The Next Chapter

It’s been almost a month since I said “to be continued” on part one of my vacation story. There’s good reason and I will get to that here today, but let me start today by finishing that story of our South Dakota vacation.

I left you with a severely dinged windshield that had also cracked and was spreading and Mr. Knitting Sarah promising to just “kick the window out like a Cowboy” if it decided to shatter or get much worse. Instead of this option, we decided to do something crazy: we called our insurance agent and set up an appointment to get the windshield replaced. Thankfully we were headed out of Wall & the Badlands to base out of Rapid City for the remainder of our week and we could get in before the long drive home to get the work done. We set the date for Friday morning.

With the plan in place, we packed up our Adventuremobile, the 2 kids, and the dogs and headed for Rapid City Wednesday morning. It was snowing again or still snowing (it’s hard to know which) and as we left early and wouldn’t be able to check in to our hotel room until 3pm, we grabbed snacks from a gas station with the intention of driving the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park, enjoy a hodge-podge picnic at Sylvan Lake, and head back to our hotel later that afternoon or evening.

It seems weird to see it now, but this was the drive in to Custer State Park on May 1st.

We stopped at the visitor center in the park where they seemed to think the roads would be passable for Wisconsin natives used to winter driving so we carried on with our plan and struck out on the Wildlife Loop.

We saw LOTS of brand new bison. None seemed very phased by the weather. We spotted some antelope and birds as well, but all in all the weather was formidable enough that we didn’t see a ton.

It was a beautiful drive up to Sylvan Lake though.

The picnic options, however, when we arrived were sub-optimal…

Unless you happened to be wearing snow pants (which we weren’t). We opted instead to hold on eating and go for a hike instead first since we had the lake to ourselves and the dogs really deserved a good romp. They both love snow so much and it would have been cruel not to.

Moose was contemplative because this:

Until Bear instigated some serious games of chase…

He had a lot of energy to burn off and got a lot of joy from the bonus snowy day and play with his big brother.

Knee-deep snow can’t stop us from a great time!

When we got back to the car, Bear really wanted to take the snow with him…

This is part of the reason we now bring extra towels with us whenever we take him somewhere. He is always trying to bring the outdoors inside with him one way or another.

We stopped for some delicious pizza at a little place in Hill City and by that point we could get into the hotel so we headed back toward Rapid City. As we descended out of the Black Hills, we were singing P!nk’s “Just Give Me a Reason” in true Carpool Karaoke style and just as Mr. KS hit his big note we heard this mysterious *crunch* from the back of the car. And then we hear our daughter, who was in the third row, say, “Uhhhh…. guys. Uhhh….”

The entire back windshield had shattered.

Now we joke that it was Mr. KS’ singing, but it was likely from previous rattling on dirt roads or pressure changes during the trip — who knows all we know is that it just went. Thanks to safety glass, it stayed in one piece for about a mile before chunks started falling off.

And just like that I was on the phone with our insurance agent again and then with the auto glass repair shop making a second appointment. Suddenly our last day of vacation on Friday was pretty booked.

We were not to be deterred though. Mr. KS got us all into the hotel and then struck out to the nearest store that sold heavy plastic and duct tape. Knowing we would be driving it around for a day before we could get it fixed, he got it as air and water tight as possible. Since we were losing Friday to auto glass repairs, he was not about to let Thursday escape without adventure.

It was loud and not exactly a relaxing drive, but we made it to our final big destination the next day…

It was a first time for the kiddos and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day for it. The stress of the previous month, the car issues, and what was coming when we got home finally broke me a bit and I will admit there was some sloppy crying on my part at the empty Devil’s Tower Campground. It was cathartic though and I was thankful that Mr. KS was there to talk through it and just give me a hug. I was able to finally let the stress go and enjoy the afternoon and rest of the trip.

We took a brief detour to the Spearfish Canyon on the way back…

A place we’ll definitely be returning to to explore further.

The following morning, Mr. KS kindly offered to go in and handle the glass repairs while I sat with the kids and dogs in the hotel room.

Moose was ok with that.

So was Bear.

The repairs took most of Friday and by the time they were done, we went for a brief walk through a couple parks, grabbed some ice cream as a treat because now it was very warm and sunny (as opposed to freezing and snowy) and then just headed back for an early evening knowing we’d be hitting the road for home early the next day.

I’m happy to report that the drive home was largely uneventful. And we arrived home to this.

Spring on the Marsh.

It’s hard to be sad about vacation ending when this is a short jaunt from your front door.

It was another one of those trips that teaches you to not give up, to just keep going and deal with whatever comes your way with the best attitude possible. Our family does seem to thrive in the best/worst vacation category. Sure, we spent a small fortune in auto glass and had to radically alter plans for weather and to spend the day getting our windshields fixed, but we made a lot of memories and we spent so much quality time together. In retrospect, I wouldn’t change a thing. These trips are special and I hold them close to my heart even when everything goes wrong and maybe I had a little stressed out sloppy cry in the middle. It’s all part of the journey and even if imperfect a lot of the time, it comes with a breathtaking view.

The Monday after our return home I officially returned to the workforce. For the first time in nearly a decade of being a stay at home mom, I took a part time job. It wasn’t something I was necessarily looking for or even expecting to do, but the schedule and type of work suited the family, my physical limitations, and my abilities so I went for it. The past month I’ve been working a lot of hours as I get my training in which is why getting back to blog here has been so difficult. I’ve been adjusting to a different schedule, trying to get the kids through the end of their school year, and learn my own job, so it’s been a lot.

