Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 133 (6/28): Chiggars

I know some people that have never heard of chiggars. They think they are mythical creatures in the grass. I remember when my stepbrother and girlfriend came down from Minnesota and they thought we were crazy when we talked about getting chiggars. They learned what they were real quick how itchy they can be and that they are indeed real! I think anyone that has grown up in or around Kansas knows how real they are and how you feel like you want to itch your skin off with the bites.

Colton told me right before church on Sunday that there was something wrong with his "privates"  (as he called them).  Can you see where this post is going?  Not a good thing!  I checked out his junk and there was a red irritated area at the base of his "privates". I told him to not think about it and we went on with our day.  About 4pm that day he wanted something done because they didn't feel any better. I told him to try an ice pack. I wasn't really sure what was going on at that point in time. About an hour later he was almost in tears and I checked out his family jewels. They had almost tripled in size from that mornings glance and looked extremely bad. I don't have those parts but it made me hurt.  So off to the ER we went.

He did not want to have the nurses check out anything down there. I reassured them that they had seen plenty of them in their jobs and no need to worry.  Well the nurses thought it was an allergic reaction to bug bites and sent us home with antibiotics and benadryl. He even fell asleep on the way home from all the drugs.

We went and saw his pediatrician the next day and he said it was one of the worse case of chiggars in that area that he had ever seen. He thinks that Colton is allergic to them and especially when they bite in that area! So we are stocking up on bug spray and staying out of overgrown grassy areas in order to protect our future namesake - literally!

Our days have been filled with pills and liquid meds to get Colton better. He's smiling in this picture but he usually isn't smiling when he's gagging down the pills with Gatorade. It has not been a good week!  My advice to all parents is to spray your kids down. The dr. suggested spraying around the waistband and then create a barrier by spraying around each leg where your shorts end.  Good night and don't let the chiggars bite!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 132 (6/20): Weddings & Elephants

We went to Kansas City this weekend to go to Mark's cousin's wedding.  I didn't take pictures at the wedding because I didn't know anyone. Plus I thought I might ruin my camera with some of the jayhawk sites around the reception. The bride graduated from KU and even had a jayhawk cake.  But I did get some beautiful and interesting wedding leftovers. 
The reception hall had been decorated with tons of vases of roses, tulips and lilly buds. The flowers were red and had blue ribbons around them (remember KU - ugh! Would have been much more pretty with some purple!). The roses and tulips were in full bloom but the lillies had not yet opened. Mark's mom stayed late at the reception and snagged me a bouquet of them.  They were gorgeous!
The tables also had these candle votifs that looked like they had been spray painted. I commented about how they must have sprayed them with the blue to match the theme.  When Mark's mom brought the flowers she said that they were spray painted but by elephants.  Yes I said elephants.  The bride worked at the KC Zoo and is primarily with the elephant exhibit and she had them paint the candle holders.  Pretty unique and I'm happy that I have this little piece of art on my endtable. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day 131 (6/10): Mammoth Site

We took the boys to Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD after we left Kerri and Cheryl for their trip back to Casper. It is the world's largest mammoth research and tour facility.  I was a little unsure if the boys would enjoy it after the wildness of Reptile Gardens and Bear Country but I had friends that had told me to go because it was so interesting. 

Colton would always ask if we "toured ourselves" every where we would go but this facility had you going through a structured tour at the beginning.  The tour began with a video of how geologists thought the mammoth site was formed.
The mammoths were massive in their day.  There were cardboard animal placards around the facility so you could see how large the mammoths were.  The boys only came up to the knee of a mammoth!

You did the 30 minute guided tour by listening to the girl on these telephones. There were several spots that you would go and she would use a microphone to speak through the phones.
The boys even got to be part of the show as they carried around a bone of the mammoth to show everyone.  They weren't too thrilled about doing it but someone standing next to them really wanted them to do it (ok...yes it was me...and to my defense I wasn't pointing too wildly).

Boom Boom Pow!  Check out the guns on this guy!

Made me think my legs really weren't that big!
I can just hear them saying.."Me Caveman Me make fire!!"
Mammoth Site was very interesting for both the young and the old. It was only about an hour away from Rapid City and well worth the money.  I can't imagine a time when those humongous mammoths were traversing the countryside but I'm glad I didn't have to share a sinkhole with them!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 130 (6/9): Reptile Gardens

Reptile Gardens was actually one of my favorite places on our whirl-wind tour of South Dakota and Wyoming.  I wasn't too thrilled when Mark first came up with the idea because umm...well...snakes and alligators are just not too appealing to me. 

The boys petting a "fake" gator in the indoor sky dome gardens. 

There were tons of other photo ops for us scallywaggers...

There were 3 tortoises over 100 years old in the park and you got to walk right up to them and pet them.  I guess they really like their necks rubbed.  They were kind of rough! I hope I don't get the dry skin like them when I'm that old!  :)
This is Methuselah who was turning 127 years old. She comes in at a healthy 600 pounds and loves watermelon. His birthday was the week after we were there and they were having a big birthday party for him and he was going to feast on watermelon.  They eat through the rind and all!
The odd cacti, succulents and orchids were just gorgeous!  They were planing most of the plant-life outside so we didn't get to see them in full bloom.  Although they had these gorgeous "trees" of petunias that were really cool and I hope someone that reads my blog occasionally makes me one (hint, hint).

The snake show was very interesting but I'm really glad there was a piece of glass between me and the snakes. They let us feel an albino but I can't remember what kind it was...a big one that's all I remember!  The guy that ran the show had a hook that he let the snakes curl around.  I could not wait for him to put the real fast small deadly one back in his box because he kept on coming real close to his hands and head.  It was just plain creepy and I was thinking that driving the bus through tunnels on our Rushmore Tour was a much better job than this one!

