Tuesday, July 26, 2016

batter up!

Nick played coach pitch baseball for the first time this summer and it was a lot of fun! He counted down the days each week until it was Monday again. :) Last night was their last game so I took a few pictures.
High fives from his coach after a hit:
batting:

I love our little town.  I know things get competitive for kids pretty quickly but this year was just FUN.

xoxo

p.s.  My cousin Jess and her kids are visiting for a few days so I will be back at the end of the week with more of our trip photos.  You know, in case you were missing them. ;)  xoxo

Thursday, July 21, 2016

south dakota, days 5&6

On our 5th morning we got up and on the road by 9am...a record for us!  We headed to Devil's Tower, just over an hour away in Wyoming.  It was amazing driving up to it...lots of beautiful views...I almost felt like we didn't need to see it any closer but I am so glad we did.

As you approach the 1 mile trail that goes around the Tower there is a huge boulder fall that you can climb up a long ways.  Near the base of the tower, at the top of the boulder fall, there are signs saying STOP! and you need to be a registered climber to go any higher.  If you have been to Devil's Lake, this boulder area is a lot like tumbled rocks trail only higher.

So, we climbed as high as we could (well, I was right below the sign with Nick) but it didn't feel that terrifying because if someone would have fallen, they only would have hit the rocks right below them...we weren't on "the edge" of anything.

The kids LOVED this.  We did, too.
We were super high up here.  Nick was just chilling.
James, near the top.
Patrick and Ruby, right at the stopping point:

I have to add that it is amazing that the kids are old enough to carry their own packs with water and snacks.  (we helped Nick on one longer hike) Also, their own luggage!!  Love that!

After hiking the boulders we did the one mile hike around the base. We were lucky enough to see climbers reaching the top of the Tower and sat for a while and watched them.  The surrounding forest was cool and pretty and it was a really nice walk.  We were all starving after all of that!
We left Devil's Tower and had a late lunch/early dinner at Culver's, I think.  Culvers around here are always busy and this one was dead...it was funny.  Looked brand new, too.  That burger hit the spot.  

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Mt. Roosevelt that I had read was an old castle??  Well, it was just like Enger Tower for my Duluth peeps.  :)  The name MOUNT should have tipped me off but Nick was not thrilled to see another uphill hike.  It wasn't bad, though, and was beautiful at the top.  The woods here were more like MN woods, a mix of pine and leafy trees, instead of the mainly pine forests near Devil's Tower.  The lookout point was, have I already said this?, beautiful.
Seth Bullock, mayor of Deadwood, built this in honor of his BFF Teddy Roosevelt:
(seth bullock had a thing for high spots!)
Everyone resting on the lookout:
Look!  A family photo!!  thanks a lot, NICK.
This was beyond the lookout deck and I could not watch.  I walked away and they followed pretty quickly.  Thank God.
James loves Nick so much but also torments him.  He then turns around and wants to be affectionate, etc. and Nick is like WHAT??  It took a lot of cajoling to get Nick on his back.  :)
The next morning (our last in Deadwood...sniff) we found an empty pool again!  I loved how well the kids played together this trip.  They thought up games in the pool and we had dive rings along, which they had a lot of fun with.  They fought some, sure, but really got along well.  They would talk all day about Minecraft contest they were going to have that night and it was just cute.  <3 br="">


It was so pretty.  You can see the hills surrounding Deadwood out the windows...it was like that all around the whole town.
After breakfast and swimming, Ruby and I left to do a little shopping.  We walked down Main Street and stopped in Saloon No. 10 and lots of other stores.  The Saloon was so cool that we went back with the boys for lunch after we checked out.  They had tons of historical Deadwood photos on the walls and the chair that Wild Bill was shot in.  (creepy.)  We ate popcorn and the kids had their first Shirley Temples.  (Not so impressed...it was sad.  I LOVED Shirley Temples as a kid.)

After lunch we went to Mt. Rushmore!  Okay, I love our country but this did not thrill me.  I didn't have time to read much of the history, which would have interested me the most.  We sat and took it in, walked the Presidential Trail (250 steps going UP of course),  had giant ice cream cones and called it a day.


After this we were back on the road, headed to Rapid City, our home for the next 3 nights.

xoxo

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

south dakota, days 3&4

We woke up on Sunday morning and said goodbye to Thomas and Erin.  Our next stop, because it would have felt wrong not to stop, was Wall Drug.  I am pretty sure there is a picture of me next to this same Jackalope from 40 (yes, FOURTY) years ago.  I made the kids stand there just because of that.  :)  We mainly stopped for the donuts and .05 coffee.  The donuts were safe for James and delicious!
The Badlands are pretty much next door to Wall Drug.  It was a scorching 95 degrees again but I needed to see these.  They are gorgeous and so unique.  I had heard about a couple of easy trails but we entered at the wrong end of the park so decided we'd hit them on the way home.



