Tag Archives: South Dakota

The Black Hills [Mount Rushmore &The Needles Highway]

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Last spring I ran home for my brother wedding in the Black Hills. The Sexy Master Electrician has never spent much time in the Hills and we’ve never really spent any time at my parents, just quick trips through. We still didn’t spend much time at my parents but we did do a little afternoon trip in the Hills. (There was a misunderstanding that made us think everything was set up for the wedding, not that were were overtly excited to spend the day doing that anyway.) We did a drive from the Deadwood area down to Mount Rushmore, through the Needles Highway and ended back up in Deadwood to meet TSME’s parents for dinner.

One thing I recommend for traveling around the Black Hills, most gas stations, tourist stops, etc. have this 11x 17ish sized paper map that has all the big places to stop and ways to get there and it’s free. They’ve been doing it forever and they still are. If you’re going to run around the Hills, I highly recommend it as a go to reference. You may also want some Dramamine depending on your route, there are some pretty winding roads. We tried to avoid main tourist roads if we could and still see all we wanted. It has been probably about 10 years since I had last visited these places. It was a great little afternoon. 

Black Hills map overall

Our drive from Deadwood through Lead to Mount Rushmore took us along Lake Pactola. It is a man made lake that is named after the town that lies below it. It’s also the place we went cliff jumping way back in the old days.

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We made it to Mount Rushmore late in the afternoon. There was hardly anyone there. It was perfect for a quick stop. We watched the little video and went through the exhibit about how they made the sculpture and the creator, Gutzom Borglum, and the politics behind it. For the record, I know it is a massive carving in the rock, but it does not seem that big. Especially when you see Crazy Horse. However, it is impressive.  We were pressed for time, so we didn’t do any of the longer walks up closer to the heads, but there are trails you can take through the hills that are lovely if you have time.
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After that we took off to go along Iron Mountain Road toward the Black Hills Playhouse and the Needles Highway. This was basically a short cut to get to the Needles. On top of that, it is this windy, barely two-lane road that goes through a few tunnels that purposefully frame Mount Rushmore. I don’t know why, but I have no pictures of this. I don’t know what happened. It’s really cool though to drive and beautiful.  I recommend it.
Black Hills map loop
Mt Rushmore from US16A.jpg
Via Kimon Berlin, user:GribecoOwn work, CC BY 2.5, Link

Once you get to Highway 87, you have to get a park pass to Custer State Park. There are lots of things to see in there, including Jewel Cave and Wind Cave, but we’ve saved those for another trip. The needles are these amazing rock formations. Back when I was a climber, I’d been up there to do just that. It’s a beautiful area and one of my favorite drives. We also missed taking pictures of this area too.
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Via
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The Eye of the Needle via
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via
The road ends at Sylvan Lake, also the starting point of the hike up to Black Elk Peak, (formerly Harney Peak), highest point east of the Rockies in the US and and easy hike if you need one.
sylvan-lake via https://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer/campgrounds/sylvan-lake/
Via

That concludes our little afternoon in the hills. We headed back through the cute little town of Hill City and back to Deadwood for dinner. While this post may have been focused on Mount Rushmore, I fully encourage you to explore the Black Hills beyond it and other touristy things. They are a beautiful little area filled with lots of surprises.

 

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The Rose Fellowship Finalist Summit

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Last week I had the privilege to attend the first Rose Fellowship Finalist Summit. I found out just a couple weeks before that I had been selected. I was in a bit of shock, then super excited, then terrified. The intent of the summit was to bring together the finalist and the host organizations in one place before the final interview round. They wanted us to have the opportunity to network with each other since we all have a passion for community based design and could do wonderful things together. The hosts would have a chance to get to know us more before deciding on final interviewees. Like I said, exciting and terrifying all in one.

