Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Aberdeen 2013

A few months ago, a friend of mine from the Jamestown branch messaged me on Facebook to see if we wanted to go with them and a few other families to Aberdeen, SD for a weekend.  We bought our camper last summer, and they bought an RV last summer, so they knew we liked to camp.  We loved Aberdeen last summer, and were planning on going back again this summer, so we told them to count us in.  

Preparing for a weekend of camping when you are 8 months pregnant is really exhausting.  I took a pic while I was unloading groceries and separating out our camping stuff.

We left Thursday after Jason was off work around 5pm.  One of the things we love about Aberdeen is that it is only two hours South of us.  We were going to eat along the way, but since our kids were both asleep we decided to order a pizza in Aberdeen and just pick it up when we got there.  That worked out perfectly, our kids woke up right as we were arriving.  The kids and I ate while Jason set up the camper.  We visited with our friends since their RV site was right next to us.  The other families had gone to Storybook Land that evening for a kid event there.  We always take the kids bikes when we camp, but I told Jason to throw our bikes in at the last minute because I remembered a lot of biking trails around the campground.  I'm really glad we did because biking was our main mode of transportation while we were there.  Everything is pretty close, but it would have been long walks for the kids.  That evening, since we knew our kids would be up late (napping from 5-7pm will do that to a kid) we headed over and fed the ducks and geese.  I swear I have pictures of us doing all the same things we did last year.  It was fun for me to read back on the blog and compare.  

After the ducks, we rode our bikes to Storybook Land.  We ran into the other families who were camping with us and visited with them for awhile.  It was SO HOT!  Probably around 95 degrees that evening.  Jason and I went on a walk after the kids were in bed around 10:30 and we were still sweating.  Definitely the hottest day since we have been in ND/SD.  We headed back to our camper and bathed the kids and put them to bed.  

The next morning we got up and rode our bikes around and played on one of the many playgrounds at the campground.  After that we headed to Storybook Land where they acted out a cute story about ice cream, the kids did an ice cream craft, and they handed out little ice cream cups (in honor of Ice Cream day on Sunday).  It was cute.  I thought my boys looked so cute listening intently to the story.

We then went back to the camper to get ready for an afternoon at the Aberdeen Aquatics Center.  For lunch we headed to the Palm Garden Cafe where we ate last summer.  I can still remember my ham and asparagus panini with roasted red peppers.  You know it was good when you can remember it a year later.  I was tempted to get the same thing, but I didn't.  Our food was delicious again and we love following up lunch with some chocolate from the little shop they have as well.  I love the salted sea caramels while Jason favors the dark chocolate pecan turtles.  

Max fed Jason some sweet potato fries. 

This is us there last summer.

And this summer.  Both times we were on our way to go swimming. 

 I remember spending a lot of time coaxing our children to play in the water last year.  This year it was not a problem.  Ollie loved going down the kid slides and letting the big buckets dump water on him.  We also spent a lot of time in the big swimming pool where they boys practiced their swimming between Jason and I.  Jason went down the big yellow slide which takes you from top to bottom in 7 seconds.  I look forward to trying that next summer.

I got the boys to pose for this picture when we got there.  It was during one of the hourly 15 minute breaks they force everyone to take.

 We left after about 3 hours, but before our friends (they all have older kids).  We came home and cooked BBQ chicken, corn on the cob and baked beans.  I know I always take a picture like this when we are camping, but I love our little set up (notice the homey awning).  

That night since our kids didn't nap we bathed them and put them to bed.  The rest of the families were getting together for dutch oven desserts.  Since I don't have a dutch oven I made a peach raspberry crisp and brought it over.  I felt kind of bad not letting the kids stay up, but it is just better for everyone if they get their sleep.  Jason took a panoramic picture of everyone around the campfire that night.  Jamie's face got a little distorted.  

 Saturday morning we got up had breakfast and then went on a bike ride.  We stopped and played at a park and then rode our bikes around the little zoo they have there.  It has yaks, llamas, bison, reindeer, deer, and prairie dogs.

Silly boys having breakfast.

Playing in the sand.  I love that my boys have each other to play with.  They really are the best of friends.

Me and the boys with the reindeer behind us.

After the zoo, we rode to Storybook Land (the "zoo" is on the outside perimeter of SBL).

When you walk into SBL, you go under a big rainbow and then you can see the castle.  Inside the castle is where they have all the fun activities for kids.  It was a beautiful 75 degrees that day.

