Aug
4

South Dakota Trip Diary – Day 3

Written by Justin posted on Aug 4, 2015 in Family, Photos, Summer, Vacation, Video
IMG_6789Day 3 turned out to be the pinnacle and most exhausting day of the trip all rolled up into one. The weather continued to cooperate. Forecast: Low 80s and clear skies, we decided to head to Mt. Rushmore. Since we began discussing the trip with the boys months ago, Kayce had played up Mt.Rushmore more than any other spot. Seeing and experiencing this was to be his crowning achievement. I was just as excited to see this blend of sculpture, history, politics, and achievement. 

 

Maybe it was the weather. Or the kids in awe. Or the mountain goats that greeted us on the way out. Or all the facts explained about how this was created. For me, this was a proud moment. Seeing what people are capable of coming together and accomplishing and showing it to my boys. Seeing is believing. This. was. awesome.

 

Next, we found a neat little spot tucked into the woods just up the road to have a picnic. We made friends with a couple of chipmunks. Those things must know to zero in on the tables with kids. Ours did not let them down.

 

Then we headed for somewhat nearby, Custer State Park. This was the spot I had pegged since day one of planning. Herds of wild buffalo, roaming pronghorns, mountain lions, antelope, elk. As a wildlife lover, I was really looking forward to this.

 

I have been to my fair share of zoos and been up close and personal with plenty of different animals. But witnessing a herd of buffalo mere feet from my face was pure bliss. We caught them at just the right time too. Many of them had calves who were playful and bounding about. Seeing them interact with their parents and siblings. Then to look back and see the boys with their jaws on the floor (just like mine), this sealed the deal on the trip.

Did you know: Bison and Buffalo are the same thing.

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The drive from Lead to Keystone from Mt. Rushmore was probably about 75 minutes. Then about another 30-45 to Custer. Then the wildlife loop within Custer. Coupled with all the other driving the past couple of days. We were starting to feel exhausted.

We headed into the nearby town of Custer to checkout the local establishments. Ending up at a place called Bitter Esters. Hospitality and brews were a big plus here. I think they let me sample about 5-6 of the beers on tap before making a decision. Quite the vegan selection here too. Just plan on waiting it out. I am by no means a Cicerone. They had a beer on tap called, Cocoa Mole. It’s a Porter by New Belgium that was truly one of a kind. Seek this one out beer friends.

We rounded out the night by making a stop over to see the Crazy Horse memorial. Which I must admit. Before our trip, I thought was nothing more than Neil Young’s backing band. It was interesting to see both this structure and Mt.Rushmore in the same day and comparing/contrasting the two. Also fun to speculate with the kids if they came back in 30 years how much more would be completed.

The drive home was dark, hilly, rainy, and scattered with deer. A bit white-knuckle at times. All in a good days fun.

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Aug
3

South Dakota Trip Diary – Day 2

Written by Justin posted on Aug 3, 2015 in Family, Photos, Summer, Vacation

Day 2 (6/20/2015) we got off to another early start. With another 6 hour drive across South Dakota to reach our final destination, we were all eager to get going. We bid farewell to Sioux Falls with a refueling at the hotel breakfast bar.

Have you ever heard of Wall Drug? I hadn’t. Or maybe I had through the occasional bumper sticker or pop culture reference. Part way through Minnesota we started seeing roadside advertising along I-90 for this establishment. Their marketing campaign worked on us, hook-line-sinker. Five hundred road signs later, and we decided to deviate from the path to see what all the fuss was about.

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It’s equal parts tourist attraction, mini-mall, cook shanty and souvenir mecca. At first I wanted to write this place off….but when you see past the face value and how it came to being. It’s quite a story. So yea, it’s worth a stop when traversing the interstates. Free ice water might not mean as much now as it once did, but they’re sticking to it!

We spent more time than expected seeing what Wall Drug had to offer. Shortly after we were faced with a decision point. Whether or not to stop in the Bad Lands now or on the way back. We decided to forgo another detour to get to our target.

We did not have many constraints for our destination point. We knew we wanted it to be in the Black Hills. We wanted a cabin which could comfortably sleep both families. That was really it. No other amenities necessary.

The cabin we went with is in a rural section of Lead, SD. Having only viewed photos online, you can never be too confident of these places until you get the keys and get inside. Well, the Moose Manor was excellent. A cozy cabin just close enough to a couple others but backwoods enough to satisfy. In fact, we would see deer running through the back overlook on more than one occasion.

 

Deadwood is a town also rich in history and folklore. It’s just south of Lead. Seemed like the perfect spot to investigate and feed two hungry clans. We ended up coming during Wild Bill Days. A street festival of sorts celebrating the life and times of Wild Bill Hickok.

The festival itself was really no different than any other street fest. Music, shopping, booze, bikers. I did not see the connection to Wild Bill. However, walking through downtown you can see the pride this town has for it’s connections to the outlaw. We ended up settling in at Mustang Sally’s. A nothing to write home about bar & grill. But when you are on foot  with 7 hungry kids and hundreds of people filling up the streets. Well, sometimes you duck into the first joint with immediate seating.

After dinner, we wondered the streets a bit in search of ice cream. We got to a place featuring homemade ice cream and ate by ourselves in a backroom while the rest of the town danced it up to honky tonk. The sporadic and unplanned nature of this day/night was a precursor for the rest of the trip. Which is exactly the way I like it.

