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Memorial Weekend – Day 5

Day 1, Day 2, Day 2 Part Deux, Day 3, Day 4

It was finally time to leave. We got up and headed down to the pool for one last harrah, then the kids got showered and hung out in G’ma and G’pa’s room while Hubby and I packed everything. My brother and SIL met us at the hotel and we went to Godfather’s for lunch. It’s a requirement of Hubby’s – to get taco pizza at Godfather’s when we get the chance . . . it’s his favorite and we don’t have Godfather’s here! It was totally yummy :-)

Then we were off – headed home. We took a different way home – it was very uneventful! Well, except for when we had to pull over so Princess could throw up . . . twice. Poor thing :-(

I do have to brag on my kids a little bit . . . they are SUCH good travellers! They spent countless hours in the car driving to and from The Black Hills . . . they spend hours in the car sightseeing . . . they spent time just hanging out while the adults did some things . . . and they never complained. I’m so glad that they are so easy to take places . . . it makes it so much fun to go on family trips :-)

I hope you all had a great weekend like we did!

Memorial Weekend – Day 4

Day 1, Day 2, Day 2 Part Deux, Day 3

Day 4 was another rainy day, with cold temps. added in! But, with my family there is never a dull moment :-) We met G’ma and G’pa in the hotel parking lot and drove through Bear Country. It’s expensive, but it’s fun to see the bears . . . and we’d really done well not spending money up until then, so we went for it. We saw Elk, beautiful white wolves, reindeer, mountain goats, timberwolves, and of course bears, bears, and more bears! We even got to see 5 timberwolves congregate on top of a hill and then rush a bear and chase it around!

J and K with Bear

Bears Fighting

Bear Scratching Back

After that, we headed to the hotel for some MUCH needed naps. Then we all met up again and played games and had drinks and dinner in the common room at the hotel. There weren’t really any other people in the hotel since most of them had gone home since it was Memorial Day, so we had the place to ourselves. We played games for hours and laughed and had a great time. It was definitely a great ending to the vacation – just spending time with the family before we all went our separate ways.

Memorial Weekend – Day 3

Day 1, Day 2, Day 2 Part Deux

Day 3 was BEAUTIFUL! It was actually the only day that it didn’t rain. My brother and SIL, my SIL’s sister and her husband, and two other of their friends met us and G’ma and G’pa at the hotel and we all headed out for a day of fun and sightseeing. We started off with a stop at Reptile Gardens. Grandpa insisted on going here and it was fun :-) We saw all kinds of yucky snakes and other fun reptiles like giant tortoises as well as prairie dogs. We also watched a snake show and got to see real live poisonous snakes – the rattlesnake rattle was cool! I live where there are rattlesnakes and, thankfully, I’ve never seen or heard one. At least now I know what it sounds like if we encounter one hiking!

J K in Snake at Reptile Gardens

J K Tortois

After Reptile Gardens we headed to Keystone for a yummola lunch. Then we rode the chairlift to the top of The President’s Slide. We walked around and enjoyed the scenery before heading down on the alpine slide, which was fun! Jason rode with me and wanted to be in charge of the speed . . . I almost wished he couldn’t read because then we wouldn’t have gone at a snail’s pace every time he saw a sign that said slow down, sharp curves 😉 Here we are at the top – if you look in the upper left corner, you can see The Heads in that rock.

Family Heads Background

We drove by The Heads on our way to Custer State Park. I still think Mt. Rushmore is absolutely amazing.

Mt. Rushmore

We had an EXCELLENT adventure on the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. The kids rode with G’ma and G’pa all day (oh ya . . . that was AWESOME! Hubby and I had a kid-free ride all – day – long!). Right when we got into the park we saw the hugest herd of buffalo. We had to wait for 45 minutes for them all to cross the road. There were so many babies with them that we had to wait extra long before leaving because my brother and SIL, and the other 4 people that were with us were on motorcycles. The mommies are very protective of their babies, so they couldn’t start the bikes because they are loud and might startle the moms. A couple years ago a guy was killed when he started his bike and startled a mom – she threw him off the bike!!! Here are the kids checking out the herd through G’ma and G’pa’s sunroof – they thought it was the coolest thing 😉

J K Sunroof Tatanka

We also saw some burrows . . . Diana got off of her bike and gave the kids some food to feed the burrows – they of course thought that was really cool as well.

J K Feed Burrow

After that we saw a ton of pronghorn and some rabbits as well as some fox. We headed back to Diana and Brad’s house (SIL’s sister) for a BBQ and had a wonderful relaxing evening. We made the most of this day because they were forecasting nothing but rain for Day 4!

