Monday, September 15, 2014

Traveling home

Day 28 - 30
We got up early on the morning of June 23 to head south towards home.  We did have a few fun things planned for the trip just to help break it up some.  Our first day of traveling had us going through Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.  My parents did come with, so my middle child got to travel with Grandpa while Grandma traveled with me and the other 2.  We spent that night in Hutchinson, KS at the State Fair Campground ($20 for full hookups ~ there is toilets there to use, but no showers) in my parent's camper.  The next morning we got up and went to Strataca.  This is an underground salt mine that is still open and working.  Since we had kids in our elevator, they were kind enough to turn a light on while we went down (and back up) so the little ones wouldn't be scared.  Once we were down there, we were able to take the tram ride & train ride (both take you to spots you can't go otherwise).  The train ride is used on the rails that they used in the 20's to haul the salt.  On the tram ride, you get to hop off part way through and get a little bag of chunks of salt or a piece that will fit in your hand to keep as a souvenir.   We did spend several hours there and had a blast.
Once that was done, we went back to the camper for a quick lunch, and for us to go our separate ways.  My parents to eastern Kansas and the kids and I to Portales, NM for the night.  It was an 8 hour drive without stops.  We got to our hotel with no issues (got to cross over Route 66, but didn't take a photo since we were in a hurry), and were able to get our room luckily (they had overbooked the place, but we were okay).  The next morning we slept in a little and then got on the road heading to White Sands National Monument with a stop over in Roswell to look for the little green men.  We didn't find any aliens, I was able to get my photo taken near some UFO stuff.  We got on the road then and managed to see the World's Largest Pistachio.  We didn't have time to do the tour of farm (next time) but my middle child still got her photo with it.  We then headed towards White Sands.  If you travel there, check and make sure that Hwy 70 is open.  They do close it due to missile testing.  On our day, it was closed in the morning, but opened by the time we got there.  When you arrive there, head to the visitor's center.  There is a good movie to see (free) that explains how the dunes were formed.  They also have restrooms (flush) and a gift shop where you can buy sleds and wax.  We did purchase 2 sleds (kids ones ~ next time we are getting the adult ones) and headed out to the dunes.  Before we could enter, you have to pay the fee at the guard shack ($3/person (15 & under are free), good for 7 days).  They do have a special entrance card for Active Duty Military (and family) that get them in for free. 
Once we were finally into the Dunes area, we traveled to the picnic area (tables with covers over them with the dunes behind them).  The kids attempted to slide down the hill, but it didn't work so well for them.  They did have fun in the sand, but that might of been joy from not being stuck in the van anymore.  We had a quick lunch and then packed up to head home.
We had planned on staying at White Sands Missile Range, but since my husband was home (2 weeks early), and we had already been gone a month plus it was my birthday and I wanted my own bed and bathroom.  We had another 5 hours drives until we were home and 3 kids were happy to see their own rooms so they wouldn't have to share beds or space with anyone else. (click on the photos to enlarge)
Look for the seahorse

About the seahorse

Inside the ladies bathroom down in the mine.  I had to white out my son
On the search for little green men
The giant pistachio ~ I had to white out my child
Driving into White Sands
White Sands.  Reminds me of winter


Days 11-27
Day 11 had us traveling north to visit the Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History. The day before we had arrived, there had bed a big storm (hail, wind, and lots of rain).  Everything was pretty muddy, so not all of the animals were out in their enclosures.  We did get to see almost all of the animals though.  The kids still had a great time though which is what counts.  We had lunch with my inlaws and they headed south while I headed northeast with the kids to my parent's house.  While we were there, we got to do kids classes at both Home Depot and Lowes, see both of my grandmas, learn to make paracord/survival bracelets, see puppies, hold kittens that were just days old, visit Mall of America & Ikea, see good friends, have Dam Pie from the Dam Store, see more family & friends, attend a cooking class with my sister then putz they day away in Minneapolis, go to the Science Museum to see dinosaurs, go to the History Center to see toys of 50's, 60's, and 70's (and feel really old doing so), run/walk a 5K, see a parade, and just hang out with family.  We all had a grand time, but had issues at times adjusting to the time (2 hour time difference).  (click to enlarge photos)
If you look closely, you can see the baby giraffe.  It is 21 days old

A Giganotosaurus
Prince's suit from Purple Rain
Charles Schulz is from Minnesota

One of the toys that was on display

Dam Store Pie
What we watch being made at cooking class at Nordic Ware.  Blotkake, Desert Sand Cookies, and Rhubarb Tart


Days 4- Day 11
We spent these days with my in-laws traveling about and seeing many things. We went and saw the Ashfall Fossil Beds, went to a museum, had seafood, and saw a zoo along with a few other things in their area.  Ashfall Fossil Beds is out in the country.  If you do choose to go, use your GPS.  There are signs, but since it's out in the country, the GPS was a huge help.  The cost to visit is $5 per person ages 3 and older along with a $5 vehicle entry fee (you pay when you enter the visitor's center).  There are 7 different types of animals (horses (5 types), camels (3 types), deer, rhino, dogs (3 types), turtles (2 types), and birds (3 types)) that have been found in the bed.  All of the animals died after a volcano went off in southwest Idaho.  The website has more information about the site along with more photos of what is there. (click to enlarge photos)
These were found on the site
Inside of the barn

Also inside of the barn.  The pile of dirt is where ground level is

This is outside since they don't have the funds to cover everything up
Explaining the discovery site

The yellow flag
Walking from the visitor center down to the barn.