21 July, 2019

Rapid City, Mt Rushmore and Custer State Park - Day 1 - #SouthDakotatrip

Hope you have read my earlier post on how to plan a South Dakota Family trip with kids. That post will help you to finalize on places to visit and decide on the itinerary. This post explains the detailed itinerary of Day 1 of our South Dakota trip.

Rapid City is the second-most populous city in South Dakota. I haven't seen such a city centered around multiple tourist places before. There are many places to engage tourists of all ages. Keeping our kids in mind, we planned to visit Dinosaur Park and Story Book Island first. Since we took accommodation in Rapid city, all the places are within half an hour distance from us.

Dinosaur Park which is on the beautiful Skyline drive has many towering Life-size dinosaurs. There is no entry fee to the park and it has around 6 dinosaur sculptures as far as I remember. Kids will love this attraction for sure. 

The Park also has a gift shop and eatery on the overview deck. Kids can also climb on the dinosaurs and read some information about each type of Dinosaur.

Dinosaur Park

Story Book Island is a beautiful Children's park with multiple themes set up as per Children's stories. This is also a free attraction and kids will enjoy for sure. They can see all models of animals like Bears and bunnies, different vehicles, ships, fountains, castle, carousel rides and what not! 

Story Book Island - Humpty Dumpty Rhyme

Story Book Island

Our next stop was to Chapel in the Hills. This Chapel is the exact replica of chapel - The Borgund Stavkirke of Laerdal, Norway built-in 1969. The architecture is great and every small detail of the wooden carving is amazing. This is also a free attraction open to the public which is worth a visit. There is a small gift shop called 'Stabbur', a museum and a meditation trail / Prayer walk.

Custer State Park is one of the largest national parks in the USA with almost 2 million visitors enjoying the park every year. There are multiple Campgrounds and Resorts inside the park. This park is famous for 3 scenic drives - The Needles Highway, Iron mountain road and Wildlife loop. The entry is $15 per vehicle.

Tunnel in Custer State Park
Needle-like Rock Formations

The Needles Highway is a 14-mile drive through the forest where we can spot Needle-like granite formations, narrow tunnels, and fantastic views. The drive will take around an hour and Sylvan Lake trail at the end of the highway is a must-visit. Sylvan Lake is beautifully surrounded by mountains with rocks in the middle. 

Sylvan Lake

Iron Mountain Road is a winding road of 18-miles with beautiful Black Hills scenery, many pigtail bridges, and tunnels. I enjoyed the drive through pig-tail bridges as I haven't seen these kinds of bridges before. One part of the road is on very high altitude and we had to drive through thick fog. The experience was frightening yet wonderful.

We couldn't cover Wild-life loop but If you want to watch Buffalos, Bighorn sheep, Mountain goats, Elk, Coyotes etc., take this drive for sure. It is an 18-mile drive which might take 1 hr. 

These 3 scenic drives together are called 'Peter Norbeck Scenic Byway'.  The hike to Mount Coolidge Fire tower is fantastic to watch Sunrise. You can try Bison Burger in one of the lodges and paddle at one of the four lakes in the park. 

Our last stop for the day is the famous Mt. Rushmore Memorial. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum carved the 4 United States Presidents faces with the help of 400 workers from 1927 to 1941, which is famous now with more than 3 million visitors visiting each year. Take a picture at Borglum View terrace which gives a good view of the Memorial, then walk the Presidential trail and visit the Sculptor's studio. We have also tasted the Thomas Jefferson's favorite Ice cream flavor. 

Mt Rushmore Memorial

Presidential Trail takes some time when walking with kids on stairs but I recommend it to have a close look at each President's face - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

There is no entry fee to the Mt.Rushmore memorial but there is a parking fee of $10 per vehicle.  

A few other places which we couldn't cover in Rapid City and I suggest you visit are - Cosmos Mystery Area, Reptile Gardens, Wind Cave National Park, Jewel Cave, and Mt. Rushmore Cave

So, You see? There is a lot to visit in and around Rapid City. 

