Epic Adventure: Part Two
Our first stop - Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We didn’t think much about the date. Back to our thinking six weeks is plenty to plan a mammoth adventure, we didn’t consider that we were beginning our trek on the busiest holiday in our country. We landed in the Clingman’s Dome parking lot at the same time as 1,000 other people enjoying our Nation’s great forest on a great holiday. We hiked the paved trail with a sea of people moving up and up into the clouds to a glorious view of the blue hued hills.
By four the next afternoon, we were in Kennebec, South Dakota at a lovely campground. George’s third grade teacher, Sylvia Ann Marquette met us there for spaghetti and wine and songs and stories before we fell into deep - not in a mini van - sleep.
This picturesque canyon land covered with conifers and teaming with trout in crystal clear rivers pushed along by cascading falls gave us a cool evening to splash and run and picnic. Amelia spotted two birds she’d never seen and the waterfalls and river quenched and refreshed us from head to toe after scorching in the Badlands.
It wasn’t a place we could camp, so we had to reload and head out to find camping near Mount Rushmore. On July 4. There would be no camping anywhere close, so we headed west and watched fireworks explode from town to town across America. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so American and so thankful for this land. We were in the middle of it, literally, and in love with her beauty and the freedom to enjoy it.