Thursday, June 29, 2006

Update on residency

JB spoke today with the woman in charge of the residency application process for the Air Force. He told her our entire situation and asked her for her advice. Here is what we learned:

The Air Force's FIRST responsibility is to fill every single one of their Family Medicine spots with an Air Force doctor.

If there are 30 spots to fill and 35 applicants, than 5 people will be given a "civilian deferment" which is what JB wants.

She said that JB should easily be at the front of the list IF there is an overflow of physicians. She said that our reason for wanting to stay (infertility, frozen embryos, no reproductive endocrinologist on any of the bases we can go) is extremely valid and would be seen as worth staying. She also said we would need a letter from our doctor explaining why we want to stay.

They also talked about a new program they have recently implemented which doesn't apply to John but forces doctors to work two years in the Air Force before completing their residency. She said that this new program is encouraging more doctors to choose family practice which should help John's cause.

So to make a long story short, if there is an overflow of doctors, we should be able to stay at Mayo. If there is a shortage, we cannot. She won't know that for a few months. So we will just continue to wait.

That's the update as it stands.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We have given in ....

Yesterday, while at the baseball game, JB called me, confused as to what to do.

"Wendi there is a cooking show, a travel show, and a show on crocodiles. I have no idea which to watch."

This dilemma was created because we finally gave in. We now have real TV.

Now I must explain. We have always had TV, but we have refused to pay $60 for the real cable. So instead we got the $15 package which basically consists of Spanish channels, religious channels, and home shopping channels. There was not an inbetween package. It was $15 or $60.

Then last week we got an offer in the mail -- 6 months of the BIG package for a compromise -- $30. We gave in and when I called, I found out that the deal was actually good for one year and was only $27!

We now have 75 channels including some of our long missed favorites: ESPN, Fox News, the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, ESPN (oops did I say that twice?) ... we are in heaven.


Well, actually, I have been so busy, I haven't gotten to watch it, but when I do, I am going to enjoy flipping channels and not having to stop fifteen clicks later.

In other news, I won a "High Five Award" at work yesterday. This is just a recognition tool to say you did a good job. They always come with a $10 gift certificate to somewhere special. Mine are always to Bakers Square because as my boss says, "They have chocolate."

So after my dad treated us to Chipotle tonite, we picked up a pie of the French Silk variety! I am eating right now. It is good. If you would like some, there is plenty, so stop by 202 to help me not eat too much of this stuff.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A night at the ballpark




Tonight, my dad, Tara and I went to see the Twins beat the Dodgers 9-2. We had a great time -- my dad watching the game and Tara and I watching some and talking some. Seeing a game was one of Tara's "Rochester goals" so I was glad to help her accomplish that as she attended her third baseball game ever! That thought is quite foreign to two Huismans. Well, actually, that thought is foreign to any Huisman. Okay, sorry, before we get on another Huisman tirade, I will stop.

So Bara asked for a picture of me with my Dad. I should tell you that there is a good family picture at the link on the right: "Who we are", but for Bara's sake, I have also included a picture of my dad and me at the game tonight.

I will also include of one Tara and myself (a little lower in the entry so that only loyal readers get that far) despite the fact that it completely reminds me that I am no longer a Florida girl and couldn't be whiter if I TRIED! Oh to be young and tan again. Okay JB, yes I know. I was young and tan and as John reminds me, had a pre-melanoma removed when I was 20. So, okay, I'm okay being white if I live long. But couldn't I just, somehow have everything I want? Is that really too much to ask?


Oh and apparently, nagging is productive. Gabbi, brace yourself everyone, has posted on her blog! I know, I know. Amazing, huh? I'm very proud of you Gabbi. I have also heard rumors that Bara has returned from his quiet slumber as well. Speaking of Bara, he is COMING TO VISIT US in Rochester next month. We are all so excited to see him as are the Rays.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My dad is here!

I am so excited! My dad has arrived in Rochester. He got in about 3:30 this afternoon. I am working from home on RLS stuff, JB ran out to the store, but plans to make Thai for dinner, and we are excited to get to spend some time with my Dad. My friend Tara plans to join us tomorrow evening for a Minnesota Twins game, and of course I'll take my dad out for lunch everyday if he wants. I am so blessed to get to spend some time with my Dad. I haven't seen him since Christmas. Only thing better would be if my Mom were here too.

