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Fifty shades of vacation

July 10, 2012 - Jennifer Brookens
A week back to the Black Hills, and every day held some sort of misadventure.

Monday: We hit the road. I attempt to read the infamous "Fifty Shades of Grey," but the first two chapters are such a poor set-up that I'm ready to throw the book out the window. As for the "hot and heavy" stuff, calls for "MOM! I need a..." every three minutes kept me on an even keel. That, and my husband had to dig up audio of excerpts of the book being read by Gilbert Gotfried for me to listen to the night before. Believe me, nothing ruins erotica more than hearing it from the parrot from "Aladdin!"

We get to the motel, a seasonal place that caters to the Sturgis biker crowd. Small, but very clean, and only $55/night thanks to a block discount (and NOT being Rally week!) But every room has as its decor... a rebel flag. We stuffed a hand towel in the frame corners of ours during our time there.

Tuesday: My two best friends from Wyoming meet us up there. They are staying at a hotel with a pool, so the kids get some swimming time. The Boy gets too far from the shallow end and I lunge in after him when I start to see him struggle and panic. All ends well... except for my clothes.

This ends up being the hottest day there. My friend's son starts to show signs of a heat illness, and I help escort him and my friend back to the hotel. Third friend gets jealous. Drama ensues between my two BFFs.; a reminder of how I am the happy-medium between their two personalities.

The winds shift later in the day, and smoke from a wildfire 60 miles away fills the air. The sun is blood-red, and everyone's eyes are stinging. After dinner, there is a fine layer of ash on our van.

Wednesday: Happy 4th of July! The wind shifted again, and we are back to blue sky and pine-scented air. Fireworks are banned all over the Black Hills due to fire danger. We see a parade instead. A guy with Tourettes is next to us and I worry about him teaching The Boy some new words and behaviors.

Thursday: The Boy adds a new place where we can never return again, thanks to an "accident" in the Dinosaur Park gift shop. The Girl is getting whiny about so much time in the car. Mom wishes for sound-proof bubbles in each seat.

Friday: Mount Rushmore and tourist day. Lots of pictures, lots of inclines and steps. My calf threatens to Charley horse. When it's time to leave, a fog bank rolls in, obscuring the President's faces.

By this point in the vacation, I've run out of books to read on the road and notice Walmart in Spearfish is not carrying the "Fifty Shades" trilogy. I'm not really that disappointed...

Saturday: The birthday bash day. The Brookens family has members turning 70, 50, and 40 this summer, so nearly every Brookens in the state of South Dakota was there. Some of Dan's college friends also turned up as a surprise! So much fun, yet there's no way we'll get an early start back on Sunday as originally planned.

Sunday: Sure enough, late start, and have to break a promise to The Girl about one more place we'd stop before going back home. By this point, everyone is just ready to get back to "reality." Well, not really.

Despite the ups and downs, the Black Hills worked their magic. A few days of the pine-scented air and natural beauty always clears my mind and does a little soul-cleansing. Did more for me than the Fifty Shades hype, anyway. At least the Black Hills manage to leave me wanting more...


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Mount Rushmore before the fog rolled in...