Thursday, August 27, 2015

tubing trip 2015

What a beautiful sunset eh? This was Tuesday August 11th over the Niobrara River just east of Valentine, NE. Terry and I, along with a five other adult leaders took about 30 middle and high school students on a tubing trip nearly four hours from home.

It was more impressive in person.  

Terry was introduced to this trip as a youth pastor in Gburg, NE, where he went two or three times. When we moved up here in 2012, he took a group then too. But every time he went, I had a baby to take care of and couldn't go...
Jazmin and Prae wanted a sunset shot as well.

...But not this time! I got to go too! My folks watched the kids the first night and then Terry's had them overnight the following evening since we got back home near midnight. I got a sunset photo too!

It was a lovely evening, but even better than the sunset was the Perseid Meteor Shower we all were able to watch that night. I had never seen the Milky Way so clear before. Well, plus the shooting stars of course!

 After dinner we let groups of students come in the girls cabin to make their lunches for the next day. Following that was a bible study by Terry. 

I had braided my dirty hair the day before and everyone else must have thought that was a good idea for the river too. 

Right before we loaded onto our tubes, we hiked up the river a short way to Smith Falls. 

The water was ice cold and all the boys splashing didn't help keep a girl warm. What a huge group though! Terry had never taken so many before. Usually it's been like 15-20 kids. 

Here we are just getting started. We had to float our lunches and drinks with us, and since we had to float all together, everyone had to wait for the lunch rafts to get ready. As you can see, the tubes were not the ordinary black inner tubes. These are the kinds that are pulled behind boats. Very sturdy. All the students under 12 were required to be wearing life jackets while the rest of us had to have one with us on our tube.

Jessica and I in the beginning. We don't even look wet yet.  I put on sunblock like six or seven times and didn't get burned even a little!

After a hour or so, Dylan randomly reached down into the shallow river bottom and picked up this bone! Bailey held onto it the whole time for him.  

I started in the back of the pack but wanted to hang out with Terry and so began working my way forward to where he was. We all had to name our tubes the night before (mine was Eowyn) and Terry's was "You Shall Not Pass," because no one was supposed to pass him on the river. And well, because Gandalf is awesome (and so is Eowyn). 

I caught up to Terry after an hour or so and took some photos for him (we have a waterproof camera). This was my favorite part of the trip. There was more to see along to the river in the beginning than after lunch. Terry and the kids in the front were throwing some floating toys back and forth to each other which was fun to watch. Also, I got to float on Terry's "freedom tube" (a souvenir from his mission trip that the lifeguards wouldn't let them use in the Pacific Ocean). The sun was beating down on us and it was very hot so it was wonderful to float in the water instead of on top of it. Plus, the water was super warm! Nearly like a bath.

The placed where we beached our tubes and ate lunch had a spring of water coming down into the river but also a shelf of rock formed from the quickly flowing river and spring. The water was strong enough here that it pushed you along. We all played here for a long time.

Bailey and I tried the freedom tubes on that portion. 

Terry and Steven shared a tube down the swift part. 

After we ate we walked up the spring's path to where a small waterfall was coming down. We all took turns getting pounded by it. 

Again the boys were splashing everyone. Why do they do that?

Here we are getting situated to finish floating after lunch.

Steven, Jazmin and Prae on the freedom tubes. 

After lunch there were a lot of rock shelves in the middle of the river and the water would only be a couple inches thick on top but then would drop off to deeper than I could touch. At one point I was so close to a shelf that I just jumped off my tube and walked along the shelf next to my group while they continued floating. I did a cartwheel. :) 

An hour or two after lunch the river parted and we took the right fork over the "rapids" and to the deep pool beyond them. Terry had good memories of the place because you could swim without worrying about rocks (I had hit my knee earlier in the day, and probably everyone had because the river wasn't all that deep). So here are the rapids. It's just a bit of rock that drops off like a shelf and the water has dug out the area. 

Sort of a make-shift driving board... 

The water on the sides of this pool were rather stagnant and stinky so I didn't really wanna swim very much. I wonder if the river was a little low or something because Terry remembered this place a lot cleaner. I watched. 