Memorial Weekend – Day 2 Part Deux

On day 1 we got to drive for 8 hours.

On day 2, it rained in the morning and we hung out at the pool.

On day 2, after a couple hours in the pool, the sun came out, so we went out to explore! We had a great time! We started out at Storybook Island . . . a free park. How fun!

J K Humpty Dumpty

J K Swing Gorilla

K Drink Lion

J K Dr. Seuss

Mom K Aladdin

J K Pinocchio

After a great time at Storybook Island, we went to get a quick bite for lunch, even though we had ice cream at the park already 😉 After that, we drove up a hill to check out a huge dinosaur sculpture we’d seen while eating lunch. Turns out there’s a whole dinosaur park up there! And it’s FREE!!! So far so good on not spending moolah . . . and we’re having a great time!

J K Dino

J K Run T Rex

After a late night driving last night and getting up early this a.m. and having all this FREE fun, Princess was getting tired. So we decided to drive to see The Heads while she took a nap in the car. We didn’t stop to see the heads because it was raining . . . and we’d been there just a few years before . . . and really, you can see everything from the road that you can see from in the park. So we stopped at a profile pull out so Hubby could tell George that he had a bat in the cave . . .

D George

After that, we decided to continue on to check out the Crazy Horse Monument and see how much progress they’d made in the past 3 years. They’ve made a lot of progress . . . although it’s tough to tell since it’s so friggin’ huge! Did you know that when the monument is finished, The Heads will fit on the nose of the horse? That’s how huge this thing is! Anyway, when we got to the monument, we weren’t actually going to go in, but when you turn on the road, there’s no U-turn. So we got to the gate, disappointed that our FREE day of entertainment would be “spoiled” with the $25 entrance fee per car. Turns out, our car has the correct license plates. No kidding! The guy at the ticket gate said “Hey. Looks like you’re from X! Are you sure you’re from X?” Yes. “Excellent. Well, today we’re letting people from X as well as 4 other states in to the monument for free. All we ask is for a small donation to the food shelf.” Um, cool! So we hand over $10, he gives us a ticket that says “Free” on it and away we go. We’re figuring that it’s just “free” day for everyone. But when we get to where you give them your ticket, there are actually lots of regular paid tickets and only a few “free” ones – so it was actually true! Cool! Anyway – the monument is so cool . . . totally worth it if for no other reason than to marvel at the detail and sheer size of the thing. As we left, Dude asked if we could come back to see it when it was finished. I told him that we’d come back, but unfortunately none of us would ever see it finished. I said his grandkids might see it finished. I explained how it had taken over 50 years to get it this far, and that they had so much work left to do. It actually made me really sad to think that I would never get the opportunity to see this beautifully monument finished. I just hope that in 80 years my kids will make the journey back to see how far it has come.

We headed back to town, stopping to let mountain goats cross the road. We met Noisy Grandma and Monster Grandpa at the hotel for some dinner and dice playing. Hubby took the kids back to our hotel (right across the parking lot) to get ready for bed while I stayed and talked to Mom and Brother to make plans for tomorrow. All of a sudden, my mom screams and jumps onto the coffee table. Turns out there was a MOUSE in their room! No kidding!!! So I called the front desk and they immediately moved them to another room. No small task considering how my mother packs for a 4 day trip (I love you Mom!!!) :-)

Heading to bed early to prepare for a fun day tomorrow with Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Pat, Aunt Dawn, and Aunt Dawn’s sister and BIL :-)

I sure hope you’re all having a great holiday weekend like we are!

Memorial Weekend – Day 2

Day 1

The weather forecast was icky . . . and we were a little bored to start the day.

Dan Hand Puppet

So we headed down to the pool first thing in the morning while it rained. Turns out, the hotel pool has a water slide! What fun!!!

Mom and Keira on Slide

Dad and Jason Waterslide

Keira and Jason Water Slide

Keira and Jason Water Slide

Keira Water Slide

Then the sun came out . . . check here to see what we did next!

Splish Splash!

The 3rd Installment of our weekend on the move.

Getting ready to head into the waterpark! They could NOT contain themselves. We only had about 30 minutes before we had to leave for the baseball game, so they got as much fun in as they could :-)

 Heading in to the Park

This huge play structure was cool! All kinds of fun water surprises. See the bucket on top? It holds about 1000 gallons of water – and periodically dumps that water onto anyone standing below it.

 The Water Play Structure

Here they are waiting for the water.

Waiting for the Water 

Here it comes!!!

Here Comes the Water 

I swear, they’re under there somewhere! That’s a LOT of water!

