20 April 2009


Grey, damp and raw today. Hard to get motivated to do much. Tried a nap, but was awakened every time I just got to sleep, so that was probably more tiring than restful.
Our houseload of company is safely home in Germany, and we're a little sad and subdued here. This place is never quiet, but it's a little less lively today. Off to see if I can con the kids into a Wii/laundry party...

17 April 2009

Black Hills Vacation, and we're the Griswolds

I hardly like to blog vacation trips without pictures, but since the camera for the trip was destroyed in our last episode, you'll just have to take a thousand words for it. After laying in supplies at the Evil*Empire outpost in Spearfish, we headed for Devil's Tower. Since it is off season, we opted to take photos from the pull-offs, and enjoy our drive rather than enter the park. We will definitely be returning to climb at some point. Among the aforementioned supplies were disposable cameras from Aunt Vicky that the kids though were the best ever. I'm a little nonplussed at the idea of actually sending film to be developed, but I'm sure I'll figure it out.
We looped back into South Dakota, and down to Deadwood, where we whiled away a gorgeous afternoon Checking out historical sites and trying to find kid-friendly stuff among the casinos. It can be done, but next time I'll have to check out more than just the Bullock hotel on teh interwebs before we head in.
We headed to Hill City from Deadwood, stopping at a gorgeous reservoir for pics and stretching. We returned to the Hill City Super 8. This place is your typical economy motel, clean and well-kept, but it houses Jacki the teddy bear lady and John John, the front desk dog. Jacki has the world record teddy bear collection housed on site, 5504 the day we visited. The teens and kids used the pool, and the adults wandered downtown to explore the nightlife, which is apparently Wii bowling and pool.
Fog and a sick kid altered Wednesday's plans. Thing 4 awoke cranky, itchy, and eventually puking. Thing 1 has seen Mt. Rushmore 3 times in the last two years, so she volunteered to accompany me and in heading home early with her brother. Aunt Vicky decided to come as well, so we headed out and left the other carload to explore at their leisure. Thing 4 slept off whatever was ailing him, whether he had a bad reaction to chlorine or a little bug we never did figure out. Benadryl and some TLC seemed to be enough to soothe him. The other carload bypassed Crazy Horse as the fog made it unviewable, and opted to drive through Custer State park, where they got the picture book, buffalo-on-the-road wildlife tour they hoped for. They wandered back up to Mt. Rushmore, where the fog bobbed and lifted just enough for some pics, then headed to Rapid City to eat and explore Cabella's or, "toys for boys" as our Berliners described it. We all arrived safely home, if drained from long South Dakota roads. Pictures to follow...

14 April 2009

Paha Sapa

We had plans to travel to the Black Hills this week with our German guests. After the initial mayhem, my brother has been cremated to be scattered at a later time, and a memorial service with military honors will be held after the VA grave marker has been set. My brother loved the Black Hills. We've packed up his widow and dragged her along on our marvelous misadventure.
After a lovely Easter dinner with the inlaws, we loaded our gear and headed to my folks' place. They live right on the interstate, and The Hotel Mom and Dad was a perfect launch pad for our trip. We travelled just over the border this morning and stopped for gas. My son was nearly left by the side of the road for whining. We stopped at the scenic overlook in Chamberlain, SD, which is breathtaking. We proceeded into the Badlands National Park and drove the Loop, stopping for climbing and pictures. Unfortunately, the ground is stll quite muddy, and iPastor took a tumble that he seems to have survived quite well, but he landed on the camera in his pocket and I am down one Kodak C643. He did not, however, drop his travel mug, because he is the Coffee Cowboy. We had supper in Wall somewhere other than Wall Drug, and were served by the breakfast cook who got called back to fill in for an absent waitress. Dude hauled ass to serve us and won an "A" for effort.
We then rolled into our motel in Spearfish to spend a few minutes in the hot tub and regroup for Devils Tower, Deadwood, perhaps Sturgis, Rushmore and Crazy Horse tomorrow. Now, I need to finish this cocktail our guests so generously provided, and SLEEP!

11 April 2009

Happy Easter!

The joy and gift of the Resurrection is especially poignant this year. It's been an interesting week. We've enjoyed some wonderful visiting, and a rather nasty shock, but we are hopeful and peaceful, and focusing on enjoying time with loved ones.

Please note the following was written with my brother's quirky sense of humor in mind, and find no offense.

