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Jul 6, 2016

Christmas In July and Some Vacation Photos

Yes, I know it's weird making Christmas cards when we have 90 degree weather, but I was checking out some challenges yesterday to help me get back to card making, and saw that Just For Fun Rubber Stamps is now having a monthly challenge. This month it's Christmas in July with a little bit of sparkle, and since I have a few of their gorgeous Christmas stamps, which I haven't used in a long time, I decided to play along.
It's my first time making a card in over a month. I have been taking a blogging break to spend some time with family and I am including some vacation photos below, if you'd like to see what I have been up to.

I colored the image above using copic markers on xpress it blending card. A nestabilies circle die was  used to cut it out and it was adhered onto the embossed background using pop-up tape. Embossing was done using an old cuttlebug embossing folder, and an old SU punch for the scalloped edge. I finished the card off by adding some sparkly gold cord and stamped the little sentiments from the Holiday Snippets set by Penny Black (available in my Etsy shop). The white polka dots on the red ribbon were done using a white Faber Castell pitt marker. 


Vacation time was fun, we took a 12 hour road trip to South Dakota to visit the sights in western South Dakota. It was a pretty boring drive through Iowa, Minnesota and most of South Dakota, drove through some stormy weather in Minnesota which was very scary but luckily we got out of it quickly. 

Our first stop was the Badlands National Park, which I had no clue even existed, but thanks to Pinterest I discovered this unique and beautiful National Park, and it was mainly the reason why I wanted to take this trip.
A few pictures below...

There were signs everywhere to watch out for rattle snakes. We didn't see any thankfully, but kept hearing them. But we did see some sort of big horn sheep up in these hills. There were also plenty of prairie dogs on the loop road.

The photo above was taken at the last trail we hiked before leaving the park. I loved how far you could see, such amazing scenery and it reminded me of western movies I have watched.
This is me somewhere at the end of a hiking trail. There are several hiking trails, we did a few easy ones but they were very enjoyable.

At the end of the easy trails, you could just keep on hiking (at your own risk).

 Some people hiked all the way up the mountains, we saw a couple of them slip but luckily they didn't fall off. Much of the mountains are covered in dry dirt and it can become slippery. Hiking shoes or cross trainers are a must.
 If you don't have time to hike, or are unable to,  you can also enjoy the views by simply driving on the Badlands Scenic Byway Loop road to enjoy the sights.

Next up we went to Custer State Park, which has some amazing rock formations.

We hiked around beautiful Sylvan Lake which is supposed to be an easy trail, but somewhere along the way we got lost and ended up having to do a little bit of climbing, but even my dad who is over 70 managed with a little help. 

Sylvan Lake below..

You can swim in this lake and you can rent boats. If you possibly can, bring a picnic lunch. We waited forever on our pizza at the gift shop area, only to receive a mostly unbaked pizza for lots of $$.

Me and my dad hiking somewhere by the lake where we got lost.

We took the needles highway to explore more of the park, which takes you up to where the needle's eye is. A little scary but you are rewarded with beautiful views all around.

Amazing rock formations everywhere...

We did find the needle's eye right underneath a tunnel.
And not only did we get to see the needle's eye, we were also greeted by these mountain goats inside the tunnel who did not want to let us by. I don't think they liked us being there. Some crazy people actually got out of their cars and got way too close to the animals inside a narrow tunnel. 

Wildlife loop was next up, where we got to see grazing buffalo, herds of antelope and deer, curious donkeys and lots of cute prairie dogs.

From the Wildlife Loop we took Iron Mountain Road to drive to Mount Rushmore
I have seen plenty of pictures of Mount Rushmore before, which made me believe it was smaller than it actually was. We only hiked about half way up (the easy part). I believe you can hike all the way up, but that's supposed to be really hard so we stopped under their noses. We didn't want to leave my dad behind just waiting on us.
The sun was going down and so this photo isn't the best.

Here is a better (zoomed in ) view with just the mountain.

Of course we had to go see Crazy Horse Memorial which is also really close to Custer State Park. There are many many years left before this mountain carving will be complete,

and one day it will look like the statue you see in the photo below.