 

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Aug
1

South Dakota Trip Diary – 6/19/2015

Written by Justin posted on Aug 1, 2015 in Family, Photos, Summer, Vacation

A little bit over a month ago we loaded up the family truckster and embarked on our first legit road trip. We were making our way to Black Hills, South Dakota. A region of the United States none of us had visited before. We kept the itinerary loose. Mt.Rushmore. Custer State Park. Deadwood. These were the “can’t miss” spots. The trip took us to these places and so many more!

Slightly overdue but no longer in oblivion. Here start the details of what I hope is our first of many journeys as a family of 6.

I plan on posting one of these per day for the next 7 days. Each day devoted to a different day on the trip. Stay tuned!

We set off bright and early.

Google Maps had us at just over 8 hours to reach our first stop, Sioux Falls, SD. It’s pretty much a straight shot all the way using Interstate 90 West.

Car Distractions

Dawn did an exceptional job of planning out little treats and goodies for the long ride. Games, puzzles, snacks, candy, the occasional movie on the portable player. The car ended up looking like a hoarders dream, but the kids were exceptional. Rest stops were minimal and the “when are we gonna be there”‘s were non-existent.

 

Haynes & Grimms

Did I mention this whole trip was hatched out with some of our favorite people on the planet?! The Haynes Family. Gideon and I have been going on trips together for the last 30 years or so. In fact, Gid deserves the credit on picking the Black Hills destination (but really, he had me at “road trip”).

The Haynes in their minivan and us in ours. The first meeting spot was Sioux Falls. We figured it a good spot between home and the Black Hills. Where we could rest up, get in a hotel swim, and explore a new city.

I had not set any expectations. If I had, Sioux Falls would have surpassed them. Disclaimer: We only had enough time to hang around downtown. Which was rich with culture, history, local flair, and lovely people. I left wishing we had more time to spend.

Throughout the trip, we made it a point to avoid the common/easy food joints. This might have meant longer waits with 4 adults and 7 kids, but it was worth every minute. In SF, we ended up at Phillips Avenue Diner. What a great first pick. We got seated immediately and the vintage atmosphere and home-cooked tasting food was unforgettable. Some of the best Jambalaya I’ve ever had (and I’ve had a lot).

We put an exclamation point on the first day of our trip by walking around downtown SF. Then one last visit to the hotel pool before capping the night.

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Nov
27

Old Times, New Times

Written by Justin posted on Nov 27, 2014 in Family, Photos

When I set out to start this almost 8 years ago it was a time when Facebook was in it’s infancy and photo sharing was basically non-existent. Friends and Family would go to kaycegrimm.com and checkout the latest photos, milestones and parental learnings. The purpose was two-fold though. I also meant it as a document or a diary for the boys to one day go back and flip through. Dusting off cloudy memories with images and words.

As the years went by, I always thought I would have more time dedicate to keeping this thing current. If anyone besides me still checks on this, it’s easy to see quite the opposite has happened. The time available to me to sit in front of a computer, pick photos and words and compile them into something worthy is constantly getting pushed aside. Sometimes for good excuses and at times, not.

Well, today is Thanksgiving, and since ours was essentially cancelled on account of half of the family coming down with Influenza, I’m going to put down the Mario Cart and devote some time  here today.

 

Something in Kayce's biological clock has gone off, because he has lost 3 teeth in the past 2 weeks. He saved up his tooth fairy money to buy some of his new favorite A to Z Mystery books by Ron Roy. He's infatuated with them. Dawn and I couldn't be more excited about his loved for reading.

Something in Kayce’s biological clock has gone off, because he has lost 3 teeth in the past 2 weeks.
He saved up his tooth fairy money to buy some of his new favorite A to Z Mystery books by Ron Roy. He’s infatuated with them. Dawn and I couldn’t be more excited about his loved for reading.

 

The twins (Dakota in particular) are obsessed with watching Calliou. So much so that the Grimm Boys have their first doll!

The twins (Dakota in particular) are obsessed with watching Calliou. Dakota chose to celebrate this infatuation with the Grimm Boy’s first doll!

 

The calendar says Wrigley is turning 13 in February, but she is as steady and energetic as she was at age 3.

The calendar says Wrigley is turning 13 in February, but she is as steady and energetic as she was at age 3.

 

My feelings are mixed on the circus and how they care for animals. But the boys had been asking for years to go back. Ringling Bros. really exceeded expectations with a ton of great acrobatic acts and an overall good show. Side note, honestly thought the lion tamer was going to be torn to shreds. 9 pissed off lions and tigers snarling and batting at this dude. Can't say I blame them.

My feelings are mixed on the circus and how they care for animals. But the boys had been asking for years to go back. Ringling Bros. really exceeded expectations with a ton of great acrobatic acts and an overall good show. Side note, honestly thought the lion tamer was going to be torn to shreds. 9 pissed off lions and tigers snarling and batting at this dude. Can’t say I blame them.

 

 

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Oct
21

DIY Halloween Costumes

Written by Justin posted on Oct 21, 2014 in Conor, Halloween, Holidays, Kayce

I had the idea of making some of the Halloween costumes this year stewing for awhile. I have never really tried my hand at this type of  project, but why not. This is my attempt at executing my own idea instead of just picking one out online. Call it a subtle metaphor to my boys about trying your hand at doing things for yourself in life and not always taking the convenient route. The only criteria being: the boys pick the costumes, make it fun, challenging and inclusive for them along the way. So far, so good.

If you care to follow along and have an Instagram account, I’ve been posting my almost daily progress for Conor’s Groot costume with the hastag #makinggroot on my account here.

At some point I’m going to cut off the posts so as to not reveal too much before the big day!

 

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