Max loved the lion drinking fountain.

We had a lot of fun with the fun house mirrors.

I got a picture of Ollie sitting with Humpty so I could compare it to the one I took last year.  I think I will do one each year.  Max wouldn't let us put him up there, he was afraid he would fall.

The boys were really cute in the cut outs.

Ollie running up to the three little pigs houses.  You can see the house built of straw, sticks and bricks. Jason found a SBL app for his phone.  It has videos of all the different stories/nursery rhymes.  He would watch a couple with the kids each night leading up to our trip.  It made it nice because the kids knew what they were looking at this year.  It was cute too because every once in a while we would hear Max chanting "Fee Fie Fo Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman". 

I had to get a pic of Jason with the honey bear.

One of the main attractions at SBL is the "Land of Oz".  It is a whole area dedicated to the Wizard of Oz.
The boys and I with the characters.  Jason thought it appropriate for me to stand with the wicked witch :)

My munchkins in front of Munchkin land.

Following the yellow brick road.

There are three rides at SBL.  The train that goes around the park, the carousel and a little balloon ride.  The boys had fun on the carousel and the train, but we couldn't convince them to ride the balloon ride.  Ollie rode it last year but wouldn't think of it this year.

A family pic in front of Jack's beanstalk.

 We rode the train the day before when we were there, and we rode it again on our way out of the park.  My boys love riding little trains. 

That afternoon we went back to the camper, had lunch and took a big family nap.  It was awesome.  The campground also has miniature golf, go cars, bumper boats, a bungee/trampoline thing and a lake with a beach.  We told Ollie that we would do the go carts and he didn't forget.  He asked us all the time.  That afternoon we went over and Jason took each of the boys for a ride.  Something else I look forward to doing next summer.

Jason and Ollie.

Max waiting patiently for his turn.

Jason and Max.

Ollie waiting for daddy and Max.

We got in line for the bumper boats, but decided we didn't want to get wet and we didn't think the boys would love it that much.

We stopped at another park on our way back to camp, and then Ollie and I relaxed while Jason and Max went and got some firewood.   Ollie was cracking me up because he moved his little chair so that he could watch some other campers playing a bean bag toss game.  He was watching them so intently.

Our all American meal, pulled pork, coleslaw, corn on the cob and fruit salad (not pictured).  

My dad taught Ollie how to play war while they were here.  I love that Ollie likes to play games and I try to always be a willing participant when he asks to play.

Three of the six families who were camping left Saturday afternoon.  We made our reservations through Sunday and a few of the families decided to do the same.  That evening, since the boys had napped, we let them stay up and we built a fire and roasted marshmallows with the other two families.  I think my boys each ate like six marshmallows...yuck!  They had a great time playing duck duck goose and hide and seek with the other kids.  

Jason got this cute picture of Max with marshmallow all over his face.  Such a happy boy.  

Jason got as much of the camper ready as he could Saturday night.  We got up on Sunday and finished packing up.  Our goal was to leave by 8am to make it to our 10am church two hours away.  We left at 8:40, close enough :)  We were a little late to church, but I made it in time to help in nursery.  I took this picture of Max during nursery.  After our lesson we will usually read a couple of books.  The other two girls in class that day had lost interest and were playing, but Max sat on his little carpet, with his arms folded and listened to the story.  It was a precious little moment.  

It was a great weekend.  We packed a ton in.  It was fun for us to get to know some of the families in our branch better.  We can't wait for next summer to visit again.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Medora, ND

Medora is North Dakota's #1 Destination (according to Medorand.com).  It is famous for the Medora Musical.  Jason had been as a kid, and we stayed in Medora last year on our way to Gackle, but the musical hadn't started yet.  We figured it would be a fun thing to take my parents to.  We loaded up the camper Friday morning and headed out.  We stopped in Bismarck to drop off a Miller Honey employee who was taking the bus home to CA for a couple weeks, ran a few errands, had lunch and then we were back on the road.  Medora is about 4 hours from Gackle.  We got to our campsite a little while before my parents and got things all set up.  It was not my favorite camping place.  I don't like when it is just a parking lot full of RV's.  I like to feel like we are "camping".  It was fine though.  It had a little store, playground and a pool nearby.

Max finishing off some chocolate milk.

