This summer, we actually made a plan to go visit my older brother and his family in South Dakota. It was a terrific visit. It was too short, but it was a lot of fun.
So let’s see. We flew to Denver and rented a car instead of flying straight into Rapid City, because that saved us about $1,200. It also meant that we’d be in Denver, and have a 400 mile each way drive. So, on our way out, we stopped by in Fort Collins to meet some of our friends from Port Hueneme and their family. Then, off we drove, late into the night. It’s been a long time since I’ve driven on such flat, empty roads — 45 minutes at a time without seeing any other moving vehicles. It would have been much more fun in my car, especially when we found a car to pass. Anyway, we arrived at my brother’s house around 1 or 2 in the morning. The kids had zonked out on the ride (as I nearly had), so we transferred them downstairs into their waiting bed, where they did not stir. Then I sat up and drank beer with my brother for a while, which was awesome.
The next day, we let the kids run, jump, and play in Big Brother’s ample and well-equipped back yard, with their Little Cousin J, who is between ours in age. Then we took a short trip to Bear Country USA on our way to Mount Rushmore. I think everyone was exhausted by bed time that night. Big Cousin J emerged from her room for the tourism, but only reluctantly.
The next day and the following (the 3rd and 4th), we mostly hung around Big Brother’s house. The kids played, we drank and talked. Big Brother and I worked on a odd-shaped table for his wife, Aunt J. Again, the kids exhausted themselves. We learned to respect spray on Coppertone — it worked well for our ghostly children. We went beer shopping, and I found Surly‘s Todd the Axe Man to be readily available. I ended up drinking quite a bit of this during the vacation. KrisDi was unable to constrain herself, so she made a cake. Big Brother punctured his foot. Big Cousin J remained hidden in her room. Mom flew out and arrived late the night of the 4th.
The next day, on the 5th, we drove out to Angostura with Eldest’s boat. I think it was Chilkoot’s first fishing boat ride, and Chilkat’s second (the first being during Eldest’s wedding). We found a tiny little beach, dragged Mom out onto it, and had a little picnic and played in the sand and water. It was fun. Chilkoot had a meltdown. I only burned in a couple patches. Big Brother also bough a deep fryer (maybe the day before). We put it to good use: Fry anything that stays still. We had Indian Tacos.
On our last day, the 7th, we went out to visit a couple breweries and have a nice dinner at Alpine Inn. Mom and Aunt J’s sister watched all four kids so we could go out for a peaceful dinner. There’s still something magical about eating without screaming savages around me.
We got up early the next day and went back to Fort Collins to visit the same friends again. We had lunch with them, and then moved on to visit breweries and have dinner and visit more breweries. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton, which was super nice, and didn’t cost any more or less than the other options in the area we wanted. I scavenged for a some decent beers to drink while the kids were sleeping. We drank in the bathroom while the kids slept (not the first time).
Finally, we went out and visited more breweries, ate stuff, and went back to the airport to return our car and fly home.
Final tally, we visited the following breweries:
- Hay Camp
- Black Hills Miner
- Sick n Twisted
- Oskar Blues
- Great Divide
- Crooked Stave
The kids were amazingly good in the car. We drove over 1,000 miles, more than 21 hours in a vehicle. They were also (overall) pretty patient and good with all the brewery visits. They were awesome with their Little Cousin J, very little fighting or arguing. At one point, Chilkat dramatically injured her ankle or something, and J doctored her. It was a great visit.