Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 6 - Kalamazoo, MI

Here are pictures from our stay at the Kalahari Waterpark Resort:

By the way, the secret to staying at the Kalahari is the "Choose Your Own Adventure" deals - on certain nights in the month (especially on more off season times), you can get this deal where you choose 3 from 7 different choices for one price - we pick the suite upgrade (three beds, two baths, three TVs), $40 coupon for supper at one of their restaurants, and free breakfast for 4! Plus we can use the waterpark from noon the day you check in until noon the day you check out!

Thursday morning, after a great breakfast buffet and three more hours of sliding we were back on the road heading east to Kalamazoo, MI. We know a lovely pastoral couple in Kalamazoo that are always so gracious to offer us a place to stay. We are always well fed and we enjoy their mentoring friendship.

Friday night we'll be back at our home in Toronto!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 5 - Wisconsin Dells, WI

After a long, frustrating day - 7 hours of driving, leaving later than we planned, more stops than we wanted, and grumpy kids we finally reached our destination. We surprised the kids and drove into the Kalahari parking lot! They had no idea that the hotel with a pool they would be staying at tonight would be the same great waterpark hotel that we stayed at in May on our way to Alberta. Noelle kept saying that it was the best surprise ever :) We swam and slid for three hours when we got here and then went for a late supper. Not surprisingly, all the kids fell asleep in minutes tonight.

We could tell it was cooler today - only 33C or 34C most of the day! Although it was more like 39C in South Dakota so we're glad to be moving into cooler country.

Tomorrow is on to Kalamazoo, MI, after swimming and sliding in the morning again of course!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 4 - Sioux Falls, SD

Hot, hot hot! We had a good day of driving but it was hot, another 36C day (near record highs) - heat we are not used to :) We are very grateful for our air conditioning and reliability of our vehicle.

We saw evidence of the drought in the many fields we passed by on our way. After our 6 hour drive and supper at Sioux Falls we drove a short way to visit Falls Park and see the falls that gave the city it's name. It was very evident that the drought has affected the Sioux River too but even with less water there is something about the beauty of waterfalls that is captivating.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 3 - Rapid City, SD

We haven't ever stayed two nights in one place before on our trips back and forth but this trip we took an extra day and enjoyed the Black Hills of South Dakota! Today was a full day of Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Big Thunder Gold Mine and then a Chinese buffet for supper and swimming just before bed.

We took a ton of pictures so I'll let some of them tell our story of today. What you can't see though is how hot it was... 37C!  We just wished we could stay longer in the caves where it was blessedly cool.

Sitting Bull Crystal Caverns

Exploring a small cave with flashlights

Going down, down many steps - about 300 feet underground to the main cave (going backwards was easier for adults on the steep steps!)

Dog-tooth spar crystal

Afterwards, we bought a bag of "dirt" so the kids could sift it and discover gems and crystals to take home  (the kids loved this part and wanted to buy more bags of "dirt" to sift through!)

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

The proverbial "We were here" photo

A great talk by a park ranger explaining how Gutzon Borglum used his scale models to sculpt the four famous faces. What an amazing story of persistence (this is the 9th scale model version) and flexibility (to keep working within the limits of the rock)!  

Big Thunder Gold Mine

Learning about the persistence of two miners who spent 30 years painfully digging this mine to find only 10 ounces of gold!

Panning for gold - it takes a bit of skill but we came home with a few flecks of gold - and it felt good to "play" in the water!

Tomorrow we're off to Sioux Falls, SD - basically just driving straight across the state!

Day 2 – Rapid City, SD

After attending an early service at 9 am at First Baptist Church in Billings, we started our drive to Rapid City, SD. We had thought we might try and stop at Devils Tower (a unique volcanic formation ) in Wyoming but on our way we saw a sign for Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument and ended up stopping there instead. Two and a half hours later we had listened to a park ranger tell the story of “Custer's Last Stand”, watched a video explaining the battle and looked around the gift shop. We didn't pull into Rapid City until after 7 pm but it was worth it to learn about a piece of US history in a very real way. We also have a few new books to read on the way too!

Teepees at Custer's Last Stand Trading Store

Jeremy rolling down the hill when he got bored of listening to the park ranger talk

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 1 Billings, MT

Our last drive east began today - Vauxhall to Billings - past fields of grain and miles of prairie. It has been probably the best first day of driving with the kids. They were excited to receive their Day 1 bags (daily bags that I stock with "new" books (from a library sale this time), small candies and activities - these bags spread out the excitement and give the kids something to look forward to each day. It also helped that Jeremy had an afternoon nap! It ended up being a nine hour trip with four stops before supper and a swim in an outside pool. Now though, I am sitting on the floor of the bathroom with the doors closed so the kids can fall asleep in the dark. Sigh. The joys of all of us in one room.

Next week Daniel begins his last year of seminary at Toronto Baptist Seminary and the kids and I will get to experience a one room school for 4 days before continuing homeschooling. Life will be full when we get back to Toronto so we'll enjoy our slower life (no laundry or dishes or papers to write) while we drive.

Outside the Great Falls Visitor Center

Overlooking Billings, Montana

Swimming in the outdoor pool in the courtyard

Time for bed!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Red Rock Coulee, AB

A little known secret near Seven Persons, AB is Red Rock Coulee - a unique canyon with large round red rocks. One Sunday in August, we took a road trip with my Mom to see these strange rocks and marvel at God's creation. Mom had been here in June and said that most of the rocks were intact. Sadly, it seems that some of the wild storms we have had this summer broke up many of the rocks.

Monday, August 13, 2012

CTMH Holiday Ornaments Video

I love this stamp set and coordinating Dimensional Elements (chipboard) - they are on my wishlist for my next order so I can make my own ornaments for our Christmas tree and for gifts! This would be a fun project to make with my kids (at least the youngest two :) - they would love stamping them and adding glitter and embellishments.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

CTMH Stamping Inspiration Video

The new Autumn/Winter Idea Book is here and with it some great new kits and stamps! Drop me a line if you would like to receive a hard copy of the Catalogue and Idea Book. Check out this 2 minute video to see some great artwork using some new Workshop on the Go stamp sets.