All Girls School

South Dakota Wrap Up
July 31, 2008, 9:00 am
Filed under: baby, Bubba, camping, family, girlies, history, mimi, summer, swimming, vacation

Be warned, this will likely be very photo heavy. For any family and friends that want to look at all the photos from the trip, they can be found here.

We started out well and the drive up was uneventful and loooooong. It took about twelve hours to get to our campsite.

For the last hour we started driving toward some weather that our friend in the other van referred to as the “Black Doom of Death”. The photos don’t really do the darkness of it all justice.

Then something amazing happened. As we crossed the state border from Nebraska into South Dakota, there was a bend in the road. As we rounded it, the sky looked like…

It was all very dramatic and we took it as a good sign. We finally arrived at our first campsite and checked in. As soon as we had both paid in full, we turned to go out to the cars and saw a sign on the doors stating that there were no wood fires allowed in their campsite. That was a shock to us since it hadn’t been mentioned anywhere on their website or anywhere else. We opened the door and found that it was not only pouring down icy rain, but hailing, too. Luckily, by the time we drove over to our spots it had subsided and we set up camp. It went much better than last time. The girls passes out pretty quickly and Dad and I and our friends sat around in the dark with no fire until it started to sprinkle again. It was great to fall asleep to the sound of the light rain on our tent.

We woke up dry and I called around to other local campsites to see if they allowed campfires. We found one two miles away that did, so we packed up camp and got our prepaid nights refunded to us. Bubba shot this one of us saying goodbye to our first site.

This was the view right at our new site.

After we got our new site set up, we headed out to the Mammoth Site. It is a live dig site and was fascinating to find out about how all of the Mammoths died in that site and see them being dug out.

Next we headed down to road to Cascade Falls. It is a simple little roadside park. When we walked down a short set of stairs, we saw a cascading waterfall that made three separate pools. There were a bunch of people already swimming and we hopped in. Mimi had been talking about swimming in the waterfall for months, so I was thrilled to watch her finally get to do it.

That evening, after a super windy storm roared through, we cooked some dogs and brats on our crackling fire, followed up by s’mores made with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and chocolate marshmallows.

The next day we decided to go to Mount Rushmore. As we were driving through one area, we came around a corner to see

After that we drove past Crazy Horse and saw it from the highway. After that, the next stop was Mount Rushmore.

We stayed there for a long time, reading exhibits, watching films and eating ice cream. Bubba was in heaven and telling us fact after fact that she had previously learned in her book and that she read off of the exhibits.After that we went into town a bit and rode the alpine slides. Everyone had fun on them even though many were fearful of the old chair lift that we rode to the top.

We headed back through a park that had a super windy road that zig zagged up a high hill. At some points, we had to sound our horns going through tunnels because the road went down to one lane. It was a big adventure, but worth it when we got to the lookout at the top.

That night the rain held off until after supper, but it poured for a good hour. Our campsite turned into a muddy swamp. The kiddos fell asleep during the storm, but after it stopped, we grown ups got out, started the fire back up and sat around it until the wee hours, enjoying the stars and lack of bugs for a change.

The next day was cave day. We drove down the road just a little bit to the Wind Cave. It was in the mid to high 90s outside, but a refreshingly cool 53 degrees down in the cave. We went down about 200 ft. at the lowest point of our tour and walked down about 300 steps. The younger two girls were nervous about the whole cave thing at first, and were a little nervous when they turned out all of the lights at one point, but other than that they loved it.

Once we finished walking the cave tour, we headed to Evan’s Plunge. It’s an indoor water park that’s fed by the hot spring. I think “hot” is a relative term. It was not hot, but more lukewarm. There were slides and floating crocodiles and swinging rings and sprinklers and the kids all had a blast playing in the water for hours.

As we were pulling back into the campsite, we saw this.

The guys ran up the road and borrowed some wifi from our previous campsite to check the weather as it was looking very bad and the lightning was pretty intense. They came back with a forecast full of hail, high winds and lightning. We decided to pack it up and hit the hotel so that we wouldn’t be stuck in our tents evening and night. Suddenly we heard the storm sirens from the town going off, so we decided against packing up neatly and just tore it all down and threw it in the vans. Here’s the empty site about ten minutes later and the sight inside our van (which was a disaster).

Would you like to know the irony of it all? It rained less that night than the other nights we had toughed it out. In fact, I’m not certain it ever really did more than sprinkle on us. Oh well, it was nice to sleep in a bed and have a shower that I didn’t need to wear shoes in.

We decided that there weren’t any other must sees on our list the next day, so we decided to head south a bit and find some fun stuff along the way. We stopped at Carhenge, which I was so hoping we would get to see.

