Vacation – Part Two

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Wyoming Landscape

There are days when it feels like you are hours behind before you even get started on the tasks for the day. Today was such a day….Actually the last weeks seems to be running in that same vein.

I finally had time to start mowing the lawn again. It was about 5 days past due, so the grass kind of blew out of the mower in clumps. I do have to admit that pushing a lawn mower is not only a great workout, but it is also a great time for thinking.

As I mowed I did think about playing the chore catch up game and how that ties in with having been on a vacation. Do not get me wrong…I LOVE vacations. For some reason it just seems that the time spent preparing for them is a lot funner than the time spent catching up from taking them. At least when preparing for a vacation there is the anticipation.

I did a bit of pondering on how I prepare and how my husband prepares. My husband usually makes sure to take tools for any mechanical issue that might happen. I am thinking a plier, hammer, and a few other things are probably good. (Pretty sure I am wrong on that one!)

I tend to worry about having enough clothing for every weather event….food for any possibility…and everything that falls in between. If my husband was in charge of packing he would walk out the door with a plastic grocery bag containing a change of underwear and a clean shirt, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a towel.

He would also make sure to pack the Johnny Horton CD so he could belt out the favorite family traveling song, “North to Alaska” while traveling west.

I did pack lighter for our last vacation as I knew we could wash clothes before my husband and I went on the second half of vacation. I call it the second half because our children left on a Sunday to head home and we stayed a few days longer.

We pulled our camper further north (I guess we do head North occasionally) toward Deadwood and Spearfish. We decided we would again do dispersed camping. We found out about this a couple years ago and really liked it.

The national forestry has Motor Vehicle Use Maps that are available and those maps show where you can camp for free.  Of course you are on your own…no water…no electric. You also often camp on a logging road. It did make it interesting watching the trucks go past with all those logs.

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Bridal Veil Falls 

On the second half of our vacation we spent time driving through Spearfish Canyon, It is a beautiful drive any time of the year. Bridal Veil falls is always beautiful and the water in the stream is always cold enough to make your feet go numb if you choose to wade in it to cool off. We had thought of hiking to a place called the Devil’s Bathtub to swim; but after freezing our feet we were reluctant to freeze our entire body.

Time was spent in Deadwood watching the reenactment of the shooting of Wild Bill by Jack McCall. There is a lot of history in those towns that are in the Black Hills.

We also decided we needed to do a day trip to Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. It had been 25 years since we had been there and it did not disappoint. (We also decided that at our age we probably should not wait 25 years again before we go see stuff!) As we hiked around the tower we ended up talking to a couple who were there with their 10 year old grandson.

We found out how small this world really is…..they were the in-laws of a gal who was raised in the same town as us and had attended the same church as us!

Our entire week of vacation…with our kids and with just the two of us was a wonderful time of reconnecting. It was great, to just spend time and be together.

My husband I have come to realize that time and vacations spent with those you love are well worth the investment. At the end of the day; or the end of a life; it does not matter how much money you made. It does not matter what position you held in the company. It does not matter if you never missed a day of work…..what matters is the relationships you leave behind and the legacy that is your family and friends.

“Nobody ever has,
“He was a good worker”

written on his tombstone.”
John S. (aka~my dad)

 

 

 

Family Vacation

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Perfect Start To a Wonderful Vacation

It doesn’t seem possible that two weeks ago we were preparing for our Black Hills vacation. This was going to be the first time in years that my husband and I would be vacationing with our sons….and the first time ever vacationing with our daughter-in-laws and grandchildren.

It seems like the planning, since last Christmas, went on forever. Then there was this flurry of last minute planning and then wallah…..we were on the road and heading west.

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Dignity

As we came from three different locations; we arranged to meet at Chamberlain, South Dakota for a chance to group up and walk around a bit. Two of our sons and their families met us there.  If you have never been to the rest stop at Chamberlain; you really need to put it on your list of places to stop.

There is an amazing, huge, beautiful sculpture called Dignity. It is a sculpture of a native American woman and it is wonderful.

There is also a great visitor center with hands-on activity for the kids and kids at heart.

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Grandpa and a couple grandkids

We then made our way to Wall, SD where we went through the Badlands National Park. This has always been a favorite for our family as anyone is allowed to scramble up the rocky hills…..another great place for the young and young at heart!

You do have to be a bit careful around the edges as the rock is very crumbly and some drop offs are a long long way down.

Wall Drug Backyard Splash Pad

The grandson enjoying the Wall Drug Backyard splash pad.

The day was very hot and it was a relief to cool off at Wall Drug and get our free glass of ice water. Even though it was hot, my husband had to have his nickel cup of coffee!

