Black Hills 2015 – Day 5

July 3, 2015 § Leave a comment


With high hopes for the “Wildlife Loop,” we set our alarm for early on Day 5. I had visions of driving through an entire herd of Buffalo – close enough to hear their fur brushing the doors of our car. I don’t know how I got this vision but it did not come to fruition. Instead, we saw exactly one buffalo butt. We also saw many other animals including pronghorn deer, burros and prairie dogs. It was fun to actually hear the moment when Hiram fell in love with prairie dogs. “Ohhhh. I want to bring one home.”


The drive was mainly through prairie, which is admittedly not that interesting without herds of buffalo to distract. And so we were happy to get back to town where we found a coffee shop! And a park! Two things we’ve been short on this vacation so far. We spent the rest of the morning drinking coffee and playing on the monkey bars.

After naptime we finally saw Mount Rushmore, which the boys had been watching for in earnest since we left Minneapolis. Upon seeing the faces, Hiram called it “creepy.” It occurred to me then that I should explain that the faces had been put there intentionally which seemed to ease his concerns.

Here are videos of Hiram/Eldyn reflecting on Mt. Rushmore:

We had a great time at Mount Rushmore and then stopped for a quick climb at the Dinosaur Park and Target before dinner out. We got back to the cabin late and that made bedtime the easiest one so far.

Thanks to the new foam pad we added to the top of our mattress, I slept like a rock. The weather finally cooperated too.

Vacation Badges Earned:

  • National Monument (Mt. Rushmore)
  • Animal Observation (natural habitat)
  • Creature Comforts

Black Hills 2015 – Day 4

July 2, 2015 § Leave a comment


What a fun and memorable Father’s Day! The whole family was in the mood to sleep in, which was no problem since all we had on our list to do was go to the lake. We took the beautiful way there through Custer State Park and stopped to see the amazing “Cathedral Spires” and climb on more rocks. The boys also loved what Eldyn called the “weird tunnels” which was a good description for the skinny tunnels blasted out of the mountain.


Once at Sylvan Lake, which is a lake at the top of the mountain, we did…nothing. Kind of. We hiked around the lake. At lunch next to the lake. Swam in the lake. Peddle-boated in amongst the rocks in the lake. And Eldyn took a great nap in our car in the parking lot near the lake. In other words, we spent our entire day doing lake stuff and didn’t get back to our camping cabin until dinnertime. Finally, a day with time to let it unfold as it was meant to do.

Vacation Badges Earned:

  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Lazy

Black Hills 2015 – Day 3

July 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

“So far this year, we’ve only had one helicopter rescue!!”

We planned just enough time for hiking in the Badlands. It started at 8:30 with a guided tour. Then we were sent off on our own.

Our tour guide had this fancy way of telling us we were free to go wherever we wanted and that we were crazy to go wherever we wanted. (“So far this season, we’ve only just had two severe falls and one helicopter rescue!” And, “See how this limestone formation just crumbles in my hands?!? Imagine climbing down from up there!”)

This same tour guide insisted I shouldn’t worry about my kids — that I would be the one injured while my kids got away with just a scratch or two. Knowing myself, and knowing my kids, I knew he was wrong on that count and decided to keep a worried eye on things.


We ate a picnic lunch there before tackling the last two (and most car-trip-grueling) hours to our camping cabin. We were all happy to get settled in with the idea that there would be no more long drives for at least a few days. We cooked steak while it was sunny AND raining and had an early Father’s Day dinner. Hiram made Brad “the best marshmallow ever” as a Father’s Day gift.

Then! Surprise! Another insane storm. This one was less wind and a lot more rain. And what sounded like hail. Again, there was an hour of being on-guard while the boys slept and the cabin shook with thunder.

This weather! It’s creating sleep patterns that remind me of mothering a newborn.

