[Editor's Note: The saga behind this thread can be read here]
My granddaughter and I made it safely to Wyoming and Yellowstone on our own. We had a simply MARVELOUS time! It was a grueling 9 days though. There are way too many things to see in South Dakota alone! We hit lots of TTs (tourist traps): Porter Sculpture Garden (about 25 miles west of Sioux Falls), 1880 Town (where part of "Dances with Wolves" was filmed), Badlands Petrified Gardens, Wall Drug (the king of TTs), Reptile Gardens (Rapid City), not to mention the "shootout" at the Irma Hotel in Cody, WY. We also drove through the Badlands, stopped at Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, and, of course, Yellowstone. Gosh, I'm getting tired all over again just listing the stuff.
For anyone who is looking for the weird yet wonderful TT, Porter Sculpture Garden is for you! Metal sculptures, one 60 ft high, of some pretty strange stuff like dragons, and goldfish, huge bull's head, and a giant hammer, etc.
If you have kids, they'd probably like the 1880 Town as much as anything. From the way Allison talked about it, it was one of her favorite stops on the whole trip. For a mere $5, you can rent a period costume (kids and adults) then walk through the town taking pictures.
The drive through the Big Horn Mountains was a real white-knuckler, especially when you're driving a Toyota Echo. Thank goodness for manual transmissions! Creative downshifting both up and down the mountain road gave me the best gas mileage of my life... 47 mpg! I must admit though, it was a bit heartstopping to see a sign stating we were approaching a 7% downgrade for the next 11 miles. But I guess when you coast downhill in 3rd gear with minimal braking you're bound to get great gas mileage.
We only spent one day in Yellowstone and saw probably 1/10th of what is there. (More white knuckle travel through construction at Sylvan Pass.) I plan on going back in 2 years (alone or with an adult this time) to spend several days in the area. I'm really looking forward to it! Ain't nature great?!
As for the Girl Scout Troop Trip... well, as far as I know, it never happened. After speaking several times to a very nice woman at the local Girl Scout Office, she informed me that the Troop Wyoming trip would not be approved because of the very "ambitious" driving itinerary. The local office tried desperately to offer suggstions to the leaders on how to change the itinerary so it could be approved but the leaders would have nothing to do with that. The leaders even went all the way up to the New York GS Headquarters in protest but they also turned them down.
I got word through my daughter-in-law (d-i-l) that the trip was changed from Wyoming to Disney World in Florida when the original trip would not be approved. Partly because I still feared for the girls (the leaders told my d-i-l that they were going to relax at the beach one day and "just let the lifeguards watch the kids"), and partly because of the rudeness of the letter I received from the leaders un-inviting me as chaperone, that I decided to send a follow-up letter to the local GS office including a copy of my letter to the leaders voicing my original concerns, a copy of the un-invitation, and a note stating I understood the troop plans had changed to Disney World. (Did I mention I got a personal phone call from the GS Office apologizing profusely for the shabby treatment I received from the leaders? They also informed me that I shouldn't blame myself for the trip cancelation because it was the leaders who would not work with them, and the office appreciated me for voicing my concerns and bringing this issue to their attention.)
In my follow-up letter I also asked if there was some way Allison could get some of the cookie money she worked so hard to earn for the original trip returned to her. The answer was no, she couldn't get the money back because there was no written agreement that her portion was hers alone so it reverted to the troop fund (this really angered Allison's mother because the kid sold 900 boxes in 2 years). Eventually, however, the GS Office called my d-i-l saying that Allison could attend any GS activity, such as camp for a week, and it would come out of troop funds. She'll be going to a horse camp in early August. We didn't get to go horseback riding on the trip, so this is perfect!
What couldn've been a dangerous and disasterous (or at the very least an extremely frustrating and exhausting) Girl Scout trip, turned out to be a safe and fun time for Allison, with the added bonus of her attending horse camp to boot!
So the saga ends.
Thanks for letting me share.