by Tammy Trail
One of the perks of working for a school district is not having to work during the summer months. This allows me to have quality time with my family and friends, and especially be able to spend time with my mom. I was able to do just that this year. She kept me busy cleaning out her basement, but we also enjoyed playing endless games of Five Crown and Yahtzee.
Another perk is traveling. Our family hasn’t always been able to take summer vacations. Our budget doesn’t allow for anything too extravagant, but they have become our excuse to visit relatives in other states. My favorite vacation to date was a trip we took to South Dakota last summer, originally intended as a Trail Cousin Reunion. However, it turned out to be just three families since the others were not able to make it after all.
Our host, my husband’s cousins from Minnesota, had recently finished building a large vacation home in South Dakota between Sturgis and Deadwood. We had never been north of Nebraska, so this was an adventure. My daughter, her husband and three boys traveled in one car, and my husband and I followed in another with two teen boys.
I absolutely loved the scenery. Big trees and wide open land. Breathtaking views. I loved everything about South Dakota. Our first morning there, I awoke to feel the awkward sensation of being watched. I looked out of the window near my bed to see a small doe wandering so close that if there had not been glass between us, I could’ve easily reached out and touched her.
Four wheeling was on the agenda for the first day. I stayed back with the little people, so that the big people could enjoy themselves. When the party returned to the lodge that evening, I heard the boys talking non-stop. You know how teen boys are— usually you have use a crowbar to pry anything out of them. They had enjoyed themselves riding four wheelers on trails over hills, through water, and close to the edge of dangerous roll-offs. That first evening was spent grilling and enjoying each other’s company.
The next day was my turn to go four wheeling. I opted to sit in a buggy type four wheeler called a “Razor” with my husband in control of the driving. It was everything the boys had told me and more. As we bumped through the wooded areas, all we could see were trees before taking a curve where a small stream crossed our trail. Although we got dirty and wet, the scenery was just breathtaking. My husband’s cousin led the pack, and more than once he had us stop before going over some rough terrain. Rocky would stand on the rocks to guide us by pointing in the direction he wanted the wheels to go, so we didn’t get the bottom of the vehicles hung up on large rocks or roll over in a dry ravine. He did a great job as our guide.
We also did some sightseeing at Mt. Rushmore, which was a great stop for the grown-ups but not so much for the little ones. Seeing the heads of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt carved out of the rock was awesome. I can’t imagine the patience it must have required to undertake such a project. Later we made it up to the little ones by stopping for some ice cream in the park. The whole family agreed that it was a wonderful vacation, and we’re looking forward to doing it again–if not this year, next summer for sure!