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Road Trip.... My husband, Joe, gave me the best Mother’s Day gift I could ever have asked for - a road trip with my daughters. Joe knows that I prefer to travel miles in my minivan and explore the world, versus receiving diamonds, massages, or manicures. I love that he allowed me the freedom and finances to take Mom’s Little Black Book on another road trip this year - the best gift he could have ever given me!

A lot of people ask me how I plan a road trip. I usually pick a point that is on my bucket list and build a trip around that destination. In this case, I was determined to see Mount Rushmore; and so the planning began for our Wild West adventure on a $250/day all-inclusive budget. We embarked on a journey to the falls of the Big Sioux River, where we loved tempting the boundaries of gravity near the waterfalls and streams. Our next stop at America’s roadside wonder in Wall, SD, left us unimpressed, but the 17 miles, 314 curves, 14 switchbacks, 3 pigtails, 3 tunnels, 4 presidents, and 2 splits of Iron Mountain Road, as we made our way toward Mount Rushmore, wowed us like no other! There are no words or pictures to fully describe the beauty of the Black Hills of South Dakota, especially when exploring hundreds of acreage via horseback at Sage Meadows Ranch. Unlike most trail rides, we were allowed to freely ride through the canyons, up the side of the hills, and into the open land. Our Custer State Park off-road adventure on a Buffalo safari Jeep tour was positively entertaining while we searched for one of the nation’s largest buffalo herds.

But our biggest escapade of the trip was scaling the side of Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming, as we rock climbed toward the top. The days were filled with many "ooohhs," "ahhhhs," and "OMG-that’s-so-cool" moments! History and fun continued to come together as we discovered an active paleontology site which boasts the largest concentration of mammoth remains in the world at the Mammoth Site; as well as swimming in the 100-year-old, naturally spring-fed waters of Evans Plunge. We completed our trip by hiking the colorful pinnacles of the Badlands and touring the underground launch control facility Delta-01 of the Minuteman missile site. After leaving our mark in spray paint, in the Art Alley of Rapid City, and driving a total of 2417 miles, we deem this Mother’s Day gift utterly priceless!

about the writer Naperville mom Kristen Kucharski graduated from Illinois State University in 1992 with an International Business Degree. She is married and has two energetic daughters and her house is always full of children. Kristen joins Glancer Magazine with her column titled, Mom's Little Black Book, a monthly feature written for moms who are looking for ways to keep their kids busy.

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