Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Halloween 2017

Nothing brings out the spooks on 131st Place like Halloween. The cul-de-crew goes all out with decorations, and each year they keep getting better. We now have traffic and daily visitors venturing down "Halloween Place." And we kind of love it.
We began the whole shebang at the start of October. The Beissers had the kids over to their pumpkin patch to paint pumpkins...

... we gathered round the firepit for chili...
 ... and took in a driveway movie.
This year the girls on the street decided to dress as pirates. Gryffin dressed up as his own character, Black Ash, from his books and future movies.
And of course, the cats and bunny...

 Don't they just look thrilled in their aquatic get-up?
Our neighborhood always puts on an awesome Halloween parade.
This year Lorelei was old enough to help pass out candy with Ava.

 Next came Night of the Living Farm.

 ... Complete with a haunted zombie hayride, everyone's favorite!
 Slumber parties...
 Pumpkin carving...

When Halloween night arrived, the neighbors gathered on the trampoline.
We took photos.

We set the bonfire aflame.
And as the dads took the kids around to gather loot, the moms stayed back and greeted trick-or-treaters with warmth and candy.

See that flying ghost? Mark and I rigged a zipline from the basketball hoop to the weeping spruce, and it was the highlight of the night zooming back and forth with flashing LED lights.
 This little coven was another new addition. Boil bubble toil and trouble--tee-hee-hee-hee!
 Our Slenderman (a gift from Mark and the kids) and our Pumpkin Dispatch.
 The kids were out for hours and came back all smiles to sort candy with their friends, while Mark joined me around the fire. I love that they're still into trick-or-treating.
Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Summer Road Trip, Part 4: South Dakota

After visiting Rocky Mountain National Park (HERE), the kids and I hit the road again and headed north to South Dakota. After doing some research, we opted to stay in Custer at Buffalo Ridge Campsite inside, you guessed it, a teepee!
After unpacking our bags from the car, we took off toward the Wildlife Loop inside Custer State Park, nestled in the Black Hills.
Wildlife in endless variety roamed the roads just outside our car, and a herd of buffalo crossed right in front of us!

We brought some apples and veggies to feed the donkeys.

 The kids were beyond thrilled with this place.

Later that night, we headed up to see the Crazy Horse monument and the light show.
 Here's up a bit closer after we took the bus up to see this masterpiece in progress.

 The visitor's center was incredible, and the kids got to take home their own rocks from Crazy Horse Mountain. We enjoyed learning all about the Native Americans as well as the large family that is committed to carrying out this project to completion.

We snuggled back into our teepee for one very angry thunderstorm, which lasted almost all night. I began to wonder how sturdy those teepees were as lightning flashed and thunder shook. We weren't entirely waterproof, but it kept most the rain out. What an adventure!

The next morning we drove the Needles Highway and Hwy 169 out to see Mount Rushmore. The kids know all their presidents, and Gryffin is especially enamored with Thomas Jefferson. They were so excited to finally see this monument in person.
 And the drive to get there was stunning.

Our first view of Mt. Rushmore!

 These tunnels were designed to frame it, making for a thrilling drive. At last, we arrived!

 I think this was Gryffin's favorite part of the entire summer.

 After hiking up to the monument, we got our Jr. Ranger badges at the Visitor's Center.

Then we headed over to the cafeteria to sample Thomas Jefferson's own famous vanilla ice cream.

Train rides and putt-putt at the campsite.
 After Mt. Rushmore, upon recommendations from friends, we headed over to Sylvan Lake. What a gorgeous place to canoe and explore!

And of course, the kids had to get wet... just like my DSLR camera. :( Yep, it didn't fare well in the canoe, and Mark kindly replaced it for my birthday.
The next morning, we headed out to Bear Country USA to literally drive through a zoo full of animals, including dozens of bears.

Aren't they precious?
 One more stop we couldn't miss... the Chapel in the Woods, an exact replica of the Borgund Stave Church we saw in Norway.
 Left: Norway; Right: South Dakota

 We loved the prayer walk beside it and even saw a family of deer up close!

 Later that morning, we headed out toward the Badlands. This place is spectacular! The landscape is other-worldly.

 Before heading out, we made the obligatory stop at Wall Drug, which was way too crowded for my liking. We took this pic and skedaddled out!
 We spent our last night here in Sioux Falls at a hotel with a waterpark, which was a nice relief after spending two nights in a teepee. Early the next morning, we made the long drive back to Kansas City, eager to get back to Mark! We cruised in to St. Joseph on fumes, missing the gas stop we'd planned to make. But we made it, and came home with adventures to tell of our National Parks road trip!