Day 1 - On The Road Vancouver to Yakima
Days 2-3 - Miles and Miles OF Miles and Miles (Yakima to Butte to Yellowstone)
Tips for visiting Yellowstone
Day 4 - Full Day in Yellowstone
Days 5- 6 - Mammoth Hot Spring to Aberdeen South Dakota
Days 7-10 - Food, Family, Farm & 4th of July Fireworks in Aberdeen, South Dakota
Day 11-12 - Five States In A Day, A Fake Palm Tree, An Exploding Tire, Traffic and Kingston Arrival!
Days 13-16 - Exploring Kingston and a Cottage Visit
Day 17 - Toronto - ROM's Chihuly and Tattoo Exhibits & Fab Dinner At El Catrin
Day 18-20 - Express Ferry, Crazy Water Tap, Weird Signs, Bugs and a Rattlesnake Warning Sign!
Days 21-23 - Long Days on the Road, a Respite in Missoula and Coming Home
It's always amazing to visit my aunts, uncles and cousins in South Dakota, especially around the 4th of July. Here they have small supermarkets of fireworks - some of which can cost over $300 USD. You only have to go outside the city limit to fire them off, so locals head out to visit friends on local farms or nearby Mina Lake and the sky is awash with individual displays.
Up until several years ago, visiting my relatives meant actually staying on the family farm which offered opportunities to ride or drive the big tractor and take the ATV out by ourselves and explore. As the kids hit the tween ages, this second was amazing fun for them. Now all my uncles are retired and live in town, but the farms are still there. Fields are rented to other farmers, but we can still walk the old homestead. Some buildings are in serious disrepair. Others are surviving pretty well.
|Saying Good-bye. :(|
My second cousin is her caregiver and also an wonderful photographer - Photography by Janae. So while we were there, I was able to go through all her pictures from a recent art show. She focused this time on farm scenes shot mostly at two family farmsteads. I was thrilled to purchase artwork created by family and featuring family history. There was a 9 image collage of favourites and then a print on canvas wrapped around a frame. I can't wait to get them home and hang them.
When travelling - always keep an eye out for the work of local artists. Those starting out often offer really reasonable prices and you are supporting the local economy. They are also wonderful mementos of your trip.
There were many other special things about visiting such as being fed. I know that sounds silly, but back home I am usually the only one who cooks. To not have to figure out what to cook, grocery shop or work in the kitchen is such a treat. Food just appears and honestly it tastes better when someone else makes it. There is always an exciting trip to Lew's Fireworks - a mid-size store where all aisles are stocked with fireworks from a few dollars to well over $300 - something I have never been able to do anywhere else I lived.
Then there was the walk down memory lane at my grandfather and uncle's old farm. The fields are leased, but you can still walk around the buildings and reminisce. The houses are looking sad. Some of the support buildings are in pretty good repair, but fading as well. A few pieces of old machinery are rusting away in the fields. You can pause quietly and watch the waves of wind blow across the grasses. We noticed one of the silver grain silos was humming as we walked by. A cover had blown off and you could hear the pigeons inside cooing. Glen rapped on the outside and all went silent. Another building was filled with nesting swallows.
We also decided to stop by the John Deere dealership. My uncles loved John Deere and as much as possible used their equipment. People always say things are bigger in Texas, but after seeing these machines I beg to differ. Glen and I took pictures standing next to several machines as it's hard to describe in words just how BIG some of this equipment is. For those who do not know I am 5'7" and Glen is 6'4". Fields can be 3000 acres and more here, so big works well.
|Notice one of our fireworks this year is called|
Gone Fishing in honour of Glen's retirement.
Usually everyone takes turns setting off their own fireworks, but show this year was honour of my uncle who passed in January. We decided to add ours to the stockpile and let others put on the show. We celebrated in a way my uncle would have loved. He was always a big kid at heart and 4th of July fireworks were always a high moment for him.
I can't remember the name of the wonderful finale piece that was his favourite, but I do remember the one that always made him laugh the most. In fact someone buys it every years as it makes us all laugh. It was originally called the Sick Goose, but has been renamed the Honker. I found a video on YouTube. So in honour of Uncle Melvin, I am closing with this. It's not a spectacular visual display, it's the crazy sound that makes this one stand out. Enjoy!