That's our Day 1 Itinerary. The next day we covered Spearfish Canyon, Badlands National park and Wall Drug store. Day 2 Itinerary is coming soon. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, feel free to follow my social media handles to get my latest updates and travelogues.

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/fantasticfeathers.in
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Until next time,

19 July, 2019

My Gratitude list for June 2019 #GratitudeCircle

June is my birthday month and so, it is always special. It's exactly one year ago that I was in India for my birthday having darshan at Shirdi with my parents. I might not visit India this time again but those memories are still fresh in my mind.

I lost interest in celebrating my birthday after kids, but Mr.husband took this year's celebration to the next level and made it unforgettable. I have cut my birthday cake on Mt.Evans at an elevation of around 14k ft above sea level in the company of hail, fog, and rain.

Here is my gratitude list for June:

1. Travel

Last month I have visited Lake Dillon and did some great hikes around mt. Evans. With scenic beauty all around, my interest in hiking grew these days.

Though I am not still used to long hikes, I am trying. Lake Dillon was serene and our family enjoyed boating. The hike to Saphire point was an easy loop with great views. The hike to St. Mary's glacier was tough and I have seen the largest hail ever.

Read these lovely travelogues that I could post in June:

Idaho Springs, where the Gold Rush Began

The Innovative and Unique Castle 

2. Books

I could read many books in June. I completely stopped dance practice and wanted to rest, so had a lot of time to read books. I am thankful to God for that.

Wedding Shenganias by Adite Banerjie was a cool romantic read.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was simply great. I enjoyed the mystery. 

My Kids loved "The Adventures of Tavish, Tractor". 

While "The Coven Murders", the crime thriller was Super, The Shiva's stone didn't meet my expectations.

3. Birthday

There is no great gift to me which is happier than travel. The drive to Mt.Evans was exceptional. Though the weather was very foggy, that was a different experience. We could see hail too. 

I am grateful to the sweet family that I have. 

4. Writing twice a week

I enjoyed writing regularly in June. I could write twice a week consistently. But, writing this post is becoming difficult with my sons fighting over every small thing. It's the summer holidays for them, now. 

This post that I wrote about tips to find our hidden talents garnered many views. 

I am grateful for having extra time for blogging and reading books in June.

So, that was about my June. How was yours?
Do let me know in comments.

Until next time,

Linking this to #GratitudeCircle hosted by Vidya Sury.

17 July, 2019

The beautiful horse #wordlesswednesday

This beautiful horse sculpture decorated with colorful fabric is from a museum at Crazy horse memorial,  South Dakota.

Linking this to #wordlesswednesday hosted by Esha and Natasha.  

Until next time,

11 July, 2019

The tall trees at Spearfish Canyon, SD #ThursdayTreeLove

Loved these tall trees at Spearfish  canyon on the way to Spearfish falls in South Dakota.

Until next time,

Linking this to #ThursdayTreeLove hosted by Parul.

09 July, 2019

How to plan a South Dakota trip with kids

We have visited South Dakota recently with kids. So, as usual, I spent a lot of time exploring the places, choosing the places to visit as per our interest, booking accommodations and planning pit stops, etc.,

I take travel planning seriously and I enjoy it too.

Here is my plan for South Dakota vacation with kids:

1. Exploring tourist places

My first task before planning a trip is to explore the tourist places in that area.

South Dakota,  also known as "Blizzard state" is home to the Black Hills, vast open spaces, and prairie grasslands. Of course,  we all know about the famous Mt. Rushmore memorial but there is more to this state than this monument.

Mt Rushmore and Crazy horse memorial are a must visit. Custer state park with 3 scenic byways, Spearfish canyon with many waterfalls and Badlands national park for its unique terrain should definitely be added to the list.

Rapid City has a lot to offer for kids like Dinosaur Park, storybook island, and Cosmos mystery area. Chapel in the hills is a great place if you like unique architecture. Wind cave national park, jewel cave, mt Rushmore cave, Reptile Gardens, Bear country are all within 1 hr from Rapid city.