Yet another photo op where we "squeezed" in the fun at Reptile Gardens!

The prairie dog town was neat because it had this little popup window that the boys got to check out prairie dog life first hand. I found out that prairie dogs are highly social and they often greet each other by kissing, hugging, and touching noses.  Fun fact for the day:  They are members of the squirrel family but they are called "dogs" because of the barking sound they make. 

Matt, the gator "keeper" showed us how he had to go over to the water pond and rip one of these gnarly beasts out of the water and show us how to grab it's jaws.  I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to know how to do that but it was really exciting to watch.  It was Matt's first day back on the job from college and he was huffing and puffing after he pulled it out.  He jokingly said he needed to give the croc a break and catch his breath but it was really because he said he was out of shape from college.

Matt, was in my opinion - CRAZY - for doing some of the things that he did.  He must really like living on the edge of death.  He told us that if you ever got in a position sitting on a croc or gator (which I hope I don't get in that position!)  to close their eyes. They are relatively dumb creatures since their brain is the size of a walnut and if you close their eyes they think they are dead.  He also said they always wrestle the males since females rarely shut their mouths.  He thought that was funny but for us women...well we were glad he was in there with the gators!
Crazy Fun is Reptile Gardens.  If you ever get in the Rapid City area, you should definitely check it out!  It was well worth the money and the shows were fantastic!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 129 (6/8): Crazy Horse

Our tour bus also took us to Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse is not complete and we all took wagers on when we thought it would be complete and none of us thought it would be in our lifetime.  It doesn't look like they've done that much on the monument but after watching the video we did see how much progress has actually been made.  The carving started in 1948 and I found a billboard with the history of just the carving of the face that took over 11 years.  Compared to Mt. Rushmore which was completed in a total of 14 years, we all believe that Crazy Horse will take centuries.

We were there on the same day as the Volksmarch, a 6.2 mile hike to the head of the monument from the base.  It's free to participants but they are to bring canned goods to benefit a local charity. By the time we got to Crazy Horse in the late afternoon, it was raining and many Volkmarchers had already completed their walk. 

There were tons of buildings to view at Crazy Horse that had Native American history and artifacts and items from the carvers family. My favorite things to view were the quilts and the bottles of beads.  I especially liked the quilt because it was K-State purple. 

The boys started giggling when they saw some of the carver's other works such as the statue above.  I believe the direct quote from Andrew was, "What the heck is that thing doing in here?" 
Korzcak Zolkowski (or something spelled like that), was the carver and he had many other works of art or shall I say naked works of art throughout one of the buildings.  I think the boys found every one of them and giggled.

Crazy Horse was interesting but I wish we could have seen it without the rain.  Time will tell whether we will all be alive when it is finished.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day 128 (6/7): Mt. Rushmore Tour

We decided to take a bus tour to get a feel for what the Rapid City area had to offer.  It was well worth the money and we got to see some really cool things that we never would have found if we were driving ourselves.  It started out with a breakfast of pancakes, biscuits & gravy, and sausage fed to us on tin plates for a rustic feel.  We then loaded a Stage Coach bus that was a little banged up on one side.  That made me a little worried but I was telling myself that it was some other driver that had done that so no need to worry.

Our bus driver Dan had the MOST soothing voice I had ever heard. I think he could lull an insomniac to sleep.  He did manage to put Kerri and Cheryl to sleep.  I think I only drifted to slumberland for about 15 minutes.

Mt. Rushmore was our first stop among many others. We all stood and got our pictures taken at the massive monument. It took over 400 workers 14 years to carve the masterpiece. The workers climbed 700 stairs everyday to carve the granite of the mountain.  90% of it was done with dynamite and the other 10% was done with a tool called a bumper tool or hand facer. They earned only $8/day but any job during the Depression was a good job!

It's hard to believe that the heads are approximately 60 feet high, or the average height of a six story building. Their mouths are almost 18 feet wide with noses approximately 20 feet in length. We walked through the sculpter's studio to see a bronze replica of the monument.  Borglum made plaster models, like Abraham Lincoln in the picture. He would hang these for the workers on the mountain to feel as they used the bumper tools.  He told them close their eyes and feel with their hands because this was more accurate than sight. 

We took the walk around the Monument and we saw a little cave inside the rock.  It was a tight squeeze but the view was incredible looking up at Washington.  I would suggest to others that are going to the monument to walk up the stairs first on the path so go to the right while facing the monument first.  The stairs to the right are easier to get up than they were to get down.

At the beginning of the memorial there's an Avenue of Flags.  There are 56 flags on display consisting of the 50 states, a district, 3 territories, and 2 commonwealths of the US. We searched until we found both Wyoming and Kansas.

We went through 4 or 5 tunnels on our bus tour and I think that's how the bus got its' scratches because some of these were so narrow that I don't think I could walk through without touching the sides with my rear end!  Dan, the driver, was great about pointing out the views of Rushmore from these tunnels and even let us stop for photo ops. 

Mt. Rushmore was majestic.  You see it in pictures but it does not give it justice unless you see it in person.  Borglum died before he could finish the entire monument.  He wanted the chests of each president also carved in the mountain like the bronze replica.  He did begin another project called the Hall of Records where he wanted great history of works such as Franklin's electricity, telephone, the telegraph, radio and others to be housed.  Congress interceded when they found out he was not just carving on the faces and told him there would be no other work done except for on the faces.  The cave is to the right the faces and does house how placards of how Rushmore was made.

I wonder what this could be?  I think we got a little lost but from what I can tell it is the backside of Mt. Rushmore.