Anyway, back to vacation. We spent a week in South Dakota and Wyoming over Memorial Day and had an absolutely wonderful time. Back a few months ago when we were planning the trip, I decided there was no way we were going to make a roughly 15 hour drive with a 2 year old. Then I got a hernia and have been restricted to pretty much not lifting anything and I decided there was no way Chris could lug Rease, her car seat, and a couple of carry on's around the airport by himself. So.....we ended up driving. It went so much better than I thought it would. Rease was great the entire car ride. We left after work Thursday and I don't think she made any complaints until about 11pm when she woke up saying her bottom hurt. All that sitting is hard on a little butt :)
We got to the hotel around 1am and all fell fast asleep, ready to get up and start the 2nd leg of the drive the next morning. We were going out to South Dakota to see our friend Steve, who moved out in December. He had been teasing us for a while telling us to enjoy the drive because he was going to be flying over our heads and beat us to his house and we would still have a few hours in the car (he happened to be in Peoria for work when we left for South Dakota). I woke up and checked the time on my phone and read what I thought was another teasing text from Steve. "Don't leave Sioux Falls, I might need a ride". I'm thinking, you are such a brat, just rubbing in it that we have another 6 hours in the car. I sent him a text pretty much saying he was mean for teasing me and then he called and said he wasn't joking...oops! His flight was cancelled out of Peoria and they couldn't get him on another plane until the next day. So being the trooper he is, he jumped in a rental car and started driving so he could be there with us instead of stuck in Peoria. **Needless to say, Steve pretty much has had the worst luck with flights in the last few months.....I won't even begin to explain but the poor guy deserves a break!
So we met Steve in the afternoon and hit the road to Rapid City. That leg of the drive was definitely the beautiful part. Once we crossed the Missouri River and hit the Black Hills, the view was absolutely breath-taking. I just looked out the window and thought about how awesome it was to be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery God had created. It is gorgeous. Rease also loved looking out the window and calling out all of the random cattle that were along the road. We stopped for dinner and to stretch and we were talking to Rease about the buffalo statues they had in the front of the restaurant. She was all excited talking about the buffalo, until we got within about 50 feet of them. Then all we heard was "no buffalo, no buffalo". It was very entertaining. Being the great parents we are, we took her up to them anyway and made her touch them and get her picture with them. :) She was less than thrilled! (Ignore the look on my face, it was a mix of being blinded by the sun and laughing at Rease).
We made a few more stops to stretch and let the pregnant lady go to the bathroom and made it to Rapid in the late evening. It was really pretty coming in to Rapid from the interstate. It was dark so you come in and see all the lights from town, etc., and it was really a neat view. We made it to Steve's house and pretty much all crashed after the long drive.
Saturday was beautiful and we were able to spend the day getting a tour of Rapid and stopping in at Steve's alma mater to check out the CAT lab and all of the Indy Car's. Rease made friends with the Steve's buddy that was showing her around and got to "drive" one of the cars. After that she wanted to sit in all of the cars. She also found welder and the stock pile of weld sticks and was very entertained by that. Apparently she has found her calling in life and is going to take after Woody :)
We also took Rease for her first ever trip to Cabelas and she absolutely loved it (minus the big buffalo statue out front). We had to make another trip later in the week and she decided that she just had to have a hat and a puppy dog. She is still wearing her hat around (mostly backwards) and sleeps with her puppy dog every night. She loves that silly dog. We went to the Visitor's Center and Rease had a great time pushing all of the buttons and watching the 3-D map of the Hills light up.
Chris and Steve went out and did some shooting while Rease and I settled down for an afternoon nap. Chris had a lot of fun doing that and has been talking about guns ever since Thanks, Steve :)
Rease and I got to finish off the afternoon by having a snack at the table and watching all of the deer that came down to Steve's yard to graze. Rease ran around to ever window in the house yelling at the deer and having a great time watching them.