The grandkids all enjoyed the splash pad and ended up dripping wet. The youngest was not so sure about it once the water had shot right past his nose and landed on his head.

The next morning we met up with the middle son and his wife over a morning snack of the famous Wall Drug maple frosted donuts and that nickel cup of coffee. My husband loves to check for the day-old donuts as they are much cheaper that way! I really should have gotten a photo of those donuts….they are amazing.

We then headed on to the Hills; with a short stop at Ellsworth Air Force Base to check out the airplanes and the museum. It was a good place to let the kids run and it was easy to keep track of them all.

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Mt. Rushmore

We journeyed on to Mt. Rushmore….or as my granddaughter called them….”the Fat Heads”. They are doing a lot of reconstruction right now at the heads and we had to hike the long way round in order to get close to them. I did not make it the entire way but the rest of our bunch did.

Little Red Inn

The Little Red Inn, Custer, SD

By the time we made it to our home for the next couple days it was a relief to just relax. We stayed at a place near Custer, SD called the Little Red Inn. It really felt like home, as the decor of the place had chickens!  How perfect was that? If you need a place to stay near Custer this is a wonderful place with lots of room to run. (I did not take this photo as I forgot to take one!  This is from their website….and no….I get zero kickbacks on this.)

We also celebrated the wedding anniversaries of two of our family. They were both married in July…thirteen years apart.

IMG_6214I went with my daughter-in-law to the Dairy Queen in Custer; to find an ice cream cake for the occasion.

We could not find an anniversary one but decided this one pretty much related to being married.  After all…..marriage can be a wild ride at times!

We spent part of our evenings playing the corn hole game. We played this as couples and held a tournament. My granddaughter named our teams without our input. We found out we had teams named: The Fairies, The Unicorns, The Mermaids and The Princesses. Fortunately the guys were pretty secure in their manliness.

I managed to talk our bunch into a group photo the night before they headed for home. It was not easy with little kids but we did manage to get one. It might not be perfect…but I decided…neither are we.

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Family…..a true blessing

Our time spent with our children and grandchildren was indeed a blessing. I am not sure they realize how much those days meant to us….perhaps you have to be older to appreciate gathering and all being together, in the same place, at the same time.

It was a blessed time of making memories. It was a great time of game-playing, laughing, sight-seeing and just being together. Hopefully we can enjoy more times of the Fairies challenging the Mermaids at corn hole……

“Family is like music,
some high notes,
some low notes,
but always a beautiful song”
Unknown

 

 

Learning Something New

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This past week my husband and I learned something new. I should also mention we did not look incredibly intelligent learning this new thing.

On our way to a family gathering, we made a quick pit stop at the local Walmart to pick up a pool skimmer I had ordered online. We made our way to the Customer Service department and showed them the email I had received.

The gal at the service department asked if we had gone to the Pickup Tower. We answered that we had not; and asked where we could find this pickup tower. She pointed to the right and told us to look for the big orange tower.

Needless to say…..I am thinking my husband and I should have our eyes checked. The Pickup Tower was HUGE and had bright orange letters that boldly stated what it was. I have no idea how we missed seeing something that big and bright.

We made our way to this tower and saw a screen with instructions. It told us to scan the bar code sent in the email. We did so and had success when the next instructions told us to reach in the locker and pick up the package and make sure to shut the door when done.

My husband and I looked at each other and wandered around that big orange tower looking for an open locker door. We were greeted by smooth, metal, orange walls….no open door.

My husband then went in search of an employee. When he came back with one, she very calmly gestured to our left and said our package was in locker number 5….yes….the door was open.

Somehow we missed this entire wall of lockers to the left of the tower. I have no explanation other than we were focused on this big tower. I told the employee they should have cameras installed to video people like us…..they could win a lot of money on some candid camera type show.

We did run into a gal from our church and we asked her if she knew about the tower and the lockers. We felt a lot better when she had no clue either!

We spent the rest of our car trip to the gathering, laughing at ourselves. We also decided that old dogs could learn new tricks!  I messed up and did not get a photo of the amazing orange tower; so the picture you get, is of my pool (yes it is a pool—-kind of like an adult wading pool)….because without that pool we never would have learned this new thing!

I am going to try be very conscious of my surroundings the next time I need to venture into an unfamiliar situation. It will probably be good to make sure my eyes are wide open and I check up, down and all around. I don’t have an issue asking questions but I really do not like looking any stupider than I have too! I can do that easy enough….obviously.

It is probably good to have things like this happen….they do tend to keep a person humble…at least they keep my pride in check.  These situations also are good for a great laugh…..if you don’t mind laughing at yourself.

