Tomorrow, our last day in South Dakota, is going to be a decidedly dad-centric day (hiking at Badlands National Park), so today was mostly dedicated to the kids.
After a couple of phone meetings, we headed to the Rush Mountain Adventure Park. We spent the late morning and early afternoon zip lining, on a ropes course, and going on a 7d gunslinger game.
The trip to Rush Mountain got off to a rough start. As soon as we got out of the RV, Lucas started to complain that there are only 4 rides. Will had, in a similar vein, complained the very moment we arrived at the campground here that it didn’t had enough stuff to do and he didn’t like it.
My only real reservation about the endless road trips and outdoor adventures is that they will be spoiled by them, We spend lots of time talking about how fortunate we are and how thankful we should be to have the time and resources to travel the country meeting interesting people (or in their case meeting new friends), exploring nature, doing fun things, and just having time to spend together and do whatever we want. Usually they are sweet, polite, and appreciative kids, but the last week the needle on the spoiled kid meter has been slowly moving from appreciative to spoiled so we spent the first half hour of our four hours at Rush Mountain in a long conversation about how fortunate we are and how we shouldn’t take it for granted.
Once we were all back on the same page, we had a great time. We had a good time on the zip line and kids and I spent an hour and a half on the ropes course. Will is now as comfortable on a three story ropes course as he is on the ground. He traveled all over the course alone. I helped Lucas in those rare instances where he would let me assist him.
The 7D Stampede game had two options. One called Carnival, where you shoot scary doll heads and zombie clowns and marionettes. The other is called El Banderas, where you shoot robot bandits trying to rob trains and stage coaches. Anyone who had met Will knows which one he chose for us. Once we were in line, he suggested to the nice, young ride attendant that they should rename the Carnival game “Carn-evil.” On our final trip, Lucas scored zero and the game voiceover said “somebody needs some shooting practice.” This did not sit well with Lucas. With an annoyed look on his face, he insisted to the young attendant that his gun didn’t work and they needed to fix the ride.
After dinner in Keystone, we took a trip to Mount Rushmore. It is a steep and windy trip up to the National Monument parking lot. I got a quick lesson in the need to manually downshift early on on steep hills. The monument, set among the other peaks in the Black Hills, is quite stunning. I wish we could have stayed for the lighting of the monument at night, but I didn’t feel like chasing the boys around the amphitheater for and hour and a half so we headed back to the campground.
When we got back to the campground, we headed down to the small playground. It was exactly what I love about camping. There was at least 15 kids across the age spectrum in a brevity of activities with adults paying minimal attention. Shortly after the boys arrived, a very long debate among all the kids took place about what game to play. It was very reminiscent of an inside the DC Beltway debate, lots of talk and emotions but nothing happening. Eventually, Will yelled out “Hey guys, let’s just play.” Problem solved. The boys and other kids played freeze tag with the occasional debate about whether or not someone had been tagged (with Lucas serving as Will’s playground lawyer when Will thought he wasn’t tagged but another kid insisted he was). It is exactly why I do these trips.