The summit was an all day event at the beautiful India House in Financial District. I was worried that there was going to be a sense of competition in the room since the 25 of us there are all hoping to land one of five spots this year. However, it wasn’t like that at all. Everyone was excited to be there an meet other people with similar interests in the design field. They made us business cards so that we could share our contact information easily with each other and anyone else that we wanted to be in touch with us.

After the welcome from Enterprise, the host organization representatives had four minutes to explain how they ended up where they are now. Then they sat down for a panel discussion about the fellowships. It was wonderful to hear how the landed in their various positions and how passionate they were about their jobs. After that we all had to give presentations.

The two weeks before I spent stressing out and trying to figure out what I was going to present  for my four minute, 12 slide pecha kucha. It had to get across what I was about in some way and why I deserved to be there. This was the first year they had done this summit, so I couldn’t even ask my friends what they did in the past. After talking it through and having some major help from some friends here, I ended up creating a presentation on how I ended up there and how Sturgis, my adopted hometown, had an impact on that path.

2015 JDunn Compressed Pecha Kucha

I was the fifth person to go. Luckily, I didn’t have to go first or last and got it out of the way quick. I managed to not stumble through it, I didn’t read my notes the entire time,  I don’t think I said “um,” and the timing with the slides was pretty good. After two years of not having to speak in public or in front of any audience, it was a bit of a shock to do it again. I’m so glad it went so smooth. Everyone had different approaches to the presentations and it was great to see what everyone is interested in or where they came from to get there.

After the presentations we had 10 minute speed interviews with our perspective host organizations. I applied for two projects so I met with both of them and they couldn’t have been more different. The one in South Dakota asked us to meet them for a drink in the down time before the evening social to talk more and get to know each other a bit better and asked us a couple serious questions in those 10 minutes. The upstate New York one was the exact opposite, much more relaxed, talking about the project a bit and what we had seen. I ended up asking him if he had any questions for me towards the end cause I didn’t want to have messed it up, the answer was, “nope.”

I did go meet the South Dakota crew for a drink and we discussed the project in more detail before heading over to the reception for the outgoing fellows. There I was able to meet up with my friend, Annie, who is a current fellow, meet her “classmates,” as well as the other current and many past fellows.  The outgoing fellows talked about their work over the past three years and then had a panel with their host organizations. It was so inspiring to see what they had done for their communities and how excited those places were to have them there.

The night ended at a bar with many of the finalist, fellows and Enterprise team hanging out. Many people would leave the next day, while I stayed through the weekend and hung out with my friends while showing Dr, K around the city.

It was kind of a surreal trip. To make it more surreal, on Monday I found out that I made it to the next round with the upstate New York organization. I will be heading back out to New York in less than three weeks for a real interview on site. My emotions are all over the place for various reasons and I cannot believe I made it this far. I cannot wait to see what happens at my interview or what comes of it.

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In any case, I’ve met some really amazing people and I hope we really do use the network that Enterprise set up for us and great things come of it, even if we do not all end up as fellows.

Sunday Afternoon Coffee [Thirty-one]

Sunday 31 coffeeIf we were having coffee this afternoon, I would apologize for being a bit absent. I may be having too much fun outside lately and with friends here. Last week I didn’t turn on my computer for an entire week. A week. It means I am being a bit lazy with the interweb social life, but I am gonna be okay with that for now. I hope you are too!

If we were having coffee this afternoon, we would talk about 406 Day at the 406 Brewing Company. On of my oldest friends also lives here in Bozeman and we finally caught up for real coffee that morning and continued the merriment at the brewery’s celebration with free beer, music and babies at the brewery. To make it better, a new distillery has opened in the back, Wildrye. Shannon and I tried a couple drinks with beet rum that were delicious. And I love their graphics.

Sunday 31wild rye

Love the graphics

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you to check out this animation that was made to help people think about what, where and how design affects us every day. Maybe the AIA should take a hint. Yeah it’s bad.