Donald Lloyd Kautz was born November 10, 1952 to Oscar "George" Kautz and Edna Mae "Babe" (Joslyn) Kautz in Rock Rapids, Iowa. He attended Central Lyon High School, graduating in 1971(to his surprise and everyone else's). He enlisted in the Air Force immediately after graduation, and served until 1982, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. He married Victoria McWhirter of Dallas, Oregon at Peace Lutheran Church in Rock Rapids on August 15, 1972. Together they served their country in SE Asia, Florida, the Netherlands, Nebraska and Montana. They parted ways in 1982. Don cultivated his lifelong love of racing in the hobby shops on base and driving on local tracks, especially Sunset Speedway in Omaha. After his years of service, he stayed on the move, living in Luverne, MN; Rapid City and Sioux Falls, SD; Rock Rapids; Montevideo, MN and, finally, Watertown, SD. He was married to Nancy Ditmanson of Sioux Falls from 1986-1988. 'Nuff said. He drove school buses and semi trucks, ran a security company, worked in various bakeries and restaurants, ran away with the carnival and ran for mayor, finding friends in the faces he met along the way. In 1990 he married Susanne Larson of Sioux Falls, enjoying 13 years of marriage. He occasionally still built cars and raced at Rapid, Husets, Fiesta City, and Casino Speedways.
Don was known for his unique sense of humor and quick wit; he especially enjoyed puns and wordplay. Don loved music, singing and playing his treasured Alvarez guitar. He delighted in spoiling his four nieces and nephew before sending them back to their parents. In 1995, Don was diagnosed with Huntington's Disease. In 2003 he reunited with Vicky, his companion until his sudden death on April 9, 2009.
Don is survived by Vicky in Watertown, and Susie in Rock Rapids, sister Kathi (and Gary) Wibben of Rock Rapids, Iowa; sister Georgette (and Kyle) Jones of Watson, MN, niece Jennifer (and Brian Wynia) Wibben of Hull, Iowa, nieces T'Shael, Paige, Geordan and nephew William Jones of Watson, three great-nephews and in-laws and outlaws abounding.
Memorial services and military honors will be held at a later date in Rock Rapids.

08 April 2009


Having to drive around Lac qui Parle on my way to work every morning, it's not unusual to see various wildlife and assorted waterfowl on my way to work. It was no surprise for me to watch small flocks of Canvasbacks, Canada geese and Mallards bobbing within a few yards of each other this morning. It was a little disconcerting, however, that they were swimming in the middle of a cornfield.

The Minnesota River, which feeds said lake, is over flood stage, but not nearly to the extent of the Red up north. The dam at it's southern end is open, but the causeway-like road that leads to it from the west is underwater. Otherwise, most bridges and roads hereabouts are passable, and the only property underwater is field or pasture, and part of the lower State Prk campground. It's been blustery lately, but here's hoping it dries us out soon so all this water can grow something besides mosquitoes.

06 April 2009

Update from the tundra

Our second German kid is home with her parents for a visit. We've been having a lovely time forgetting to bring the camera wherever we go. Their flight was nearly an hour early, which did them (and us) no good whatsoever as they waited on the tarmac an hour for an open gate. They scooted through customs and we got underway for home about 6:30 as we'd originally planned. We stopped for supper on the way home and pulled in about 11. Saturday we puttered around the house and town, then took in Thing 3's middle school musical. It was cute and middle-schooly, and hard to translate, but they seemed to enjoy the singing.
After the show, we stopped for happy hour with the in-laws, then came home for German Mom to make us a wonderful supper. She made goulash. Around here, goulash, also known as hamburger hotdish, is usually a concoction of ground beef, tomatoes or sauce, and macaroni. I grew up with veggie-free goulash, iPastor insists it has peas. Some folks add cheese, others, no. Traditional, usually Hungarian, goulash is a spicy beef dish with lots of paprika. Hers was none of these, but a wonderful amalgamation of pork, beef, pickles and veggies over boiled potatoes. So, just like anywhere else in the world, everyone's mama has their own recipe for things.
Yesterday was Easter brunch at our church, and an egg hunt, moved indoors because of the two-inches of plagueslushy snow we got Saturday night. It was thankfully gone by sundown, but disheartening nonetheless. German Mom made pork schnitzel with an awesome salad Sunday night and I am considering not letting her go home.
Tonight we go out with family for supper, and tomorrow the travellers head to Chicago for a Bull's game and a couple days of sightseeing before Easter. I will work on sub plans for post Easter travel to the Black Hills.