Sunday we were able to go visit Steve's church and then we headed to Wyoming to see where he grew up and meet his family, and the guys had plans for 4-wheeling. We took the scenic way to Upton and stopped by Devil's Tower. Steve's brother and sister-in-law were camping there so we were able to get out and stretch and chat for a while. It was a little cold that day, by cold I mean about 40 degrees, so we were a little chilly, but the company was great. Rease tried to walk their dog and managed to discover, pick up, or fall in every kind of animal poop she could find. It was great :)
Once in Upton, Rease pretty much thought she ruled the place. Steve's mom took to her right away and I'm pretty sure Rease thought she was the queen of the house. Mary kept bringing her toys and letting her watch whatever she wanted on the tv. I think Rease is sad she is home with us again :) Somehow I managed to lose a pound over the week were traveling, but I have no idea how because I think I ate the whole time I was at Steve's parents' house. His mom's monster cookies were awesome! The boys went 4-wheeling Monday and had a great time. After lunch we packed up and headed back for another scenic trip back to Rapid.
We drove through Deadwood, Hill City, and parts of Custer. We drove up through the Needles and I thought for sure I would be sick. I am not a fan of driving on narrow roads that just drop off, but I managed to keep it together and tried not to make any terrified gasping sounds when we met other cars. We stopped at Sylvan Lake to take a walk and see the beauty of it. It was really cold, so we only stayed about 30 minutes, but it was so beautiful.
Rease was spent on the way back to Steve's and was asleep in about 2 minutes. I can't pass up putting up the picture because it is so funny. I think if I would have even tried to pick up her arms or legs they would have just flopped down as dead weight.
Tuesday was supposed to be a little chilly still so we decided to hit some mostly indoor attractions. We went to Reptile Gardens and Rease had a great time. She loved the bird show and was talking about the owl and the chicken and very engrossed in them. We skipped the snake show and went in to check out the alligators, crocodiles, spiders and snakes. Rease didn't mind anything until we got to the really big snakes, then she kept saying "no snake mommy, no snake mommy". We took a trip out to see the gigantic turtles and the prairie dogs. Rease also liked the thought of the turtles until Steve got her close enough to touch it and then she decided she wasn't too keen of them.
We went back to Steve's so Rease could take a nap and the boys went out and drove Steve's old pick up around. I am not sure what all they did, but the pick up came back almost out of gas and muddy; so they must have had fun! We had dinner with Steve's brother and sister-in-law and their little one (who was sleeping while we visited them at Devil's Tower). Rease wasn't quite sure that she felt like sharing Ellie's toys, but she did a decent job. They also let her run the tv and she got lots of Dora in while we were there. She also got to borrow the Little Mermaid, and insisted on watching it while we were at Steve's.
Thursday was our last full day in Rapid so we made the most of it. Steve finally let me do some cooking so I made biscuits and gravy for breakfast and then we headed out for the day. We decided to go to Custer State Park and see the wildlife. On the way we stopped for a picnic and had a good time. The weather was gorgeous and it was a beautiful spot for a picnic.
After that we went into the park. Our first stop was the Coolidge Lookout and the view was spectacular. Rease was asleep so I didn't go up to the observation deck, but Chris and Steve said you could see for miles. I think you could see Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Harney Peak (but don't quote me on it).
We stopped at a local pie shop on the way back from the park and the pie was delicious! I am not a huge fan of pie but it was excellent. I would love to have the recipe for the crust! We ended the evening with dinner at Steve's and enjoyed some time hanging out until we were all too tired to keep our eyes open!
Steve had to work Thursday and we started in on our 2 day trip back to Illinois. We had a great week and are so thankful that Steve let us come and hang out with him for a week. He did a great job playing travel guide during the week and never got annoyed with my 1000 stops to go to the bathroom or let Rease get out and run for a bit. We had a great time enjoying the beauty of the Hills and all they had to offer. Hopefully we can get back sometime in the next couple of years (Hopefully I won't be about 8 months pregnant the next time) :)
Here are a couple other random pictures of Rease from the week and a couple from her birthday and before church a couple weeks ago (she looked so cute and old, I had to get a picture).