Vacation – Part Two

IMG_6392

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.

IMG_6398

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

IMG_5883

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.

IMG_5886

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.

IMG_5929

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.

IMG_5973

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.

IMG_6184

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

 

 

Two Sides to Freedom

IMG_5850

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.

20190704_220858418767343.jpg

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

 

Building Relationships

Lake Okoboji

Last week was a busy week but such a good week. I love days that include time spent building relationships with those around me.

We attended an ice cream social with my in-laws and then we had the honor of attending their birthday party that was held, at the assisted living facility where they live, for those with August birthdays.

Friday saw us having supper with friends. It was wonderful grilling burgers, making s’mores and just relaxing around the fire pit. You can discuss a lot of topics while gazing into those dancing flames.

We spent time solving the world’s problems….not that the world will take our advice..but I thought we had some pretty good solutions. We caught up on the lives of our families, laughed about crazy things we had done in our youth and compared notes on a variety of things.

We capped our week off with a day at Lake Okoboji. Our oldest son and his family spent the weekend there. For some reason their entire summer had gone by without having a family time away. It was a blessing to share a day with them and I am so grateful they let us crash their vacation.

My sister and her husband graciously took us for a long boat ride around the lake and we had fun watching our grandchildren swimming around the boat to cool off.  It still makes me smile thinking about asking my granddaughter if she was a guppy.  She replied quite firmly that she was NOT a guppy but that she was, indeed, a mermaid!

The week was very busy but, oh so rewarding.  I hope that the memories made will last long into my children and grandchildren’s lifetimes. I hope they remember their grandpa and grandma as people who showed up.

I hope that the thought of us brings smiles to the faces of those who know us. I also hope that the thought of these times together makes them long for more of those times.

It reminds me that God longs for relationship with us. He longs to spend time with us. He wants to know our hopes, our dreams and to celebrate special events with us. Relationships with people and with God take time and effort.  It is not easy but is so very worth it.

May this week find you building relationships with those around you. Whether it be in your prayer time, building s’mores, or swimming with a mermaid…take the time for it…you will not be disappointed.

 

 

Our relationships are precious,
valuable treasures from heaven,
and we should handle them carefully,
always looking for ways to build bridges to each other’s hearts.
Victoria Osteen

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/victoria_osteen_708325?src=t_relationships

Celebrating The 4th!

received_10160938404325657.jpeg

A gray start to the day

The day dawned gray and a bit stormy looking but my husband and I loaded the car for our annual 4th of July celebration. We headed for the lake to join family and friends at my sister and her husband’s lake home.

We did make our way there slowly, as we tried to stay a bit behind the storm. Our road trip there took longer; but we got to investigate new antique places, small towns and garage sales on our way. (There is usually an upside to even rainy days!)

We made our annual stop at Trapper’s Bay on Silver Lake. My husband spent many hours fishing there as a kid and loves to drive through the small park. We arrived there not too long after the wind and rain had made it’s way through that town. Lots of trees were down and the people there were spending their holiday cleaning up.

received_10160938746060657.jpeg

Docks underwater due to lots of rainfall this year

Typically the day is hot and excellent for boating, swimming, and just enjoying the water…..not so this year. After having had some very hot days leading up to the 4th, we started the day with rain…and we ended the day with rain.

The lake was so high that there was a no wake rule for all the lakes in the county. We did get a very leisurely boat ride in the afternoon. I must admit there was something wonderfully relaxing about that slow boat ride. It was quiet, with very few boats on the water.

Another storm moved in early in the evening and the big firework show was cancelled….but not the fireworks my brother in law had purchased! We sat in the dark, under umbrellas and watched as our guys attempted to keep the wicks on the fireworks lit.

This was the first year I had ever seen them lighting fireworks while standing under an umbrella. There was lots of laughter, much encouragement and we made sure to oooohhhhh and aaaahhhhh as the sky lit with colors.

It didn’t take too long and we had to abandon the effort, as it just became too soggy. (Much to the relief of my future daughter-in-law who had given my son stern instructions that morning; that he was not to get injured, as their wedding was only a week away!)

The guys did manage to get a wonderful finale firework lit to end the night. I wish I could have downloaded the video my sister took but I just am not quite tech savvy enough to know how to make that one work; so you will just have to make do with a still shot.

Screenshot_2018-07-06-20-45-48.png

The Grand Finale~photo credit to my sister Andrea

The rain did put a damper on the day, due to the fact that we were not able to do the things we normally do on the 4th of July.  In looking back on that day, I am realizing that the most important things still got done….

We remembered the sacrifices made for this country. We prayed for our country, our leaders and those who serve. We gave thanks for family, friends and good food. We laughed, enjoyed each other’s company, and we did get wet….just not in the lake.

Sometimes it is good to not have a day go how you planned. Sometimes it leaves the door open to see the holiday from a different view. It is good to realize that joy in family and in friendships is not dependent on weather or circumstances. It is totally dependent on being together and that is enough.

 

“Cherish your human connections
– your relationships with friends and family.”
– Barbara Bush

 

Choose Fun?

IMG_5170.JPG

It has already been two weeks ago since I got home from a cruise. It is hard to believe that those two weeks have gone that fast. I don’t know why I am always amazed at how fast time seems to go….. because it always seems to go fast.