Speaking of design, one of the first projects I worked on at Envi Design is finished. It was a quick little bar expansion and renovation out in Ruby Springs.  We are talking two months from start to finish. There were a few hiccups here and there, but it all came together and looks pretty good!

Top: Before Bottom: After

Top: Before Bottom: After

If we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you about the rather crazy trip home with my bosses husband.  Let me explain. He is an blacksmith and artist, so when he found out I grew up on a dairy, he got really excited about the potential piles of old metal junk lying around. They also happened to be taking down a bar that’s roof caved in during the crazy early October storm.  So he finally convince me to go home and take him with so long as we also brought back the few remaining things I left there. We drove his old beat up truck with no radio, okay air and the ability to barely go 65 at 7 miles per gallon. He and dad got along fabulously, as I suspected they might. We checked out the Vale bar, which isn’t nearly as fun as it was with the previous owners. I baked a lot of things with mom, rode the horse, and didn’t even watch TV or play with my computer. The time on the road wasn’t as bad as I thought it was gonna be, even though on the way back, when it was cold, we had to stop and dig up yukka plants. I was ready to be back in my little car with some zip the last half hour home though.

Top Right: Crow loving the ride out with the mountains behind here Left: New baby calf  Right: Me on a horse.  The Truck loaded up, and us trying to get the dogs to sit for a picture.  Bottom: Digging up some yukkas

Top Right: Crow loving the ride out with the mountains behind here
Left: New baby calf Right: Me on a horse.
The Truck loaded up, and us trying to get the dogs to sit for a picture.
Bottom: Digging up some yukkas

If we were having coffee this morning, we would talk about each other Easter’s. After a long night up in Big Sky, I spent the afternoon relaxing with some friends enjoying some mimosas in the sun. It was so nice. Earlier in the week, Dawn had some of us over for enchiladas and egg dying with her and her daughters, which is one of my favorite activities.

There were some causalities

There were some causalities

If we were having coffee this afternoon I tell you how our office and our office mates at Massive Studio, have been watching the demolition of the old Kenyon Noble across the street. It’s a LEED project, so they have been taking it apart bit by bit and crushing all the concrete. It’s almost finished. Many times in the past month or so, you could find us all staring out the window waiting for a big chunk to fall.

Sunday 31distructionIf we were having coffee this afternoon, I would tell you that all my guy friends here are apparently sissies. Last Friday was Bobcat Fest on Main. They shut down part of Main Street, had free hot dogs (sausages really) and burgers, a band and free stuff was floating around. The sausage were provided by Red Neck Sausage. I was told that it was really spice and beware. It was nothing. Apparently they cannot handle their spice. Or I got a dud.

Sunday 31 BobcatIf we were having coffee this afternoon, I would ask you to help me make sure I keep my new plants alive. I picked up some ivy, succulents, and pansies. They are suppose to be pretty hardy. We’ll see if I can keep them alive for more than a month. We are going on three or four weeks now. That’s pretty good.

Sunday 31 plants

60 Years Together [& other SD shenanigans]

60th SD (69)After my quick trip to Minneapolis, I headed home to South Dakota for some fun with the family. There were two big events to be celebrated. One was my cousin Laura’s wedding and the other was my grandparent’s wedding anniversary. Their 60th wedding anniversary. Let’s just talk about that for a second. I cannot even imagine being married for 60 years. Hell I can’t even imagine having a boyfriend at this point in time. But seriously, If were to get married in the next year, to make it 60 years with the same person, I would still have to be alive at 90 and so would he, assuming he was the same age. That’s old. That’s making it through a lot of possible medical issues. That’s making it through putting up with the same person for SIXTY YEARS! Wanting to be with that person for 60 years. That is crazy to me. It is impressive. I guess I can only hope that I actually meet someone and want to stay with them for that long and that they can actually put up with me for that long. Again. THAT’S CRAZY! Kudos to my grandparents, Lynn and Dorthy, who have made it 60 years together and will definitely make it a lifetime.

