Monday, June 1st - Saturday, August 15th
We left Helena on Sunday and arrived at my brother's place on Monday afternoon with over $500 worth of breakfast sausage we had picked up at the butcher shop in Napoleon, ND. for us, my two brothers, a couple nieces and a couple Grandmas. They make the best breakfast sausage in the world. We stayed a few nights there and a few nights at their lake place before heading down to Brookings for our annual check-ups and visits with friends and then down to Dawn's in Sioux Falls for a few days.
Oh no Grandpa Claude, you don't like those grandkids at all. Right! We got to meet our first great-niece while we were at the lake.
Then we made a quick trip down to Des Moines and Greenfield to visit a few friends and relatives while the RV was having it's annual check-up. Our friends have just recently moved to Des Moines and have been working on their back yard.
They have been getting hostas from friends and landscaping their back yard. So far they have put in about 400 hostas and still have about half of the back yard to do. It really looks nice, Gerry.
While we were there, we did about a 25 mile bike ride on the High Trestle Trail about 20 miles north of Des Moines.
The High Trestle Bridge near Madrid, Iowa was completed in 2010 and has a beautiful view of the Des Moines River valley. We had lunch at the Nite Hawk Bar and Grill in Slater right next to the trail.
We drove over to nearby Winterset (about 25 miles southwest of Des Moines) on Friday to see the new John Wayne Museum that just opened in May. This young couple asked John to take their picture. They were on a little vacation and her Dad had given them $100 to do something fun, so they chose to stop here, because her Dad is a big fan of John Wayne.
The only place in the museum where you are allowed to take pictures. You can dress up like a cowboy and take your picture with The Duke. They had a nice quote of his on a plaque. "Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."
You walk out the back door of the museum and down the alley where you see this 1980 Chevy Van that was customized by a true John Wayne fan. It is covered with over $50,000 worth of murals including on the door jams and inside the hood. The side and rear windows are custom etched with murals. The interior has a custom saloon with hardwood floor, bar, fridge, sink and swinging doors that open to the bed. It has unique wood running boards with horseshoes imbedded in them.
Just around the corner is where The Duke, Marion Robert Morrison, was born on May 26, 1907 and lived the first three years of his life. The home has been open for tours since 1982 and has been visited by famous people such as Ronald Reagan and Maureen O'Hara and Wayne's widow, all of his children and many of his grandchildren. Something else to see in this area are The Bridges of Madison County of book and movie fame, starring Clint Eastwood. We did that nice little tour a few years back. It is the largest group of covered bridges in one area in the western half of the Mississippi Valley. They do offer two-hour personal tours and they have an annual Bridge Festival. There is a beautiful city park with one of the covered bridges and several wineries in the area.
A lovely little Sunday brunch on the deck with our friends in Des Moines before we left to visit John's cousins in Emmetsburg on our way back to Sioux Falls.
This is the small children's part of the new Brookings swimming pool where I spent an afternoon with a friend and her three little grand daughters.
Beyond it are these fountains to run in.
Beyond that is this sandbox play area and beyond that is a playground. Behind the children's pool is the main pool with diving boards and two huge tube slides like a water park. There is also a concession stand that serves hot dogs, pizza, etc. and a nice picnic area. I sure wish they'd had this when my kids were little and I was babysitting. We only lived two blocks away. They also have the South Dakota Children's Museum in Brookings now with a huge animatronic T-Rex and baby T-rex and one of the premier gardens in the country, McCrory Gardens and a really nice bike path.
Ah, young love! We're back at the lake now for a while. We went to the 4th of July parade in Hankinson, which was very nice for a small town, and we watched fireworks three nights in a row at the lake.
I thought this was a rather strange thing to see parked at the motel in town, but I found out later that it is a new version of putting the pink flamingos in someone's yard, so they have to pay to have them moved to someone else's yard. Cancer fund raiser.
My baby brother watching his favorite grandson.
Volunteer pansies coming up all over in Great-grandma's front walk. So cute and quaint!
Really Grandpa? I'm not sure I believe that!
It's so much fun to be Grandma, isn't it Jodi?
I knew it was a good idea to get Grandpa a hammock for Father's Day.
He said he was taking shelter from the rain, but I think Grandpa had one too many!
Hold on tight Braylon. Uncle Claude is a crazy driver, just like my Dad!
Grandma Jodi, you're the best!
Welcome to our crazy family, Tyson.
But Mom, it's so cold!
Oh come on guys, put a little muscle into it!
Big brother is just too cool to come down and help with the sand castle.
I think we did alright without him. We had trees around our castle tower and even a shark in the foam in our moat (the curved gray line in the foam, a dead fish we found floating on the beach).
Good times at the lake.
Follow me girls, follow me!
Thanks for the pom poms Great-grandma Clem!
Could somebody please grab me a bottle opener?
Don't go too fast!
Can I drive, too?
A well deserved afternoon siesta. As Uncle Claude says, Andy, six and a half hours of those kids will break you.
Aunt Kathy and JoAnn came all the way from California to spend a few days with us.
Hilary and Dawn had to take a turn tubing with Braylon. He just can't get enough. Faster, Faster, Grandpa Claude!
Believe it or not, this is me. I wasn't too sure I could still do it anymore.
All too soon our time at Lake Elsie has come to an end. We are so sad to leave again. It's been so much fun. Thank you so much Claude and Jodi for your generosity and hospitality again.
But we can't wait to get back to Helena where Jeff has already picked up from the hospital the latest addition to our family, a two-day old little girl. She will be three days old by the time we get Hilary and the kids home. We left the lake at 5:30 AM Thursday with the girls and I still in bed, and got to Helena about 9:30 PM, 15 hours later. We stopped for gas once and John made a couple quick stops at rest areas. The rest of us never left the RV all day. The girls and I were ready for bed when we got there, because we still had our pjs on.
Tierney's first question was, where is she going to sleep? Mom said, how about your doll cradle? My Grandpa made that doll cradle for my girls when they were little.
Ooh, Dallas loves his new baby sister!
Of course, we all do!
But she and Tierney are absolutely inseparable.
After all, how many little girls get to have their own real live baby doll to play with and feed and cuddle? But eeww, no diaper changing please!
I guess we'll be here for a while. They'll need all the help they can get with this crew. We'll be busy until sometime in October.
Over and out,