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Rush to Rushmore (through Nebraska)

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I already know it's crazy. I can explain a lot of the reasons for it: work schedules, budget, other planned trips. There are a couple of things that are harder to put into words: Why Mount Rushmore? My grandma kept a photo of it on the wall in her hallway for years? Why now? An empty nesters desperate attempt to get in one more family road trip before real, grown up life has its way with my kids?

So, yeah, I know it's not ideal. But I need your help to make it work the best it can.

My husband and I are driving from Indiana to Omaha, NE on June 10th. We are renting a car for my son and his fiance so they can also drive to Omaha on the same date. We're meeting my daughter and her boyfriend there on Friday night after 10 hours on the road. (She's recently moved there.)

Hubs and I will stay at the Hilton downtown while the rest will stay at daughter's apartment. (Did I mention an ex-boyfriend of hers might be along for the trip? That's another one of those things I can't really explain.) We'll eat out somewhere that night. I really liked Upstream Brewery when we visited while daughter was interning last summer, but I'm open to other suggestions in a similar price range or less.

The next morning we will drive to Alliance, NE to see Car Henge. From there we'll go on to Hot Springs, SD. We're thinking about checking out the Mammoth Site? I'm looking for a good place to eat breakfast and lunch along the way. We'll be tipi camping at the Allen Ranch beside a warm water river that night. If the weather is good, it will be hot dogs and s'mores cooked over a fire - with beer and conversation as entertainment. What if the weather is not good though? What to do and where to eat in Hot Springs as a back up plan?

Sunday is the day when things really get nuts. We'd like to hit Crazy Horse, Mt. Rushmore and make a brief stop at Badlands all in the same day ... and the kids have to get back to Omaha that night so the Nebraskans can go to work on Monday and the Hoosiers can drive back to Indiana before work on Tuesday. My questions re this day:

1. Can you get a good look at Crazy Horse from the road? From what I can tell the official visit experience does not normally take you very close to the monument. I thought we might be able to shave some time if we pulled off somewhere to take a quick gander?

2. Lunch at Mt. Rushmore or somewhere else nearby?

Next we'll stop at Badlands and do a couple of the shorter trails before saying goodbye to the kids. They'll head directly to Omaha but we need to go on to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri for a short visit with my dad, who is not doing so great. We're thinking of stopping for the night in Sioux Falls or Sioux City. Anything to recommend one over the other? Places to stay? Eat? Things to see? (Assuming we don't just fall into a dead sleep at this point.)

Thanks for your help!

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