Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Summer Fun in South Dakota's been busy this past week, and again I'm behind on my blogging!  But I wanted to share some photos and story from my trip home to South Dakota over the 4th of July.

Back in my home state!

Every summer I make a pilgrimage back to visit my home state.  My parents and three of my siblings all live in South Dakota, so there's always family to see.  And this year, due to my parent's wedding anniversary, my other two brothers and their families scheduled visits for the same time.  With six kids, eleven grandkids, and four dogs descending upon my parent's house, it was a wild and wonderful week of family.

Roger, Brian and Zeus go for a spin

The first day of our visit, my sister invited us all up to their vacation property.  My sister and her husband own a large tract of land in the Black Hills.  It's currently undeveloped (except for a metal garage) but her husband has plans to build a cabin on the site.  He's got all kinds of fun big-boy toys up there, including two four-wheelers, a Bobcat tractor, and a backhoe.

Frisbee fun with Bear

So we loaded up into two cars and drove the maze of Forest Service roads to access the site.  It was a beautiful warm sunny day.  Perfect weather for fun in the woods!

Future cabin site

Bear loved roaming around in the forest.  And between my sister's girls and my brother's boys, he had lots of kids willing to play Frisbee.

I catch my kids in a photo (they are less than thrilled)

We took a picnic lunch up with us, and Cody built a fire in the firepit so the little kids could roast marshmallows.

Little boys love four-wheeler rides

Of course the big fun for my brother Ron's little boys was all the cool machinery.  All the kids got a ride on the four wheeler.

They also love Bobcat rides

And Uncle Brian gave the little boys a spin in his Bobcat, and then let them sit in his backhoe and operate the bucket (with a little help!).  This is every little boy's dream.

And there is nothing better than checking out a backhoe!

After the twins dug a small hole with the backhoe, they had to go and check out their handiwork!

Julia caught a ladybug

Susan's girls had fun playing with the dogs, climbing up the piles of dirt, and riding on the four-wheelers. 

Denise gives me a four-wheeler ride

Denise took off with her cousin Alisha on one of the four-wheelers.  They were having so much fun, they lost track of time (and got me worried!).  But both girls returned safe and sound, Denise in the driver's seat.  Denise liked driving the four-wheeler so much, she wanted to get one!  She offered to give me a ride.  Watching her tear around, I was a little tentative at first.  In the end, I gave in and ended up having a great time.

Roadside elk herd

On the way back to my parent's house, a large herd of elk crossed the road right in front of our vehicles.  The elk stopped at the side of the road and posed, giving us a great photo op.  I've never seen so many elk in one place before.

The kids are ready for fireworks

The Fourth of July means one thing to little kids - fireworks!  This 4th was no exception.  My brother Brian loves fireworks, and buys a ton every year.  He generously shared his firework stash with all the kids.

Uncle Brian lights the kid's sparklers

The kids kept Brian busy lighting their sparklers.  Pretty soon Mom and Dad's front yard was alight with their glow.

Sparkler fun

Of course Brian had lots of other fun fireworks to light off.  There were smoke bombs, bottle rockets, and lots of pretty sparking cones.  Poor Bear hates loud noises, especially fireworks.  When things really got going, he made beeline for the basement, where he cowered all night.

The sparklers make light trails in the dark

Mom and Dad had a huge cookout in their backyard, complete with burgers and homemade ice cream.  We stuffed ourselves, and then sat back to watch the kids run around the yard with their sparklers.

Municipal firework show

The city always puts on a nice fireworks display, so around 9:00, we packed up everyone (except Bear of course) to see the show.

The grand finale

The nice thing about these type of events in a small town, is you can leave a half hour prior to the start time, and still get a place to park and a good viewing area.  The firework show was great, as always.  I brought my camera, and managed to get a couple of good shots.

Welcome to the "Big House"

The day after the fourth, my folks booked a night's stay in a large vacation cabin at a nearby resort.  Our cabin was large enough to accommodate the entire family.  The resort had appropriately dubbed it "the Big House."

No, we didn't have to use these!

For some reason, there were outhouses all over this place.  A few of the privies were decorated with Western themes.  I especially liked these two beauties, signed for cowboys and cowgirls (the one for the cowgirls even had curtains!)  Luckily, we did not have to use these facilities.  Our cabin may have been rustic, but it did feature indoor plumbing.

Grandpa having fun with the grandkids

All of my family came to the cabin.  It was a wonderful chaos of card games, board games, kids running around exploring the grounds, and some of us just kicking back and relaxing with our books.

Starting a campfire

The front yard had a firepit, and after dinner the guys made a fire.  Mom broke out the marshmallows for the kids, big and small.

Time for s'mores!

Everyone got into the act, toasting marshmallows and making s'mores.  And of course, there's nothing more fun to kids of all ages than to play with the fire.  It was just like camping, but we didn't have to sleep in a tent.

Marshmallow roast

The next morning dawned cloudy and cool.  I decided to take a walk with my camera around the resort.  There was a beautiful little creek bubbling behind our house.  A few flowers were blooming, and everything was nice and green.

Dale and Roger trying their luck

Roger and Dale decided the stream looked like an inviting place to fish.  They got out their poles and headed to its grassy banks.  I happened by Roger at just the right moment as he pulled in a large brook trout.  I was able to snap a few photos before Roger released the fishie back into the stream.

Roger, the fish-master

Sadly, all vacations must come to an end.  The days flew by way too fast, and before we knew it, we were packing up our car again for the long drive back to Oregon.

It was a great few days of food, family and fun.  Summer is a nice season in South Dakota, and there's always good times to be had.  Until next year........


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