Thursday, October 30, 2014

Getting To South Dakota - Stilp Family Vacation: Part Eight of Who Knows How Many

Saying goodbye to Curt's family was rough.  We were emotionally and physically exhausted and had a thirteen hour drive ahead of us through mostly flat farmland to get to Rapid City, South Dakota.  We entered our day with trepidation, but the Lord sustained us and this day ended up being really awesome.  Who would have thought?
The kids about to leave North St. Paul.   Tired and sad... 
The kids were rock star travelers. They read.  Listened to music.  Played iPods.  Colored.  Made up games.  Deliberated over what to buy at the gas stations.  What they didn't do was fight.  Or sleep.  Can you believe that?  Almost 13 hours in the car and no one slept or bickered enough for it to be a major problem.  THAT is amazing!
South Dakota!
Highlights of our travel day were:

1.  Lunch at Perkins.  We don't have Perkins Restaurant in the Pacific Northwest so we stopped there for lunch with the kids.  We were all a little punchy and slap happy which made for a somewhat crazy and fun lunch break.

2.  Lewis and Clark Museum-Scenic View Point-Rest Area Stop.  One rest area about halfway through our day boasted a View Point and a Lewis and Clark Museum.  We were all desperate to get out of the car so we stopped.  Curt loves history - especially Lewis and Clark - and was so excited to explore this museum that he practically ran to the door,  only to stop dead in his tracks because it was closed.  It was wicked hot and humid.  We were tired and disappointed. A pity party sounded good.  Instead we collapsed in the lush green grass, shaded by the (closed) museum, and laid there heads together looking at the sky.  Strange that this is one of the moments that stands out to me the most from our vacation.
how we originally felt about the museum being closed
What we talked ourselves into choosing instead - JOY!
3.  Another Road Side Dance Party. We stopped at one more View Point just as the Badlands were starting.  The summer sun was moments away from setting as the kids ran down a dirt trail into the prairie. Grant cranked music on his phone and all the kids kicked up some dust with a dance party.  I will never tire of their spunky energy and zest for life.  What a gift they are!

We stopped at Wall Drug - even though I disliked it as a kid - because it felt like a crime to just drive by.  It was as I remembered it.  Too big.  No windows.  Old.  Smelly. Claustrophobic.  Too many people.  Almost instantly I felt anxious and closed-in. Large crowds and chaos unnerve me - a relatively new realization about myself.  We bought the $.05 cups of (crappy) coffee.  Grant's face when he tasted it was hilarious!  We also bought the homemade doughnuts.  The Stilp Family Jury was split on the awesome to marginal ratings.  Overall none of the Stilp's were sad to leave Wall Drug (sorry South Dakota Tourism).

As we left Wall Drug we were treated to an awesome Midwestern summer thunder storm.  Dark clouds, thunder, lightening, huge rain drops coming down in sheets, stiff winds, and warm, hot air.  It was awesome!

We piled back in the car for the final push to Rapid City.  The skies turned black again and unleashed another torrent of rain.  It was a magnificent, awe-inspiring,  powerful storm in the heart of the Badlands. We pulled off to the side of the interstate and I had the privilege of photographing a double rainbow arching through dark storm clouds over the Badlands and a parked train!  I seriously thought I was going to wet my pants with excitement.  Or get carried away by the wind.  It was a BEAUTIFUL storm!

We rented a cabin in Rapid City for two nights and were thrilled to finally pull into our designated parking space at the resort.  Our "cabin" was hilarious.  It must have been 1,200 square feet of non-glamourous living space and was attached to the resort laundromat.  It was clean but felt dirty because everything was so old.

The kitchen was part mud room, part VFW hall, and part business conference room.  The only decoration in the entire cabin was a nice painting hung too high and off centered a wall that was too big for the painting.  The bathroom was split between two rooms that appeared to have been closets or storage areas at one time.  One of the bathrooms had a sink and a toilet.  The other had a sink and the world's tiniest shower.  Our cabin also had a back door with a picnic table, grill, and a short walk to the resort pool which wasn't much bigger than a bathtub.  Three basic bedrooms slept our entire family in two full size beds and two twin beds.
The bedrooms
The kitchen, dining, two bathrooms, and the front door 
Our back door, picnic table, and our cabin 
The best part about our cabin is that the kids LOVED it!  There was nothing fancy about it, but it was a roof over our heads and a place to be together and make memories.  The kids saw only the beauty of these things and chose not to see all the quirks.  It challenged me to rethink my priorities and focus on what is really important.  It's one of the perks of being a parent - my kids teach me so much about life and love.
How I love this Crew of Crazy!
The last treat of our long travel day was a late night grocery run with Grant. When we emerged from the store lightening was blowing up the sky and sheets of rain formed immediate puddles all over the parking lot.  Other customers hung out in the covered area waiting for the storm to blow over, but Grant and I ran right into it.  Drenched in seconds, Grant drove the cart all over the parking lot through deep puddles while I stood in the summer downpour and laughed.

It was a wonderful way to end a long, but fun day.  Getting to South Dakota turned out to be much better than I anticipated!

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