Lost In The Water 

Warming up in the hot tub after getting all that cool water dumped on them. They LOVED the hot tub. It was for kids, so not too hot. Only 3 feet deep and they had a blast!

In The Hot Tub

Dude relaxes with a snack. I keep telling him he needs to loosen up his goggles, but he refuses 😉

Jason Drink Goggle Marks

Keira got one last picture with the bear on her way out of the waterpark before we headed to the airport.

Keira with the Bear

We had a wonderful time on our trip – it was worth the time and the money :-) We had a great time on all the waterslides, in the wave pool, and playing in all the other water. I highly recommend it for anyone with kids of all ages.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

A fun time was had by all . . .

J K At Game

We are Twins fans!!!

 

J K Watch Game

I remember listening to The Twins games on the radio with my Dad every evening in the summer while we were out camping. I can still hear that voice on the radio. I hope my kids love summer baseball as much as I did and still do.

 

The Game

Actual real live baseball players – just to prove that we were there :-)

 

See Food

What’s a baseball game without cotton candy and see food with your friends?

 

Fireworks

This was an unexpected treat after the game. How fun!

What I Learned On Date Night

The kids went to a friends house for a sleepover on Friday for our April Kid Swap. We boarded Duma for the night (she can’t be home along that long – and we left at 4:30 p.m. and werne’t getting home until after 11:00 p.m.). So, Dan and I had a date night – complete with a movie and drink afterward.

I learned that . . .

  • Not all movies have characters that are animated.
  • They make movies with characters named real things, such as Ben and Jill, instead of Horton and Bob The Tomato.
  • Movies actually start after 6:00 p.m.! Who knew?!
  • At 5′ 2″ I was one of the shortest people in the whole theater after 7:00 p.m.
  • High school kids have a lot of fun on the weekend. For a minute I thought wow, they’re so immature – I hope my son doesn’t act like that. Then I thought, ya know what, I hope he DOES act like that when he’s 15 and 16 and 17. That’s what kids are supposed to do – laugh and giggle and have fun with each other. I hope he still remembers his manners, but I sure hope he has as much fun as these kids were having.
  • Newborns can sleep through anything.
  • Chili’s closes at 10:30 p.m. Not enough time to get there for a drink after a movie.
  • Texas Roadhouse closes at 11:00 p.m. Plenty of time to get there for a drink after a movie!
  • You can go to bed at 1:00 a.m. when you don’t have to get up at 7:00 a.m.
  • You can get a lot more done in the morning, like scheduling camping trips and trips to Orlando and Rapid City, when the kids aren’t around and the dog isn’t begging to go out every 10 minutes.
  • We still like spending time together alone, even though our kids are always our priority.
  • Couples NEED to spend time without their kids, even though we love our life with the kids and our new puppy and wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What did you do on your last date night?

Convenience Fee

My son was born in the year 2000. As it turned out, the Harlem Globetrotters thought it would be a great idea to offer every kid born in the year 2000 free admission to their games for life! One free game a year for life – of course we signed him up and got the free pass card :-)

Finally, 7 1/2 years later, the Globetrotters are coming to our town on a weekend when we’re actually going to be here. So we figured we might as well go ahead and go – Dude’s ticket is free afterall.

So I call the number to get tickets. I tell them I have this wonderful pass, and they explain that I can only use the pass if I purchase tickets at the venue ticket window. What (pause for dramatic effect) EVER!

The next Saturday we all gather in the car and drive 28 miles to the venue ticket window. The lady is super nice and super helpful . . . except she has no idea what we’re talking about with this pass. And since the computer doesn’t say anything about it, well she just can’t do anything about it. But, being so nice as she was, she did call her manager, on Saturday, and explained it to her. The manager had no clue. The Globetrotters hadn’t told them anything about this special pass. She’d have to contact the Globetrotters on Monday to check it out, and then they’d call me back.

Wednesday I get a call back saying that yes indeed, the free pass we are holding in our hands is indeed valid. They have entered the information in to the computer, so we can purchase our tickets. But not over the phone . . . we still need to come to the ticket window because they need to take a photo copy of the pass. What (pause for dramatic effect) EVER!

