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Summer 2016 Road Trip: “The worst family vacation ever is still a good thing.”

29 Sep

This year our family trip goes down as the most exhausting trip ever.  But we have some good stories to tell.  Maybe in another year or two, I might be able to laugh about how dumb I was to think we could camp anywhere with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 1 year old twin boys.

Besides family camping,  the resident Captain and Blueberry Pie planned to climb King’s Peak, and we had a family reunion to party at.

Blueberry Pie flew out to Utah a week early to go to a diving camp at BYU.

The Captain was super excited because we purchased a new family tent  (The REI Basecamp 6)  plus some fun LED twinkle lights to hang in the tents.  Our plan was to have the older girls sleep in his 3-man backpacking tent and then us and the four youngest kiddie pies would sleep in the new tent.

We packed Wednesday night, and I thought we were doing well and would get to bed by 8:30pm.


I didn’t factor in that the Captain hadn’t yet packed his gear for backpacking up King’s Peak.  So by the time that was done, we went to bed at 1 am.  But everything was in the van ready to go, and the cooler was full of delicious food.  Pasta salad (with bacon), carrot and celery sticks, mint oreos, lots of Doritos, and most importantly, a tin foil dinner for each of us to eat the next night at our campsite.  This would save me from assembling dinner on Thursday night.  We could just pull up to the campsite, light the charcoal, and dinner could cook while we set up camp.  It would all be so simple and relaxing.

You see, the resident Captain, wanting to make things easy on me, had reserved 2 hotel rooms in Laramie, WY, for Thursday night.  But I talked him into canceling that reservation and reserving a campsite at Curt Goudy State Park instead.  That would save money and there was a playground for the kids to play on and, in theory, run off all the energy they would have from sitting in the car all day.  As I described above, I had a brilliant plan to make dinner and camp setup a breeze.

We began our drive early Thursday morning, about 5:30 a.m.

Road trip Van Selfie

Almost immediately, Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie began puking.  The puking did not stop.

It’s a good thing we had a roll of heavy duty trash compactor bags in the van.

Then the power cord to the car DVD player stopped working.  All our new movies, purchased specifically for entertainment on the trip could not be enjoyed.  Everyone was so sad not to get to watch “The Croods,” “Spirit, Stallion of the Cimmaron,” “Chitty, Chitty, Bang! Bang!” and “The Music Man.”

Due in part to the fact that whenever we stopped for gas I had to change the Scooter Pie’s diapers as well as sometimes Baby Bean’s diaper and clean up someone who had barfed, the trip took longer than it should have.

The Captain washes Windows too.

By the time we finally got to our campsite, it was almost 9 p.m., not 6 like we planned.  Tamale Pie was also feeling sick by now.  As we got to the campsite, we saw signs that a new burn ban had just been posted.  No wood or charcoal fires allowed.  That meant that all our delicious tin foil dinners could not be cooked or eaten.  I was really regretting those hotel rooms, delivery pizza, and the probable coin laundry in the hotel basement.

Because Blueberry Pie was already in Utah, and Pumpkin Pie and Tamale Pie were sick, that left only Cherry Pie, Me, and our intrepid Captain as able-bodied workers.  Banana Cream Pie, Baby Bean and the Scooter Pies took all my resources to keep safe.  The Scooter Pies spent their time stuffing rocks into their mouths as fast as possible.  Baby Bean ran everywhere like a crazy squirrel, with Key Lime Pie tossing pine cones after her.  Banana Cream Pie, being sick was rather more querulous than usual.  (Which is a lot.) Cherry Pie alternately helped me and helped her father as she saw needs.  I was many times grateful that evening that she was not sick.

