Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Summer Trip, Part III: Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills

After leaving the Badlands, we drove to Mount Rushmore.  Here you can see Jim (black cowboy hat he bought at Wall Drug) and Maggie before the Avenue of Flags that leads to the monument.

I tried to read a book about the carving of Mount Rushmore, but I couldn't even make it halfway through.  We did read a few juvenile books about it along the way, though.  
A view from under some large rocks below the monument.
We were able to walk on a path that passed below the sculpture.  This view allowed us to see if there was anything in their noses.
 We were able to see this model that was used when carving the real monument.
 This girl.

After Mount Rushmore, we took a steam train from Hill City to Keystone and back.
The boys were excited!
My cowboy (and his princess):
In Keystone, they added water for our return trip.
Everyone loves to try on Daddy's hat.

Superman and Batman:
In Rapid City, we met up with two of Jim's college roommates and their families.  We all stayed in a hotel that was attached to the largest indoor water park in South Dakota.  That was a lot of fun for our combined 11 children!

Monday, December 7, 2015

Summer Trip, Part II: The South Dakota Badlands

After Iowa, we spent one night in Sioux Falls, SD en route to the Badlands.  We met a former runner of mine from my cross country coaching days for dinner and then visited the Falls.  They were an impressive sight!
We made it back to the hotel in time for a swim at the indoor water park before bed!

We arrived at the Badlands mid-day and were able to set up our 9 person tent that Aunt Sue and Uncle Matt gave us.  It is huge!  We were able to set up Maggie's pack n' play in the tent and still have plenty of room for the rest of us to fit comfortably. 
 After the tent was pitched, we began to explore the Badlands.
 Jim went out on this narrow ledge for a photo.  He did not want anyone else going near it!

As we got dinner ready at the campsite, the boys had fun riding Charlie's new bike.  Charlie clearly is not looking where he is swinging the bat!
The view from our tent:
The next morning we went on a hike.  The sign below greeted us at the trail head.  While we did not see any rattlesnakes, we think we heard some.
Maggie enjoyed the scenery from Jim's back.
This is a close-up picture of the terrain:

We saw many beautiful wildflowers along the way.

The kids attended a nature talk to learn about animals found in the area.

It is hard to tell from this picture, but this is actually quite a steep climb.

Jack and Patrick slid down the other side.
 I circled Jack and Patrick in yellow in the picture below:

 We saw some wildlife along the way.

Notice Jim's grip on the kids.
 This is the view on the other side of Jim and the kids.  He was adamant that we wouldn't lose a child there!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from two skeletons, Clifford, and a giraffe!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Summer Trip, Part I: Iowa

We went on an epic summer trip in July.  It started with a two night stay with Jim's Uncle Mike in Iowa.  He lives on the bluffs above the Mississippi River.  We arrived on July 3rd, just in time to celebrate Independence Day!
One of the first things we did after arriving was go to the playground by the river.

Afterwards, the boys enjoyed the view from Uncle Mike's front yard as Jim grilled dinner.
Uncle Mike has a telescope that the kids love to use to see birds, boats, and all sorts of interesting things along the river.
Jim entertained us with his guitar after dinner.
Maggie and Charlie were exhausted.  After they went to sleep, the rest of us sat outside and waited for the fireworks display on the river.

The next morning was the 4th of July and we went to Ft. Madison for their 103rd annual kiddie parade.
It was awesome!  We registered in the "Family" category.  

When we registered the kids, they each got to put a raffle ticket in a can to win one of the bikes.  Charlie won one!!!  We couldn't believe it when his name was called!  Since our car was pretty full for our two week trip, we had to tie it to the roof!
We drove around town a bit and then decided to explore the fort (Old Fort Madison).  We were treated to a gun demonstration and the firing of a canon. 

Later, we went to nearby town for their 4th of July celebration, which included live music.  There was a playground for the kids.

How many kids fit on a see saw at once?

What a difference a year makes!
Our silly kiddos and Uncle Mike:
Family pic:
We brought some bottle rockets and sparklers with us.  After Maggie was in bed, Jim set off some bottle rockets and then we let the boys do some sparklers.  It was a fun Fourth of July!
The boys are obediently staying far away from the bottle rockets.