Now let’s talk about all the fun stuff that happened in South Dakota. When I arrived on Friday, my sisters and cousin, Rachael, picked me up from the airport, after which I promptly drove us to the nearest Dairy Queen for Blizzards. Then we went home for the big family reunion, we hadn’t been all together since my grandparents 50th anniversary. All of my dad’s brothers and their kids were home for the party, except two of my cousins who couldn’t get out of work. My grandparents had four boys who went on to have 11 grand kids and there is one great grandchild so far. We all sat down to a huge prime rib dinner. It was so good. The best part was trying to time a picture of grandma and grandpa kissing. Grandma didn’t really understand what we wanted and they weren’t going in for long passionate kisses, the chair positions made it a bit difficult, anyway we didn’t have much time to snap the pictures. We should have recorded the whole process. Carmelyn, great grandchild, had a weird pooping dog toy that was the other highlight of the night. Who makes a toy like that?

Grandpa & Grandma with their sons: Kieth, Mark, Dad and Jim

Grandpa & Grandma with their sons: Kieth, Mark, Dad and Jim

Ridiculous toy

Ridiculous toy

Saturday I took a break from family time and went into Newell to see my two of best friends from high school, Jamie and Meghan. Jamie already has a three year old little girl and she just had a little boy in November. Knowing how much I love kids, she walked up to me and handed me the baby. No hug, just, “Hi Jennifer!”, arms out with baby at the end. A bit terrifying. But it he was a very good baby, it wasn’t so bad. The best part of the day was when her daughter picked up some gum off the picnic bench and put it in her mouth. And it’s not the first time. Kids are so weird. Okay that was the funniest, the best part was meeting up with old friends and hanging out like nothings changed at all. Crazy how that can work, maybe you need to know some one for 25 years. JAMIE!!! IT’S OUR 25 YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!! I’ve just realized this. First day of Kindergarten 1989 was our first meeting. Only 35 more years to go.
Kade- he's pretty chill

Kade- he’s pretty chill

After friends and babies was Laura’s wedding in beautiful Custer State Park. My mom, sisters, Rachael, and I all went to the wedding. The boys were going prairie dog hunting and were maybe going to join in for the reception. The weather was perfect, the decorations were perfect and the bride gorgeous. The ceremony was outside in a clearing in front of some old trees. When we arrive, a bison was hanging out in the center of the clearing. Apparently he had been hanging out near the chairs earlier. You could see everyone waiting near by at the cabins for the bison to mosey out of the way. The game warden came by to tell us it was safe to walk around the end and he had already checked the taller grass for snakes. Yeah, that made me feel better, instead of not thinking about snakes at all, now I was thinking how long it would take for one to come back. The bison moved on pretty fast and the ceremony started shortly after.
Bison on the loose

Bison on the loose

We couldn't resist a quick photo op at Flinstone State Park with Dino!  Kristen, Danielle, Rachael & me

We couldn’t resist a quick photo op at Flintstones Park with Dino!
Kristen, Danielle, Rachael & me

Laura and Justin planned most of this wedding from Australia where they are currently living, and it was perfect, perfect perfect. I’m not one for long ceremonies, but the ones that are over faster than it took for the wedding party to walk in, are a bit too short. They had two friend officiating who took turns reading and telling stories about the two. They had a friend who was a great musician play a few songs and bring in the wedding party. Right after the ceremony the bride and groom, with their parents, greeted all the guests on their way to the huge pavilion for cocktails, dinner, and dancing.
Again, the pavilion was perfect, perfect, perfect. The table decorations were simple and so lovely. At the entry they had a tree and paper ornaments for you to write your wishes or advice for the newlyweds. Obviously, I did not have any advice, but I did wish them 60 plus years together. The bar was well stocked and the food was delicious. Even the stuff for the kids was super good, I mean who could resist some mac and cheese? After dinner and cake cutting, the dance party started. Their first dance was to a really great cover of Kings of Leon’s “Use Somebody” and then the jitterbugging commenced. One of the best things about going home or to the Midwest in general is jitterbugging. For those of you who don’t know, the best way to describe it is a kind of cowboy swing dance. The faster the better. I was pretty sure I was going to topple over a time or two in my platform sandals from being out of practice, but a good partner always keeps you on your toes.
Laura's beautiful wedding!

