Reeeelly good vacation, no arrests

(pictures to come, soonish)

Yeah, I started off over the river, through the woods and across the mountains with some trepidation. The road between here and Rapid City is long, winding, and has lots of upsy-downsie spots, most of which can be covered with transparent slick stuff this time of year, and while snow doesn’t bother me and mountain roads don’t bother me, the two together can be… well, a little tricksy.

But I got there, and Rick and Jen have really, really been busy. Rick showed me the newly remodeled bathroom, the enormous bunch of stuff he’s done in the back yard, and a shelving unit he’s built for Jen for Christmas. At least, I think it was for Christmas. Maybe it was just for. 🙂 Though I probably shouldn’t be, I’m always somewhat amazed at the abilities and energies he (and his brothers, too) has (have) and the things they can do. If only I could kidnap him and bring him out here for a month . . . !

And he and Jen both did well on their finals, Ricky pulling an A out of a difficult chem class that’s given him fits all semester. I’m really proud of both of them for going to school; after 10 years, I think it would be very, very difficult, and they’re both putting a lot of effort into it.

Jaidyn is about twice the size she was the last time I saw her and quite a neat little girl. I got to go to her Christmas program at school, which was fun, and she and I drew some crayon drawings and did some other fun stuff. She was very curious about knitting and how it worked, but I’ll save a conversion for another time. 🙂 She thought I should leave Blue behind when I had to go home. 🙂

Perhaps the most typical Northrup Event was the National Park Visit. Chris insisted he wanted to go to Mt. Rushmore, since for some reason he doesn’t remember it from our 1984 visit, when he was 1. Can’t imagine why. So he, Rick, Jaidyn and I piled into Rick’s big-ass pickup (BAP) and headed into the mountains.

Not surprisingly, few people were there and the parking lot was empty, but they still wanted $8 to park there. We could see the famous faces from where we were, allowing for a flagpole and a tree or two, and Rick said to Chris, “There, you can see them. Is that enough?” Chris said no, he’d pay the bleeding $8, just go on in. So we did. Everyone else had parked dutifully in the designated places, but this family has never been really good at rules. The handicapped and bus parking lanes were wide open, so we parked in a bus spot. Surely, four people in a BAP were enough to qualify, no?

We went inside and hauled ourselves up a wide sidewalk to the area where we could see the Famous Faces. A handful of others were there, clutching their coats closed against a bitter wind and hurrying to get their photos before their red ears turned white from frostbite. A few mountain goats had huddled up behind a wall, licking the ground, we assumed for salts that had accumulated as snow melted. They ignored us. I wanted to try stealing fur to spin, but thought they’d probably object, and they had horns.

On the way back down, Chris looked around, leaped over the “stay on the trails” sign, and shot up a hillside toward a big rock that looked as if it would give him a good vantage point for a landscape photo. “If you get in trouble, you’re on your own!” I admonished, before going downhill and sitting on a park bench to wait for him. Ricky and Jaidyn had already gone into the trinket shop (often the best part of a national-park visit). A few minutes later, I heard a mighty rushing of hooves and scatter of rocks and foom! Christopher vaulted over the back of the bench and sat down. “Got a great picture!” he crowed.

A ranger loomed over us. “Would you come here, please?” he frowned at Chris. Chris handed me the camera surreptitiously, as if maybe he’d gotten shots of some super-top-secret-ultra-classified area of the Black Hills. He walked over to the ranger and looked down (very down) at him, trying hard, I suspect, to appear contrite and remorseful. The ranger, head tilted upwards at a difficult angle, lectured him on the dangers of getting off the trail (to a soldier who’s been in Iraq… but we won’t get into those ironies, will we?) and Chris gazed down at him and worked at looking apologetic. Finally, after extracting a promise from Chris not to do it again, he let Chris go. I sat on the bench looking elsewhere, thinking, “He’s over 21! If he gets arrested, it’s not my problem to bail him out!” Ah, the joys of adult children! 😀

After cruising through the gift shop, disrespecting a bust of Our Leader (gag, hack, spit), discussing whether and deciding it wasn’t worth $17.50 to use it for target practice, and watching Jaidyn pick out and purchase a host of very pretty polished rocks, we headed back to the BAP. Noting on the way that quite a few other people had followed our lead and parked in the bus spaces. Ah, the Northrups—always trendsetters!