You know my dad doesn't read my blog too faithfully, but I am, a faithful blog writer, and more importantly, a faithful blog READER.

You know, I make a genuine effort to blog everyday. However, I must make a shout out to some of my fellow bloggers who are close enough to me to earn a link on the right side of this page.

Gabbi -- no excuses. It's time for some more pics of the kids on you blog. We are almost in July.

Jason, you said the labor dispute had been settled, so how long do I have to stare at Cullen in his cowboy hat. I mean, he's real cute and all, but come on. Post, okay?

Bara, I can't nag too much. You have at least told us you were taking a blog vacation.

Calvin, I'm not overly impressed, but at least the scenery changes occasionally.

Kristen, the newest blogger, I am very impressed with your skills. I actually see some new pictures when I click. Well done. I am proud of you. Maybe I should move you to the top of the list. Maybe the best bloggers get the top spot. Hmmm ...

Everyone else, pick it up already! Let's get some effort here.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

record

Today I set a record.

I did NINE loads of laundry. I used all eight washers and then did another when I finished one. I didn't know I had that in me, but I did it. I once did SEVEN, but today ... NINE.

Last night, JB and I went over to Ajit's house for an Italian meal with the Jones', Tara, Philips, and Chuck, a leader in our CMDA (Christian Medical and Dental Association) Bible Study. It was a nice night of fellowship and good friends. Karuna actually turns two today. She is becoming quite the grown-up, and she and John played "rocketship" (where John has her blast off and fly around the air) until John could not play rocketship any longer.

I am excited because my Dad is getting here tomorrow. I can't wait to see him as I haven't seen him since Christmas. I talked to my cousin Sarah yesterday, and they were able to meet my future sister-in-law, and of course, as I knew they would, loved her. There was actually a Huisman picnic yesterday and all six of my grandmother's children were together (my dad and his four brothers and one sister). I wish we could have been there!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Miguel loves Tara

Well I know this post will probably make our friend Tara feel uncomfortable, but I HAVE to share these photos. John and myself decided to go to the Rochesterfeste parade. Overall, we weren't very impressed, however, it was fun to hang out with Tara (center in the picture below) and EVB (right in the picture below). We also ran into the Rays and the Philips while we were there as well. Karuna actually turns TWO this week! We also saw Natasha and her husband Nikkola. However, I just HAD TO include all the pictures that JB took of Tara and Miguel. We have never seen Miguel in our life but he was in LOVE with Tara as you will see from the photos. They are just too cute not to share.










Friday, June 23, 2006

I finally can tell you ...

Picture of me with Kristi and my goddaughter Logan

It's been welling up inside me for MONTHS!

But today, I can post on my blog that my best buddy Kristi is PREGNANT again!

I actually found out about Kristi's pregnancy very early on. However, she had a very difficult first few months. The Lord has truly done a miracle for Lee & Kristi and their daughter Logan (my goddaughter.) This has been a difficult pregnancy with a lot of "issues" so they have kept things low-key and waited until the first trimester.
This is still a high-risk pregnancy so I would appreciate if you continued to keep the Hunts in your prayers.
Kristi's announcement email cracked me up when she wrote:
Well this is going to be a year that Christmas comes even slower. We are expecting our second child. The baby is due in mid December. For those of you doing math, I am almost 15 weeks pregnant. Because of past problems and because the first trimester was filled with lots of problems, we wanted to wait until we were out of the danger zone to tell folks. Well things are looking very positive and my belly is really starting to stick out. So to avoid nasty rumors about eating lots of chicken enchiladas, we thought it was time to tell everyone.

Thanks to everyone that has had us in prayers lately and there is no question that prayer works. A few more prayers would be greatly appreciated. Lee and I are very excited and Logan is giving the baby kisses every night. The only problem is after kissing my belly, she runs to Lee's and says baby and then kisses it. So there might be a little confusion, but lots of love.
Kristi and I have been friends sine we came as freshmen together to Western Kentucky University, and I am so blessed by her. She is one of the few people that completely knows everything about me -- one of those people that I all when I have something very personal to get advice on. I love her, Lee and Logan so much and can't wait to go visit the family of FOUR in the spring in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Keep the prayers coming.
* * * * *
Tonight, John and I are going to walk to Rochesterfest's parade which is just a block or two from our house and then enjoy a low-key weekend. We do plan to go to dinner at Ajit's house tomorrow night but other than that, just enjoy spending some time together at home (and finish my laundry!)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I can't think of a title

