Sunday, September 27, 2015

South Dakota Rocks! (Mt. Rushmore pun intended)

The landscape changed as soon as we crossed the border from Wyoming to South Dakota. We had just passed through mile after mile of dry yellow rolling hills. After a few hours of that, our eyes and our moods were uninspired.

This was at the rest stop on the South Dakota border

It was late afternoon on Friday when we entered the town of Spearfish, and we knew immediately that South Dakota was going to be remarkable. Everything was green and quaint. When we turned south on hwy 85 the evergreens began to shoot up everywhere as well as ski lodges and resorts. Next we entered he small town of Deadwood and we were transported to an older time. The homes were sprinkled along the sloping hills which surrounded the old downtown buildings and city center. It looked as if not much had changed since the 1920's. I have to admit that I began to imagine us living in one of the many charming homes I saw up on the hillside. 

The town of Deadwood 

We passed a few scattered cabins and a lake before we finally we turned down the Main Street of Hill City where we planned to stay on our visit to Mt. Rushmore. Can I just say that I love main streets in small towns. They are always unique and give an impression of the town. The Main Street in Hill City is about half a mile long and the Native American influence is everywhere.

The Main Street in Hill City

We found the Creekside Mountain RV Resort after a small Google Maps mix up with the help of the resort owner Rita. Not only did she answer the phone to help us, but she drove over to meet us as we pulled in. We took care of payment and she gave us brochures all as we were setting up of 5th wheel.  It was a beautiful site and we've never has such friendly caring service, thank you Rita!

Creekside Mountain Resort 

We rested up Friday night and woke up early Saturday morning ready to squeeze as many activities into the one day we had there. I fired up the stove ready to make bacon (yum) only to find out we were completely out of propane. No big deal, we drove back to the Main Street an ate at Hill City Cafe. It was delicious and just what we needed. 

Dan is teaching the boys how to play cards while we wait for breakfast.

Next, Mt. Rushmore! It was literally a few minutes away from our RV site and as we turned the corner to register for parking I saw the famous carved heads. I can't lie, it was so much smaller than I expected. Like 3 times smaller than I thought. Regardless of the size, it was still an amazing feeling walking down the flagged walkway to look upon this great work of art while walking hand in hand with my husband, who is the embodiment of an American patriot (24 years in the U.S. Navy). We walked through the museum and learned about how the heads were carved and picked up a magnet for our refridgerator.

The flagged walkway 
Cameron Family selfie
The Grand View Terrace
Just a couple of "Dudes" 
Side view of Monument driving back down
Refridgerator magnet!

After Rushmore, we headed up the road to Custer where the monument for Crazy Horse is currently being carved. We swung by and snapped a picture. We can't wait to see it when it's finished.

This is the silhouette of what it will look like when it's finished.
You can sort of see them working at the top

Next, we continued driving until we came to the Jeweled Caves. Unfortunately, the next tour that was "little kid" friendly was a couple hours away so we headed back to Custer's Main Street for ice cream instead, not a bad substitute in my opinion.

Next time we'll see the real thing

We rested, ate dinner and went back to Hill City's Main Street but most shops were closed. We snapped a picture of some wood sculptures and headed back home to our RV site. South Dakota is going on the list for possible places we coul live.

This looks to be the dragon "Toothless" from How To Train You Dragon.
...And of course the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

We took off this morning driving through Rapid City then hopped on HWY 90 east. When we travel we listen to local radio stations and today, we were listening to "old time" cowboy country music. It was the perfect soundtrack to the miles and miles of grassy planes we passed. I was literally daydreaming about the old west and frontier days. Did you know that "Danced With Wolves" was filmed out here? Pretty cool.

Next, Des Moines, Iowa to visit my brother Troy & my sister-in-law Kate and her family!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Glacier National Park & Seeley Lake Montana

The Cameron Family is back in action!

Last Sunday we traveled about an hour and a half to see my friend Angela and her beautiful family in Seeley Lake, Montana. We drove along tall trees and serene lakes until we arrived at their picturesque home nestled between rows and rows of evergreens.

We were invited into their home with hugs an a shot of Montana Moonshine, "Welcome to Montana!"

This stuff is like shooting lighter fluid!

Football was on the television and burgers were on the grill. Good company and good times. Angela and her husband Clint have a 2 year old boy named Haydn and a 3 month old sweet baby girl named Raylee, my boys adored them both. Daniel started asking me if we could get a baby too, of course the answer was not only no, but hell no! (Sorry, we just can't imagin doing it all over again when Caiden is almost out of diapers).

Seriously, look at this cute baby!

Here are pictures of Caiden and Haydn just enjoying the heck out out of jumping in an empty pool.

The boys comparing notes on Hayden's Nabi tablet and Daniels Kindle Fire

Our visit ended with the sighting of several deer that walked right up to their house looking for food. It was our boys first experience with deer and they were really excited, too excited! They eventually scared the deer away, lol.

What? I didn't scare them away...
Look how close they are.

The next destination while visiting Montana was Glacier National Park. I was ready to experience the majestic beauty of the Glaciers but was blown away by the natural landscape of the park itself. It was a gradual one hour assent to reach the top of the mountains where view of the Glaciers was at its best an honestly we took so many pictures that we couldn't possibly post them all.

Here are the ones that came out the best:

There's always time for a selfie!

"Weeping Rock"
My boys!

These pictures were taken with my iPhone so there not the best but I'm glad we captured some of the beautiful scenery.

Next we begin our drive to Des Moines, Iowa stopping first in South Dakota to check out Mt. Rushmore.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Teachable Moments In Montana

This past week my husband and I learned a valuable lesson and let me tell you, it was a hard pill to swallow...

As you know, we traveled to Montana to visit my very best friend and her husband who graciously welcomed us into their home. They urged us to move into the spare bedroom and we decided that would make everything easier so we agreed. I had a feeling deep down that this might be a mistake because they don't have kids (and small kids can be overwhelming when you're not used them) but I ignored the feeling. I just couldn't see us trying to live in a trailer for two weeks with no hookups for waste, electricity and in we went.

It took about 5 days for the situation to explode and then there were fireworks.

This is what happened in a nutshell. My friend Christine began passive-aggressively pointing out flaws in my parenting style (or lack there of) and I completely lost my temper, unleashing my full-blown anger upon her. Once the issue was on the table I can't deny that she had some good points, when she asked me to keep my kids quiet because her husband was sleeping and I told her that "they were quiet now but I couldn't guarantee they would be later." I definitely could have told her I would do everything I could to keep them quiet (which I intended to do) to give her some assurance that her husband would not be disturbed. It's easy to forget that people who don't have kids can't possibly know what it means to live with them. Dan and I tune out a lot of their noise and whiny behavior. 

At the end of it we elected to move back into our 5th wheel trailer. It gave us a chance to really consider what to do differently the next time we are invited to stay with friends or family. We decided that we should:

1. Cultivate good communication.
2. Create clear boundaries
3. Avoid taking things personally

I have always feared getting outside my comfort zone and letting people see me for who I truly am.  This experience left me feeling exposed and my faults were laid out for all to see. 

 It was Scary. It was Uncomfortable. But it was Necessary.

I'm sure that there will be many more teachable moments along our ventures. 
As we travel, we seek and find ourselves. 

Here are some pictures from beautiful Montana:
Entering Montana from the Idaho border
Just after passing through the border. Trees everywhere.
We had to try this beer. It was good.
Or trailer set up outside my friends house 

Taking a walk around the neighborhood.

More pictures to come. Montana isn't over yet :)