So the next Saturday, we load everyone into the car and drive the 28 miles (up hill) to the ticket window at the venue. The computer freezes and she can’t do anything until she calls her IT guy up “from downstairs” (it’s a hockey rink . . . we’re on cement on the ground floor . . . where the hell is ‘downstairs’?!). We wait 15 minutes at the ticket window, which is just long enough for Princess to see the billboard advertising Princess on Ice or something similar and start BEGGING to go. I explain that we only do one “show” a year, and this year it’s The Globetrotters. Princess crosses her arms, softly stomps a foot, and says “Hmph! I don’t even LIKE football!” Um, honey? It’s not football . . . it’s basketball. Anyhoo, IT guy comes upstairs, gets the security guard to open the door to the ticket window office, waves his magic wand, and the computer is working. We purchase tickets for the 2 adults and the Princess – woo hoo – and get the free “Baby 2000” ticket for Dude. I sign my life away to pay for them (not really, it wasn’t even $60 for the 3 of them) and we head out to the car to drive the 28 miles back home, up hill with a strong head wind.

Hubby is checking out the tickets and lets out a snort that could challenge any one of the 4 hippos at the zoo. I give him the “What?” look and he says “They charged us a $2 convenience fee for each ticket. What the hell was so convenient about getting these friggin’ tickets?!”

Boarding with the Peacock

I have no idea why two mid-30-something-year olds decided it would be a good idea to take snowboarding lessons, but we did it! We loaded up the Jeep and the kids and headed to the mountains last Wednesday evening to hang out in a hotel before our big day. Keira was beside herself with excitement and just HAD to try on her helmet and goggles in the hotel room – while wearing purple heart footie jammies :-)

Keira in Hotel

After a completely restless night of sleep in a tiny bed in a tiny hotel room with a loud and very crappy heater, we all got up bright and early Thursday a.m. to get ready, eat breakfast, and head to the slopes. Jason and Keira KILL me! They both HAD to wear their helmets and goggles in the Jeep “for safety” as they said 😉 It WAS snowing afterall, and you never know what could happen 😉

Jason and Keira in Jeep

I must say that Breckenridge has the BEST setup for families. We called them and asked where the best place to park would be, and they led us to a lot right across the street from The Village. We walked right in, dropped, the kids off with their instructors, and were off to our lesson. The weather was BEAUTIFUL! It was cloudy and snowing, but really, what can you expect up in the mountains? Here are Dan and I waiting for our instructor, Matt Peacock to show up :-)

Jodie and Dan with Boards

I must say that if you ever head to Breckenridge for snowboarding lessons, definitely request Matt Peacock – he was a ton of fun and an AWESOME teacher. We certainly look ready to go, don’t we? Oh ya – we are TOTALLY bundled up – liners in our jackets, 3 layers of clothing, warm snowpants, awesome gloves, fleece gators, helmets, goggles.

After introductions, and discovering that we were by far the oldest people in class (the closest ones were maybe 21 years old . . . the youngest was 14!) we were off to the mountain! We practiced skating first so we could actually get on the lift. Getting on a 6 person lift your first time on a board is a bit of a challenge . . . but not quite as challenging as getting OFF the lift! You can’t skate off because you’ll run into the person next to you; you can’t fall because, well, there’s another chair full of people right behind you waiting to get off – and besides that, the lifties think it’s quite humorous to see the first-timers bite it 😉 We DID get off without incident – woo hoo! And headed over to the slope reserved just for snowboarding lessons. How fun! There’s awesome music playing (Green Day – one of my favs!) and the slope is perfect. Here I am learning how to stand up on the snowboard. Think it’s easy? HAHAHAHA! Try again! All I’ve got to say is that I will NEVER have to go to the gym again. All I’m gonna do is strap my feet to a board, sit down, and try to stand up – over and over and over and over. Damn that’s good for the legs and the triceps! But bad for the butt until you figure it out 😉 A little tip – bend your friggin’ knees! Here’s me falling back onto my rear because I didn’t bend my knees:

Jodie Fall Butt

Notice how my hands are nowhere near the ground? Um ya . . . that’s good for the wrists, but NOT so good for the rear! OUCH! 3 days later and I STILL can’t sit!

After figuring out how to stand up and traverse down the hill, you get the privilege of riding the rope back up to the top. Here I am – making it look easy!

Jodie on Rope

But lo and behold, it is NOT easy! First you have to skate fast enough NEXT to the rope to be going as fast as the rope, or a little bit faster. Then you have to grab on to said rope and hold on tight while trying to keep your board straight, with only one foot strapped in. Then you have to make sure to hold the rope up high enough so others can grab on. Then, when someone else grabs on and falls, you have to hold on really tight because they pull the rope down with them, which means YOU go down with them. The lucky few can remain standing during this ordeal – I was not one of the lucky few. Face plant! I did manage to make it up the entire hill on the rope a few times – which I must say is much better than unstrapping and hiking up the hill at 10,000 feet! Oh, and remember all those clothes we were wearing? BIG mistake! Damn we were hot! At lunch I shed a layer of clothing, my coat liner, and my gloves.

