Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Caves, Crazy Horse and Cabin- DAY TWO

I was probably the most excited about day two, myself. We had lots on our agenda for our trip but it came down to fitting things in when we could.

 So this was the day we were going to go to the Rushmore Cave. I was most excited about this because, fun fact, I was a bit of a geology geek in high school. Totally loved it. I've gotten rusty and I always wish I could just take classes for fun. Oh well, someday.

The cave turned out to be super cool. It's all limestone so you can't touch any of it otherwise it turns black and dies. I mean, who wants to kill it? So the kids were really good about following the rules.
Jackson was most impressed when our guide, Brady B., told us how far under ground we were. He thought that he was a real explorer.

Some of the areas were very narrow and steep. If you are at all claustrophobic, probably not the best thing for you. But we managed to get through the entire tour without incident.  
We had a pretty great time in there. Afterwards, we bought the kids a bag of dirt with rocks/gems in it that they could "mine". That lasted maybe a full two minutes, but they thought it was pretty cool.

After that, we got in the car and headed towards the Crazy Horse Memorial.
Which was pretty stinking massive. It's not completed and honestly, at the rate they're going, it won't be finished in my lifetime. Probably not even my kids' lifetimes. While I appreciate the whole "not letting the government help out" thing given it's a memorial for the Native Americans who basically had everything taken from them because of the government, it's hard to appreciate this for what it will be when it's not even half done. But it is huge. Mouth Rushmore is smaller than Crazy Horse's head.

Matt helping Jackson get a better view.
This is the mold they are using for a guide. So, it'll be pretty impressive. Someday.

Surprise- Jackson found another buffalo to take his picture next to!
After Crazy Horse, we were all kind of exhausted. We had spent most of our day in the car going back and forth between places so we decided it was about time to check out these camping cabins.
 Honestly, they weren't awful. They were pretty small. The beds were hard as hell even with the thing they are calling a mattress. Which was really a glorified nap pad for kindergartners. There were towels on the windows and they called those curtains. The bathroom was just under a 1/4 of a mile up the trail. So, it was doable.
You can tell by Olivia's face she was not impressed when we informed her that her and Jackson had to share a bed. Granted, there were more than enough beds but I had only brought one fitted sheet for our bed and one for theirs. I didn't have room to pack more than that so they had to share. Overall, that worked out pretty well.
So we did our hot dogs and beans on the grill.  We made ourselves a little picnic.

 And we obviously did smores.
We took the kids and showered up. Not as terrible as I expected. I mean, it could really have been far worse.
 We got ready for bed..

 ...even me.
And we went to sleep.

Well, the kids did. Matt and I lay there sweating our fucking asses off. Because at that point, it was about 92 degrees in the cabin. We had the windows open, no breeze. We were literally baking in there. Around 2 a.m. though, Matt had drifted off and I had to pee. I had to really pee.

I debated on holding it. Quickly dismissed that when I sat up and realized my bladder is as full as it gets. I had to take action. I was able to find my sandals, but not the flashlight. A quick check out the door and I figured, it's not that dark. I'll be fine. I'll just pay attention and hustle.

So I set off.

I only make it half way there when all of a sudden, I go down.

I go down hard.

I know I made a "umph"  noise. I honestly thought I broke my ankle. I wasn't sure what I had done. Was it an animal? Was I going to be mauled in a weird "campground" on the god damn highway?


It turns out to just be a hole. A dangerous hole that has ruined everything.

Because you see, by this point, all hope was lost. I started laughing. Which means in that exact moment, I started peeing.

Oh yes.

This girl, age 32, peed her god damn pants while sitting in a hole, laughing, in the middle of night, in a weird campground on the god damn highway.

And I really peed. I peed enough that I honestly considered just stripping down right there and running back. But then I saw some guy pissing out of his camper, and while I realized how genius that was and wondered why didn't I just do that, I decided to not streak through the campground.

Instead, I waddled back trying to not drip on my sandals.

I got back to the cabin and changed into new underwear. Decided that maybe not having pajama bottoms was a good thing because it was so hot in there, and went to bed.

Rather, I lay in the dark and ridiculously hot room for another few hours until others woke up.

Needless to say, my first night in a camping cabin was kind of eventful. Even more so when in the morning, on our way to the showers/bathroom, we all noticed my giant puddle of urine. Matt asked if anyone saw my face or which cabin I went into.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Driving, Rapid City, and Mount Rushmore. DAY ONE.