My head is a chasm of random thoughts including:
  • I have a gazillion pounds of laundry and not enough quarters to do it.
  • It makes me mad that the quarter machine in the Hilton building gives me 5 nickels for every dollar I put in!
  • I took one of those $5 headache pills at 3:00 and haven't head a headache since. Are they worth it?! Well, time will tell but today they definitely were!
  • That chocolate truffle that my co-worker Char bought for me today was amazing.
  • That chocolate truffle makes me never want to eat a cheap candy bar again.
  • That chocolate truffle is $1.75. However, when I bought one for JB with coconuts in it he admitted that it was worth every bit of $1.75.
  • My dad will be here on Sunday night or Monday. I am really excited to see him. Tara, he and I are going to go to see the Twins play on Tuesday evening.
  • My heart is heavy today with sadness for journey's through life that kind of suck. I have quite a few friends that are really hurting right now due to bad things happening (death, relationships, infertility, etc.). I can't list all of their prayer requests as most are private, but if they are reading this, they know who they are, and they know that there is a girl in Minnesota crying out to the Lord on their behalf.
  • I also have friends who are going through such beautiful times in their life including my brother and AD and their engagement. Life is quite a roller coaster and quite a journey.
  • My load of laundry is probably close to done. I have about 10 loads to do. Why am I doing one at a time?
  • My neighbor Susan, who's about 75, wants me to help organize a pot luck for the building. This isn't quite my thing but Susan is pumped about it so I think I will try to help her. She knocked on my door the other day and talked to me for quite some time.
  • What can I make for the potluck that 70 year olds like? I'm not used to cooking for that audience.
  • I am not used to cooking period.
  • I have to write a book review for RLSF. Only problem? I am still like only 3 chapters into the book that I have to write a review on. Heavens! It makes me have restless legs just thinking about tackling the rest of this book. My goal tonight is at least three chapters!
  • I think I need to do a blog educating my readers about RLS. Since I work there, it would be good if I shared. I may do that.
  • JB is out for a bike ride. When will he be home?
  • Our boy turned girl bird laid ANOTHER egg today. I guess that makes him even MORE a girl than we thought. Jeepers.
  • I'm hungry.
  • That chocolate truffle was AMAZING!

I hope you enjoyed this quick romp through my brain. You are either overly impressed or, well, chances are that is not the case, so please don't be too harsh with your comments on this blog.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Doctors, sister-in-laws, pizza, eggs, and volleyball

Well if you notice the title of my blog you will see that this blog is coming in a few parts, completely unrelated. So here they are, in no particular order.

Doctors
Yesterday I went to meet with my doctor about my headaches. JB was unable to come with me although he was one floor above me seeing patients. He did give me questions and comments for the doctor to try to help guide things along.

My doctor isn't exactly sure why my headaches have continued despite going off all hormone medicines. Her basic deduction is that I have a headache 24-7. That headache waxes and wanes, but it never completely goes away and sometimes reaches migraine status. However, because we are about to do IVF again, we have to be careful because there are very few migraine medications that are safe during pregnancy.

She decided to put me on Imitrex (sp?) at least until July 3rd when I will meet with a neurologist. She wanted me to go get a ct-scan, however, I asked her if I could wait and meet with the neurologist first. I told her I am just all tested-out. I had a ct-scan in 2003 and just don't feel like doing it again (or paying for it again). She agreed with that deduction. The main reason for going to the neurologist is to see if we can figure out a way to combat these migraines while attempting to get pregnant. Codeine is really the only medication safe for pregnancy, however, I may have started to develop a tolerance to codeine. Imitrix is not safe during pregnancy, however, I can at least take it for a month or two. The doctor would prefer that I did not find relief for a two month time span only to face it again when the IVF meds start up and the hormone medicines start up again.

JB picked up my Imitrix today. I am supposed to take it every time I feel a migraine coming on. However, it is $5 a pill! John regretted telling me right away. How am I supposed to just "take one" when it is $5 for every stinkin' pill? Oh well. We'll get through this. My gonal shots for IVF and IUIs were $45 per every unit of 75. So I guess this isn't too bad.

