Ben and Dad waited in line to save us seats together while Grandma, the kids and I got to see the engine back up and take on water. Nathaniel, especially, was fascinated by the steam engine. As you can see, he didn't want to look at the camera, he wanted to look at the choo choo.
The steam engine was very loud, and you could definitely smell it while it was moving. This photo of Megan covering up her nose and mouth reminds me of Becky.
Once we got on board and found our seats toward the front of the train, Nathaniel was anxious for the train to start moving!
Mom and the kids and I got out of the train at Keystone so that the girls could go to the bathroom, but there wasn't time to do anything else because the train left again right away. The engine took on more water and moved to the other end of the train, so this time we were sitting towards the back of the train and we could see the engine when the train went around curves (like in the last photo above).
Nathaniel found the return trip to Hill City a little big long; he got pretty squirmy and was anxious to get moving. He and I read a few of the train books that I had packed in my backpack (actually, Megan's pink backpack from Aunt Julie) and he spent some time playing with his shoes.
He also had fun taking selfies, or watching while I took selfies of him, since his arms really aren't long enough to do it himself.
Since I sat by Nathaniel the entire time, I really don't know what the girls did on the train ride, although someone did take one photo of Megan looking through the binoculars. The guy in front of us was very good at spotting deer; I think I saw seven of them. So perhaps Megan was looking for deer?
We did not pay for the cheesy green screened photo of our family taken "in front of" Mount Rushmore, but a very nice passenger offered to take our family photo on the train.
This may be the only photo of the seven of us all together on our trip:
After the train ride, we ate lunch at Desperados Cowboy Restaurant in Hill City. Each of the kids got a bandana with their kids meal; Nathaniel wore his like an outlaw (or like a bib, whichever you prefer).
The kids menu had a questionnaire about cowboys, if the kids completed it, they got a chocolate chip cookie at the end of their meal. I thought it was nice that they had to learn something to earn their cookie. :) The restaurant also had a horse that the girls got to ride on as we were leaving.
While Nathaniel was napping that afternoon, Dad, Mom and I took the girls to a rock shop, where Mom bought them a few more rocks for their rock collections. Here is a photo of all the rocks that they had at the end of our trip.
Then we drove along a dirt road looking for a rock cut where the girls could find some cool rocks. They ended up picking up a LOT of clear, yellow and orange quartz, most of which Dad said was leverite (like leave-her-right-there), but we brought a bag home so that we could add them to our fairy gardens. They are much prettier than most of the rocks at our house. Dad also seeded the area with a few pieces of dinosaur bone for the girls to find. They were SO EXCITED to find their own dinosaur bones! Dad and I also found a big piece of rose quartz that we brought home. Megan had fun digging with Grandpa's rock hammer.
After a busy day and a delicious homemade dinner (it was so nice to be able to stay in a house and cook dinner every night), we decided to go to the Purple Pie Place for ice cream. We had driven past it before and taken note of the vibrantly painted pink and purple building. I have no idea what flavor I had, but I do remember that the ice cream was very tasty. The girls were being goofy trying to eat each other's ice cream while sitting at the kids table:
As we were leaving, we saw a pink and purple pig, and we decided that Grandma Jane needed silly photos of the girls riding on the purple pig: