Monday, June 22, 2020

Finding Lakota Lake

Last weekend we had the pleasure of checking out this lovely little lake. We have found that our usual lake locations are very over-crowded this year and have been on the hunt for a kid-friendly water spot. Lakota Lake did not disappoint ... it wasn't crowded, had several spots where the kids could access shallow water for wading and swimming, had an easy hiking trail around it and best of all (for the kids), it was loaded with crawdads!



























Thursday, June 4, 2020

Attempting "dispersed camping" -- Black Hills National Forest

For a while now Jason has been wanting us to give dispersed camping a try. I wasn't really familiar with the term, but found it basically means that you go to a National Forest area and pick a spot to camp {for free!} and hang out until the lack of any facilities gets the better of you. I was game to try this at least once and last weekend we went!

The Black Hills stretch across the South Dakota border and into Wyoming and on the Wyoming side you are allowed to have a campfire while dispersed camping, so that's where we headed - a place we hadn't yet explored!

Overall, things went really smoothly and we had a great time. Two years in China has prepared me well for alternative toileting situations and the kids were thrilled with that aspect. My only struggles were things that come up anytime/place we camp -- long, miserable nights because I feel extremely cold and I sometimes feel flustered trying to prepare meals with limited table/cooking space. Otherwise, we really, really enjoyed not having to stress about the kids making noise ... there were no neighbors, anywhere. It was a relief to not have to feel self conscious that our kids are AWAKE at 5:30 am and ready for the day. And, Jason found us a beautiful spot to camp in. Definitely something we'll try again.



















Beautiful hiking right from our campsite.
Marshmellow time! (I forgot graham crackers!)

Welcomed back home by a beautiful sunet.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Celebrating Lucky 13

Jason and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary on Tuesday. The weather was supposed to be nice so Jason got approved to take a vacation day. We spent the day together as a family, enjoying the wonderful warmth at the lake with our canoe, followed by a backyard bbq and black forest cake. A perfect way to celebrate!










A delicious end to a great day! And Jason even found some "Lucky 13" ale to go with our meal. 

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Living in the SAME home for over two years!

This is a big first for us. As of March 30th we officially passed our two year mark of living in our current home. This is the longest either of us have lived in any one home since we met in Peace Corps, nearly 14 years ago. Woohoo -- this also means we haven't had to pack & move in over two years which feels pretty fabulous!

The thrill of a new place with new adventures still has a very strong pull on both of us, but we feel incredibly grateful to be here right now. We know that we are just so fortunate to have a home at all and are super thankful.

In the meantime, we had fun looking back at the many homes we've gotten to live in --

















Our first home together!

Carrie's Tongan residences ... 














Where it all started -- Nuku'alofa, Tonga!

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Putting an end winter {I hope!}

With it being MAY I'm hoping that we have reached the end of our winter season. With the first measureable snow of the season hitting us in early October and our most recent in mid-April, I am very, very much ready for this SIX month season to just move along.

To be fair, we've had some had some truly wonderful, warm days lately which has been a-mazing! Annoyingly enough though, I feel like with each warm day my tolerance for the cold ones gets weaker and weaker...

Last week, we got to enjoy our first fire in our backyard fire ring complete with hot dogs and s'mores and this past Sunday, we went for a hike in the hills on a trail completely clear of snow! Quite exciting!



Winter fun on ice at Sheridan Lake

Hiking to the Stratobowl -- a warmer day, but still with plenty of snow on the ground

Spending Leap Day at the "Outhouse Races" in Nemo, SD
Celebrating World Wildlife Day at Custer State Park






























Pactola Reservoir ... another "warm" spring day with plenty of ice still on the water


















Waiting for our very FIRST flower of the season to open up -- on March 31st :)

















Luke turns 7 on April 2nd and he gets 8 inches of snow as a present






Celebrating new life on Easter Sunday, and enjoying another 6 inches of snow. 



Catching what we hope are the last snow flakes for the season















































Thrilled to get to have our first fire of the season in our backyard firepit.
Complete with hot dogs and s'mores!




















First rainbow of this year, with many more to come; and finally getting some flowers in the garden!

Hiking at Deefield Trail #40 ... a beautiful day!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Badlands National Park {in Winter}

Wow, I've quite the blog lapse. We have had a few fun winter activities in 2020.

Our first was back in January when we took advantage of one of the NPS free days to roam around Badlands National Park for the day. It was really cool to see it in a different season and since it was still a below-freezing day, we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves.

We'd seen pictures from the Notch Trail hike with a wooden ladder climb that had intrigued us for a while. We were able to find it and all climbed the ladder. Going up was easy, but it felt a little trickier going down with the kiddos!