While out west, we also drove into Wyoming to see the Devils Tower National Monument, which is really close to the SD border.
We took the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway and stopped a couple times to visit the city of Deadwood (which was recommended to us by a lady at a visitors center) and also to hike to Roughlock Falls.

I did not like Deadwood (too touristy and too much of a gambling town - really wish we had skipped it, luckily we only spent about an hour there), but the trail to Roughlock Falls was beautiful and easy, and loved the waterfall at the end of the trail. This area of the Black Hills was shown in the movie "Dances with Wolves" with Kevin Costner. It's been a really long time since I watched that movie, might have to plan a movie night soon :-)

Well, this post definitely is one of the longest I have ever done. I should have probably done a separate travel post, for each day of our trip, but I just don't travel enough and don't live in an interesting area, to keep doing travel posts.

Thanks so much for visiting and hope I didn't bore you too much with my vacation pictures :-)


Whisper said...

Oooo fabby Xmas card and i so love bells too.

It was lovely seeing all your holiday snaps, especially of Mount Rushmore (have never been and would love to go one day), i'd have run for miles, if i had heard Rattle Snakes !!, Luv Sam x

Myoriah said...

So happy that you did some crafting. Love your card with all the exquisite details. Love the polka dots on the ribbon and the gold card. The embossing folder you used was perfect. Thank you for joining in the fun over at Just For Fun blog. Hope to see more of your creations.

kiwimeskreations said...

Fabulous card Ellie - love the scallops and the stripe combination.
Love your photos - I am never likely to get to the USA, so I enjoy travelling vicariously through travel photos like yours.

brenda said...

As always a lovely card Elly and some great photos, looks like an awesome place to visit, especially when it's with special family members.

B x

Tinka's paper wonderlland said...

Great card, love the embosed background and that bow on the bell looks amazing!!
Thank you for sharing your amazing photos!!
♥Hugs Valentina♥

stamping sue said...

Beautiful photos of the parks you visited.
thank you for joining in the JFF Christmas in July challenge.
stamping sue, JFFDT

Marilyn said...

Beautiful card!! Awesome pictures from your vacation!

Julie Tucker-Wolek said...

Your card is gorgeous and LOVING the vacay photos!! What beautiful country you visited!!!! So AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Julie Odil said...

Beautiful Christmas card! I loved all your pictures. I've been to that area, but not for years. It brought back great memories!

Karen Dunbrook said...

lovely Christmas card...I just can't get into it yet!
Great pics too!
TFS and hugs,

Linby said...

Great photos and I've learnt so much too!
Fab Christmas card - love the embossed background, I really need to use my folders more.
Lynn x

Heidi MyLittleStampingBlog said...

Lovely card, I really like that image, I may put it on my wish list.

Your vacation looks fabulous! Wow, great pictures.

Donna Ellis said...

Wow! Beautiful JFF card, Miss Ellibelle! But I am smitten by the photos of your recent vacation. Thanks so much for sharing them. I would absolutely love to visit the areas your family did. The feeling of awe, beauty, wonder, and beauty must have been overwhelming! Crazy Horse well deserves a monument as a great hero, and I hope that I get to see the finished sculpture! Such an amazing person of integrity and courage. Thanks again for sharing! hugs, de

Amy Johnson said...

Your vacation is a trip my husband and I have been planning for years and never end up taking it because something else always comes up (like a wedding or an unplanned medical bill). We were suppose to go here in August but had to cancel our plans. We don't live far at all from this area and could be there in a days drive. So happy your dad got to see this. I'm sure they don't have this kind of scenery in Germany.

Anonymous said...

such a beautiful christmas card, ellie, and your vacation photos and narratives are very interesting. i don't think i could ever hike anywhere with my rollator, but it sounds like you and your family had a great time!

E. Marie said...

Really enjoyed your vacation pictures. Use to live out that way and they brought back lots of memories. Your card is very pretty with the embossed background and punched border. Wonderful coloring on your image. Thank you for sharing with the Just For Fun July Monthly Challenge.