Sister-in-laws
If you missed it, AD, my soon-to-be sister-in-law posted a reply to my post the other day. I was actually pretty happy with how well I did with the "Facts about AD". Here was her comment in case you missed it:

Thanks for the nice write up, now I have some ideas for our engagement announcement. You were right about most things. I am 5'8" and 26 years old. Keith is 9 months older. I was a softball catcher and majored in Sociology at Stetson. I am 10 credits away from earning my Master's in Public Administration. Not sure what I will do with it? And we would definitely be friends if we lived a little closer, I've always wanted a sister. Keith wanted me to write "older sister"Chicago has been great, lots of sleeping and meeting Trinity people. We are off to the Museum of Science & Industry. I am looking forward to meeting the Huisman clan on Saturday and showing off the most beautiful ring I've ever seen.

I wish AD luck as she meets the Huismans. I hope they don't tear her to shreds! Just kidding. However, I did realize that neither AD nor myself have a sister. I do have three sister-in-laws but I am excited to have a "sister" on the Huisman side. How fun!

Pizza
Okay, onto word three from the title: pizza. Today, I met my friend Stephanie for lunch at Bilottis -- a cute Italian place downtown. Stephanie is getting ready to do IVF in August. We enjoyed talking about the journey and sharing ideas and comments. I was also blessed because this is really the first time I have actually talked about our failed IVF in intimate details, and I was proud of myself. I am excited for Stephanie, and we are both excited that maybe we could be pregnant right around the same time!

Eggs
All right, so I have talked about the doctors, I have talked about my sister-in-laws, and I have talked about pizza. Now I must mention "eggs".

I mention eggs because our bird laid one.

Let me rewrite that sentence: our boy bird laid an egg.

Now obviously, Twain, is not a boy. However, when we bought Twain to keep our now deceased bird Chaucer (rest her soul) company, we were told that Twain was a boy by the woman who sold him/her to us.

That woman lied!

I thought it earlier but now I know it.

Now if you remember, I posted about my idea that our birds had an identity gender crisis in an earlier blog back in January: Gender Identity: Our Confused Birds. I suspected that our birds may not be the sex that we believed they were due to some kinky activities that I observed in the cage when they didn't think anyone was looking.

However, yesterday, our supposed boy bird LAID AN EGG. This means that, for sure now, Twain is a girl.

Now one question remains: is Monet, the bird that has always been sexless, a boy? We don't know. Twain-ette can lay eggs without them being fertilized, however it appears that Monet is doing (his?) share of fertilizing.

If baby birds emerge, then we will know.

Volleyball
Our office manager at RLSF asked me to play co-ed outdoor volleyball as they were short a girl. I haven't been able to do any major exercise in a few months so this was something very new for me. John and I rode our bikes to the park, about a thirty minute ride, played volleyball, and then rode back home. It was wonderful to be outside in gorgeous weather even though I got filthy.

Okay, so that's all I have. See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Well today, JB and I celebrate our eighth (Yes, EIGHTH) wedding anniversary. We feel old. However, I am sure those of you who were at our wedding feel old right along with us. We actually sort of forgot it was our anniversary because our gift to each other was our trip to Mount Rushmore. We were both relieved to realize the other person and had not gotten a card or anything either. We just kept saying the trip was our gift that we felt like our anniversary occurred over the weekend.

To take a quick (and not too sentimental) trip down memory lane, JB and I were engaged on my birthday in 1997. John had told me all week that we were going to go out to eat on my birthday. I therefore suspected that it was at this dinner that he would propose. Instead, I went to bed on the 21st and was awoken by loud music at 12:01 on the morning of May 22nd. Ticked off at my roommates, I meandered out of my room. It wasn't unusual for them to party into the morning, and I thought they were bringing the party home with them. Instead, I found rose petals leading into the living room. However, I was still half-asleep so I had no idea what this meant, until I followed the rose petals into the living room and found a card with a Bible verse and a quarter taped to it.

Every couple has their own quirky "inside" jokes and ours was that John would give me a quarter when he asked me to marry him. I am not sure exactly where this originated. At some point we had given each other a penny, nickel, and dime, and we joked that this was the next "step".

John had one of our favorite songs playing and got on one knee to propose. He would have slipped the ring onto my finger if it wasn't too small. Oh well. You have to have a funny story or how fun will the story be to tell?