Laura’s beautiful wedding!

We made mom promise that she wouldn’t make us go home early, that we would get to dance until the party actually ended. We even got her up there dancing for a bit. It’s always entertaining to realize that your parents might actually be good dancers. We kept dancing until the park rangers kicked us out. They are a strict bunch. On the way home we got my mom to actually tell us about how she and dad met. I knew the general story, but not the whole story. I didn’t know how my dad proposed. I did know that they met and were married 11 months later. I  did know that the priest that that was suppose to marry them refused and said they wouldn’t last a year, so they moved the wedding across the state of South Dakota, about 400 miles. Which made is so that some of the wedding party couldn’t make it.  I assumed it had something to do with my dad not really being religious. Not the case. It was all a pretty interesting story, kinda funny and my parents have been married for 33 years now. So I guess that priest was a bit off… Anyway it was fun way to end a wedding day.

Sunday we got up to decorate the town hall in Vale for the anniversary party and get ready for all of the family. My grandparents were actually married June 3rd, but we moved the party back a couple weeks to coincide with Laura’s wedding so that more people could make it for both. I got to see a lot of family I haven’t seen in years, that I didn’t even remember. There was a lot of babies. People shocked that I’m not married, don’t have a baby myself. That’s always fun. At least I’m not divorced! My friend, Brenda, also stopped by on her way home with her three year old. It was so good to see her again, and be reminded of the insane energy a small child possess that I do not. It was really a weekend of birth control. Anyway, the party was really fun and after the immediate family went back to the farm for dinner, beer pong and quarters. Great end to a family filled weekend! We should probably do it more frequently than every 10 years.
Random assortment of images from the weekend

Random assortment of images from the weekend

PS- Sorry for the lack of pictures, I wasn’t with it this trip.

Homesick Thanks to Dodge

WARNING: This might be a long rambling post. I did add hilarious photos from the past to make it better. Enjoy at your own risk…

I know it’s probably old news to most of you, but can we just talk about my favorite commercial by Dodge?

The imagery is beautiful and Paul Harvey’s voice is perfect. I know there have been critics of the commercial, but this commercial made me homesick and I don’t know if I ever have been before really. The second time I saw it, it made me cry and it’s still hard to see with out tearing up. In fact, the people I have talked to who are in similar situations, said the same thing. Even my brother said it made him homesick, though he did not admit to crying, he’s a big softy below his grizzly exterior. I am not entirely sure what it is about it, but I feel I have to try and explain why this commercial resonates so much with me and others, so please humor me.

View of Bear Butte from my favorite spot on the farm

View of Bear Butte from my favorite spot on the farm

I don’t think I have every really talked too much about it, but I grew up on a dairy in South Dakota that was started by my grandpa. My dad and one of his brothers came back to farm after college with their dad and they still do today. Most of the people I know from home are farmers. Paul Harvey’s words are so spot and I don’t know if most people really understand how exactly true they are. Some people say it is romanticizing farming, but how romantic is it to,  “…get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper, then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board?” Because that is what my dad did and when we were old enough we were out with him and there was nothing romantic or glorious or beautiful about it.

Dad, me and Sandy, the best cow dog ever. Seriously, best ever.

Dad, me and Sandy, the best cow dog ever. Seriously, best ever.