While we were practicing, we saw our littlest on the same practice hill. It was pretty cool to see her on the mountian with us! She’s only 5, so she’s in a class with only 2 other kids . . . it’s spendy, but they get a whole day of pretty much private lessons, which is good for ’em. They also do quite a bit of playing so they don’t hate the mountain their first time out 😉 Here she is using her powers to convince Steve, her instructor, that she needed to hold his hand.

Keira Hold Steve Hand

Silly boys . . . he didn’t know any better and complied with pretty much her every wish :-) Including when she used her Princess powers to convince him that she couldn’t POSSIBLY carry her own board!

Keira Steve

Hey, if she can get away with it, who am I to say anything? 😉

Our class was doing so well that we actually got to board down the green run twice after lunch! It was a ton of fun . . . and a BOATLOAD of work! OMG! We did get proof that we actually succeeded . . . here’s Dan :-)

Dan Boarding

And here’s me:

Jodie Boarding

I look happy don’t I! That’s cuz we went down as a group the first time and took it nice and slow. After going up the lift again (we were MUCH better at skating by now!) we were kinda on our own to get down the hill practicing. Yeah . . . about 3 minutes after starting I was PISSED! You see, when you’re 35, overweight, and out of shape, your legs tend to get tired after 4 hours of snowboarding . . . and do you know what happens when your legs get tired while you’re practicing connecting your turns on a snowboard? You forget to be patient and let the board to the work . . . and you forget to bend your knees . . . and you catch your heel side edge on the snow and FLY to the snow onto your ass at mach 1 without any time to react! Of course this means that your behind takes a beating, as does your neck and shoulders from getting WHIPLASH from the crazy fall (no, I didn’t actually get whiplash – but thank heaven for helmets!). And then you have to lay there cursing and cursing at yourself and this “stupid friggin’ sport” while some little shits on the lift above you whoop and hollar and tell you the spectacular wipe out earned you an 8 1/2 on their entertainment scale! Then you get up and try again . . . and start feelin’ good about yourself cuz you’ve connected some turns and all is well. Then you catch that heel side edge AGAIN and fall with such force that you think you might actually cause an avalanche! Then you get up lather, rinse, and repeat. And to make you feel oh so much better, while you’re laying there cursing this damned sport and wondering what the hell you were thinking, you hear this teeny tiny little voice yelling “Hi Mommy! Look at my S turns!” Then you look up, scrape the snow off your goggles, and see this . . .

Jason Boarding

Your 7-year playing follow-the-leader with his instructor – both of them zipping down the hill at mach 1 with absolutely no fear, connecting their turns with ease. Of course I did what any pissed off mother strapped to a piece of fiberglass would do – I reached in my jacket pocket and got out my camera :-)

I must admit that I did NOT make it down the whole hill the second time. After some more great turns and 4 more spectacular wipe outs, my vision was actually a little fuzzy – like that periferal fuzzy you get when a migraine is coming on. So I unstrapped and walked down the last 1/4 of the mountain. Figured it was best for everyone if I didn’t try to board down the rest of the way totally out of control. Besides, at the end of the day, all the other beginners, including the little shits on skis and boards, are heading down, and I really didn’t want to flatten a 5-year old.

We all made it to the bottom, thanked and tipped our WONDERFUL instructors (really, all 3 of my family’s instructors were totally awesome!) and headed home. Here are our used up boards by the Jeep before we left the mountain – Keira’s was just so tiny and cute!

Boards

Her board was also snowless 😉 The results of our day? Keira’s leg muscles aren’t quite developed enough to actually get in to boarding . . . but she did well on her toe side and did have a lot of fun, which was our goal for her – to get our littlest out on the mountain and liking it. Jason got lucky and had his instructor almost all to himself! He’s in the 7-13 year old group, which can have up to 10 kids in it. But since it was a weekday, he had his instructor to himself for the first hour, and then another boy joined them. So it was a very small class, which meant they got lots of personalized instruction. The result? Jason passed levels 2 and 3! He’s now a level 4 boarder when we go back for our next lessons (there are 9 levels for lessons). Me and Dan? We had a GREAT time – a great anniversary – a great day – a great experience – definitely worth the money. We both passed levels 1 and 2 and will be in level 3 when we take our next lesson.

About Friday? Well, we both woke up a “little” sore – HAHAHAHAHA!!! My butt still hurt, my triceps were killing me from constantly pushing myself up on to the board (which yes, I did figure out how to do after lunch!), my neck and shoulders hurt from crashing to Earth. But really, what can you expect when you’re 35 and decide to take up a new sport?

We loved it . . . we had fun . . . we’ll definitely be going back!