So a year and a month after we were engaged, we were married in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Even though both of us were from Florida, the fact that we were both living in Kentucky at the time coupled with the fact that I had a lot of family in Illinois that I hoped would be able to make it to the wedding if it was closer (6 hour drive vs. 26 hour drive) made us opt for Kentucky. The church we were attending was too small, so our pastor asked a friend if we could borrow his church -- Westminster Bible Church.

It was a VERY hot June day and to make matters worse, the air in the church broke. Luckily it didn't break in the second floor fellowship hall where I was getting ready or I would have had makeup smeared all over my dress I am sure. There were about 150-200 people at the wedding. My Aunt Dorothy played the music and even though she would have preferred I chose another song, as apparently "Here comes the Bride" is from some horrible opera, I did walk down to "Hear comes the Bride." My Aunt Mary and Aunt Linda sang a beautiful song, and I have the words they changed slightly for us, hanging above my dresser. My best buds Kristi and Michelle stood up on my side as did JB's two sisters, Elizabeth and Katie. My junior bridesmaid was my long-time "little sister" Brianna V. JB was joined by his three brothers. Ray was the best man, Matt was a junior groomsman, and Robbie was the ring bearer. My brother Keith, his friend Sean and his childhood friend Craig D. were also in the wedding.

One of my favorite parts of the wedding was when we took communion together and our friend Deanna W. sang a beautiful song. This was a very moving part of the ceremony despite the fact that we were both so hot!

The reception was held at Garrett Ballroom on the campus of Western Kentucky University. We didn't have a lot of money to spend so we had a buffet style meal and a DJ and a beautiful cake. I was amazed at how well things came together on a small budget and my lack of intimate bridal influence. When the cake maker asked me what I wanted I said "pretty and purple". When our florist went out of business, and I talked another into taking us a few weeks before the wedding despite the fact that she had another wedding that day I said, "Something that is pretty and goes with purple." I really didn't know what I wanted nor did I care that much. I just wanted a simple, pretty wedding. And I wanted to be Mrs. Wendi K. (I avoid writing last names on my blog!)

We spent our honeymoon in a cabin in Boone, North Carolina. We spent the first night of our honeymoon at Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, a gift from John's parents. We went back there on our third wedding anniversary as a special surprise from John.

Our first house, which we lived in in Bowling Green, Kentucky was actually a 2 bedroom, 1 and a half bath townhome that we rented for $365 a month. After that, we went to Franklin for 3 years where we rented our 2/2 duplex for $450 a month. Needless to say, our rent increased when we moved to Rochester in 2003.

Eight years later, and I can't even remember what it sounds like to introduce myself as Wendi H. But I guess that used to be my last name. We have now been together since December of 1993. Thirteen years. In a few years, I will have been with JB more than I have been without JB.

John's younger brother Robbie was 4 when we started dating and is 17 now. He admits that he doesn't remember John before I was his girlfriend. This really makes me feel quite old.

Anyways, so that is a little trip down memory lane. I have to say, as I have never been shy about saying, that I am married to the best guy in the world. He is truly my best friend.

If I can find some pictures, I will post them tomorrow.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Big Announcement

Well this is a pretty big moment for me (as everything is about me of course!) Here is the big announcement I promised on yesterday's blog.

My little brother is, GETTING MARRIED!


Here are the facts (as I know them) to answer all the questions I have been receiving (and those that I predict I will receive):
  • They got engaged last week Tuesday I think, however, I was forbidden to share until everyone he wanted to tell had been told.
  • No official date has been set yet (as far as I know -- but Keith isn't known for his fantastic communication), but the girl has been picked!
  • Her name is Adrienne Broyles, but everyone calls her "AD".
  • Yes, my brother is an "AD" (athletic director) and that is fairly ironic.
  • I have honestly, only met AD one time, but we went on a five day cruise together, so I feel like I got to know her fairly well, and I definitely approve of Keith's choice.
Here are some photos of AD with her new ring.



Keith and AD are actually on their way to Chicago. I originally thought that they were going to surprise people with the news when they got there, thus my reason for not telling anyone. Come to find out though, the news was already shared so they gave me permission to share it with the world. Finally!