The list is big. I explored all these places by searching on Google, reading multiple travelogues and searching on social media.

2. Choosing the places to Visit

This is the next step of the planning process. In the first step, I just explore all the places and make a list. But, in this step, I focus on our interests while picking up the places that we would love to visit.

When traveling with kids, of course, we have to plan keeping their interests in mind. Before choosing any hikes, I always read Google reviews and travelogues to ensure that the trails are kid friendly and not a strenuous one for children. I note down the distance of each trail and time it takes to finish each hike.

The most important places to visit with kids in South Dakota are - Dinosaur Park,  Storybook Island,  Cosmos mystery area, Windcave national park, and Bear country. We are not interested in reptiles, else would have chosen the Reptile gardens.

The places that  match our interests are - Custer state park,  Badlands national park, Spearfish Canyon,  Chapel in the hills, jewel cave, Deadwood historic town, etc.,

Crazy horse memorial 

After preparing this list, I usually filter it out again in the next step depending on the time we have in our itinerary.

3. Planning the Itinerary

This is the time we decide on how many days it will take to cover all the places in our wishlist, filter out the list based on time and budget, plan the itinerary by days, plan the places to stay at night, plan the pit stops and food stops in our trip.

Yes, this is the main part of the trip and please bear with me as you read this lengthy post 🙂

Storybook Island 

Always keep in mind that you need to take multiple pit stops during road trips when traveling with kids. So, be flexible and ready to trade off some places to relax and make the journey fun.

We chose to stay in Rapid city which is nearer to most of the places in our list. Keystone is another good option. Hot Springs is a small town but with many budget-friendly accommodations and dining options.

We have 3 days and 4 nights to cover all of these and below is the plan we laid out:

Night 1/ Evening 1 - Colorado Springs to Rapid city - around 7hrs journey time

Day 1 - Dinosaur Park, Chapel in the hills, Storybook Island,  Custer State Park, and Mt. Rushmore

Day 2 - Spearfish canyon and Badlands national park

Day 3 - Crazy horse memorial and the Return trip to Colorado Springs through Carhenge and Chimney rock national monument in Nebraska

Unfortunately,  Wind Cave National Park was closed during that time and so, we couldn't cover this.
Tunnel in Custer State Park

4. Booking accommodations

The easiest part is this last step. We always rely on Expedia for the best rates for accommodation with free breakfast. This saves a lot of money.

We choose a hotel with a swimming pool and spa so that we can relax every evening after roaming to all the places and hiking.

Airbnb is a good option too but we opt for this if multiple families are going together. We also choose Airbnb if the location is great with a good view and other amenities like swimming pool and kitchen are available.

We stayed all 3 nights in Rapid city as it's nearer to all places, but if you want to spend more time on any specific national park,  it's better to book a night there.

That's how we planned this amazing vacation in detail.

Do let me know in comments if this post helps you in any way to plan your dream vacation to South Dakota state.

Also, do let me know your suggestions and tips to make travel planning easier.

Stay tuned!

The detailed travelogues of each day and every place that we visited is coming soon on my blog.

Until next time,

Do you like my travelogue?

Read my other Travelogues here:

03 July, 2019

Power, Beauty and Legitimacy of Adolescence by Susan Jane - [Book Review]

Power, Beauty and Legitimacy of Adolescence. Understanding the teenage years, from their complexity in reality to some fictional representations in Anglo-Saxon, French and Italian literature.

Based on thorough experience in teaching, pedagogy and parenting, this book is a helpful guide for parents and teachers who want to help teenagers, the best way they can, in becoming adults.

Susan Jane Broda Tamburi  provides  an instructive, yet very simple approach to a full understanding of the complex mechanisms of adolescence. The author also analyses some enlightening representations of teenagers in literature.

Information about the Book
Title: Power, Beauty and Legitimacy of Adolescence
Author: Susan Jane Broda Tamburi
Release Date: 28th June 2019
Genre: Non-Fiction
Page Count: 168
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing

My Review

This is the best non-fiction book that I read recently. Usually, parents are afraid to handle teen kids. Either it is generation gap or communication problem, parents and teenage kids struggle to be on the same page. While teens take rash decisions, Parents seem to control them more, the relationship strains a lot.