Despite the fact that we couldn’t eat our scrumptious foil dinners, there was lots of pasta salad left.  So anyone who felt well enough to eat still had something good, albeit cold, for dinner.  It took a couple hours to get the tents set up, but the evening was very pleasant and the breeze and the lake view were especially nice.  I kept thinking that I should be a lot more sad about all the trip fails of the day, but the weather was so perfect that I was still enjoying myself.  The new tent was so spacious and nice.  I love the big vestibules on each side and the extra tent poles that keep the tent from distorting in high wind.  The babies took turns waking up in the night so I was able to take care of them without help.  I didn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep, but this is what I expect when camping.  However, the Captain did not sleep well and was disappointed to still be tired in the morning.  (I am always a little annoyed when I’ve been up with babies all night and the Captain has the gall to announce that he “didn’t sleep well”  but it’s a fairly frequent occurrence in my life, so I’m used to it. )

In the morning, we packed up camp and headed on down the road to the trail head for King’s Peak where we would meet Blueberry Pie and his uncle.  We lost about an hour of time because the cap to our gas tank broke, but we still got to the trail head in plenty of time.  However Blueberry Pie and Uncle were late.   Finally, as rain threatened, the Captain set up his tent, and the kiddie pies and I left him there and headed on to Salt Lake City, where we planned to spend our days in comfort while the men folk backpacked up and down the mountain.

The girls and I spent the next 2 days in Salt Lake City, hanging with cousins and having a nice relaxing time.  Except for that Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie continued to be sick and unable to keep any food or drink down.

The Men got back from the mountain at around 2 a.m. Monday morning.  When it was a more reasonable hour for getting up, I cleaned out our van and loaded all our gear back into it.  At about 10, we loaded all the kiddie pies into the van as well, said goodbye to our cousins (and begged forgiveness for bringing our nasty flu bug) and headed south to Bryce Canyon.  Pumpkin Pie and Banana Cream Pie were still throwing up, and I was starting to get worried about them dehydrating.  I’ve never had children sick for so many days in a row.

I did get some work on Blueberry Pie’s RavenClaw scarf done.

It was about a 6 hour drive down to Bryce but the exciting thing was that my awesome sister Katie, and her four boys met us there and camped with us.  We cooked hotdogs for the kids and delicious chicken and veggies for ourselves.  Katie’s boys play lots of crazy games camping, so Key Lime Pie was really having a great time.  Also, Katie had some prescription strength anti-nausea medicine and both of my sick children were finally able to keep food and water down for the first time in 5 days.  That was such a relief!

My four babies (the scooter pies, Baby Bean and Banana Cream Pie) continued to be super high maintenance and required constant vigilance from multiple people.  Baby Bean found a mud puddle and swam in it.  I began giving the Scooter Pies larger rocks to chew on, hoping to prevent them from choking on small ones.  But they rejected the safe rocks.

The weather was much colder than it had been when we camped in Laramie.  Subsequently, none of the 4 baby pies slept during the night.  I had to wake up the Captain and then Blueberry Pie to help me take care of all the fussing babies.  It was torture.  The Captain was now going on his 5th night of camping and almost no sleep.  As the sky began to lighten with the morning, the Captain said to me, “I never want to go camping again.”  I myself had been thinking, “I will camp no more forever.”  But the Captain loves camping, so I was a little surprised that he felt the same way.  I realized that though we have camped many times with babies, there has never been more than 2 toddler/babies, and I could handle all the murderous part myself.  But I couldn’t buffer him from 4 toddler/babies and so everyone was miserable.  The Captain just wanted to cancel the rest of the trip and go home, but I begged him for one more day because I didn’t want to miss the Wednesday Activities at the family reunion.

After getting camp cleaned up, we went to Bryce National Park and picked up JR Ranger packets for all the kids.

Baby Bean pushes buttons

Banana Cream Pie is serious about getting her JR Ranger badge.

The scooter pies are not paying attention to the ranger discussion about telescope lenses.

Little Prairie Dogs

We drove through the park, but it was very busy.  We had trouble finding any overlooks that had parking space.  But we did get to see the Natural Arch, which was spectacular.  The kids worked through their books and earned their badges, and we piled back into the car and headed back north to Ephraim Canyon for our family reunion.