On top of the job status change, my parents are making a move to our town! We’ve been asking since our son was born almost 14years ago and we are very excited to welcome them to their new home. In just over a month, they will be moving in just a couple streets over from us . I can’t say much more than I simply cannot wait. I think it’s going to be a wonderful change for all of us.

Which brings me to a bittersweet end here, in this post and in this space. I think we’ve all felt it coming for a while, but today I am going to put it in so many words: It is time for me to take a step back from my little corner of the blogosphere. The truth is that life for me is changing in big ways. I need to adapt how I am spending my time to fit my new normal and sadly that means letting some things go. As much as I love to write and share our stories and my craft here, it’s become hard for me to keep up. I have never wanted to be someone who starts every post with “It’s been a long time” or some variation on that, but that’s exactly what has been happening. It is time.

My subscription on my platform runs through November, so my plan is to leave this live until then. If by chance things settle down and I have more time or I find that I truly miss writing here, I will simply come back and pick it back up. If, however, November rolls around and I haven’t touched it and am happy with the new normal I’ve created, then I will simply let it go.

For those who would like to stay in touch, I will continue to pop in when I can on Ravelry and (hopefully) update my projects there. For the time being, I also plan to keep my Instagram account live and update it when I have time and it feels right with knitting or spinning or our nature walks or puppy updates. I am  @knittingsarah on Instagram and TheKnittingSarah on Ravelry, so please feel free to stay in touch.

It is hard to imagine. It is hard to let go. And I don’t know how it’ll all feel as I officially disengage from this space, but it is time for new adventures and new challenges. And I have to be open to all the promise and opportunities in front of me and make the most of them and do what is right for my family. For now, though, I’m going to take some time to contemplate and process the change from a very special spot with some very special people and two very special pups. And probably a cup of coffee, too.

I wish all the best in whatever is next on the horizon for you and I hope that, where ever you are reading from, that you can find a peaceful spot, enjoy a cup of coffee, and look forward to your own next chapter with hope and joy and peace.

South Dakota Adventuring, Part Three

For the final leg of our South Dakotan adventure, we took the long wildlife loop around Custer State Park — stopping to feed the ‘friendly’ burros carrots along the way — and then headed north into the higher elevations to Sylvan Lake.

sylvan lakeIt is pretty picturesque.

Staying in the Sylvan Lake Campground, the idea was to spend a day or two swimming and for my husband and son to hike the Sunday Gulch trail. We opted to swim the first day because it was at the top of everyone’s list and the weather did not look like it was going to cooperate for our second day there. It was a pretty perfect day for a swim. We found our own little mini-cove and passed a few hours in the cool water.sylvan lake boysI think the boys could have stayed in the water all day. Eventually the cold water got the best of them though, so we stopped at the concession for a snack of bison stew and fries. Full and refreshed we decided to do the short 1mile hike around the lake.aldo delia lakeThis is such a nice little hike — perhaps the most important thing I learned on this trip is that even the smallest sojourn onto a trail can really give you a much deeper connection to and appreciation for this place. You really needn’t go far to get a taste of the wilds here.20130624-095436.jpgAnd you never know what treasures you will find and experience.

From a rocky outcrop along the way we spotted three trees busy with Red Crossbills — another life bird for me. We watched for a good long time as they feasted on pine seeds while we simultaneously managed to keep the kids from falling off the mountain and kept Moose from knocking his passing admirers (or us) down the rocky hill. We are such multi-taskers.

The next morning we awoke to hail with the promise of more hail in the forecast. We opted for our rainy day plan of driving over to Mount Rushmore. Costing only $11 for our entire family, it is a bargain (not to mention there is underground parking to protect the car from hail — can you say win-win?). For the tired, chilled campers in us, we were able to sit in the cafe with a hot coffee while watching the monument break through the fog… rushmoreBy the end of lunch…20130624-095258.jpgThe fog had cleared and we embarked on the short Presidential Trail.

Back at Sylvan Lake, we spent some time at the water letting the kids net some more minnows. Then this started to roll in…20130624-095307.jpg

Yes, it really was that dark — it’s not just the filter. We headed back to camp to take cover at which point we saw this coming from our tent…And then about 20minutes of hail ensued. Of course, I was convinced we were somehow going to die in some sort of gigantic freak hail (remember that irrational fear of wild animals? Sometimes it extends to weather events, too), but the worst we saw was nickel-sized ice. We all survived. Somehow.kids rainy dayIn fact, the kids were great sports. We packed them up for a final drive past the Crazy Horse Monument. We got there just in time to see it enveloped in fog, so instead we stopped for ice cream at Turtle Town in Hill City. delia ice creamNo one minded that it was cold.

We went to bed with full bellies & listening to the rain. We awoke early & broke camp quickly in hopes of beating out the next round of rain. As we exited the campground and turned east, the rain started to fall.

My husband likes to squeeze every last minute out of his vacation time, so we made one last pass through the Badlands along the way.aldo badlands

It was a   l  o  n  g  drive home. Having completed my Capitol Square Market Bag a couple days earlier, I restarted the Wispy Cardi I am knitting for my daughter for the third time.20130622-171527.jpgI have been having some issues deciding what size to make my girl. I have finally decided on the 8-10. It is going to be huge on her right now, but with a growing girl I finally settled on a bigger is better mentality — big today means it will fit in 6months, right?

The drive home was mostly uneventful until about 5 or 6 hours from our doorstep when the torrential downpours and lightning began. Tired and nerves frayed, we landed at home shortly after midnight. Coming home is always a little bittersweet after such a great trip. At least it is for everyone except Moose. Above and beyond all things, he loves his bed. He is relieved and happy to be reunited with it.20130626-085817.jpg

Many thanks to my husband for taking so many of these beautiful photos & for letting me use them here!