Growing up, I went through my phases of like and disliked about growing up on a farm. When I was little, I was happy to follow my dad out to the barn at 4 am, to sit on a bucket and watch him milk. I would ride in the tractor out in the fields with grandpa during planting season and in the trucks back and forth during silage season. At any given time for about 10 years you could find a small grandchild asleep in some weird, curled up position behind the tractor seat.  When I was in middle and high school, I would try to find ways to get out of doing chores when ever possible. I couldn’t wait till I was old enough to go work somewhere else. I never got to sleep in on weekends, at times we were up earlier than weekdays to get stuff done before it got too hot. After a certain age, the joys of chasing cows wears off. Except when it came time to round up cows in the pastures, all kids were happy to help out at any time since that meant running around on four-wheelers and dirt bikes. I even resisted joining FFA until I was a junior in my persistent refusal of the agricultural life style.

Me, cousin Rachael, brother Michael, sister Danielle and cousin Ryan on Jack

Me, cousin Rachael, brother Michael, sister Danielle and cousin Ryan on Jack

I remember on day when I was in high school and we were chopping hay. We had this newish machine that would pack the hay into these ag bags. Guess it keeps it fresher like a Ziploc bag. Anyway, it was hot, I was driving one of the trucks between the field and storage lot, and I think I had already destroyed the clutch on that truck, (those big trucks are NOT easy to drive, and I was just starting to get the hang of them, I basically had to stand up to push the clutch down far enough) and I pulled in and dump off a load. Dad was out of the tractor, legs sticking out from underneath the bagging machine cussing and pulling out hay. I don’t exactly remember what was wrong, something stuck in the wrong place, I suppose, but I just thought, “I don’t know how he can do this. I could never do this. Every day something could and normally does go wrong.” Cows get sick and die. Someone screwed up and milked a sick cow into the the main tank and we had to dump and entire tank of milk, several thousands of gallons of milk down the drain. A tractor breaks down. There is a drought. The cows get out. A hay fire starts and last all night with everyone in the area comes to help put it out and watch over it after the immediate danger is gone. That was the day I knew I would never be returning to help run the farm, not that I had every really wanted to, but I knew for sure that I was not cut out for a career with so many daily disasters no matter how small.

I probably shouldn't admit to wearing such things at any point in my life, but hey the purple pants are back in style!

I probably shouldn’t admit to wearing such things at any point in my life, but hey the purple pants are back in style! Dani’s cow print ones are probably not far behind.

That fact that I don’t want to go back and run the place, still didn’t change the fact that the farm is home, no matter where I am. A month or so before I finished graduate school, my family found out that they were closing the milk plant that we sold our milk to in less than few months. This basically meant that all the dairies on the western side of South Dakota had to figure out how to get their milk to another plant, well over 200 miles away, this is not cheap. All were family owned farms and we were the biggest, milking around 400 cows a day.  Most farms stopped dairying and sold the cows. My family tried to move the dairy to the east side of the state, where they would be able to continue dairying in the “dairy corridor.” This was terrible news to me just in the fact that home would no longer be where home was, it would be some random farm in eastern South Dakota where nothing was familiar or comforting. For my brother, it meant his plans were going to be messed up. He had just started school at SDSU studying dairy science and manufacturing, just like dad did, with every intention of going back home to help run the farm when he was done. Now it seemed that it might not be economically feasible for him to go back home after school. For good or bad, this was during the beginnings of the economic crisis and nothing worked, for several years everything just kept going wrong. Finally, in the past year they gave up the idea of continuing to dairy and are now raising beef cattle.  

Me showing my cousin how to feed the lambs.

Me showing my cousin how to feed the lambs.