Okay, here is what I know about AD. I think AD reads my blog so, AD, if I messed any of this up, please forgive me and please correct me. I am going to do my best here:
  • Keith and AD met at church.
  • AD is fairly tall (I get this question all the time). I am going to guess 5'8" or 5'9". Is that right AD?
  • I am not exactly sure what her job is, but I know she works for Park and Rec doing something recreational in nature. (Aren't I brilliant for that deduction). Actually, she was switching jobs when we met her so I think this is why I don't have this straight.
  • I believe she was a recreation major in college.
  • I think she is about Keith's age -- 26 or 27. I think she was 26 when we went on the cruise, but I thought she had a birthday since then.
  • She is very involved in FCA at her former school, FAU (Florida Atlantic University).
  • I believe she is getting her master's degree right now at FAU.
  • I have no idea how far along she is in her master's and am now wondering if that is even accurate information at all. Ugh!
  • Maybe I should have checked on these facts before posting the blog.
  • AD was actually a Division-I softball player for Stetson.
  • I think AD was a catcher.
  • Honestly,the only thing that I don't like about her was that she graduated from Westminster Academy (our biggest rivals while I was growing up), but other than that, there is nothing I don't like.
  • AD's mom owns a pet shop thus immediately earning her brownie points with John!
  • JB and I both agree that AD is perfect for our family. I joke that in John's family, where there are six siblings, if you don't like one of the spouses, no biggie, you can find someone else to sit with at dinner (not saying that I don't like any of the spouses of course). However, when I only have one sibling, it's kind of important that I feel like I can be around her and not have to "work" at being friends. If we lived closer, I think AD and I would be good friends.
  • I hope AD would say the same thing about me but maybe not. Maybe she is like, oh gosh, my one sister-in-law is just a PAIN!
  • AD is a wonderful person. She has great style and personality and charisma and is a very strong Christian. She is a perfect match for Keith and will keep him from becoming a sports-watching hermit! She shares his love of sports and his love of the Lord.
Anyways, congrats you two. AD, thanks for saying yes to my brother. I owe you one! Also, thanks for forgiving me for everything I screwed up in this blog!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Our trip to South Dakota

Well, first of all, I must thank Josh for holding down the fort for me while I was gone. It appears he did a fantastic job. JB and I were literally laughing out loud as we read your story. You never disappoint.

Secondly, in response to the question posed by Josh and the answer from one of the commenters, Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota.

That being said, I am now going to share some photos and video (Yes -- video ... thanks for the tutorial Calvin) from our trip to South Dakota. This may be one of my longest blogs ever but don't worry, most of what you are going to see are photos not me "talking".

We left for South Dakota around 7:30 a.m. on Friday morning. As I mentioned, I have seven states left to visit, so I was very excited to knock one of these off my list. Here is me on the highway with my new state!

I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised by South Dakota. It is a beautiful state. We really enjoyed the drive to Mt. Rushmore because the SD landscape is landscape we had never seen before.

All in all, it is about an eight and a half hour drive from Rochester to Keystone, SD. However, we took a 90 minute side loop through the Badlands. These lands are appropriately named for how badly they would have served for raising crops or animals in the early beginnings of America. Here are some pictures of this amazing landscape.



As we left the Badlands, I saw this beautiful prairie and told JB that I would love to run through it (picture the introduction to Little House on the Prairie). JB immediately said that I probably wouldn't want to run through the prairie due to the rattle snakes. A few minutes later we saw a boardwalk leading out the prairie, and John's thoughts were confirmed by this delightful sign which only reiterated that I should stick to the boardwalk instead of just running through the grass. It also reiterated the fact that JB is quite often, right.

Before I left, Kelsey made me a list of places that we should be sure to visit. This was one of them -- Wall Drug. In fact, as you drive to Mt. Rushmore you see all kinds of signs advertising this Drug Store which made its place on the map during the Great Depression by offering free glasses of water. However, it is now one big tourist trap so we stopped to "say we'd been there" and to take a picture to prove it for Kelsey and then went on our way without even getting our glass of free water. Not a place I'd go out of my way to visit just as Kelsey promised.

We finally arrived in Keystone, SD around 5:30, checked into our hotel, Roosevelt Inn, and then immediately headed to Mount Rushmore, about 4 miles from our hotel. What an amazing site! Pictures can't do it justice, but here are some pictures to share just the same.


As you enter the area, each state is represented in a stone pillar with the year they entered the union. Here is a photo with me next to Florida/Kentucky/Minnesota ... my "flaky" inspiration.

