My grown children still talk about this vacation and the man with no thumb.
We loaded up the mini-van with our suitcases, games and snacks to keep from getting bored (no dvd players at that time, man would I have loved one of those) and all of our clothes. We attached our trailer and filled it full of everything else we thought we would need, and when you have three children and aren't used to "roughing it", you tend to bring along way more than you will ever need. I would someday like to take a hiking/camping trip with only the stuff we can carry on our backs...I might need to get on this, I'm not getting any younger.
I remember seeing miles of bright, yellow. sunflower heads all facing the sun, it was so gorgeous.
We drove through the Black Hills and the Badlands, and well, where there are hills to climb and children to do the climbing, the van practically stopped itself. We (they) climbed around for awhile and I tried to stay calm by taking pictures of them. Notice my husband is not in the picture with my kids...he is probably at the top by now (I do have one of him sitting at the top), because he is the instigator in semi-dangerous stunts. Maybe it's a guy thing!
Of course we stopped at Wall Drug and Mitchell Corn Palace. We have a picture of my hubby, the boys and me, taken by Kira. She didn't want to be in the picture...until we are in the car driving away, then came the tears because she didn't get to have her picture taken by the Corn Palace. Can anyone relate???
As we get close to the park, we see more and more bison, herds of bison just meandering in a field or across the road, and they are very large animals. Once we get to our campsite and start setting up camp, we hear from others that just the week before, a brother and sister were attacked by a lone bison called Ralph. Not sure if I believe that, but that's the story. What I do believe, is that the lone bison Ralph, that came through the campsite every night to sniff and snort and chew grass right outside of our tent, was absolutely HUGE. To this day, I have not seen a bigger bison than Ralph.
I always get up at least once a night to run to the bathroom, and camping doesn't stop that, so it always happened that I woke up while Ralph was making his way through the campsite and David would tell me to run over there by myself, because Ralph wasn't going to do anything to me, and David always ended up getting up and going to the bathroom with me. What a sweetie, tsk.
But I got ahead of myself...
The day we got to the campsite, just after we got the tent set up and our equipment unloaded and while I was making spaghetti (because that is easy to make while camping) and all three kids were climbing up the steep, rocky side of the canyon-like campsite we were in, and just as I looked up from cooking and noticed what the heck they were doing, they started to come down the steep, rocky side, slowly at first, then faster as momentum caught them. Then...my youngest Ethan, who was 4 yrs old at the time, was going a little too fast for his feet, tripped over a rock and fell forward, on the right side of his head, his body going to the left which made his neck bend in a way that I thought for sure must have broken it. As I was standing there watching my baby fall on his head, I remember thinking, OMG, he broke his neck, my husband was running to his rescue. I have always been a slow reactor in any kind of situation, good or bad, whereas my husband it right there. It's a good thing we are as different as we are, because we cancel out each others negative traits.
So, here I am thinking, what are we supposed to do now, I have dinner half done, we're camping in a different state, I don't know where a hospital is (notice I'm not dealing with my child). This makes me sound like a horrible person, I'm not, but that is how my mind works, I think odd things at inappropriate times.
Our campsite neighbors are Not like me, thank goodness, because they took charge and told us where the hospital was and said they would take care of our dinner and watch our site.
We piled into the van and drove the short distance to the Custer Hospital. We were put in a room and told that the doctor was at dinner, so it would be a bit of a wait. What??? No amount of whining, or demanding that he be called worked, so we waited. I stayed with my other two kids in the waiting room where we were entertained?? by a man also waiting to be seen until the doctor got there, then I left them to be entertained?? by the strange man again. He told them his story of why he was missing a thumb and about the saw and how they should be careful and I don't know what else, but they were both upset that we left them in the waiting room with this strange man. See, now they always have a strange story to tell.
The doctor finally finished his dinner and was able to take a look at Ethan's head. He wasn't concerned in the least when I told him what happened, or the fact that his neck bent at such an ugly angle, and was not happy with me when I insisted on an x-ray of his head. As it turned out, nothing was broken and we left a short time later with eleven stitches, some Tylenol, and two semi-freaked from talking to a strange one thumbed man kids. Ethan wasn't in much pain, at that time, because of the Novocain used to numb the cut, but we all know that doesn't last very long.
We drove in the dark, back to our campsite starving and wondering what we were going to eat at that time of night and were very happy to find out our neighbor had finished making our dinner, so we would have something to eat when we finally got back, cleaned up our campsite, and then invited us over for roasted marshmallows and s'mores. How nice was that of them?
We continued our vacation, Ethan had a sore neck and a headache and a lot of tears, but Tylenol took care of the worst of it and cuddling and seeing cool things took care of the rest (and a sore head didn't keep him from climbing right back up the hill, the other hill, the one without all the rocks) We saw the usual sights, Mt. Rushmore, the place with all the snakes and lizards and alligators, swam and played in the lake that was in the campground, pet the donkey that came to our car, out the open door of the van (geez, I can't believe I let them do this stuff).
And we had some of the best thunderstorms that I have ever seen. Being in sort of a valley, we could watch the storms through a natural V in the tree line, and one was a doozy. Once again we were eating dinner when the storm came, so we made a mad dash to clean things up and ran for the safety of our tent. Ha! We got in our sleeping bags and I got out the book I had been reading to them, the Borrowers and tried to keep my different voices while the thunder and lightening was all around us and the wind and rain was battering the tent. I had my Black Hills Gold cross I had bought a few days before in one hand and the book in the other while I was reading away like we were at home all snug and dry. It's hard work trying to stay calm so your children won't freak out, and I could tell by their faces that they were freaked, but they knew it was Not the right to time to give in react to that feeling. I was very proud of them. It continued to storm throughout the night and in the morning David and I both admitted we prayed most of the night that we would all be alive to see the morning.
What a great vacation, so many, many memories and so much fun. Each of them have said, at different times, that we should go back there and camp again. That would be wonderful, but now that they are grown, it would be so different from what they remember, that I think they should wait until they have families of their own and make some new memories to compare with and add to the old ones. I would love to go back with my hubby though. We have been empty nesters long enough now that we are able to have fun without children, it's just different, calmer, quieter, less hectic...hmmm, maybe we should wait for the grandkids...
See what kind of Memories these ladies have...