The road from Bryce to Ephraim is slow, pot-holed, and full of curves.  That was not a fun drive.  Scenic, I guess, but on the back of many sleepless nights, it was just more torture.  We got to the reunion just in time for dinner, which was delicious.  We also lucked out and there were enough bunk beds for us and the babies to sleep inside.  The Captain put in his ear plugs and had the first good sleep of our vacation.  I had just fallen asleep when the Scooter Pies woke up, and so I put them in my twin size bunk with me.  However, the space between the bunk and the wall was just big enough to let a baby fall off the side, so I couldn’t sleep after that for fear that one of them would fall off.  I just lay awake holding them and waiting for morning.

Wednesday morning I got to help with breakfast.  I made some pretty delicious breakfast casseroles, if I do say so myself.

Then we took the kids to a nearby pond for swimming.  It was the grossest, stinkiest pond I have every seen.  Banana Cream Pie (who I remind you is only 4) said with great disappointment when she saw the pond, “I thought you said we were going swimming!”  Luckily, one of my uncles brought his huge river raft, which was tons of fun to play on and saved the day.

Then we left the kids back at camp and told them to be good and the Captain and I went to the Manti temple.  That was the highlight of our whole trip for sure.

I had hoped to find a laundromat later in the evening to wash the throw up clothes that had been solid on the drive from Salt Lake to Bryce (before Aunt Katie hooked us up with drugs.). But though we did find a laundromat, it was closing by the time we got there.  I was pretty disappointed.  Instead we just went back to camp and put the kids to bed.  Thursday, we took a little hike with the kids and then Captain went back down  the mountain and washed all the laundry while I talked with my family and chased the twins and Baby Bean.  She spent most of the day digging holes in the dirt and I just let her.

Friday morning, we left the reunion early because the Captain Wanted to get home by Saturday night.  I felt like a big bum leaving early, but I had been lucky to wheedle those 2 days.  Also, I was pretty tired of chasing babies around in the out-of-doors.  Going home sounded pretty good.

We stayed in a hotel on the way home.  And it was great.  While I cannot predict the future, I feel that family camping may decline significantly therein.


Great Lakes Road Trip 2013- Day 5 – 7 Beautiful Michigan

29 Nov

First thing in the morning, we crossed Mackinac Bridge and started down the East side of Lake Michigan. This was the most beautiful countryside of the trip, I thought. We drove through lots of picturesque little towns and saw lots of fruit orchards. We reached our destination, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, at about noon. We super duper lucked out and got the very last campsite available. It was a “hike in” campsite, which we have never tried before, but it turned out to be awesome. It was more secluded than drive-up campsites and closer to the bathrooms to boot. Plus the “hike” was less than 200 yards.

After Lunch, we headed to the beach for several hours of great fun. IMG_0848IMG_0757 IMG_0759 IMG_0763 IMG_0778 IMG_0819 IMG_0786

I think I must have an affinity for water/beaches because all my favorite trips and moments include water.

This first beach was a 1.2 mile hike from our campsite. I’ve forgotten it’s name, but we were the only people there. It was so peaceful. The sand was so fine, it squeaked under our feet when we walked in it. A little old woman came along the beach picking up smooth stones. She stopped to tell our children the Legend of the Sleeping Bear.

Long ago there was a great fire on the far shore of the lake, where Wisconsin is now. The mother bear and her two cubs swam across the lake to escape the fire. There is the mother bear, she said, pointing to the beautiful sand dune cliff to our right. She is waiting for her cubs. You can see them just there, that little island and beyond it is his brother. The mother bear sleeps while she waits for her cubs.

After her story, she gave each of the children a stone from her bag as a special gift before she continued on her way down the beach. You can’t buy experiences like this!

Our second day at Sleeping Bear, we drove up around the scenic loop that was supposedly so good. it was 45 minutes of driving through trees. We stopped at overlook points and looked out at trees. Was there something beyond the trees that people used to be able to see? who knows. what i do know is that 6 children who have been inside a car for most of a week watching trees are not entertained by being stuck inside the same car yet again to watch more trees. there was much complaining and fighting and i have a special hatred in my heart forever for that scenic loop and the pArk planners who made such a big deal of it on all the signs.

