Last summer I went to visit my nieces up in Wyoming. My original intentions were to bring them back down to Phoenix for a girls week, but the drive between Phoenix and Casper was one I did not want to have to make 4 times. Once I got there I thought, “I know, I’ll just look to see what I can do with them locally!” Turns out… there’s not very much to do locally in most of the Midwest… unless you make the drive to South Dakota! Rapid City, SD ended up being our vacation destination. It was only a 4-hour drive and there were plenty of things to do to keep the three of us occupied for a week!
What first caught my eye when looking for activities was actually the hotel we stayed at. It was attached to an indoor water park! Watiki Water Park is an indoor water park with an upstairs arcade, attached restaurant that will deliver to you in the park, and attached hotels. The girls had so much fun with this! We ended up going there for two of the days. It was perfect for the hotter days and so easy to just walk down the hallway from our hotel room to the entrance of the water park.
Another destination we made the trip to twice was Mount Rushmore (Or Mount Smushmore as the girls called it). Since it is a national park, you can buy a pass and go as many times as you want. There is a trail you can follow down to get right up next to the monument, with different viewpoints set up. The drive through the town on the way there was fun too. We stopped and walked around, window shopping and stopping for lunch.
The drive between Rapid City and Mount Rushmore is full of fun activities and sights to see. My favorite? Cosmos Mystery Area. It’s a very intriguing play on the mind. Is it real or is it a trick? I don’t know, but I do know it was a lot of fun and the whole tour group we were a part of loved it. One of the girls even got to be used in a demonstration! There were plenty of sights we didn’t get to see along that drive as well. A petting zoo, Bear Country, a lizard emporium, and more. Bear Country looked especially fun! It's a drive through range that allows you an up close look at bears!
We spent one afternoon just walking around downtown Rapid City. There are plenty of cute little shops and boutiques and historical landmarks to check out. I also took the girls to a salon to get their hair done. Just a short drive from downtown was Dinosaur Park. Several dinosaurs set up on a hill, perfect for climbing and taking pictures- free of charge! There is a gift shop across the street with a little restaurant inside so you can grab lunch as well. There was also the county fair in town that week, so we went over for a day filled with rides, funnel cake, animals, and balloon swords.
Overall, Rapid City was a surprising little nest of fun and activities in the heart of the Midwest. There’s plenty to do for a whole family to enjoy and fill up a fun summer vacation. If you’re wanting to plan a summer family trip, I would highly recommend adding a trip to Rapid City to your list!
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I truly admire my daughter, Maddy, for her ability to choose a vegan lifestyle and stick to it the way that she does. We have a lot of family dinners around here and there are sometimes very few choices for her to eat, even though I try to make sure there are some vegan choices. Also, there are a lot of temptations! Just yesterday we had a big dinner and there was delicious Texas Sheet Cake! Definitely not vegan and Maddy had to pass on it as she ate her rice and fruit choices. I felt bad for her, even though she was uncomplaining. I know that I do not have that kind of will power. Well, while I searched for my Texas Sheet Cake recipe, I came across another old recipe that I had forgotten about. It is this Goofy Chocolate Cake that has no eggs, no milk and can easily be sweetened in a vegan way. Since there were many people here yesterday and the Texas Cake is just about gone, I decided to make up this cake this morning as a surprise for Madalynn! She deserves a reward.
Besides not containing any eggs or dairy products, this recipe is inexpensive to make! When you are out of eggs and milk, you can still have chocolate cake that is delicious! It rises very well and is fluffy and super chocolaty. I think that the secret to the rise is the combination of vinegar and baking soda. We all know what those ingredients do in science project volcanoes! Don't worry, you don't taste the vinegar at all, just the delicious chocolate taste that comes from the cocoa powder used in this recipe.
You can frost the cake however you would like, of course. Just remember that if you are keeping it vegan not to use dairy in your frosting! Here are a few alternatives:
I love chocolate cake with vanilla frosting, so I used the almond milk alternative for Maddy's cake.
This cake is rich and moist. I believe that it can rival any chocolate cake out there! I don't think Maddy will have to eat the entire thing on her own.
As you all should know by now, my mother and I recently took a week long trip to Disneyland. (She blogged about our top tips to make the most of your trip here. One of the things we did before the trip was make our own Minnie Mouse ears to wear around the park. These things usually retail for around $25. We made ours for a fraction of that price, around $5 a pair. And they came out so cute! We got complimented on them each day we wore them, and characters we met noticed they were different from typical ears so it made for interesting interactions. If you’re ready for your own cute and unique ears, keep reading to see how we did it. There is some minor sewing involved, but it really heightened the look and integrity of the ears.
To make these adorable easy Minnie ears you will need:
Fabric of your choice. (We chose faux fur because we were basing our ears off of specific characters)
Ribbon of your choice (Again, ours matched the characters we chose)
Headbands (or here)
Constructing the ears is simple.
*Print the template out. There is one labeled for fabric and one labeled for cardstock. Cut out the fabric one and trace it onto the backside of your fabric 4 times. Cut these out and put them in pairs of two. Pin each pair together so the backside is facing out (they will look inside out). Sew around the outside of the ears, leaving the bottom open. Once they are sewn together, flip them right side out through the open bottom.
*Now cut out the cardstock template and trace 2 of those out onto your cardstock. Cut them out and insert them into the ears through the open bottom. These will help keep your ears sturdy.
*Stuff the ears with the cotton stuffing, being sure to get it on both sides of the cardstock and right up around the edges inside. Once the ears are as fluffy as you like, set them aside.
*Measure your headband and cut out a strip of your fabric the same length and about double the width as it. Using hot glue, attach the fabric to the headband. It is easiest to do this in small sections, working from one side to the other.
*Once that is dry, grab the ears again. Hot glue the open bottoms shut. Once the glue is dry, place the ears on the headband where you want them. When you think they look good, hot glue them in place.
The last step is the easiest. Create a bow with your choice of ribbon and attach it to the center of the headband with hot glue. I also glued it onto the ears where they touched to add strength.
And that’s it! Easy, but so cute and durable. They survived getting soaked on splash mountain and the intense heat of California at noon, so they can take a lot. If you follow our tutorial and make your own Minnie Mouse ears, tag us on social media so we can see! Happy crafting!
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to ten and counting! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, and my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!
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