Vacation Badges Earned:

  • National Park (Badlands)
  • Mountain Camping
  • Advanced Weather Spotting

Black Hills 2015 – Day 2

June 30, 2015 § Leave a comment


Day two started out with perfect weather, which we took advantage of straight away. We went to Falls Park where B taught the boys the fundamentals of rock climbing (“use your legs”) and the boys practiced on perfect-sized boulders. Then it was a picnic lunch and another long day of driving to the Badlands.

I was excited for Brad to see the Badlands and he was appropriately impressed. We gained an hour in Mountain Time and used it right up in road construction related traffic delays in the park. But we got a taste of what was to come. Then we checked into our motel and made a beeline for the pool. Holy cow those Badlands are hot, hot, hot. It makes swimming just so, so good.

It wasn’t hard to pick our spot for dinner because there were only two places. Luckily, the food at the place we picked was great! B and I both had got inspired to eat local and had a buffalo burger each. It was delicious and flavorful. Local never fails.

Then came the most exciting part of the trip so far. Some crazytown weather. Lightning on top of lightning and wind whipping the trees sideways for 2 straight hours. The power in our hotel was out so all we could do was wait and watch for a sign we should head into the bathtub with a mattress. We did not have to do this. All three boys would have slept straight through but I woke B up for moral support. Our Badlands guide the next morning said that it was the craziest storm they’ve had in 7 years and that winds might have been up to 70 MPH. Yikes.

Vacation Badges Earned:

  • Rock Climbing
  • Native Cuisine
  • Amateur Weather Spotting

Black Hills 2015 – Day 1

June 29, 2015 § Leave a comment

Did you miss us? We’re just back from a 10-day vacation to the Black Hills! Because I’m always sad to get back from vacation, I’m posting one-a-day entries for the next week or so so that I can re-live the happiness.

Day 1 of vacation got off to a slightly later start than we had hoped thanks to the fact that I still have a job at TGT. Thursday morning was the first day after another round of layoffs and they were holding a meeting where they promised to finally explain everything. After waiting almost six months to have things explained, there was no way I was missing it. The boys were great sports about it.


After the four-hour delay, they picked me up  and then we were on the road.


Despite my worries, the late start barely even fazed us. We made it to Sioux Falls by dinnertime, found a cute pizza place in the trendy Uptown neighborhood, and still made it to bed before anyone had a meltdown.

Something that always happens on vacation is that the things I most look forward to are not the things I love. Our hotel was the one I thought would be a highlight because it was South-Dakota-Fancy and right on the Great Sioux River. Sadly, when we got there we found out they were installing Hardie Plank siding so our window was entirely obstructed by scaffolding (a.k.a. Look! A fort is out our window! Can we climb on it?) No river view for us!

No problem. It only means the best is yet to come.

Vacation Badges Earned:

  • Patience
  • South Dakota (new state for B, H and E)

Happy Birthday B!

June 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s B’s birthday today! Sadly, this concludes #BradWeek but we’re going out with a bang. Here are Birthday Wishes from Brad’s two favorite little men. And me.

  • Hiram: “I hope you have a wonderful birthday day!”
  • Eldyn: “I love you dad. I hope you get a fun day and have lots of good presents like a Pinocchio book and a vacuum.”
  • Hadley: “Can’t really top that so I’ll just second it. May your day be filled with new electronics and lots of happiness. We love you and hope you have the best birthday ever. XOXOX.”

10 Things I’m Glad Brad Handles

June 24, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s still #BradWeek! The Bat Story yesterday made me think about how many things B does for our family and how thankful I am for that. SO many things he handles and does so well. I am a lucky girl.

Here’s just what made the top 10. There are many, many more.

10 Things I’m Glad Brad Handles

  1. Bats (see also: Mice)
  2. Bath time
  3. Getting slivers out
  4. Answering Hiram’s questions (with accuracy)
  5. Making a perfect iced latte
  6. Making a perfect Mojito
  7. Pounding in a sand point well
  8. Being the voice of reason at the park (if I had it my way, both boys would just jump rope with bike helmets on)
  9. Being the voice of reason during shoulder seasons (if I had it my way, they would be bundled to the nines at any degree below 50 F)
  10. Being B

We love you, Brad!


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