This week has been all about the driving, except for a quick stop in the Badlands to let the boys get their last Junior Ranger badges. We didn't hike, but we did enjoy the beauty of the place from our campground. Then we drove across the vastness of South Dakota to Albert Lea, MN. We found a state park and had our last night of camping. We got packed up this morning just ahead of the rain and headed off across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and here into Indiana.
On a trip like this, you always do some postmortem. Armin and I have been talking about what, if anything, we'd do differently if we were starting this trip over again. We agreed that we wouldn't change the itinerary, since we loved all of the national parks we visited. What would we change? Here's my list:
- I would pack fewer books and games. We didn't need the huge tub that I brought, and if I'd scaled back then we could have saved a substantial amount of room in the car.
- We could have done with fewer clothes for each of us. We ended up doing laundry about every 5 days, so I could have left behind another big bin if I'd scaled back on the shorts and t-shirts.
- However, we could have used more warm clothes. I wish I'd had another pair of long pants and maybe some gloves and a hat. Weather in the mountains tended to be chilly!
- The air mattresses could have stayed at home. Armin and I were happy with our Thermarest pads and the boys were perfectly contented with their thin foam pads. The air mattresses never even came out of the car.
- I wish I'd thought of some different lunch options. We are all pretty sick of bread and cheese.
What were some of the things we were especially pleased about?
- Sunbutter squeeze packets! These little guys were an essential lunch item. Squeeze one onto a tortilla, add banana, and you have a happy kid. We aren't as sick of sunbutter as we are of cheese.
- Indian food pouches. Yes, I know we've blogged about these before, but they were perfect for when Armin & I needed something different, quick, and tasty. We bought a bunch in Ithaca, and were then surprised to find them pretty widely available in most mid-size towns.
- Our stovetop Bialetti espresso maker and Gevalia espresso. Essential for mornings. And afternoons.
- Our little MiFi device. We loved being able to stay connected to everyone!