That evening we had tickets for the pitchfork fondue steak dinner and the musical.  It had been threatening rain most of the afternoon and as we were leaving for the dinner there was a totally downpour with thunder and lightening.  It continued through the dinner, which had some covered seating, thank goodness.  The dinner was delicious.  We had heard some mixed reviews so we weren't sure what to expect.  The steaks were huge and we were glad that we only got one per couple.

Jason learning about cooking the steaks fondue style.  

It was pretty wet.

 Medora is part of the badlands, and it is so beautiful!

The outdoor stage.  We were worried that the show might be cancelled, but the rain let up and it ended up being a really nice evening.  

 Jason got us pretty good seats which was nice.  

The musical features a live band and the burning hills singers.  They sing country music while telling about the history of North Dakota.  There was a featured group High Voltage that did hip hop dancing and acrobatics after intermission, and then back to the singing.  It was a really fun show to watch. Lots of North Dakota pride. Jason (very willingly) took the boys back to camp at intermission and put them to bed since it was way past their bedtime.  

Saturday we went into Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  We drove the loop and stopped along the way to hike and look for animals.  Theodore Roosevelt is talked about a lot in Medora.  I think because he was the only famous person to really LOVE North Dakota.  

My boys always pick me flowers.  It is really sweet, I wish I had a way to preserve them.

We came around a corner to find this bison just walking in the middle of the road.  He kindly moved to the side and we drove by very slowly, checking him out.  He was HUGE.

We came back to the camper for lunch and then my parents took off to see some other things that we decided would be pretty boring for the kids.  I took a nap and Jason took the kids swimming.  After that we headed into Medora to walk around the cute downtown area.  

We stopped in a general store and Max tried on some hats. 

 That afternoon they had their 4th of July parade again since there were lots of people there for the weekend.  We got a good spot and the kids had tons of fun running out and getting candy.  Since they were in the Gackle parade they didn't get to do that on the fourth.

Diya and Ollie making silly faces.

 We ate ice cream while we waited for the parade.

We walked around after the parade and the kids played on a cool playground they have there.  Max had filled the pockets of his shorts with tons of candy (to the point that his shorts were falling down).  Although we had asked him many times not to eat it, the temptation was just too great and we eventually had to take the candy from the baby :(  It was pretty devastating.  You can see the green candy drool dripping from his mouth.  

Jason had dropped his bike off at this cook bike shop in Medora to have it tuned up.  We visited with them awhile and shared stories of the touring cyclist we had all met.  We checked out the other campground in Medora, which was more picturesque, but right on the river so I'm sure the mosquitos were horrific.  I'm not sure if the trade off would be worth it.  I hate mosquitos.  Then we came back to camp and started dinner.  Jason made some pretty delectable hamburgers, mom made broccoli salad and we had corn on the cob.  It was SO good.  Such a summer meal.  

Jason used the wrong side of the salt shaker and ended up ruining his corn with too much salt.  So sad.

After dinner my dad played war with Ollie and my mom read Max a book.  After the kids went to bed my parents left for Rapid City, SD.  They spent Sunday visiting Mt. Rushmore, Crazyhorse, and Custers National Park.  They drove back to Minneapolis on Monday and flew out that night.  We were sad to see them go, but they assured us they would be back to visit ND.

Anther selfie, this time his face is covered in corn...haha.

Max wearing Papa's glasses.

Each night our boys were pretty beat.  Max still sleeps with his little bum in the air sometimes.  I loved when he did it as a baby and love it just as much when he does it as an almost 3 year old.

Sunday morning we got up and attended this cute little Lutheran church.  Jason and I enjoy visiting other churches.  It was interesting because this pastor kept talking about "the mormons".  Luckily he had mostly good things to say :)

It was pouring rain when we woke up that morning and continued after church, so we took a little drive since we didn't want to hook the camper up in the rain.  We drove to the Bully Pulpit golf course which is apparently ranked one of America's top 100 public golf courses (again, according to Medora's website).  

 After that we headed back to our camp.  The rain eventually died down and led to sunny skies.  We had to throw all our camping chairs and big camping rug in the camper and then set them up to dry them out once we got back to Gackle.  It was a great weekend.  Next weekend we are looking forward to staying home and laying low.  We have been busy.  When we got home Sunday night we had four cyclists sitting at our picnic table and two more showed up later.  For the first time people had to set up tents in our yard because the basement was full.  We have a group of seven coming Thursday night and I think six on Friday night.  It is a lot of fun to meet all these interesting people biking across the country.