Ruby had the camera for a while so there were about 1,000,000 prairie dog shots:
and some selfies:



When we left the Badlands we headed west to Deadwood where we spent our next 3 nights.  I had originally booked us a room in Spearfish because we had a lot of stuff we wanted to do there but I decided to switch because there was a lot more to choose from in Deadwood.  I am SO glad I switched us.  Spearfish CANYON is gorgeous...Spearfish is a lot like Verona with no trees.  :)  Deadwood is in a little valley surrounded by forests and was really pretty.  We got to our hotel, which we loved, and had dinner.  After dinner we took the kids to the pool and it was a mad house...so many people! 

The next  morning we got up early and went to the pool...no people!  It was heavenly.  James was so cute...he said, "I just need to appreciate this for a moment before getting in."  :)  It was an infinity pool with a roof that opened up.  After breakfast and swimming we stopped at Mt. Moriah cemetery in Deadwood.  Wild Bill, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock are some of the famous people buried there.  Seth Bullock's grave was high up on a hill overlooking the whole town.  We hiked to the top (our first of many uphill hikes that week) and met a local who told us when he was growing up that it was a passage into manhood for a boy to sleep on Seth Bullock's grave alone.  He had done it!  It was cool to chat with him and hear some of his personal memories.



Seth Bullock's grave:
After the cemetery we went to Spearfish and found the trail to the Devil's Bathtub.  It isn't marked at all but what I read on the internet made it pretty easy to find and the other cars parked on the roadside helped, too.  :)


The whole trail goes along a river and you make lots of river crossings.  The river was shallow and the kids loved stopping and catching minnows, etc. 

This was a steep portion heading down to the river.  Nick was at the top with Patrick, pooping in the woods, so James, Ruby and I headed down.  For SOME reason, James decided to run down this??  He couldn't stop at the bottom and ended up leaping over a big log and landing on all fours in the river.  I was like, WHAT THE HELL???  He stood up, kind of shocked, and it took all I had not to burst out laughing.  A minute later he was laughing himself and so was Ruby. 
Below is the section of river he landed in:
 Me comforting James after his harrowing experience.  ;)
After this my camera died.  We hiked a long way and it was amazing.  It really reminded us of Parfrey's Glen.  Eventually you come to this place, the "tub."  The water was freezing and Nick was the only one who decided to try it out.  A kid was taking pics with his mom's phone and when she looked she found this one of Nick and told me she'd text it to me.  After I got it we were texting back and forth and found out that her husband was from Duluth.  Small world.  :) 
Nick said it was fun but freezing.  We would all like to go back here someday...just back to Spearfish Canyon in general. 

After our hike we ate dinner at a really sad Pizza Ranch and waited forever for their Cactus Bread.  That was not even that good!  It was CRAZY windy outside of the canyon.  Then we went back to the hotel for the night.  We didn't let the kids bring any electronics with on our day trips so it was really nice to go home at night and be like, HAVE AT IT.  :)  Patrick and I would have a cocktail and it was really relaxing.

xoxo

Monday, July 18, 2016

south dakota, days 1 & 2

So, we just got back from South Dakota!  I wanted to share some (a LOT) of pictures.  :)  It was amazing and we all loved it.  We are already talking about our trip back someday.

The day we left we drove to my brother & Erin's house in Aberdeen. SD.  We marveled at how empty the landscape was as we were driving.  And how windy!  Patrick liked it...once we got past Minneapolis there was almost no traffic.

It was so good to see them and where they live, etc.  Their house is so cute and I wanted almost everything in it.  :)  I had some pics of their deck but I can't find it.  Anyways, they had cute little lights strung in the tree and it looked so cozy.  The kids were thrilled to have the whole basement to themselves and an open wifi signal. 

The second day we just hung out all morning and then went to lunch and then to Wiley Park.  Pictures of this follow:


 Ruby took this selfie:


 James wasn't loving the fairy tale part but he hung in there after a short pep talk (threat.)  ;)  He is almost 13!!!!!  kills me.



 James:
 Patrick & Nick:
 Thomas and Erin took all these next pics of us on the boats:  (I got SOAKED but it was around 95 (and windy!) so it felt good.)



 And they surprised me with this adorable shot:
  After the boats we let the kids swim for a long time in a small lake/pond and then went back to their house and ate a delicious dinner. 

That's all for today.  xoxoxo

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