I was talking to my husband about some of the funny things that happened on that vacation with our group of 8 family members…all women. I was relating how when we boarded the ship we entered a lobby that was glittering with shiny brass, glass and well polished wood.

There was already a crowd of people in that space. They were all listening to a guy standing on a stage behind a bar and he was hollering one word and the crowd was hollering one word back.

I thought this guy, who later turned out to be the cruise director named Peter, was hollering “Juice!”  …. to which the crowd responded heartily, “Funk!” I turned to Cousin Barb and asked what they were saying. She responded, “It sounds like Juice …. Funk”.

I have to confess; it took till the following night (after hearing this repeatedly in various locations on the boat) that I (and my cruise mates) figured out the chant was actually “Choose….Fun!”  My sister-in-law then informed me that, those words were the motto of the Carnival Cruise line. (Nope, I am not getting reimbursed for mentioning the cruise line…though if they offered….. I would take a free cruise!)

I was just happy that I was not the only one who could not figure out, immediately, what they were hollering. There is some comfort in sharing the stupid!

This memory was brought back while watching the Olympic winter games on tv. One of the commercials was from Carnival and they were…..you guessed it….chanting, “Choose Fun!” ( I have a feeling my brain will forever translate that as Juice Funk.)

I love watching the winter Olympic games but I do wonder about some of the sports those athletes do. I wonder about someone belly flopping on a tiny sled and plummeting down an ice-coated slide….a slide that twists and turns. I never hear a peep from those athletes participating in the Skeleton. I know for a fact I would be screaming my fool head off on that one.

I also wonder who in the world decided it was a good idea to strap both your feet to a board and shoot down a thing called a half pipe only to shoot back up and launch yourself unbelievably high into the air. Is this courage or something else?  Having raised boys….I think it is safe to say it probably was hatched in the brain of a man child. (Sorry guys, that is just my experience.)

Another event that baffles me is the ski jump. Again…..who thinks of these things? Maybe it is just me…… but rocketing yourself off of a ledge to land on a hard ice/snow packed surface leaves me scratching my head. It ranks right up there with jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or bungee jumping.

Our area of the country does have a small claim to fame when it comes to ski jumping and the Olympics. Back in 1932 the Olympic ski jump trials were held at a place called Canton, SD. If you want to learn more click on the name Canton, SD and check out the link to that bit of history.

I am always glad when the Olympics are on and I absolutely love the winter games. I always kind of wonder if I enjoy them so much because I am in awe of what those dedicated athletes can do. I am amazed at the grace of the figure skaters. I have no idea how those slalom skiers manage to make it through all those little poles/gates and watching the bobsled athletes plummet down that ice coated slide makes me want to squinch my eyes tight shut (and I am not even on that slide).

I think it takes a special kind of person to be one of those athletes. I think you need to be more than fearless. I think you need to have a different idea of fun than I have. I think you maybe need to do more than “Choose Fun” I have a feeling you may also have to “Juice Funk”!

“We all have dreams.
But in order to make dreams come into reality,
it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self discipline, and effort.”
— Jesse Owens,
American track and field athlete and four-time gold medalist
.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding the Beauty

received_10154950066601268.jpeg

The other morning my sister sent a photo to our “Cruise 2018” group; of her feet in the snow.  Her caption was, “This doesn’t look like sand!”  Her photo was in response to the snowfall that we had just had in our area.

Yesterday it started snowing here and snowed through the night. Schools were started two hours late to give the road crews a chance to clear the blacktops, highways and gravel roads that buses needed to travel.

It was a jolt back into the reality of winter in the Midwest.  Once again, I had to tend to the girls and shovel trails through the snow so they would be able to get here and there outside.  The sun was shining brightly and it was quietly beautiful…..but oh so cold. The world was brilliantly white…so white it almost hurt your eyes to look.

I am finding it hard to wrap my mind around the fact that just one week ago I was basking in temperatures of 80 degrees and sitting on beautiful sandy beaches. It seems a long time ago and yet it also seems as if it was just yesterday. I am not quite sure how that can be…but it just is.

 

I love the fact that this world holds such a variety of beautiful things. Pristine snowfalls, days so cold you can see your breath, shells that come in all shapes, colors and sizes and the sound of waves rushing up on the beach with gulls swirling overhead.

The pure whiteness of a new snowfall is a totally different kind of beauty than last week where waves washed the beach and deposited sea shells at our feet. I did take some beach sand and shells home with me from Mexico and have them drying on a tray in my kitchen.

received_10160303370190657.jpeg

It is a wonderful reminder of our week in the sun. It is a great reminder of the time spent with some of the women in my family…….a time spent catching up with each others’ lives.  (The eight of us represented five different states – Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Kansas and Texas.)

Those shells and that sand are a reminder that the simple things in life matter so much and mean so much. They are a reminder not to overlook the joy of time spent with those you love…..to open your eyes to what God has put before you…whether it is cold, pure white snow or the warmth of sun-kissed sand.

Take the time this weekend to let your soul soak in the beauty around you and bask in the warmth of friends and family. You may have to look closely to find the beauty…..it might look more like snow than sand….but it is hiding there somewhere!

 

“Earth’s crammed with heaven.”
– Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread,
places to play in and pray in,
where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.
John Muir

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_muir_104245