The Vacation I Didn’t Know I Needed

Earlier this summer, Hubs approached me and said, “I booked us a room in Keystone for mid-September.” That’s when I found out we were taking a family vacation.

I’ve longed joked we don’t take vacations, we take trips. There’s a big difference, especially when children are involved. The packing, the books and food wrappers all over the backseat of the car, the arguing… It’s not a vacation. It’s a trip.

This, though, was very different.

How It Started

The morning we were departing, I went outside to top off the chicken feed and water. Once I went outside, I saw feathers everywhere.

That’s never a good sign.

Eventually, I came across a decapitated guinea under the trees next to the coop. That meant one thing: owl.

Side note on predation. It’s so frustrating to lose an animal. It’s more frustrating to lose an animal to an owl or a possum, etc. because they only eat one part of the animal and the rest goes to waste. Owls decapitate chickens/guineas. They only eat the head. Possums (and weasels) only nibble away at the breast. Hawks, eagles, coyotes – they dispose of most, if not all, of the animal. When predators only eat one part, it seems like so much more of a loss and a waste. /end rant

I had to dispose of the poor guinea and switch my mind from flock protection to vacation. It wasn’t an easy switch, but I didn’t have the time or the resources to try to do anything about preventing further predation just then.

I was a little bit stressed. There was so much that I needed to be doing at home. Could we really be sparing this time to travel? Even if only for a few days? Maybe I should make it a working vacation. I had set my computer out to bring along so I could work while we were away.

Except, I accidentally left my computer right where I had set it so I would remember to grab it.

On The Road

We headed west and stopped in Wall for the famous Wall Drug, where we took advantage of the photo opportunities and the public restrooms. Once we had our fill there, we headed on to Rapid City.

We drove through Culver’s for lunch. If you’ve never eaten at Culver’s before… I’m sorry. The butter burger is a phenomenon I’ll never apologize for indulging in.

After lunch, we attempted to go to Storybook Land. That was when we found out they close on Labor Day. The first of many attractions that close on Labor Day, we discovered.

After that failure, we headed on to Hill City, where our overnight accommodations were for our getaway. Hubs found us a hotel-apartment. Two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. It. Was. Glorious. Not fancy or frilly at all, but to have that space available to spread out in made everything amazing.

After we checked in and unloaded our luggage, we pressed on back to Keystone where we did all the tourist things.

We shopped, we walked, we spent too much money, and we ate too much food. We drove through Bear Country USA and walked around viewing every display they had. We went to the Cosmos and enjoyed an intimate tour with the four of us, two older ladies, and our adorable tour guide.

The weather was perfect, the tourist crowd sizes wherever we went were near nonexistent.

As we sat on a balcony eating our gluten-free pizza, I was engulfed by peace. I had my family, we were having fun, making memories, and I felt so relaxed and … free.

After the fun we had in Keystone, we headed back to Rapid to treat the kids to miniature golf at Pirate’s Cove.

Present and Past

We had spent most of that first day giving the kiddos new experiences and favorite memories. We also were reminiscing of our honeymoon in the area, 18 years prior.

It was especially fun for me to take our children to the same sights and scenes where we had celebrated the start of our lives together almost two decades ago.

We had little adventures here and there over the course of the next couple of days. Scenic drives, train rides, Mount Rushmore…

The hotel had biscuits and gravy, and while it wasn’t as good as mine, it was a welcomed hot breakfast start to each day.

Heading Home

After our time away had come to a close, we started back home. We were tired, but we weren’t drained. We were filled to the point our cups ran over.

It was not a family trip. Not at all. This was a true family vacation, and one I didn’t realize I needed until we drove away from the Hilltop Homestead.

I was so very glad I forgot to bring my computer. I was so very glad Hubs had made these arrangements and insisted we have a family getaway.

Even though some attractions were closed for the season, we didn’t run out of things to do or experiences to have. We had an incredible time away together. It was a vacation to remember.

I was so very glad. We’ll be doing it again, and I won’t dread it or bemoan how much I have to do at home. I’ll be excited, grateful, and relaxed.

I’m already looking forward to our next family vacation.

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