At several places along the rock the water had scooped holes out big enough for people to sit in. Don't worry, they had a bottom to them and you couldn't get sucked under. It was neat. 

The rapids were pretty. 

Most of the boys were having a mud fight, i.e. Dylan. Ew. I was ready to leave that place. Plus, we spent like an hour there and it was already like 3pm. We were supposed to be done by 330 or 4 but obviously that wasn't going to happen. 

When we left the swimming hole, the water was so still that we (I!) had to pull our tubes back to the main river. And by then all the pretty scenery was done and the river was slower and cloudier. I think maybe the sun heated up the sediment and that's part of the reason the river looked (and smelled) different in the afternoon than the morning. So by this point we were all very ready to be done. Finally, at like 5pm the camp where we stayed came in to view but we were floating so slowly it took another 20 minute to each reach it! I totally fell asleep on my tube but Debbie got off and just walked to the cabin - she got there a lot faster than the rest of us did.

So we finally arrived, showered, packed and left. It was about 645pm and we drove 45 minutes to Valentine to eat. We didn't leave until like 730pm and we still had 3 hours of driving ahead of us! We were a very tired group when we finally pulled into the church parking lot. But what a lot of fun we had!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

4H hiking

Last week I was deleting pictures from my phone to make more space when I ran across these forgotten photos from mid-July. That week was VBS and I had to prepare to host a youth group from Iowa for two nights, so I wasn't even sure that we had time to go on this outing. Thankfully Amanda scheduled it very early and I had time for everything. 

Our 4H group hiked Little Elk Creek Canyon trail. 

I was so thankful I left Ezra with Terry because it was too rough for a stroller and I would have had to carry him on my hip for two or three miles. Carrying Samuel towards the end was hard enough. It was beautiful though, with the creek next to us the whole time. When we came to this place, below, the kids unanimously decided, without discussing it, that we just had to stop right there. The water was calling to them. And into the water they all went!

I had just bought Noah those shoes and this was the first time wearing them. I just had to let him go in the water though.

It got kind of deep in the middle! 


slugs and flowers

When we returned to our own home after staying with Terry's folks during the first half of the Rally, I felt so fond of our house. It's just exactly what we need and we are so thankful for it.

That evening we had a quick thunderstorm go by and when the sun popped out, so did I, to check for rainbows. And boy did I find one - a double rainbow really low over our street! There's a pot of gold in that boat :)

Afterwards I took some pictures of the front bed that we had worked so hard on, feeling rather gratified that everything was growing. I'd never attempted to grow anything in the ground before! First we planted the hydrangeas and grasses. Then I added some flowers that I scored half off at Hardware Hank and finally those climbing plants are morning glories. I don't know why they haven't bloomed though...

After the rain I was inspecting my plants when I came across this slimy slug! Something had been eating my morning glories and petunias for weeks and I thought that the insect dust I bought would dehydrate them in their tracks, but no. Here was proof that the dust wasn't cutting it. I had Terry buy some actual slug bait and for good measure, I skewered the creep as a warning to all his friends.

Back in June we had a crazy big hail storm go through and it demolished all of our gardens. My poor perfect bright hydrangeas were shredded. But I held out hope. I pruned them and waited to see if they'd come back at all...

And they have! This is the petunia on the left in the above photo. It wasn't as shredded and therefore has taken a little longer to come back. And I don't know, it's just never looked as good as the other one,

But this is the hydrangea on the right side and it's so bushy! The star shaped flowers are nicotianas and they aren't what I mean. The leafy plant to the left is the hydrangea bush. It's come back even better than the other one! Probably because I had to prune it even more. I don't know, but it looks great. I have hopes it'll grow even bigger next year. Can't wait to see! 

The blue hydrangea we planted on the other side of the bed is tripled in size and the blooms are just gorgeous.  

I love it! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

ranch hotel

Back during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally week (August 2-4), we took the plunge and rented our house out to some bikers. I spent the week before "spring" cleaning our house and getting it absolutely perfect for them. It was a lot of work but actually a great opportunity to throw junk away and get organized. And the whole thing mostly worked out. We were thankful for the extra income.

