kampgrounds and tourist traps

We got together with Jake’s family in the Hills last week.  Just a few quick observations:

:: I must say, I could not have married into a better bunch of folks.

:: It is super awesome that the girls have cousins of babysitting age.

:: An unexpected detour (i.e. wrong turn) leaving us stuck in the car for nearly 2 hours instead of 45 minutes with fours kids in the car asking “Are we at the cabin yet?” over and over is not the time to be all up on my “no DVDs on short car trips” high horse.

:: Packing for this trip, after so recently packing and unpacking all our earthly belongings, triggered a bit of deja vu and a slight panic attack in me.  We will not be re-packing anything anytime soon.

:: Taking pictures with the Wall Drug jackalope never gets old.

head for the hills

A few notes about this family vacation:

1.  It’s nice not to be the only ones with small children.

2.  I originally intended to title this post “home sweet home,” because that’s what the Black Hills used to be to me.  Though I was a transplant, not a native, I felt as though I belonged there in a way I’ve never felt since.  I thought I’d live out the rest of my days there.  It broke my heart to move away.  And on every subsequent visit, leaving was almost as excruciating as moving away all over again.  Ok, perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic. 😉  But I’ve always harbored a small hope, however unlikely, that we’ll move back there some day.  But things felt different this time.  In lots of ways, it just felt like a vacation in a pretty place.  Leaving wasn’t a big deal.  Perhaps my heart has faced reality.  Anyway, as long as our siblings live there we’ll always have a reason to visit.

3.  I sprained my ankle a week before this trip.  Bad.  And stupid.  A million thanks to my brother-in-law for renting me that awesome scooter.  We had good times together.  And I always had a place to sit down, even when no one else did!

4.  Another million thanks to my parents for planning this trip, preparing food in advance, and chasing after the grandkids all week.  You are beyond awesome!  Can’t wait for next year…

folk fest

We almost didn’t go.  There were a million reasons not to: logistical, financial, time constraints, a toddler.  But for whatever reason, we overcame the hump.  We made it out the door.  And (as usually is the case) we were so glad we did.

This was our 2nd annual trip to the Sioux River Folk Festival (which is in its 33rd year).  We had such a great time last year, though we had to cut it short because of the little people.  This year we managed to stick around a little longer.  The weather was made-to-order amazing.  With high temps in the mid-80s, people were pulling on jackets and sweaters toward evening (we’ve grown so accustomed to 100 degree days!).

I can’t say enough good things about this festival.  The bands were amazing.  They have an area set up for kids to do projects and games.  There’s plenty of shade.  And they usually have really cool t-shirts.

But one of my favorite things?  This crazy blue and floral print fringed umbrella.  In the last photo, you can just barely see it — in the middle, far in the background.  Last year we sat near the people who own this umbrella, and I became completely enamored with it.  (I still dream of finding one like it someday…)  The whole day I was obsessed with getting a picture of it without drawing the attention of the men sitting at the table under it (I know — I should have just asked them.  The thing is, they didn’t look super-friendly.   They did not look like the sort of people you would expect to find sitting under a blue and floral print fringed umbrella.)  I did finally get a photo of it, which you can see here.

Adeline’s favorite thing?  Definitely the grape soda.  This girl has the memory of an elephant, and when we told her we were going to this festival that we had been to last summer, she said, “You mean the place where I used the porta-potty and had a grape soda?”  Jake and I had completely forgotten about that soda, til she mentioned it (but she was right — here’s the proof).  I was so impressed that she remembered, we had to get her another one — you know, to keep tradition alive.

down on the farm

This past weekend our dairy farmers hosted an “open farm,” and we were fortunate enough to be able to attend the festivities.  We toured the farm, met the cows who give us our milk, were entertained by chickens and cats, climbed trees, and enjoyed homemade ice cream and cheese.  It made me long more than ever for a place of our own; made me wonder for the millionth time if there’s a farm in our future.  But most of all it made me thankful: that we live in this place, near these wonderful farmers, that we have access to these nourishing foods, that we can share these days with wonderful friends.  Wherever we may end up someday, this place is just right for us right now.