Greetings from South Dakota!

Yes! I am sitting in a hotel room in Rapid City, South Dakota, typing away and sending this to you via free wireless internet service. Boy, do I like this hotel! FYI, its the Comfort Inn and Suites on North LaCrosse, so if you’re ever in Rapid City, stay here. Its worth the bucks.

Anyway, we’ve been in SD since Friday. So far, we’ve been to three family parties and endured nearly severe AND severe thunderstorms every night but Saturday. Last night’s was a doozy. We saw two weather spotter trucks on I-90 and another one in Chamberlain (the town where Carl’s mom lives). We were staying out in the country with Carl’s brother Loren and his family, and thunderstorms out there are a hoot and a half. I only wish I could have seen some cloud features, but the storms were all after sunset, so I was out of luck.

But staying at Loren’s is nice. The girls have their cousins Sarah and Jeffrey to play with, and also Candy the Chocolate Lab and about a bizillion cats. I spent time with Julie, Loren’s wife, helping her make food for the various get-togethers, and when I wasn’t helping Julie I was sitting outside drawing. I made drawings of the old shop, the corn-crib-barn-thingy that’s falling down, and a section of picket fence that had a nice flowerbed in front of it. I also took photos of the things I drew in case I want to make paintings of them later. Ahhh, rest and relaxation.

Another nice thing about this trip is Carl’s brother Steve and his wife Chris came up from Texas. They haven’t been “home” for about six years, and it was nice to see them. They’re both good horseback riders, so Chris gave Jeffrey some tips on riding his horse Goldie. She (the horse) hadn’t been ridden in a while and was refusing to take her bit, but Chris got her bridled. After she took Jeffrey around, giving him pointers on how to make the horse obey, Loren gave both of my girls rides on the horse by letting them sit in the saddle while he led the horse around. But then Steve got on the horse. She didn’t want to cooperate but Steve made her. I guess you had to be there, but it was alot like watching a rodeo. Steve’s a tough guy, and really stubborn, even more stubborn than Carl, believe it or not. I didn’t think there was anyone more stubborn than Carl. (Just kidding, honey.)

So anyway. Today we drove out to Rapid City and since we couldn’t check in to the hotel right away we took the girls down to the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where Carl went to college for his bachelor’s degree. They have a Geology Museum there, with fossils and minerals and neat rocks and stuff. The girls loved that. Then Carl gave us a walking tour of his campus (its a very small campus) then we hit the bookstore for some souvenirs. Mary got a short sleeved t-shirt, Hannah got a long sleeved t-shirt, Carl got a travel mug and I got a yellow hoodie. Now I can go to the Iowa-ISU game this fall and not have to take sides. Whoopee! Later today we plan to take the girls to Storybook Island, which is basically a giant playground, then after dinner I plan to do some shopping for Friday (details shortly). Tomorrow we’ll go into the Black Hills and see Mt. Rushmore, then drive around and see various sites that Carl knows and can easily find (and that aren’t cheesy). Friday we’ll head back to Chamberlain, stopping at the museum on Ellsworth AFB (before the bureaucratic morons close it) and also going through Badlands National Park. Friday night is Jeffrey’s birthday, and since Hannah’s birthday is a week from tomorrow we’ll celebrate hers, too. We plan to take everyone out to eat at Pizza Hut, and I’m going to get some birthday presents for the kids. That’s what the shopping’s for.

So I’d better be going. Mary’s practically jumping up and down with impatience, and besides, Carl wants to use the computer, too.

And you know how stubborn HE is…

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