Since there were eight people staying in our house, obviously we couldn't live there. The ranch was the solution for us. Terry folks live nearer to Sturgis and I was a little nervous about driving on the interstate with thousands of center-line, double row riding bikers, but at least I only had to do it twice, unlike Terry who had to drive to work every day.

Anyway, we stayed at Terry's folk's place for three nights. They took good care of us but we were thankful to come back to our own house on Wednesday. It kind of reminded me of the days we lived out there before we moved to Nebraska.

We did our best to stay busy and four wheeling was a daily activity. Grampa supervised Noah while they were doing something up by the cows.

I think it was the second day that the kids were driving me and each other crazy. I forced them come outside with me and made up a game for them to play with the ball. I should do that more often... They had fun!

That evening Terry and I took our maiden voyage as a six pack on a careful four wheeler ride across Terry's grandmother's land, back where we got engaged. It felt so good to get out and about and the evening was beautiful. This is the stock pond behind Terry's dad's rental house that we used to live in. Terry hadn't seen it so full in a long time, if not ever, thanks to that crazy wet spring and early summer we had.

Panorama shot looking east, I think... 

We had all four kiddos along! This was Ezra's very first ride. 

There were these tall plants (weeds? i have no clue) everywhere. It was insane. Usually there are a handful of them, but again thanks to all the moisture, we were driving through forests of them. I tried to avoid them with my four wheeler. Terry however bowled right over them. Evie wanted him to. She said they were orcs and she counted how many they killed: 117! 

We passed this final pond on our way back to the road. Again it was very full! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

first and last family picnic

On the final day of August, my family got together for the first time (and last time with Nathan and Ana) for a picnic at Dakota Point, which overlooks Sheridan Lake in the Hills. 

Nathan and Ana would be moving to Minnesota to start a new youth pastor position the following week and we thought this would be a fun thing for all of us to do together before they left. 
Terry and Noah played frisbee

It was a bittersweet time. Nathan and Ana got married back in 2009 and sometime thereafter Nathan started his first youth pastor job in Watertown. After a couple years, that job ended, unfortunately. They spent another year in Watertown finishing their house projects before they moved home to Rapid City. First they lived with my folks and then bought a place four houses away from my parents! So many fun memories of their time here, like when Nathan made us our school table or when they had Noah and Evie over for a sleepover.
I think Noah and Terry's record was 20 catches before they dropped it. 

Of course, the highlight of them being here (besides Ana getting to be the church secretary and help Terry and the church out a ton) was the birth of their first child, Theo. I'm so thankful that they were here for that milestone and doubly so because I was able to be a part of it.
Our lovely campsite. There was not another soul there and though it was quite hot it town, it was perfect up there.  

There's little Theo. He's nine months old now!

My mom is a fantastic cook so all the food was amazing. And she had leftovers for weeks I'm sure ;) What a fun time that was. 

A merry gathering. 

I'm quite fond of Thorin, though we just saw him again this last week on vacation and he's huge now :( 

Derp? The long legged Kveene's...

Every once in a while, which is often, the boys just need to wrestle... 

...even if they're at a picnic.

They need to try out their super hero moves...

...and defy gravity. That kind of thing.

At this point Thorin was just overtaking Snap in size. Now, three weeks later he's well past him. He is going to be a monster dog - in size, not mood, I hope (shock collar Ana? ;), ha ha). Oh and check out how Evie eats her corn - from the side of her mouth. She's missing one front tooth and refuses to nudge the other loose one out (it's been loose the entire summer)

My mom loooooves that Theo. 

 See? He is quite easy to love. Plus they have been watching him since Ana went back to work at the church. Living four houses away turned out to be very convenient. Not to mention the pizza nights! 

When it was time to go we decided we'd better go look at the lake before we left. 

Selfie smelfie. 


I wish I could live this night again. 

I finally got an updated family shot for their photo on my wall! How cute!!  

Theo wrinkles his nose in the exact way Ana does. It's adorable. 

The olders. 


So beautiful. 

So so beautiful :P 

While we put everything away, Noah and Samuel played around with Thorin. 

Ezra wanted to take this stick home. 

And Evie couldn't be outdone so she grabbed a bigger one. No one took any firewood home.  

We miss you Nathan and Ana!