We finally escaped from the hell of that scenic loop and drove over to the giant sand dunes. The kiddie pies and the DH ran up and rolled down the dunes for over an hour. I stayed down at the bottom in the shade with Banana Cream Pie. That was the kids’ favorite bit of the whole trip.

We tried out Glen Haven beach. It was super crowded and the water seemed colder. The girls buried each other from the waist down and spent hours creating elaborate mermaid tails with rocks from the lake. I have beautiful pictures of them trapped inside the broken computer.

We cooked dinner at the picnic area there and then started our journey home. We had planned to stop at a hotel for the evening, but none had vacancies, so we kept driving. We were tired and cranky and not at our best.

Finally at about 1 in the morning we found a hotel with an open room. I will not speak of the nastiness we found inside that room. I will only say that we did not bring any of our belongings inside, nor walk on the carpet with our bare feet. We showered and slept about 5 hours. Woke up the kids and got out as fast as we could.

The sun rose and miraculously everyone was cheerful and pleasant again. Home we drove past Gary, Indiana, and Chicago. I called ahead and ordered Pizzas from Pizza Hut for lunch, so they were ready to be picked up as we drove through some little town between Chicago and St Louis.

Attempting to avoid road construction landed us in East St Louis, yikes! But we managed to get out again without being shot at. If Matt and Cegan had been home, we would have spent the evening with them, but they weren’t so a few more hours driving, and we were home sweet home at last.

It was our most epic road trip yet. The DH drove close to 8 hours most days, longer on some, as we hurried to hit the next high point. I did no driving at all, just handed out snacks, navigated, and tried to keep kids happy and quiet.

It was quite a memorable trip!

Great Lakes Road Trip 2013- Day 2 Hiking Eagle Mountain

28 Nov

At the Trail Head

Eagle Mountain in Minnesota was high point #6 for the kids and I, and High Point #7 for DH.  It was a 7 mile hike and most places online say the difficulty of the hike is about the same as Harney Peak, South Dakota, which we hiked last summer.  

I guess that is accurate.  The DH and I were both in better shape for hiking this year than we were last year, so it was easier on us in that way.  I have never hiked on such a rocky trail, though.  And when I say rocky, I mean the trail was full of big rocks that you had to step from rock to rock–like crossing a stream, only no stream.  The rocks were close together, but we had to watch every step carefully or twist our ankles and fall.

Cutie Pie was almost 5 years old and hiked much better than she did last summer in South Dakota–She motivated herself without much input from me for 2-2.5 miles before insisting on being carried.  When the trail got very steep for the last mile, she climbed willingly.  The DH carried 18 month old Baby Dumpling until Cutie Pie needed help.  Then 13 year old Blueberry Pie carried the baby and DH carried Cutie Pie.  I got out of packing an extra baby, since as you can tell from the picture, I was carrying one anyway.

We ran out of bug spray as I was applying it to the kiddie pies that morning, and the mosquitoes were fierce on the mountain.  DH and Blueberry Pie swell a lot when they get bit, and they were really suffering.  We bought more bug spray that evening, but the mosquitoes were never as bad as they were that day on Eagle Mountain.

We stopped at a Lake about halfway up to enjoy some scenery and have a snack.  Some of the picture files on my computer seem to have become corrupted, so I no longer have those pictures of the lake.

At the Top of EMHere we are at the top of Eagle Mountain.  Blueberry Pie is letting us all know how hard he has worked, packing a baby halfway up the mountain.

While we were hiking, we passed several groups of other hikers.  Often they had on sweatshirts or t-shirts that gave away what state, or at least what college they hailed from.  It was really fun for me to know where people were from, and I’ve decided to get a Missouri t-shirt so people can know where we are from when we hike high points.  I learned that the Minnesotan phrase of choice when greeting strangers on the trail is “How’s it goin’? ”  This seems a little more friendly than the Missouri phrase of choice, which seems to be, “Hey.”