Heading down the mountain, we came around a curve and into the little tourist-trap town that’s just before the national park. A ranger was driving toward us, and Ricky said, “Uh-ohhhh…” He’d evidently either not seen or not paid attention to the 35 mph signs and was going about 45, and figured the ranger wouldn’t approve. Sure enough, the guy u-ied and hit his lights. Rick pulled over and took out his paperwork in a series of motions that told me this happens far too often for his mother’s taste, but oh, well. 🙂

However, instead of coming up to Rick’s side of the BAP, he came up to mine. Maybe he thought the two-cars-per-half-hour traffic was going to run him down, I dunno. They swapped the usual info and paperwork, reaching across me to do so, which was really rather rude for a public servant, and the ranger said:

“Do you have any weapons in the car?”

“Yes, sir,” Ricky replied.

“WHAT?!?” I shrieked. “You have a GUN in here?!?”

“What is it?” the ranger asked. “Do you have a permit for it? Is it loaded?”

“It’s a .45, I have a concealed permit, and I think it’s loaded,” Ricky replied.

WHAT?!?!” I screeched melodiously. “A .45?!? In your pickup?!? I didn’t even know you owned a .45!! What are you doing with a LOADED .45 IN YOUR PICKUP?!?!?”

At this point, the ranger probably thought Rick was safer with him than with me. “Please get out of the pickup and go around to the back,” the ranger said. Ricky did. The ranger walked around to the driver’s side, opened the door, and started rooting around where Rick had told him the gun was. I was still mumbling and stumbling about, verbally, anyway. Chris was quiet. Jaidyn was completely unconcerned and uninterested. Not sure if she was sleepy, or if this happens frequently enough that she thinks of it as usual. 🙂

The ranger took out the pistol, clicked the magazine out of it with a rather frighteningly businesslike series of metallic clinks, and went back to Ricky. He called in the registration number on the gun and he and his (female, I think) partner frisked—frisked!—my #1 baby boy. Of course, I didn’t think about getting out to immortalize the moment in pixels. They talked for quite a while before letting Ricker back in the pickup. The ranger leaned on the door to finish his lecture.

“Did you know it’s a federal offense, a Class A-1 Super Duper in the Cage with Bubba felony to have a loaded weapon in a national park?” (Okay, so I added the qualifiers. I don’t remember exactly what he said.)

“No,” Rick answered, rather wide-eyed, thinking in terms, I suspect, of Very Large Trouble. “I forget it’s even in the pickup and don’t think about it.”

“A lot of people don’t know that,” the ranger continued. “It’s fairly new legislation, part of the Patriot Act (editorial note: HA). I’ll let you go with a warning on that; just don’t bring it back into the park. And I’ll let you off with a warning on the speeding, too. Just pay closer attention to the speed-limit signs next time.”

“Yes, sir,” Ricky replied. “Thank you, sir.” Guess he and Chris both learned something in basic training. 🙂

And we went on our merry way down the mountainside, with much laughter and talk about The Northrup Way. “Boys,” I beamed at them, “I am SO glad to see that neither one of you has lost your touch!”

Posted by wordsmith


ROFL! You were standing *right in front* of the sign, and I thought you were kidding, so I agreed, as in “No, of course I don’t see the sign you’re standing in front of!” Hah.

So share the photos, eh?

I did not see a sign, and if I remeber correctly I asked you if you saw one too and you said you didn’t. So 😛

I was doing me own thing as usual. And I did get some awesome pictures out of that. At least it made it worth it.

LOL… ah, but Mogo, you always provide *me* with a loaded gun, too! (‘Twas Chris, not Ricker, who was in the war zone, though. It’s hard for me to keep them straight, too.)

Mogo the Mugger


SHAME on Ricky for taking a gun into a national park! Whenever you and I take a gun into a national park, I always tell you. Ricky deserves a break, however. After being in a war it takes years to get over that naked feeling you feel when you don’t have a loaded gun.

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