Traveling Across our Great Land

We spent the 4th of July flying across our great land… We landed in Denver, and got to our hotel in time to see literally dozens of fireworks displays across Denver from our 8th floor balcony.  The next morning we were driving towards South Dakota to meet up with our kids and their kids.  We spent Thursday night with Cherryl’s niece and her husband (Crista and Josh), and Cherryl’s sister and brother-in-law (Steve and Jeanne).

Steve was telling us how he’d gotten to shoot a Kentucky Long Rifle, and I thought it sounded like fun, so Steve, Josh and I went Friday morning to shoot a bit of history.  These are exact replicas of old guns used in the revolutionary war.  Muzzle loading flintlocks.  Pretty cool.  First you pour some black powder down the barrel.  Then a lead ball wrapped in a greasy patch of cloth is tamped down with a ramrod.  Then a little black powder is placed on a tray just above the trigger.  When the trigger is pulled, a flint strikes a metal plate, creating a spark near that powder, which then burns with a flash, and ignites the powder in the barrel, which burns explosively, pushing the ball out and speeding towards the target.  Hopefully.

Steve had done pretty well the day before, so I really hoped I could do as well (Or better!)  I donned the recommended ear and eye protection, and after listening carefully to the instructor, made my first shot.  I couldn’t see any hole in the target.  Sigh.  Then shots two and three… Couldn’t see any evidence of damage to the target.  At the fourth shot the instructor said he thought he could see a hit… My fifth and final shot – nope, still couldn’t see any evidence of a hit.  Then I took off the safety glasses and noticed how much clearer the targets looked! (But I still couldn’t see any bullet holes…)

Here is some slow motion footage of us shooting… watch how the powder first flashes right above the trigger and the delay before the main charge goes off.  My shot is first, then Steves…  Mine is slow, and I’ve slowed Steve’s down even further.

So after we’d finished our shooting, the instructor walked out and retrieved our targets.  He showed Josh his; he’d done pretty well.  He showed Steve his; he’d done even better than his previous shooting.  He was holding mine behind his back.  I said “Please don’t tell me I never even hit the target!”  He pulled it out and said “I’m proud of you!  You have a close pattern and hit 4 of 5 times!”  Next time I’ll try it with just my own glasses on…

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So we then picked up my oldest daughter Karen, her husband Loren, and our Grandkids Ashlyn and Bryan at the airport.  Loren had flown them in a beautiful Beechcraft Bonanza.  We stuffed all our gear in the rented van and headed for Mt Rushmore, where we met my other daughter Becky, her husband Kevin, and Grandkids Dayna and Peter. The afternoon at Rushmore was great, and then we headed to our campground at Pactola Lake.  Kevin and Becky had rented a trailer to pull behind the Jeep I’d left at their place.  The rest of us stayed in borrowed tents!

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We spent the next day at the lake – crowded but lots of fun!  A canoe and paddle board added to the fun, but the kids were just as happy playing in the water.

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Little Peter is determined to launch the canoe!

We really enjoy cooking in the campfire, so dinner is a special time.  After we were done with the dinner and S’mores, Kevin put something in the fire to make unusual colors.

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Sunday we toured Bear Country, where we drove around and saw lots of animals, but especially enjoyed seeing some bears escape the heat playing in the water.  Then to Storybook Island for some lunch and imagination.

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We also toured the Black Hills Caverns.  An hour’s walk in fascinating cave formations, and over 40 degrees cooler than above ground!  It felt grand to escape the heat!

All too soon we had to leave… At least Loren got to leave in style! (I love how the camera shutter speed makes the prop’s rotation look alarmingly slow!)

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On our way back to Denver, we got to see some dear long time friends, Giny & Joe.

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We stayed with awesome friends, Lonnie and Laura, for a few days in Denver.  Got caught up on our dental visits with Dr Mike Lueck at McArthur Dental (Ever heard of that place?)  Shared some great meals with friends Kevin and Steve and Laura and Nigel and Monica and Lonnie and Laura… well, you get the picture.  (But no pictures…)

Then off to Washington State to stay with Ashlyn and Bryan while Karen and Loren went away for a few days to celebrate their 15th anniversary!  How Tempus Fugits!

So today we went for a bike ride, where part of the fun was riding through the sprinklers!

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The rest of the morning was at Vacation Bible School, and after lunch a trip to the water park.  100+ degrees makes a water park especially appealing! (And popular!)

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My guess is we all sleep really well tonight!

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