The day was fairly cool and I wore my most comfortable and most favorite maternity pants every– my old army maternity BDU’s.


First off, these sweet pants have pockets, a rare thing for maternity pants.  Second of all, they stay where they are supposed to stay and do not require constant pulling back up when I am hiking, walking, and moving around.  A second rare thing for maternity pants.  Thirdly, they are very comfortable and fit me perfectly, something I have never encountered elsewhere in maternity pants.

I don’t wear them very often outside my house, because cammo isn’t really my style.  But I knew they would be the hands down best choice for this hike.  I have a dark brown maternity shirt that is about the color of those old army t-shirts and I was feeling like a fashion genius in my hiking boots, brown shirt, cammo pants, and pig tails.



The DH seemed a little like he didn’t love my look, which is funny to me since he loves his own uniform so much.


As we were on our way back down the mountain, we passed a family who were just starting.  The father and son were a little ahead and hiking in pretty normal, adequate hiking clothes.  Behind them came the mom and little daughter.  The mom and daughter were blinged out for a trip to the mall.  Jewelry, cute hoodies, and sparkly manicures to match their sparkly flip flops.  As I passed them, I was thinking to myself maybe I should have worn some makeup or something a little more girly–perhaps I had gone too far to the practical side in my choice of ensemble for the day

About 5 minutes later, I wanted to go back and warn that mom and little girl that there was no way they could make it up the mountain in flip flops.  The flip flops would rip apart on those rocks and they would end up having to walk the rest of the way bare foot.  I wondered if they had actually planned this hike, or if they had just been driving by and were like, “Hey, look, the highest point in Minnesota, let’s hike it.  Sounds quirky and fun.”  I really have no idea what they were thinking, and women who are that sparkly are very intimidating to me for some reason, so I didn’t go back.  (Plus I was ready for the hike to be over and didn’t really want to add to my fatigue just to go back and try to talk sense to someone who thought hiking a mountain in flip flops was a good idea.)


To be fair, we have been on 4 high points that would be doable in flip flips:  Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Michigan.  It is possible that there are several out east that would also fit in this category.  So maybe that family was from one of those states.

After our hike, we went back to camp and ate something yummy and easy to cook, possibly it was Spinach Parmesan PastaRoni and fried Zucchini.

Then we went drove a little ways down from our campsite to the shore of Lake Superior and relaxed and let the kids play for as long as they wanted.

Baby Dumpling thought it was hilarious every time someone threw a rock into the water

Baby Dumpling thought it was hilarious every time someone threw a rock into the water

Blueberry Pie

Blueberry Pie

Pumpkin Pie finds a perfect rock.

Pumpkin Pie finds a perfect rock.

Cutie Pie cannot possibly narrow her collection down to one perfect rock.

Cutie Pie cannot possibly narrow her collection down to one perfect rock.

Tamale Pie posing for the camera.

Tamale Pie posing for the camera.


Baby Dumpling tries out rock throwing.

Baby Dumpling tries out rock throwing.

DH has as much fun as the kiddie pies.

DH has as much fun as the kiddie pies.

I found this friendly little leech attached to Pumpkin Pie's pinky toe.  After she was done freaking out and able to stand still, I pulled him off.  Blueberry Pie and Cutie Pie went immediately into the water and got their own friendly leeches on purpose.  After pulling the third leech off Cutie Pie, I announced that I would not remove any more leeches, so they had better not "catch" any more.  Pumpkin Pie remained grossed out by the leeches for the entire trip.  A point that Blueberry Pie capitalized on by "just happening" to mention the word leech constantly.

