Monday, August 21, 2006

Black Hills - Part V

Sunday was the last day of our vacation. Being we did Sunday's itinerary on Thursday, we had to come up with an attraction or two because we didn't want to leave for home yet. We decided on the Black Hills Caverns. There were two different tours, the 30 minute Crystal Tour or the 60 minute Adventure Tour. We decided to do the 60 minute tour. As I get up to the door, I see a sign that says tennis shoes are required. So we all head back to the vehicle and switch our shoes. As we're waiting for the tour to begin, I see that there are warnings that our tour is a strenuous tour and I was starting to have second thoughts. Could I make it? Could the kids make it? Anyways, on with the tour. Our guide definitely moved fast. By the time we got done with our tour, we were huffing and puffing and sweating. And the cave was 48 degrees! Twice the guide abandoned us in the cave to either go get someone that was joining our tour late or to lead the 30 minute tour group out before she could continue on with our tour. That was a little scary to be abandoned in a cave and you have no idea which way is out and it was fairly dark.

Then we stopped to have a picnic lunch at a park and just made it into our vehicle when it started to sprinkle. As we're filling up with gas, the radio announces a severe thunderstorm with nickel size hail coming so we high-tail it out of there. They said the storm was pretty much stationary over the Rapid City area which made us happy because we wanted to stop in Wall Drug. When we arrived in Wall Drug, it was hot and sunny. After an hour, the sky was becoming dark blue. The storm was coming so we high-tailed it out of there. Wish we could have spent more time there, though. Hayley got her first Black Hills Gold and silver ring. She's pretty happy about that.

We finally got home about 9 pm. We were all very tired and glad to be home! :)

Black Hills - Part IV

Saturday was spent in the Custer and Hot Springs areas. Our first stop was Flintstones Park. We had a fun time going through Bedrock City. The kids rode the Flintmobile and Iron Horse train. We watched the Flintstone Trio Show and saw Mt Rockmore. After the show, the kids had their picture taken with Fred and Barney. Dean also got his picture taken with the ladies - Wilma and Betty.

Our next stop was The Mammoth Site. They have recovered the remains of 55 mammoths so far. The kids found it very interesting to look at all the bones. It's amazing how they died and the fact that they died here.

We then stopped at Putt 4 Fun Miniature Golf. We all had a blast! It was a par 37 course, 18 holes. The scores were: 1st - Dean with a 47, 2nd - Andrea with a 51, 3rd - Tanner with a 60, and in 4th - Hayley with a 62.

Then it was off to Evans Plunge, which is the world's largest natural warm water indoor swimming pool. The pool is filled with rejuvenating naturally war mineral water at 87 degrees. There were three different waterslides, rings, fun tubes, and two kiddie pools. One waterslide is an open curvy slide. This one I could do but almost lost my bikini top twice so after three times down I quit. I couldn't find my other swimsuit when I was packing!! There was a tube slide (meaning it was covered and dark) that basically went straight down and then shot you out. No way was I doing that one. The kids and Dean were brave enough and loved it. However, Tanner chickened out the first time up the steps then later went back to try it. The last slide was a tube slide (covered and dark) that was curvy and had a few drops. Dean and the kids tried this one but not me. They loved it. Everyone loved to scream while they went down it and you never knew where the end was. And it really shot you out.

On the way home, we had to stop in Custer at The Purple Pie Place to have some homemade pie. A guy at our hotel told us about it and it was definitely worth the stop. The kids had rhubarb, Dean had blueberry, and I had bumbleberry which is a mixture of five different fruits. They were all delicious.

Black Hills - Part III

On Friday, we ventured out to the Keystone area. It was a cool and gloomy day! Our first stop was Beautiful Rushmore Cave. It was only 58 degrees inside the cave. Good thing I brought jackets! Although Dean, the macho guy he is, toughed it out in just a t-shirt. Just a few minutes into the tour, Tanner decided he didn't like caves. Too bad!

Our next stop was Big Thunder Gold Mine. Had I known we would have to wear miner's helmets, I may have forgone this attraction! Oh well, at least we all looked stupid together!!

Then we were onto Mt Rushmore. We went on the Presidential Trail which is a 1/2 mile long. We visited the Sculptor's Studio and the Gift Shop, which is where I left my credit card (which I realized later). After the trail, Dean wanted to go on a nature hike but I told him we had enough of a hike on the Presidential Trail. And I was so cold!

We then stopped at Cosmos. If you've never been to Cosmos, you got to go! It is one of my favorite Black Hills attractions. It is a mystery area. You do not stand up straight. You change height on level platforms. Balls roll uphill. Water flows uphill. You can feel a force pulling you in one direction and it's not straight down.

Our last stop was President's Alpine Slide. It's a scenic chairlift ride up to the top where there is a garden area, waterfalls, walking paths, and a cafe. You can even see Mt Rushmore. Then you can either ride the chairlift back down or take the big alpine slide on a sled. Of course we took the slide. It was really fun! We all wanted to do it again but at $9/per person, once was enough. By the way, this is where I realized I no longer had my credit card. So we got to visit Mt Rushmore twice in one day because we had to go back to get it.

