Seven Quick Takes : Black Hills 2019 | The Speckled Goat: Seven Quick Takes : Black Hills 2019


Seven Quick Takes : Black Hills 2019

Well, our annual Black Hills trip has come and gone already. I'm not sure how August is almost over, already, but there it is. Here are seven quick takes from our trip!


This year was the first Black Hills trip for two newbies-- little Koben, and our new-to-us camper. We purchased this camper in late April. It's exactly what we've been looking for over the past few years -- it's a toy hauler (the bed raises up to the ceiling, the back wall doubles as a ramp, and it has tie downs for small vehicles or motorcycles), it has a large bathroom and lots of storage space, and it's only 17 feet long.

It was in rough shape on the inside, and needed lots of scrubbing and TLC (thanks, Mom!) before it was ready to go.

Overall, we really like it.

Even with all the prep work, though, having a new camper took some getting used to over our ten day trip. I'm not sure I'm sold on which cabinets I used to store stuff, yet, there was a small water leak, and we're still figuring out the electrical system. It took about three years for us to get completely settled in our previous camper, so... we've got some settling yet to do.


The weather in the mountains is always a bit of a question mark. We pack everything from shorts and tank tops to winter coats and mittens.

This year, the weather while we were in the Black Hills was pretty cool - it didn't get over 80 degrees all week - and it rained on several of the days.

And we got a hailstorm that left it looking a little like December for a couple hours.

Evert loved playing in the hail (he kept saying "ice! ice!"), and apparently thought it tasted good, too, since he ate quite a bit of it on Daddy's watch. We fortunately didn't have any damage from the hail, but at the other end of the campground, there were some dented vehicles and smashed camper vents. Yikes. The part of our group that was out riding horses didn't get hit by the hailstorm, so that was good.


This trip is kind of a family reunion for Trevor's side- his sisters and their families come, and this year, Trevor's older brother came, too. 

Which meant this year, there were ten children under the age of eight. Three of 'em are right around two years old (including Evert). Can you say "toddlers everywhere??"

My brilliant mother-in-law brought along two busy bins, and they were a huge hit. The kids (all the kids, minus the two babies who can't hold their heads up yet) loved them. The kids played with these bins daily, big kids and toddlers alike. Total win, there. It kept the toddlers busy and engaged and at the campsites, out of the road. 

The first bin was a corn and soybeans bin. There were some construction vehicle toys, a couple funnels, a small ice cube tray, plastic measuring cups, and a variety of cups and spoons. Evert particularly liked the construction toys ("scoop it, beans!!"), and the older kids liked picking through and sorting the corn from the beans.

The second bin was a bug search bin. There were four plastic insects in the bin, covered with kinetic sand. The idea was to dig through the sand to find the bugs! Some of our more bug-averse toddlers used tools (like a plastic fork) instead of their fingers.

We did put a picnic blanket underneath the bins to contain the mess a bit, and to save the materials so they lasted all week, but a nice thing about camping was that any sand or beans that escaped the bin were outside, anyway, so meh.

Busy bins and camping. Highly recommend.  If you'd like some links to the stuff we used (or, well, stuff similar to the stuff we used), check out the bottom of this post.


We try to get in a couple hikes every year while we're in the Black Hills.

This year, we did a short walk along the Mickelson Trail - it started to rain and got cold, so that shortened up the hike considerably, but it was really pretty scenery and had a cool tunnel.

And then we also did part of the Sunday Gulch Trail. Koben was pretty little to take down some of the more tricky spots on this trail, and he got hungry, so we cut this one a little shorter, too. Both Evert and Koben really enjoyed themselves.

Even though our hikes were a bit abbreviated this year, we had a good time, and it's always nice to get up close with nature.


Oh! Another new thing this year--

we had. a. washing. machine. 

Uh huh.

Trevor bought a portable washing machine to use in our camper. I know. It was awesome.  I don't think I would have done cloth diapers for two little ones on this trip if it wasn't for the washer. It made using cloth diapers while camping for ten days possible... and I would actually say having the washer made it easy.

We used it for regular clothes, too - I brought warmer clothes along, of course, but I wasn't expecting to have chilly days the whole time, so it was nice to be able to wash long sleeved shirts and fuzzy jammies for the boys rather than just re-wearing dirty ones. 


We also drove Needles Highway.

The boys were thrilled. They'll remember it forever.

Just kidding, they both slept through the whole thing.


Okay, so, getting brutally honest here...

This year was hard.

We do this trip every year, we camp at the same place, we kind of have it figured out for the most part. I kind of know what to expect. It's been seven years that we've done this same trip. Of course, every year we've found something new and done something different, but overall, the main things stay the same.

But this year was hard.

Camping with two children under two can't really be described as "easy." No one slept enough, new boundaries and rules had to be put in place, everyone got a little overstimulated and overwhelmed by the end, and there were several tantrums (from Evert, from Koben, and from me, too).

I find myself comparing this year to years past.

Once, I packed everything I needed for the whole trip into saddle bags and rode all the way out there on the back of a motorcycle. The Black Hills meant freedom and adventure and challenge. By day ten, I was sunburned and windswept and so very relaxed. I felt connected to God, connected to creation, connected to my husband, and reconnected to myself.

This trip?

I came home exhausted and more than a little frazzled. Both kids cried about half of the trip home. There were lots of missed naps, late nights, and early mornings, and not nearly enough sleep for anyone. It felt a little more like a forced march than an adventure, to be honest. Many of our days were spent just hanging around the campsite, because Evert was having fun just playing there, and anything more seemed too hard.

Yes, this year had some more challenging circumstances. Yes, there were lots of details to consider (sunscreen! nap schedules! making sure everyone was hydrated! diapers!) that prevented some of that care-free-ness that I've come to expect from the Black Hills.

But the biggest change, I think, has been in my attitude.

Whereas I once had an attitude of adventure, of the thrill of risk, of facing challenges head on; lately, I've been in more of a "grin and bear it" sort of mindset. Just plug through, just survive, just hang on. Get to the next nap, to the next diaper change, to the next day. I always expect the worst. I always see the problems that could arise, and I think every problem I've thought up is a guarantee. Evert doesn't nap today? He's going to be in a terrible mood all evening, he won't sleep well tonight, he'll get sick, he'll will never be the same again. All because of one missed nap.

And it's not just in our vacation that I find myself slipping into that sort of attitude. I do it at home, too.

Again, I realize that this season of life is challenging and hard. But I know (I KNOW) that I make it harder by having such a negative outlook about things. And this camping trip just emphasized it all.
Seriously, if it wasn't for the family that we had around us on this trip, I think we would have left after day 2. Honestly. We (I) needed all the help we (I) could get.

I'm going to really really try to reclaim my outlook of adventure. I need that mind shift. And I desperately want to enjoy these days. They're going by too fast, my babies are growing up, and I don't want to spend all these precious moments being grumpy. Time for a change.

**Busy Bin Materials (these are affiliate links) :
Kinetic SandBug ToysTongs (we didn't have these, but I think they'd be fun)
FunnelsMeasuring CupsMini Ice Cup TrayConstruction ToysPlastic Under Bed Storage Bin

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