It's vacation time

By Patrick Fisher

Summer's here and usually that means people will be taking vacations.

To me, the traditional vacation is going to someplace I've never been before and doing some sightseeing. If indications are right and with gas bumping around $4 a gallon, that may change. I won't be surprised if we hear more stories about people finding vacation spots closer to home.

It's not really that new of a concept, and my family would often do just that. We had weekend getaways, taking our camper to a local state park or private campground that was only two hours away- sometimes closer, other times farther away. When we reached the campground, we would set up the camper. If it wasn't too late, we'd get a fire going and maybe roast marshmallows for smores.

Those trips were usually kept as simple as possible. We would go swimming, throw around a baseball or frisbee or take a hike. If the place had some kind of nature or local history presentation, we would possibly go to that.

If it ended up raining a lot, we piled into the car and went to see other activities in the area. Other times we just stayed in camp, hoping the rain would end soon, playing board games or cards, talking or reading a book or magazine.

Occasionally, my family took big vacations - like heading out to North Dakota, South Dakota or Montana. Depending on the route we took, we would stop in Jamestown, ND, where the world's largest buffalo statue is located. At 26 feet tall and 46 feet long, it's definitely one of those items you can't miss seeing from the road.

During these trips, we often stopped at different places. In South Dakota, we went to Mount Rushmore, Deadwood, Cosmos Mystery Area and Wall Drug. The last two are perhaps the most unique opportunities for sightseeing. Wall Drug in Wall, SD, is a spot with various stores and some unique tourist attractions. If I remember right, one such sight was a stuffed buffalo with a saddle on it. Tourists got into the saddle and had their pictures taken. Cosmos is located near Mount Rushmore and has odd phenomena it claims are natural to that spot like gravitational forces that cause a ball to roll uphill.

Deadwood is a stop for anyone interested in the country's Wild West history. During one trip, my family saw a wax museum that detailed the history of the community, including the death of lawman and gunslinger Wild Bill Hickock, who is buried in the local cemetery.

Mount Rushmore is one of those incredible spots that gets more impressive as you get closer to it. Considering that the four huge sculpted presidential faces had to be drilled into the mountain is incredible, although during a tour I found out there was supposed to be more to the mountain. According to one proposal, the sculptures of the four presidents were to go from head to waist.

While those were vacations that happened once in awhile compared to the weekend getaways, the most important thing was these times were spent as a family.

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