Black Hills - Part II

On Thursday, we stayed in the Rapid City area. The orignial itinerary consisted of Storybook Island, Old MacDonald's Farm, The Black Hills Maze, and Dinosaur Park. However, we also had time to visit Bear Country USA and Thunderhead Underground Falls which were originally planned for Sunday. But what are we going to do on Sunday now???

Storybook Island is a free children's park which includes 142 fairytale sets, a children's theatre, train ride and is situated on 6.75 acres. Some characters include Dr Suess, Winne the Pooh, Cinderella, and The Gingerbread Man. It's similar to Wylie Park in Aberdeen.

Then we were on our way to Old MacDonald's Farm. I had never been there so I didn't know what to expect. It was a great place. The kids and I especially had fun! Basicially it's a petting zoo. There's cows, pigs, horses, sheep, donkeys, goats, rabbits, chickens, ducks, and more. The kids went on a pony ride and bottle-fed a calf. There are pig races which include five pigs. Some of their names were Sausagawega, Not A Hotdog, and Jimmy Dean. Their treat for finishing the race is cherry kool-aid. It's their favorite. You should see them afterwards. They were all red! The baby goats are allowed to roam free so you get to really interact with them. The kids and I just loved the baby goats!! You can also go into some of the cages of the animals.

Then we were onto The Black Hills Maze. Why I decided we should go here is beyond me because I actually hate mazes. It doesn't take long before I'm lost and feel helpless!! It was very hot that day so that made it that much worse. They said it generally takes one hour and we got through it in 58 minutes. You have to get to each of the four flag towers to get a stamp and then find your way out. There's over 1.2 miles of maze! Then we played Bankshot Basketball. It's a combination of miniature golf, basketball and billiards. The basketball bankboards were all oddly shaped. We also did Water Wars, Tanner and I against Hayley and Dean. We each had 10 water balloons to launch at each other. The rule of the game is that you're not supposed to avoid getting hit. You're supposed to stand there with clenched fists and gritted teeth and take it! Yeah, right! Not me!

Bear Country USA, here we come! This is a drive-through wildlife park. We had some close encounters with some of the animals, mainly the bears. We were about 10 minutes too fast. Had we been slower we would have been able to see feeding time for the bears up close. However, we got to see it from afar which is maybe better! :) At the end, you get to walk around the Babyland loop. We got to see baby bears, foxes, otters, and more.

Then we headed over to Thunderhead Underground Falls. There is a vertical waterfall 600 feet inside a mountain. I was disappointed by this attraction but the surrounding area made up for it. I got some really great pictures. The water gushes at 8 cubic feet per second. It is very loud in there!

Our last stop of the day was Dinosaur Park. It's a free attraction located on Skyline Drive high above Rapid City. We were there at night and it was beautiful to look down over the city. The park includes seven life size replicas of dinosaurs.

FYI - I'm trying to add more pictures but it won't upload them. I will try later.

Black Hills - Part I

Last Wednesday we left for the Black Hills. It was a very fun trip! Dean and the kids have never been to the Black Hills and they really enjoyed it there. I was afraid Dean wasn't going to come home - he LOVED it there!! Anyways, I am a planner and Dean is a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants-type of guy so he was really worried about this vacation. He was afraid that I would be the vacation Nazi. What can I say? I take after my dad! Anyways, I had an itinerary planned for our entire trip because you really have to have some sort of itinerary or you'll end up running all over the Black Hills to make it to all the attractions you want to see! Well, after the first day we found out my itinerary wasn't going to work too well. I was way too lenient with our time - the total opposite of what Dean thought I would be. Oh well, we got to add other attractions to our itinerary so we got to see even more than I had anticipated.

We left town about 3:30 and made it to Rapid City about 9 pm (8 pm MT). I was kinda worried about the hotel reservation. I had to make two separate reservations because I had enough Trip Rewards point for a free night. However, the free night has to be booked separately from the rest of your stay. Needless to say, we had problems when we got there. They told me they only had my reservation for the 3 nights and that they had upgraded me to a suite because the standard rooms were overbooked. I said no way, I booked a suite to begin with and that there should also be a reservation for my free night. Well, after some searching through the computer, they finally found my free night but told me that it was for a standard room. Again, I said no way, the free room was supposed to be a suite which is why I booked the rest of my stay in a suite so I wouldn't have to switch rooms during our stay. Finally, they got everything straightened out, however, they told me I would have to stop back after my three night stay to check out, check in and reswipe our key cards. Very inconvenient. But wait, there's more!