Later that evening, after a quick bite to eat, we returned to the outdoor amphitheater where they had a lighting ceremony as the sun set as well as a video with the history of this great sculpture. What was even more fun was that they asked all current military and veterans to come to the front while the boy scouts retired the flag. Family was invited as well, but I declined as JB went down onto the stage. It was so neat to listen to the audience cheer for them and yell "thank you's".

The next morning, we drove along a scenic road and were able to take more beautiful pictures of Mount Rushmore.

We then moved to Custer State Park. This was a gorgeous State Park with all kinds of animals.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was meeting Custer State Park's "Begging burros". These donkeys were brought to this area during the gold rush and left behind. While not native to the area, they now allow about 30 burros to continue living in the park, auctioning off the excess numbers each year to lucky individuals (I would love one!) Here are some photos and VIDEOs of these donkeys who are not even close to shy. We stopped our car for a second and were flogged!

Another great park of this park was that it contains the largest wild heard of buffalo/bison in the world. We were lucky enough to pass the herd very early in our trip. Here are some photos of the bison which JB was gutsy enough to get out and "visit" with.

Another animal we saw a TON of was the Pronghorn antelope. These animals were all over the park! John joked that I could show the entire song of "Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roamed, where the deer and the antelope played ..."

Animals in this park had no fear of humans as indicated by this groundhog who made JB drive around him ... twice!

The Needles Highway greeted us on the way out of the park. These rocks were gorgeous and, again, pictures just can't show what we saw. You MUST see them for yourself.

Can you find JB in the first picture below and me in the picture below that? This just shows you how big these rocks are.

Lots of tunnels requiring one car at a time. You have to honk first!

The highlight of the trip is a rock called "Needle's Eye" which has a hole right through it thus the "eye of the needle".

We also took a ride on the "1880 Train" which drove us one hour to Hill City and one hour back. In Hill City we ate at a fabulous German restaurant where we had some great German dishes!

Below you see the highest point between the Rocky Mountains and the Swiss Alps:

While the scenery on the train was excellent as you can see above, one of my favorite parts was meeting Leonard. Leonard is a local retired man who comes out to meet the train EVERY time it passes -- six times a day! He stands on a stand with his conductor's hat on and waves and bows and blows kisses. I enjoyed meeting him on the trip there AND back. What a guy!

Okay, so JB and I typically avoid anything that even resembles a tourist trap, however, I read about this ski lift that takes you to the top of a hill where you can see Mt. Rushmore and then take an alpine slide back down. Here is a picture of JB and me on the ride up.

Here was the view from the top of the hill which included the fifth face on Mt. Rushmore as well as a beautiful view of Keystone, population 250!

Now JB was not overly excited about taking the alpine slide down. I had done this before and thought it was great fun. He had never done it and told me that he was not going to race and wanted to just ride down slowly and relaxed-like. Keeping this in mind, you can see why I was very surprised when we started at the same time and I was quickly left behind! JB left me in his dust. I tried to catch up but was not nearly daring enough. Once at the bottom, John apologized and told me that I was right -- those slides were great fun!

Our next stop was Crazy Horse. If you don't know much about Crazy Horse (like us), I will quickly summarize by telling you that the Indian leaders wanted their own memorial for their heroes, just like the heroes featured on Mt. Rushmore. So, Crazy Horse was started by Korczak Ziolkowski, his wife, and ten children. Korczak has since died, but the job continues. To give you an idea how big Crazy Horse will one day be, the four heads on Mt. Rushmore can FIT into Crazy Horse's head. Here is the finished statue (in model form) with the actual statue in the background.

Here is Crazy Horse, probably over fifty years away from completion.

After viewing Crazy Horse, we decided to return to our hotel through Custer State Park. At one point, JB decided to climb to the top of one of the hills. Here he is, blown up so you can see him. You can also watch a video of him coming down the very large hill!

We also ran into the donkeys again! I was very excited. I love these guys.

We returned to our hotel, exhausted, and left this morning around 8:30 our time for home. On the way we stopped at the Missouri river in South Dakota, something we saw on the way and had wanted to see. Here are a few photos from that stop including more snake warnings!


We had a fantastic trip and are glad to be home. Tomorrow, I will include a very special announcement on my blog so make sure you tune in for some extremely exciting news!