I found this friendly little leech attached to Pumpkin Pie’s pinky toe. After she was done freaking out and able to stand still, I pulled him off. Blueberry Pie and Cutie Pie went immediately into the water and got their own friendly leeches on purpose. After pulling the third leech off Cutie Pie, I announced that I would not remove any more leeches, so they had better not “catch” any more. Pumpkin Pie remained grossed out by the leeches for the entire trip. A point that Blueberry Pie capitalized on by “just happening” to mention the word leech constantly.

Cherry Pie shows the perfect skipping rock she has found.

Cherry Pie shows the perfect skipping rock she has found.

We finished off the day with hot cocoa around the campfire.  It was a good day.

South Dakota camping style: Part 5, Harney Peak

2 Aug
Wednesday we started out early for Harney Peak.  We wanted to be well on our way to the top before the day got too hot.  We knew that hiking with all the kids would make us slower.  Harney Peak is the high point of South Dakota and the highest peek between the Rocky Mountains and the Pyrenees.  It is 3.5 miles to the top, but the elevation gain is only about 1000 feet, so most of the trail is not too steep.
Ben started out carrying Baby Dumpling in the baby pack; the rest of us had to hike on our own 2 feet.  Right from the get go, Cutie Pie did not want to hike.  “My legs are broken,” she told me.  Luckily, my trekking pole collapses down to just the right length for a small 3 year old.  I told her she could be the leader and she cheered up.
She got frustrated when the other kids refused to hike slowly behind her.  I used Aunt Katie’s trick of super powers next.
“Cutie Pie, how will we get to the next rock?  Lets use our Super Dinosaur Power/Super Running Power/Super Star Power/Super Butt Wiggle Power/Super Pooh Bear Jumping Power”  That got us a good deal further along the trail.

The views were spectacular along the way.  My photography skills don’t do it justice.
Blueberry Pie offered to carry Cutie Pie and she let him for 100-200 yards. Then I produced apples from my pack.
I promised her that if she would walk all the way up, I would carry her all the way down.
She would go for a bit and then say, “Momma, I just want you to carry me.”
We pretended to be baby ponies. I distracted her by having her tell me what ponies eat.  I told her I knew a story about a pony named Rocket and I told her Grandpa’s story of Whitey & Mimi for the first time.  She loved it.  In this way, we got to the marker for 1 1/2 miles.  We had fallen pretty far behind the others, but they were waiting for us there.  She was excited to be caught up and went a bit further on her own.  Then she just stopped in the middle of the trail.
“You just go, Mommy,” she said, motioning me on with her hand.  This was different from the whining and fussing of before.
“I won’t leave you here all alone,” I said encouragingly. “Come on with me.”
She sighed and took 2 more steps and then stopped again.  “You just go, Mommy.”  That squeezed my heart, so I picked her up and tied her on my back with my baby carrier and carried her the rest of the 2 miles up the Mountain.  She fell asleep almost instantly, so I think she really had walked as far as she could go.
Just before the peak, there is a huge flight of stairs.  We had planned to eat lunch on the summit, but stopped at the base of the stairs instead.  Baby Dumpling was getting fussy and so were the other kids.  I broke out a package of chips to go with our sandwiches.  Nacho Cheese flavored tortilla chips are good for troop morale.
 Luckily, Cutie Pie was willing to climb up the stairs herself.  I’m not sure I could have carried her.  They were not as steep as the ones in this picture.  This is inside the Fire Tower. 
 Lucky for me, Cutie Pie was excited to get to the Princess Castle on top of the Mountain.
When we got to the top, 5 children were miraculously recovered from fatigue and went scampering about like mountain goats, climbing all over the granite boulders.
I alternately prayed for their deliverance from death  and begged out loud for them to come down.  (I’m not exaggerating.)
   I think that maybe on some of the higher peaks, I’ll stop just short of the summit.
 I’m not sure the view is enough to compensate for the sharp pain of fear that goes crushing through me when I am up so high. 