What an incredibly amazing vacation we had. Matt and I said on our way home on Saturday that it felt like we had been gone for weeks but in reality, it was only four days. But it was four really great days.

The plan was to leave at 4:30 a.m.

The plan was tossed out the window around 5:00 a.m. when I realized all kind of things I forgot to pack and I frantically ran around doing that and packing coolers. But we got on the road around 5:30.

Jackson fell asleep again by 9. He was clearly sick of the car ride. 

Olivia followed suite a few minutes later.

The next 2 hours were glorious.

Then it was time to stop. We designated our picnic spot to be Falls Park in Sioux Falls, SD because I had seen it in pictures online and decided that's a sight to see. And it really was.
 This is when I realized that I forgot to pack cheese. And I packed the lunch meat I didn't care for. I also forgot mayo for Matt. The kids ate their lunchables and then we went exploring.
 Fashionista Olivia posed on rocks while Matt took Jackson to the bathroom. He hates public bathrooms so it's always a nightmare.
 So we posed some more because dang, 15 minutes is a long time for a pee break.
 But then Action Jackson arrived and wanted to show me his "cool guy" pose.
 After that, we walked to the falls. They were pretty great.

 And then this cute couple posed for a picture.
 I realized I don't have many pictures of Matt and the kids so my goal this trip was to fix that.
 But then we saw this statue. One of Olivia's favorite things is to be goofy with Grandpa Jay (my dad) and do statue poses. So we decided to copy the statue and send it to my dad. He thought it was great. AND the park ranger thought we were nuts. Hilarious, but nuts.
I mean, how can you not love this view?
We climbed the observation tower and you can't tell, but I was totally winded.
After our one hour stop, we got back in the car on our way to Rapid City, SD. That's where we were staying the first night, in a hotel. It turned out to be an amazingly boring drive until you get a little past the Badlands, then it's just gorgeous.
I absolutely loved the Black Hills. It's everything a tourist area should be, but it's so amazingly beautiful you don't even care about the billboards everywhere.
Once we checked into our hotel, we went and got some dinner at a weird restaurant nearby. Then the plan was to go see Mount Rushmore. I've had a few people tell me that the night ceremony is worth it, so we planned it just right to see it a bit in the day and then stay for the night. So we arrived around 8 p.m., about an hour before the ceremony started.

Olivia was so excited to see this. They both brought notebooks, though Jackson was doodling in his. Olivia took notes about what she saw and liked.

And honestly, it's pretty damn spectacular in person. Super lovely memorial area, the whole park was really nicely done.

Truly, the night ceremony was amazing. The night we were there, there was this group made of children and teens who have family members who have or are currently serving in the US Military. They each made up their own call, and they were on a leadership retreat. Pretty cool opportunity for those kids.
But truly, even if you don't consider yourself a real patriotic person, it's hard not to feel a little American spirit here. We saw a video on why the monument was created, why they chose those Presidents, and kind of how they did it. Which I enjoyed because to be honest, I knew very little about the memorial.

What kills me though, is that towards the end, they invite all currently serving military personnel and veterans to the stage. They all line up and they say their name and which branch they serve. Which, I don't know why, but I always tear up a little bit because you just think, they've probably served over seas and seen some really horrific things, but here they are. And some of them sounded choked up and it's just really moving all on it's own.

But there was a family in front of us who declared, "ugh, who even cares??". They were getting up to leave during this, which is just... it's so rude. It's like a slap in the face. And I know Matt would prefer I say nothing at all, but I was really pretty offended. So I replied with, "Well, as an American citizen who enjoys their freedom, I do.". Those people gave me an eye roll, but the people behind me patted my back and shook my hand. Don't even get me started on the people talking or texting on their cell phones during the national anthem. Or men who didn't remove their hats.

I guess the main thing I took away was that, even if you don't like the policies of a President, the fact remains they are the President. A certain level of respect needs to be given because that's what a good American does. You support the democracy. It doesn't always work, and it's not always the best at getting things done, but that's what this country was based on. So now when I see people who make offhand remarks about "taking the President out", it just feels more offensive to me now. Because I hope I'm teaching my kids to respect people in positions of power. It's not always the best people in there, but it's really not a job I'd want either. There is never a right answer for anything and I think when you're President you make the best out of terrible situations. It's hard to not respect a person for having the balls to try.

So that was day one. Day two was more action packed, believe it or not!