyon
Pioneer Cabins. They were pretty rustic. They had
no air-conditioning, T.V. or phone. After we got refreshed we
went to eat in the cafeteria. Then me, mom, dad, Aunt Joann,
and Daniel went on a tour through Hayden Valley.
Hayden Valley was on a road in the
park. We saw a wolf, elk, buffalo, deer, baby deer, coyote,
pika, and chipmunks. We also went to a place called Artist
Point. It was a very pretty canyon with a waterfall and the
higher you went up the prettier it got. The we went back to
the cabins and meet up with grandma and poppop. They told us
we need to go to Inspiration Point because you could see the fires
from there. (There was a big wildfire burning
Today we woke up and all had breakfast in the cafeteria. I
got sick. Then we all split up. Aunt JoAnn, Uncle Joe,
and Daniel went to the Grand Tetons. The rest of us went to
the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Then we went to Mammoth Hot
Springs. We had lunch there and then drove through the hot
spring terrace. I didn't see much of it because I still wasn't
Next we went to Tower Falls. Grandma, Mom, and Dad walked
down to see the base of the waterfall while me and poppop and Taz
stayed up top and waited for them. They said it was worth the
On our way out of the park we drove through Lamar Valley.
We saw buffalo and a moose. Dad was excited because a moose is
the animal he wanted to see. Bears were the animal I wanted to
see, but we didn't see any. We came very close though, because
a bunch of people were stopped by the side of the road and a ranger
was there. They said a mother bear and her babies were up over
After we got out of the park we drove
through part of Montana and then we drove on the Beartooth
Highway Scenic drive. It was really high in the mountains --
almost 11,000 feet. There were a lot of glaciers and
At one place you could pull over and there was a glacier right by
the side of the road. So we got out and made a couple of
snowballs and had a snowball fight.
When we got closer to the top of Beartooth, we
saw mountain goats. There were about six of them. We also saw in
the middle of the parking lot some rockchucks. They are also called
marmots. They were very cute. Then we drove back to
Today was a relaxing day. We played games, watched a movie
called The Plainsman,
and went swimming. The movie was about all the people we
had learned about -- Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, Jack McCall,
and Calamity Jane. They also talked about Cody Wyoming and
Deadwood, South Dakota.
Today we drove to Denver. On the way, we
stopped to see some trail ruts from the Oregon Trail. It
was very interesting imagining people a long time ago riding in their
wagons and leaving the marks that we were standing on today.
We stopped for the night in a hotel by the airport and flew back home the next day.
My favorite parts were Bear Country and feeding the prairie dogs
at the Prairie Homestead. I also liked seeing buffalo, feeding
the donkeys, and the chuckwagon show. My least favorite part
was Little Big Horn.
On Thursday, July 18th I went to the
orthodontist and got my separators. Separators are little blue
rubber bands they stick in between your teeth. They make space
for bands to go in when you get braces. They really
hurt! I get my braces next month.
On Sunday, July 28th, my gymnastics team had
an awards banquet for last season. We got a trophy and had a fancy dinner and
afterwards we sang karaoke. I liked it because I got
to see my friend that quit earlier this year.
On Monday, July 29th to August 1st, I went on a trip with Grandma
and Grandpa to Sarasota. The first place we went was Lake
Placid. It is famous for it's murals on the walls of some of
the buildings around town. The only bad part was that it was
raining so we didn't get to walk around and see them all. We
drove around and saw as many as we could. My favorite mural
Turkey Hunt" because I found the hunter.
That night we stayed at a hotel. The next day we went to
the Ringling Museum of Art. We toured the house, we went
through the circus museum, and we ate lunch at the cafe. Then
we toured the art museum and the touring exhibit. The touring
exhibit was my favorite. It was paintings through the
The next day we went to Dinosaur World. It is a little
theme park that had a bunch of statues of dinosaurs. Then we
went back to Grandma's house. We watched a movie -- Disney's
Tarzan 2. The next day they took me home. It was a fun