This series of events helped me to realize how much I am really thankful for where I grew up and how. Do I get annoyed when I am home and Christmas and the occasion come up where we are called outdoors to do something? Yes. But I definitely have an appreciation for everything thing happening on that farm and am still in awe of how my dad, (and his dad and brother), can love this job and place so much, that they will do practically anything to keep doing it. Every day of every year, no matter what, I know we are all still scheming on how to make it a dairy again. Michael is a manager at a cheese plant in Wisconsin and scheming on how to get manufacturing back in western South Dakota . I am scheming, though not very effectively, the take down of corporate farming that is pushing out family farms and was the cause for the plant to be shut down.  I am also a huge advocate for supporting local farming and agriculture.  I’m not sure what my two younger sisters are planning exactly. Neither is in school for anything ag related, but none of us want to see home disappear.  

LIttle sister Kristen with an adorable calf helping spread hay

LIttle sister Kristen with an adorable calf helping spread hay, yes she’s licking her.

So I guess that’s what the commercial gets at to me, it’s talking about home, in a perfectly honest way that is so fitting. Its not easy, it’s not always happy memories, its rough and messy and sometimes sad, but it’s home. I still don’t think I’ve properly explained in these horrible long paragraphs. It’s also because whether you realize it or not, you always long for that place you think of as your true home. I once told my brother I was so upset to think about the farm moving, because that was my rock, I could go travel and live where ever I wanted, and that rock would still be there. It’s definitely changed a lot over my lifetime, but it still has the same bones. What I may not have realized is that it’s not just the place but the farmers and family there too. So thank you Dodge and Paul Harvey for that reminder.

Me receiving something for FFA in my dad's old jacket once I finally came around

Me receiving something for FFA in my dad’s old jacket once I finally came around

For those of you who made it through, I hope you enjoyed it or at least that some of the photos made you laugh. I tried to find better related pictures, I know they exist, like Dani blowing out her birthday cake in field next to a tractor, sorting cows, etc. but those are all in South Dakota. Next time.

A Trip Home [South Dakota Graduation Weekend]

yeah- we have a road named after us. No big deal.

This weekend my baby sister graduated from high school.  It’s kind of terrifying to think that 10 years ago, I was the one walking across the stage with 33 other people, (she was in a class of 24).  I flew home on Wednesday and my brother and sister picked me up from the airport on their way home.  On Friday, one of my dad’s brothers, Jim, and his family arrived.  I haven’t seen them in nine years, it was so good to see my cousins who are the same age as me and my brother.  My mom’s two brothers and their mom arrived and Friday as well with two more of my cousins.  It’s a good thing our Dunn Grandparents live through the trees, otherwise I don’t know where everyone would sleep and the closest hotels are a half hour away.  Who wants to stay that far from all the fun?

Top: the view from the ’76 Trail
Bottom: All the hikers at the top, Roughlock Falls, and Deadwood.

On Saturday, almost everyone vacated the house so mom and grandma could relax a bit before all the big day and Danielle could finish making the crazy cakes.  Some of us decided to go for a hike in Spearfish Canyon.  The ’76 Trail is only 3/4 mile long, but it gains 1000 ft in elevation.  It’s a bit like walking up a lot of stairs. The view of the canyon from the top is amazing definitely worth it.  We also checked out the beautiful waterfalls nearby. We also took a detour to Deadwood (it’s really just over the hills there) for some old time photos.  I might have to share them when I get them cause let’s face it, they are pretty awesome.

My little baby’s all grown up and going to college!

Sunday we had the final prep for the graduation reception and then enjoying Kristen’s hour long ceremony before hanging out with family eating great food and having fun.

Top: Thanks for the Flip Cup collage cousin Rachel!
Bottom: Rachel and I riding the horse.

Mom and dad decided that they needed to have an Empty Nest party since their last child is finally grown. This some how included horse riding, flip cup with about 20 people, (some where drinking water or pop), and a trip to the water tower  because there’s no place better to look at the stars.

Heading to the water tower- some by 4-wheeler other warm in a pickup.

Looking back, it was a pretty packed and hectic trip with all that went on an all the family that was there, but it was definitely a ton of fun.  Hopefully I will see my cousins a bit sooner than nine years, especially since I really want to check out Austin!