So driving from place to place we drove through this pretty cool tunnel. Dude wanted us to keep going through it but it was on to the next thing on our "to do" list. Sadly, quite a few things that we wanted to hit were closed for the season, but as we drove by we noticed that the Reptile Gardens, which had been closed for the season the day before had a big open sign, so we thought, why not?
It was awesome! So glad we stopped! They had a komodo dragon so big it could swallow you whole (and apparently they basically have been known to do that to too-friendly tourists), alligators that had been featured in James Bond movies that were nearly 20 feet long (even behind a glass, that's startling/disturbing/nightmare-inducing), and more snakes than Nana could ever wish to see in her lifetime. Oddly enough, the reptiles were all rather active. There was one small cobra in particular that attacked the glass anytime someone walked by. Like viciously. And repeatedly. J was quite unnerved by that, but dude thought it was hilarious. The workers said that their animals really enjoy putting on a show and always perked up when there were lots of visitors. Who knew reptiles liked to perform? The reptile show itself was fascinating. Do you think the girls, J in particular, look a little nervous here?
J insisted I include a shot of the guy with one of his snakes. They learned lots more about which snakes are poisonous and which aren't than they'll ever need to know in North Dakota. He held all the poisonous ones on a stick. That's one way to tell.
Still nervous. But fascinated.
And afterwards, guess which kid jumped up to pet the snakes first?
Dude still frequently talks about "And I pet two snakes." Actually the way the conversation goes everytime is "I saw da alligator sleeping. And den he opened his mout! Da alligator was asleep and den he opened his teeth! And there were lots of teeth and he was awake and he opened his mout like this at me. And I pet two snakes. I pet da boa consictor and a really long snake. It was really long. And we saw Ruby da parrot and water coming down and lots of snakes. Hiss. Hiss. Hiss. Dey do hiss. Hiss. Hiss. At da Reptile Gardens. Den Ruby da parrot say Aargh, aargh, aargh."
J rather nervously managed to super quickly touch the part of the snake farthest from the head. She's no dummy.
Love this rare, peaceful moment. He loved watching the parrots. Ruby in particular gets talked about but the whole tropical set-up was mesmerizing to both him and Baby G. She kept pointing and screeching at the parrots, who for the most part obligingly screeched back.
And here's another snake they got to pet. Dude ran down from his high perch to join in the action, and J did overome her nerves and actually pet it a few times.
Understandably, Baby G was really into this guy. He kept putting his claw on the glass to match up with her hand. Kept her interest for quite awhile.
J looks a bit more comfortable when the creatures were behind the glass, eh?
Then along with every other person in the northern United States we ran over to Watiki waterpark. We had fun, but it was rather crowded and understaffed and for some reason all the commotion convinced dude he was terrified of water. Took quite a bit of doing, but we got him to warm up and everyone had a good time. The girls would've rode down the big tube slides indefinitely but eventually we had to get out and eat some pizza so we could get on the road back home before too late.
Baby G is ALWAYS okay with stopping to eat.
And as a random fact, did you know that the geographic center of the US is in Belle Fouche, South Dakota? Still haven't totally figured out how that works out but despite it being pitch dark (the state of South Dakota pretty much doesn't believe in street lights. That makes for a really dark drive. No rest stops either) we stopped for a quick picture to prove we've stood on the very spot!
We had SUCH a blast on our trip and look forward to getting back! It's crazy how much there is to do there and we have lots of things still on the to-do list like Bear USA, the Jewel Cave, the Wind Cave, Rushmore Cave with it's zipline ride and interactive 3-D gunslinger ride, gold mines where the kids can pan for gold, Storybook park, Crazy Horse, and on and on. Can't wait!