We ended up in North Platte, NE. We were going to go to a go kart track, but ended up going out to our one really nice meal and swimming in the hotel pool instead. The next morning, after a big breakfast, we headed home. We were all very glad that we had gone a few hours south the day before, as we ended up at home around 5:30 that evening instead of closer to 10 or 11. We drove 1600 miles, had a blast and miss our friends a lot, but have plans for a camping trip closer to home with them next summer.


July 22, 2008, 6:39 pm
Filed under: Bubba, family, girlies, history, reading, summer, vacation

We’re getting the last bits and pieces put together so we can hit the road early tomorrow. So begins Summer Vacation ’08. The girls are so excited they can hardly stand it. They’ve been telling everyone we’ve come in contact with today that we’re going to South Dakota tomorrow. This will be the first time that we’ve gone camping since Mimi was a baby. That’s the time that Dad affectionately calls, “The time we almost got divorced over a tent”. It wasn’t our best moment (or week, for that matter). But now we look back and only remember the fun stuff, so even though this week will be full of stressful times, all we’re going to remember is how much fun we had.

One of the best and most unexpected side effects of this vacation is Bubba’s self-led learning spree that she’s taken on this week. She researched and checked out a book on Mount Rushmore. After she read it she was so excited to tell me what she had learned that she talked to me for about half an hour about it, highlighting the main points and relaying the interesting anecdotes she had read. Then today, at her art lesson, she was working with clay and designed a Mount Rushmore replica. It was great. She’s been inspired to learn more about each of the presidents represented, too. We’ve had many talks about the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of Independence, the Civil War and the Panama Canal.

I am hoping that we find more topics like this that spark her interest this year and inspire her to take the reins in finding out about them. That’s what I’m striving for this year. Last year was really about finding our groove together and figuring out what works best for us. This year, I want to lead her into topics far enough to give her a basic understanding, then following her lead on further exploration on the ones that she’s more curious about.

Anyway, we’re off until next week. We got a new camera, so I expect I’ll be back next week with way too many photos and a deep desire to hole up in my house with electricity, indoor plumbing and central air.

July 16, 2008, 8:43 pm
Filed under: Bubba, family

We spent last weekend up at my parents’ house. The girls were thoroughly spoiled with new dresses and shoes. My mom called me up earlier that day and asked me their shoe sizes. I got two out of the three wrong. Yeesh – I have no idea what size shoes my kids wear any more. We rarely wear shoes in the summer and when we throw them on to go out, the little girls rarely wear their own, choosing to throw on their big sisters’ instead. We had a great time, though. We ate lots of good food, watched too much cable, played outside and visited with friends and family. We had friends up for an annual airshow, so we took the grandparents over to visit the planes. This was the first time they had gotten the opportunity to see the plane up close and Bubba climbed right up and played the tour guide. It was fun to watch her. They also made candy airplanes, popsicle stick planes, tried on different helmets and military hats and sat behind a cardboard cutout placing them in the pilot seat. The snowcones, though, were the hit of the show. Dad flew back in the plane, so we timed it that our drive back put us at the airport about fifteen minutes before they landed. It’s always fun to watch them fly. Now we’re spending our time getting organized for our family camping trip next week. It’s overwhelming trying to decide what things we will need, what things we probably won’t even take out of the van, and what things we’ll be kicking ourselves for not bringing. We’ll be sure to remember our camera for this trip.

Camera Found – 4th of July
July 9, 2008, 12:16 pm
Filed under: baby, Bubba, holiday, mimi, summer

These are the things we learned over the holiday weekend:

We should always keep a swimsuit or at least a change of clothes in the car. (I know, I know, Mom 101, right? I think I was absent that day.)

hot dogs + sand + water + trampoline + juice + sprinklers =

It is easier to put clothes on the dog than to take them off.

Fireworks. Are. Awesome.

Three days of non-stop celebrating with friends and family =

Prep and Art Class
July 8, 2008, 10:49 pm
Filed under: art, Bubba, holiday, mimi, reading, summer

I had some great photos of our extended holiday weekend, but our camera has been misplaced. Suffice it to say, we had a great time with friends and family, ate tons of good food and blew up our entire arsenal.

In other news, I realized that summer is hitting the half-way point, so I need to start organizing for the upcoming year. I’ve been going through a bunch of the items I’d like to use this year and making notes about other resources that correlate. I think this will help our days flow better, instead of searching through the bookshelves and online for the items I need that day, I will be able to get them all ready for the week and have them at our fingertips. I wasn’t very excited about the work involved with this project, but as I’m going through different books, I found myself getting excited about the different things we get to learn about this year.

Bubba has started a book exchange with her friend that lives around the corner. What I love about it is that she is even more driven to read because she has a weekly “deadline” to exchange the books. Also, the girls came up with this on their own out of their love of certain books and their desire to share them with each other.

Bubba and Mimi started summer art classes today. They worked with clay. Bubba made a few different items while Mimi made a really big… thing. I wish so much that I had my camera. Next week is painting, so hopefully it will surface before then.