Midwest Roadtrip 2017: Day One

Wow!  Our Summer 2017 roadtrip has come to an end.  Looking back, I’m amazed at all the activities Fabian, Skyler, and I were able to pack into just seven days!

This was the first roadtrip that we took as a family, just the three of us.  There were quite a few unknowns as we got ready to go because we weren’t quite sure what it would be like traveling with Skyler in this way.  Remember that he was placed in our home less than a year ago, so we didn’t have the opportunity to train and educate him at a younger age on appropriate travel behavior.  Luckily, things went relatively smoothly.  We have a few things to work on, but improvements in those areas will only make the next trip even more exciting and enjoyable!

We left home on the first day around noon (the day immediately following our return from Arizona!).  We drove for about four hours until we reached Dickinson, ND, where we stayed for the night.  It was important for us to give Skyler the advantage in starting the roadtrip so as to not set him up for failure.  We started late in the day so he had plenty of rest, and we didn’t drive for horribly long periods of time.  Everything was very laid back, and he did very well in the car, so we were very proud of him!  During that first day, we were able to visit the Garrison Dam to see the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea, and the Dinosaur Museum in Dickinson; we enjoyed dinner at a local Mexican food restaurant, and called it a night at the Relax Inn — all wonderful experiences and a great way to start off our trip!

Garrison Dam

This wasn’t a planned stop, but we’re so glad we made time for it!  It was a great spot for everyone to get out of the car and stretch out a bit.  There are bathrooms on site and an amazing view of the Missouri River.  The area is clearly not meant for recreation, so no swimming.  However, we did climb down some of the rocks so the boys could touch the water.  I had to ditch my flip-flops half way through, so remember tennis shoes if you want to get close!

Dakota Dinosaur Museum

What a gem!  This small museum had a little something for everyone.  I got to see a great collection of fossils and gemstones, Fabian enjoyed the skeletons and magnification tech, and Skyler had a ball with the topography sandbox.  The first two are pretty standard, but that sandbox?  What a unique addition to the exhibit!  It’s a waist level sandbox that is continuously scanned by a computer program, which projects an image into the box, displaying the area’s topography as if it were a section of Earth.  Visitors can move the sand around to alter the topography, creating lakes and rivers, making it rain, etc.  We all had a blast with this, but Skyler was especially intrigued with it.

At the time of writing, admission into the Dakota Dinosaur Museum is six dollars for adults and four dollars for kids. We definitely got our money’s worth.  I do wish that we could have spent more time, as there was an entire children’s section that Skyler missed out on (too busy with the sandbox), but we had to move on to dinner before it got too late.  Enter, Los Cabos!

Los Cabos

Fabian and I have been notoriously critical of Mexican food in North Dakota since we moved here.  As native Arizonians, we like our Mexican food.  The disappointing quality of most Mexican food restaurants in the area only made our experience at Los Cabos all the more fulfilling.  We were provided with chips and salsa right away (always a good sign), there was a very talented musician entertaining the diners, and the food tasted like home.

Unfortunately, I can’t comment on the authenticity of the Mexican food, as I’ve never been to Mexico.  However, it tasted like how it’s made in Arizona and that’s good enough for me.  Yum, moderately priced Arizonian Mexican food!

Relax Inn

For this trip, Fabian and I knew that we weren’t looking for much in terms of hotel rooms.  We were planning on being outside most of the time, so we didn’t need a luxurious hotel to pamper ourselves in; we just needed a place to shower and sleep inbetween adventures.

The Relax Inn gave us exactly what were looking for, at a price that cannot be beat.  In fact, I feel like the seriously low price probably scares people away.  Not us though, and we were so rewarded for that!  The desk clerk was friendly and helpful, though she did have a big dog in the back who didn’t sound very friendly (not a big deal for us as dog people), the rooms were clean, the shower was warm, and all of the appliances worked.  Score.

All in all, this was a great start to an amazing trip!  If you have any questions or comments about the areas we visited during Day One, feel free to share them below.  And don’t forget to check out Day Two, the beginning of our outdoorsy adventures! (:

Safety disclaimer: Always follow all safety protocols as outlined by the recreation departments in charge of each site you choose to visit.  Be safe and prepared.

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