After all that, then we get up to our room (top floor, of course) and our key cards don't work. So I go back down to the front desk to get them reswiped then head back up. This time they worked. We got everything into the room when I noticed we didn't have the pull-out sofa we had requested. We had a jacuzzi tub instead. While Dean and the kids waited in the room, I went back down to the front desk and told them we have four people in our room and one king bed is not going to work. We need the pull-out sofa we requested when we made the reservation. They said they could get me the sofa but I'd have to forgo the jacuzzi. Which was totally fine. So they give us the room directly across from our original room. They reswiped our original keys. As we were transferring our belongings from one room to the other, the kids didn't hold the door open which locked us out of the old room because they had reswiped our cards with the new room. So Dean went back down to the front desk to request a card to get into the old room to get the rest of our stuff. Finally we got settled into our room that we requested. Talk about a HUGE ordeal!!! After that, we all went swimming and hot-tubbing because we definitely needed some relaxation.

Monday, August 14, 2006


We spent this past weekend camping at with my sister and her boyfriend. Two other couples also joined them so there were a total of 8 adults, 6 kids and 1 dog. Had it been a nice weekend, it might have actually more fun but we still had fun. Everyone had campers but us so we stayed with my sister. I'm not a tent-kind of person. The theme for this past weekend is RAIN!! It rained Friday night pretty good with lots of lightning and thunder. Plus I was sleeping in a bunk bed the size of a coffin and was worried that the lightning was going to strike a tree and it would fall on me and hurt/kill me!! Seriously, I was afraid! Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep at all!! Saturday started out rainy, cloudy, windy and cold. YUCK!! The sun finally came out for awhile. Saturday night it rained and lightninged (is that a word?) but there was no thunder, thank goodness! However, I still didn't sleep very good. Sunday was rainy, cloudy, and cool. We got rained on many times as did the chairs. There were times we didn't have anything to sit on. We were all standing around. The kids were determined they were going to go swimming anyways - in the gloomy weather. As soon as they got in, it started raining pretty good so they all ran back to the campground while we stayed at the beach. Finally the kids decided to come back after it quit raining and went tubing and played on the water trampoline. We didn't get home until almost 10:00 last night!! And we all slept really good last night. Especially me because I think I got only 2 to 3 hours of sleep each night we were camping! I was exhausted! Everyone else stayed at the campground until today. Of course, when they woke up this morning it was dry and the sun was shining! Just in time for them to pack up and go home! :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

My Aunt

Here is a photo of the aunt I was telling you about earlier. She is so great!! My grandma's also in the picture. Just as this is my favorite aunt, this is my favorite grandma. :)

Family Fun Day - Minus Dad

Yesterday, the kids and I went to A to pick up his band instrument and have some fun at Wylie Park. We went to Storybook Land.

Then we went to WaterWorld. There's only one waterslide but the kids had a blast!

After the kids got tired of the waterslide, we went over to Wylie Lake.

The kids had fun but it was a long day. We left the house at 9 am and didn't get back until 9:30 pm! But it was well worth it. Hopefully, next time Dean can come along.

Fun Weekend

Friday we went to H2O for the weekend. Dean and I had a wedding to go to on Saturday so Grandma & Grandpa babysat the kids. My friend from college, Jenn, got married. The wedding was very nice as was the reception and dance. However, the church was not air conditioned so just about everyone came out of there soaking wet! The reception and dance were held at her parents' farm. They served a great meal. Plus there was an open bar! AWESOME!! Can't complain about free alcohol!! The band was great and there was a lot of dancing. Dean even got out there to dance a few and not just the slow ones. A couple fast ones, too! The bridesmaid dresses were a chocolate brown and the flowers were white with a splash of pink. Very pretty! We left the wedding about 1 am and got home about 2 am. Very long day! Wish I could have slept in but Dean had to get up for a golf tournament in M. The kids and I took our time, though, and came home later in the afternoon. Needless to say, it was early to bed Sunday night. Here's a picture of Dean and I.

Here's a picture of me with some of my friends. It was so great to see all my friends from college. I had a great time!!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Play Ball - Part II

Hayley continued with her softball tournament tonight. We were down one of our star players so I think the team was a little worried. However, the team played awesome. Everyone brought their game. THEY WON the first game. Way to go Sliders! :) They played really good at their second game, too, but lost, 4 to 5! :( Had they won, they would have been in the championship game. Next summer. They had some really great plays. On one of Hayley's hits, she only made it to first base but she brought in three runs!!! AWESOME!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Play Ball - Part I

This week is Hayley's softball tournament. Monday night they lost their first game. Bummer! However, because it's double elimination, they then had to play a second game. They got to the third inning (5 to 0, our favor) and it was decided to postpone the remainder of the game due to the bad weather coming. We were supposed to finish the game Tuesday night and then, if they won, they were to immediately play again that same night. But as you all know, it was raining Tuesday so the games got postponed to today - Wednesday. So picking up where they left off, they finally finished the game, 11 to 3. WE WON!!! They had to play again immediately afterwards but that game was delayed 1/2 hour because another game was being played on the field. Finally, they got on the field. The game was called after the 4th inning because there was another game waiting to use the field and we had been playing almost an hour anyways. The score was 9 to 4. WE WON!!! So now they gotta play tomorrow. If they win that one, they play again right away. If they win the second one, they play a final game Friday night - which throws a kink into our weekend plans but, oh well! I'll let you know how it turns out.