The author starts by explaining basics like the physical and psychological changes that happen during puberty and the impact of those changes on teens. Since the author is a teacher to teen kids with an experience of handling teenage children, observing them closely for a long time in her career, she could explain the subtle changes in the behavior of kids with logical reasoning.

The book is organized very well with the following topics in the order - explaining what is adolescence, some common mistakes parents make, how Parents can have the right attitude, how to handle unaccepted behaviors in teens and other teenage issues. 

There is a lot of material in the book that is helpful for parents. I even underlined a few sentences of the book to read later when needed. 

One thing that can be improved is that there can be more interactive material or practical examples. Of course, there are many practical examples in the later part of the book than the first part. The statistics mentioned in the book are excellent and helpful. More images might have been good though. 

I will definitely recommend this book to all parents. 

My Rating: 5/5

PS: I have received this book in exchange for a review from the publisher through authoright and this is my honest opinion on the book.

Author Information

I was born in Geneva from an English mother and an Italian father who both had come to Switzerland to work in international organisations. I travelled a lot when I was young visiting my two families in London and Rome. I went to school in Geneva and after one year spent in England in an Art School, I went to Geneva university where I got a masters degree in English, French and Italian literature. I started teaching during my studies and never stopped. I got married and had 4 children. Today I am still a teacher but am also responsible for teacher training in my school and at university. I have been living for 8 years with my American partner whom I had dated when I was a teenager. After having gone our separate ways we reconnected later in life and are living happily together in Geneva although we spend a lot of time in California.

My eldest son is an architect in Geneva, my eldest daughter has just obtained a bachelor at Brunel University in digital design, my youngest son is studying economics in Lausanne and my youngest daughter is enjoying a gap year doing voluntary work in Costa Rica and New Zealand before starting medical school.

We all get on well and are considered by friends and relatives as a “fusional” family, whatever that means…

I started writing articles at the age of twenty for an animal journal when part -time working in a zoo. A few years later I wrote a collection of children’s stories. I recently decided to write a book on adolescence in French which was published in November 2018, I then made a longer adaptation of it in English and have currently finished the Italian version.

(Schedule Below)

Tour Schedule

Sunday 30th June

Monday 1st July

Tuesday 2nd July

Wednesday 3rd July

Thursday 4th July

Friday 5th July

Saturday 6th July

Sunday 7th July

Until next time,

5 Best places to visit in Rajasthan from Delhi

While Delhi, the capital city of India is buzzing with tourists, the following places make for a perfect weekend trip from Delhi. 

Rajasthan means "The land of Kings" and this is one of the northern states in India. The tourism industry is flourishing in Rajasthan due to several options like Majestic forts, beautiful lakes, scenic Mount Abu, Deserts, temples, and Wildlife. This state has a rich culture, best traditional food, great folk music, and dance styles.

The best time to visit Rajasthan is from October to May as it becomes very hot in Summer.

The following are the best places to visit in Rajasthan near Delhi :

1. Jaipur (Pink City) - 5 hrs from Delhi

This is the capital city of Rajasthan and it got its name due to the distinctive pink color of buildings in the city. Forts, Monuments, Market places, Gardens, museums - this city has all to satisfy any tourist. 

The City Palace which is famous for its architecture is built in 1732 AD and this architectural beauty is a must visit. You can also get a good view of Pink city from this Palace. Hawa Mahal / “A Palace of Winds” is not to be missed. This five-story building has 953 windows. Jantar Mantar Observatory is one of the largest observatories in the world and the Jal Mahal in the center of Mansagar Lake is divine.

2. Ranthambore - 3.5 hrs from Jaipur

Ranthambore National Park is spread about 390 sq. km and it was once used by Rajput family as a hunting reserve. This forest has an animal sanctuary with more Tiger population and is visited by tourists worldwide. This deciduous forest is home for around 539 different species of flowering plants. 