May you have interesting things happen to you this week. Take time to appreciate the humor in an odd situation and always remember……you are never to old to learn something new! And one more thing….Please…please share your experiences!

“Sometimes the best hiding place
is the one that’s in plain sight.”
~ Stephenie Meyer

 

 

Two Sides to Freedom

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Tonight as I went out to lock the girls in for the night I was not prepared for the beautiful orange of the western sky as it peeked between the evergreen boughs. The night was quiet with a light breeze gently moving the leaves of the flowering crab tree. It was the perfect ending to some very busy days.

The last weeks have been very busy. I have a feeling we are trying to catch up and stay ahead of things between the heavy rainstorms that we have been given. The lawn seems to be growing faster than we can get it mowed. And the weeds in the fields and garden have been doing the same.

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Arnold’s Park

In between all the day to day house/farm stuff, we had the 4th of July holiday thrown in. I really love that holiday because we spend it at my sister’s place at the lake. Family and friends gather for a day of fun, food, boat rides and game playing. Stories are traded, babies are held, recipes are traded and the day ends with the traditional firework display.

As I sat there and watched those fireworks I noticed the flag flying proudly at Arnold’s Park. It did make me pause and realize what this celebration was really all about…the birth of our nation and the sacrifice it took to make it through all the labor pains of that birth.

It made me think of the blood that was shed and is still being shed so that freedoms can be protected. I am so grateful for those that are willing to make that sacrifice for us. I am grateful for those who leave their families for months at a time so I can spend a holiday with mine.

20190705_0852451736528332.jpgWe were concerned about the weather as storms were predicted to roll in during the day….fortunately they were wrong this time. We were able to take a walk along the lake the next morning and enjoy the quiet of the lake after the very people-filled day before.

 

It was kind of amazing how quiet the water was that morning. The day before it was choppy due to all the boats and jet skis that were zipping around. It was a great reminder that there are usually two sides to most things in life…you just have to open your eyes to both of them.

In the space of 24 hours we saw both sides of the lake…the busy and the quiet. We were able to see a dazzling fireworks display and enjoy the freedom of that while reflecting on the sacrifice it takes to keep those freedoms.

I will always be grateful for those freedoms and that sacrifice. When I am privileged to stand in my backyard, inhaling the fragrance of blooming lilies, feeling the light breeze whisper past my cheek and see the sky on fire with brilliant shades of orange; I will give thanks to those who have paid the ultimate price. I will remember the two sides that are freedom.

 

Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must,
like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.

Thomas Paine

 

Friends That Feel Like Family

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Friends/Family

This past Monday, Lar and I were privileged to meet one of my blogging friends in person!  Anne (MerhlingMuse)  and her husband, John, stopped by on their way home from a wedding in Denver.

Anne and I had been plotting and planning for a bit to make this day happen. The minute they rolled up in their vehicle it felt like family had come to visit. The time we had together sped by all to quickly.

The couple hours we had was really not enough time to get all the answers to questions we wanted to ask. We learned about each others’ families, churches, hobbies and pretty much every thing in between. We also found out that the Smokies would be a great place to visit.

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Old Train ~ Fremont, NE

Lar and I shared some photos of a train that we had taken on our weekend trip to Lincoln, NE to see our son and his family.

We had found out in advance that John was a train buff and just could not resist taking some photos to share.

We took a brief tour outdoors and Anne was able to take photos of the girls and their chicken coop. The girls cooperated by letting me pick one up for a quick photo of them being held.

Questions were asked about where the water had been during the recent flooding and what we grew for crops. There was lots of talking and laughing before we even made it into the house for a bit of lunch.

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Cheesecake Pie with Blueberry Topping

I had made a Cheesecake Pie to share for coffee time. Only we had peach ice tea instead of coffee to go with the pie.  I am going to share the recipe as I promised Anne I would make sure she got it.

This is a great pie to make as you can use different kinds of fruit for the topping. You can use canned pie filling or use fresh fruit sweetened with sugar.

 

Easy Cheesecake Pie

Pie Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers, about 24 squares
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup melted butter
Press into pie plate and refrigerate till it is set.
(I have been known to skip the refrigerating step if I am pressed for time.)

Filling:
8 ounce cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. pure vanilla
1 cup sour cream
8 ounce tub Cool Whip
Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla till smooth.
Add sour cream and cool whip.
Put on top of graham cracker crust.

Fruit:
1 can pie filling
Can spread over pie or put dollop on each piece
OR
Sweetened fresh fruit

Refrigerate for a bit before serving and enjoy!

Note:  I have never made this pie with real whipped cream instead of cool whip.
If you try it let me know how it works out!

