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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Oct
8

Life Lessons Discovered While Apple Picking

Written by Justin posted on Oct 8, 2014 in Fall, Family, Kayce, Photos

Apple picking seems to be one of those activities which has really blossomed over the past few years. We are always looking for different ways to get the boys thinking and understanding more about what they are eating and where it comes from. So we ditched the Sunday Bears game and headed up to Kellers Farm in Oswego, IL. They have a multitude of activities and goodies for the kids but we were there for one mission: apples.

The orchard was well stocked and had a ton of variety (Honeycrisp, Gala, Fuji, Cortland, and about 5-6 others I can’t recall). The kids classified them strictly by color and picked based solely on this factor. The weather was hot and the orchard not too crowded. You grab a bag and go about leisurely picking as many or few apples as you want. We noticed a lot of people sampling as they collected and then throwing out their half-eatens. Which did not seem very trustworthy to me, but maybe that is standard for these sorts of places?

All in all, we ended up with almost $50 in Apples. Which is quite a haul. Each boy wanted to have their own bag for picking and it was money well spent. They were on cloud 9 running up and down the aisles hunting for apples they could reach or begging for a lift for those just out.

We shared some with our neighbors and stored some for pie making at a later date. I read online that storing them in a cool, dark place wrapped in newspaper helps to preserve. Really hoping that holds true. These were easily the best apples I have ever tasted. It would be a crying shame not to see them go into some sort of baked good. Now I just need to find the time to bake a pie!

On our hunt, Kayce was just a head of the pack when he stumbled upon $40 (2 x $20). He could not believe his eyes! Ran up to Dawn and I to show us his findings. At first you could tell he did not know what to do. We were equally as shocked. He asked us what to do. I told him we would ask around and see if anyone had lost the money, if no one claimed it then it was his. We went down the aisle to the family in-front of us, not theirs. We asked a couple of the workers and no one had reported it either. At this point, we concluded it was his for the keeping. Now, Kayce is old enough to grasp the concept of money. But to him $40 is like finding $400. He lit up like a Christmas tree.

Proud papa moment in 3….2…..1……Later in the day on a store run with Dawn and Conor, unprompted he decided to give half of the money to Conor. He then proceeded to split the rest of his good fortune on himself, Devin, Dakota and a package of one of my favorite candies for me, Swedish Fish. This kid has twice the heart and empathy than a lot of adults.

 

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