This park is closed between June and September when it is the breeding season. The entry to the park is free even though they charge a camera fee.

Other places around this park are Ranthambore Fort, Surwal lake and Raj Bagh ruins.

3. Udaipur (Lake City) - Around 7 hrs from Ranthambore

Udaipur is also knowns as 'The city of Lakes' / 'Venice of the East'. City Palace on the banks of Pichola Lake houses 11 palaces inside constructed my multiple rulers in different time periods. The Palace, Museum and the scenic backdrop are great to visit.

A boat ride in Pichola Lake, Dinner at Taj resort in Lake Palace, A visit to Lake Garden Palace and exploring the Vintage Car museum should not be missed in Udaipur. 

Jal Mahal

4. Jodhpur (Sun City) - Around 5 hrs from Udaipur

This is the second largest city in Rajasthan, and it is divided into the old and new city. Also, famous as 'Sun City', it has many forts and Palaces. 

Mehranghar fort is one of the largest forts in India. The architecture is amazing, and the fort is situated at 400 ft above the city giving a beautiful view of the city. Other Important attractions in this place include - Mandore Gardens, Jaswant Thada, Umaid Bhawan Palace and Masuria Hills Garden.

5. Pushkar - 4 hrs from Jodhpur

Pushkar is a city with spiritual importance and rich cultural heritage. Many visit this place for spiritual salvation.

Pushkar lake is considered a holy lake and it is surrounded by 400 temples and 52 Palaces. Pushkar city is famous for its annual Camel fair. Brahma temple on the banks of Pushkar lake is significant as this is one of the 3 Brahma temples in the world. 

Other attractions in this place are Man Mahal, Varaha Temple, Pushkar Meditation temple and Camel Safari.

I hope, you liked this list of 5 best places to Visit in Rajasthan. Let me know your opinion in comments. 

Until next time,

PC: All Images from www.pixabay.com
This is a sponsored post but all the tourist place suggestions and opinions expressed are based on my personal view. 

02 July, 2019

Justice Gone by N Lombardi Jr - Book Spot Light


Justice Gone, a mystery/legal thriller which publishes February 22, 2019, touches upon many topical, controversial issues in today's society as well as being a thrilling and engaging read. The story encapsulates current social issues: police brutality, homelessness, the plight of returning war veterans, the frenzy of the press, and the mechanics of the US judicial system.


The courtroom scenes are wonderfully written...the characters are well described and the author paints a picture of each in the mind of the reader...Strong plot, strong characters and a strong writing style that I really enjoyed. This one is a definite "thumbs-up." Strongly recommend! I look forward to reading additional works by N. Lombardi, Jr.
Kim M Aalaie, Author's Den

One of my favorite suspense novels of the year. It will make you question the legal system.
The Eclectic Review

The courtroom action is excellent, trimmed to the most gripping parts of the trial, with plenty of emotional impact...a fairly realistic portrayal of the way small-town US society works...a fast-moving story with plenty of dramatic moments, and a big twist in the final pages.
Crime Review  

"When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down.

 A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran's counselor, is caught up in the chase.

Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa's patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers gets there first, leading to Darfield's dramatic capture.

Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge?”

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US


Barnes and Noble

Book Depository



Amazon India




About the Author:

N. Lombardi Jr, the N for Nicholas, has spent over half his life in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, working as a groundwater geologist. Nick can speak five languages: Swahili, Thai, Lao, Chinese, and Khmer (Cambodian).

In 1997, while visiting Lao People's Democratic Republic, he witnessed the remnants of a secret war that had been waged for nine years, among which were children wounded from leftover cluster bombs. Driven by what he saw, he worked on The Plain of Jars for the next eight years. 
Nick maintains a website with content that spans most aspects of the novel: The Secret War, Laotian culture, Buddhism etc. http://plainofjars.net

His second novel, Journey Towards a Falling Sun, is set in the wild frontier of northern Kenya.

His latest novel, Justice Gone was inspired by the fatal beating of a homeless man by police.
Nick now lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Visit his goodreads page:

Until next time,

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