 Even from the complete safety of the stone walled fire tower, I was only barely able to keep myself from dropping to my hands and knees when I looked out over the Black Hills from 7,242 feet above sea level.
I know I look all calm here, but it is only a facade.
 I didn’t know this, but chipmunks live at the top of mountains, and there were about 100 running around and climbing the boulders with my kids.
I started to feel better about the whole being higher than anything else I could see feeling and then Cherry Pie started balance beam walking along the cliff side edges of the boulders again.   I finally sat down with Baby Dumpling and leaned against a boulder and covered my eyes and told myself that if they all died, there was nothing I could do about it.
Picture Ben took while I was cowering on the ground .
I stayed there until Ben was done exploring and ready to take us all down again.
We switched things up on the way down.  Ben put the 3-year-old  in the baby pack, and I tied the 6-month-old onto me and down we went.  My trekking poles were great.  Besides helping me keep my balance down the mountain, I loaned them to various kids several times to motivate them to keep going.
By the end, all our feet hurt and we were all tired.   The 12-year-old is the only kid who never complained about being too tired or that his feet hurt.  The girls who were sure they couldn’t take another step were soon running about again as if they had done nothing all day.  The grownups to IB Profin and sat in our camp chairs like lumps.
For dinner I warmed up 2 cans of chili and we had Frito Pie.  Gotta love that propane stove. 

South Dakota, Camping Style, Part 4: Crazy Horse

2 Aug

Tuesday was the day we had planned our big hike up to the top of Harney Peak, but the 6-year-old came down with flu Monday afternoon, so we postponed the hike for Wednesday and instead we went to see Crazy Horse.  It was very hot, so I was glad we weren’t hiking.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is a mountain carving like Mt. Rushmore and was begun about the time Rushmore was being finished up.  (Actually, the artist who planned the sculpture for Rushmore –Gutzon Borglum–planned for the presidents to be carved down to their waists, but the government cut off funding and stopped the project in 1941.

Crazy Horse began because several Lakota Chiefs went to Korczak Ziolkowski and asked him to create a monument in their Sacred Black Hills.  After he began the project, the government offered several times to fund it, but Ziolkowski refused because he believed first that it should be a endeavor by people and second that the government would not finish the project.

“My lands are where my dead lie buried.”

Ben took this photo 2 years ago when he was in South Dakota for AT

 It is a much bigger carving than Mt. Rushmore, in fact, all of the Rushmore carving would fit in Crazy Horse’s head.

I was so inspired by the history behind the monument, and the video we watch of Korczak speaking about his work moved me to tears.  He said, ” “When the legends die, the dreams end; when the dreams end, there is no more greatness.”

Here is a good article about the mountain.

Beneath the mountain is also a museum of Native American artifacts.  We spent a good long time seeing everything.  Maybe too long, because when we finally returned to the car, we were all tired and hungry and cranky.  We had lunch (PB&J) and moved to our new campground.  This one was right by the highway, so we were disappointed at first, but then we discovered the beautiful shower house across the street.  Ah to be clean is so good!  

Also, despite being right next to the highway, we saw more wildlife here than anywhere else.  Squirrels kept scolding us from the trees and there were minnows in the little stream running by.  Yellow Jackets kept flying around our table and I became convinced that their nest was in the metal tubing.  Ben and a nice old park worker stuffed paper towels in the ends of the tubing and we had much fewer yellow jackets after that, although Cherry Pie did get stung. 

This guy quietly passed by our picnic table as we were eating lunch Wednesday.

After lunch, we took the kids swimming at Sylvan Lake which was much cleaner and prettier than Sheridan Lake.  It was also very much crowded and the water was cold! 

For dinner I warmed roast beef and browned bell peppers & onions and we had hot roast beef sandwiches and watermellon.  When the roast beef ran out, I toasted the remaining bread & cheese.  Another fast and tasty meal that everyone loved. 

South Dakota, camping style, Part 3: In which I will not mention toilets.

2 Aug

Monday morning, we drove the scenic Needles Loop Highway and looked at the beautiful granite outcroppings and pine trees.  On a whim, we stopped at a lookout and saw this:

The Needle’s Eye

 The kids had a great time scrambling and climbing on the rocks.