It was so much fun to talk over lunch. Stories were shared. (see Anne’s link above as she tells them really well!) So much laughter as we discovered we shared a very similar sense of humor. I loved Anne’s story of the family saying, “The chicken is used to it.” I will also let her tell that story as it is hers to share. Needless to say it made me laugh while also learning a good lesson!

It didn’t take long….at least it did not seem long …and it was time they went back to their travels. I am so grateful to hear they made it home safely. I am also so grateful that God put this couple in our lives. I think my husband said it best as we waved good-bye. “That was a great visit….it felt like family.”  He was so very right.

 

A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
— Unknown,
via etd.ohiolink.edu

 

No friendship is an accident.
— O. Henry,
The Heart of the West

 

 

 

 

 

Joy In The Mail

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This past week has been really busy. After a very long winter and an unreal wet spring, the farmers in our area were finally back in the field.

The river has been behaving again and so have the days. They have been breezy, warm (almost hot) and drying. There are still many wet holes in fields but farmers are now farming around them.

Some farmers do venture close to those muddy areas and do end up getting stuck. It has been a very normal thing this year to see Facebook posts with photos of tractors and equipment up their axles in mud.

The other day, my husband came to the house and said he needed my assistance. He and his tractor had ventured to close to an area that looked fine, but was way too wet. We did get it unstuck without to much trouble and it was decided that area would not get planted this year. (There is probably a life lesson in there somewhere.)

I am also still waiting to finish planting my vegetable garden, but I hesitate to mention it because I need the assistance of my farmer husband and he is quite preoccupied this week.  I know it will eventually all get planted….late…but that is better than not at all!

In the middle of all this odd planting season a bit of joy arrived in my mailbox. The picture above is a card from a blogging friend of mine. (moreinkplease). She knew I had been making jean quilts for my grandkids and she also knew the challenges we were facing with farming this year.

I am in awe of her talent at card making  skills (and yes she does sell them and I hope she puts a link to that in the comment section!) Here is the link for her Facebook page…Late Blooming Designs by beverly. I am also loving how she knew exactly the words to write to ease this farm wife’s heart and soul. She is an amazing example of how a few words can say and do so much.

Let’s finish this week following her example. Let’s encourage each other through the hard parts. Let’s see those who are stuck in the mud holes of life and the literal mud holes. Let’s offer words of hope. It doesn’t have to be big….a quilted card can bring a lot of joy! 

“Be humble,
be simple,
and bring joy to others.”
– Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat

 

 

 

 

More Than a Quilt

 

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Last week my husband and I had the fun of watching our granddaughter graduate from pre-school. (My husband doesn’t quite understand the concept of graduation at that age but I have assured him that it definitely is a thing now.)20190523_17422132531125.jpg

I was able to give my granddaughter her quilt that I had made from blue jeans and flannel shirts from her dad, uncles, grandpa, grandma, great grandpas and great grandmas. I am not sure she totally understood the memories in that quilt but she did enjoy using it to sit on outside and play with her brother.

It did make me smile inside and out just watching them sit on that quilt playing. It made all the hours of making it worthwhile.

I love the thought that new memories will be made sitting on top of all those old memories. I love the fact the fabric in that quilt has a history. Maybe someday, if that quilt holds up, my granddaughter will want to know what some of those memories are. If and when she is ready to ask I am going to be more than willing to answer!

When she decides to ask, I would love to tell her about her Great-Grandpa who served in the military and came back home to farm and raise a family. I want her to know her Great Grandma who raised five children and then went on to cook at the local Christian high school for many years.

It would be good for her to know that her other Great-Grandpa wanted to go to the military but could not; due to stepping on a pitchfork as a child. It would be good for her to know that he worked hard and took care of the family he loved.

She should also know about the Great Grandma who sewed pretty much all the clothing her children wore. I would love to point out the pieces of flannel in the quilt that came from baby blankets that were sewn by that same Great Grandma for the grandsons who would become her dad and uncles.

I want her to know  what her Grandpa did for a living and what he did for fun. I am hoping she wants to know what her dad was like as a boy….the things he enjoyed and the things he did not. It would be a wonderful thing for her to know about her two uncles and how they looked up to her dad, their older brother.

There is so much history in that one small quilt. We are much like that quilt….there is so much history in all of our lives if we just stop and think about it. Good history, sad history, and all the stuff in between.

It is good to pass on those stories for the next generations. It is good for them to have a connection to what makes up their past. If it takes a quilt to pass on those stories….it is a wonderful thing.

It will be a wonderful thing to see all the new memories made on that quilt. Memories that someday can be passed on to the next generation of this family.

Each day of our lives
we make deposits
in the memory banks
of our children.
Charles R. Swindoll