Cherry Pie is a fearless climber.
Even Baby Dumpling got excited about climbing.
Pumpkin Pie
Tamale Pie
Blueberry Pie used to be so cautious when he was 2.  What happened?
Rock Monkeys

We had to go through 3 tunnels like this one.  I held my breath for extra skinniness the whole time.  Didn’t you know holding your breath makes you skinnier? 

I felt like the Knight Bus in Harry Potter.
We had planned on touring Wind Cave, but we should have checked before driving all the way there, because it was closed due to prairie fires.  Instead we went swimming all afternoon in Sheridan Lake.  The water was pretty green smelling, but the sandy beach was nice and green water is better than no water when you haven’t showered in 2 days.
For lunch we had PB&J and pretzels with nutella.  Everybody liked that.  For dinner I made a rice & hamburger & tomatoes & cheese thing all in the frying pan.  It tasted fine, I thought, but the kids hated it.  Can’t win em all, I guess.

South Dakota, Camping Style, part 2: Sunday Sunday

1 Aug
We had to overcome some wardrobe malfunctions Sunday morning.  Blueberry Pie’s slacks were missing the main button, and root beer got spilled on my shirt when Ben was ironing it.  (that’s right, ladies.  The Man of this House does the ironing.) I don’t wear makeup when I’m camping so I didn’t bring any, but I wished I had some for church.  We looked a little rag-tag, but the important thing was to go.
 Sunday morning we found a meeting house.  –One nice thing about our church is that all the chapels look about the same so you can just drive around until you spot one, and it is a good bet that Sunday meetings will start at 9 a.m. But if you don’t like uncertainty, you can find the address and meeting time online.  After Sacrament meeting, where we were treated to an excellent talk about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, we reassured each other that appreciating God’s creations with your family was OK for a Sunday activity and we headed for Custer State park to find our campsite.
Dinosaur Park in Rapids City
We set up camp near Sheridan Lake, in the midst of hundreds of Ponderosa Pine Trees.  I’ve always loved how they seem to be reaching towards Heaven–so straight and tall.
Normally when we camp, I do most of the cooking in a dutch oven.  I like this because I can basically throw all the ingredients in and leave it for 45 minutes-1 hour and viola! Dinner.  However, South Dakota was under a burn ban so we couldn’t cook with firewood or charcoal; only gas stoves on a hard surface were allowed.  For lunch we ate Taco Salad.  I precooked the hamburger at home and vacuum sealed it.  So when we got to camp, I broke out the propane stove and we had taco salad in the time it takes to heat a can of refried beans.  There are pros to gas cooking and speed is #1.
After lunch we drove through the beautiful Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore. 
Blueberry Pie wants his face carved on a mountain someday.
It was fun to go through the little museum and learn how rock was removed from the mountain.  There was also a slide show of pictures of the mountain taken at different times of day and in different seasons.  George Washington looks especially distinguished with snow in his hair.
As you can see, we had plenty of cheese.
Also, plenty of energy.  (And don’t miss Blueberry’s shuffle-step in the background.)

For dinner we had parmesan pasta (with chicken I had precooked and vacuum packed) and fresh fried zucchini.  The kids loved it!

All the kiddie pies begged to go swimming, but that’s definitely not on my Sunday appropriate activities list, so  we went for a family walk along the lake shore instead.  It was beautiful and peaceful.
I tried out the new trekking poles that the Man of the House had insisted on buying for me.  I was skeptical about carrying something extra around to trip myself with, but when I tried them, I could quickly tell that they were improving my balance.  It was a lovely walk.  After it got too dark to see, we went to bed– with no showers because there was no plumbing at this campground.  Only pit toilets for bathrooms and a spigot down the path for getting water.  The girls made the mistake of being curious about what is in a pit toilet and looking down there.  I think they learned the valuable lesson that ignorance is bliss.
Holy Cow! I just realized I’m talking about toilets on my blog again.