Last night, Rudy was crazy because we had been in a car for the whole day. Just when Jared and I were pulled over and in a good spot for the night, we thought we would play for a bit…zzzzzzzzz from the back. Ok, tomorrow it is. So, J and I took this opportunity to look up things for kids to do in Spearfish, South Dakota. Egads! A splash park/rec center!!! So it’s settled. Tomorrow, we ride!

After some blog posts, some crappy gas station coffee, and a harrowing morning with my son trying to get ANYTHING accomplished, we headed to the water park. We got there at 11 and found it opened at 12. Good thing too. Apparently, the line for the place gets crazy with moms trying to push their kids to the front, to get the best chairs and spots on the lawn and secure their footing for the day. Towels and sunscreen piled in arms, while little ones from baby to teenager eagerly await the open doors at noon. The lifeguards, a crew of disinterested teens, rolling eyes, slumped shoulders, dragging their deep tanned bodies in red uniforms and worn down flip flops (and working a pretty sweet summer job, if you ask me), get into their first stations in the rotation and bear down for the rush. Although we were maybe the 3rd or 4th family there, we didn’t know the protocol, and we chose a bench at the end of the entrance hall. One woman (with NO kids, mind you) was literally clinging to the door, waiting for the “go ahead” sign. Tons of other families started to fill the hall between us on the bench and the door clinger. I was busy trying to blow huge bubbles with my gum against Rudy’s face, and Jared sat relaxed on his phone. Amateurs. When the clock hit 12, pandemonium. We were more herded than walked to the door, where the river mouth of people opened to a sea of water park possibilities. Spots secured, we immediately went to the slide and water jungle gym. Jared and I went down once each and immediately realized this slide was probably not for adults, as we both launched off the end and went sailing off the end of the padded mat at the bottom. 

The day was full of lazy river tube races, cannon balls, more slides (for Rudy!) and a rope challenge that Rudy (although the smallest to attempt it) finally mastered by day’s end! It was an incredible place, tucked at the foot of some glorious South Dakota mountains, and just 7 minutes from our gig location for later on! When our bodies were water logged and our bellies hungry, we bid good bye to the park and headed to find somewhere quiet to eat lunch and get ready for our show. We may come back tomorrow and get in some more playtime before heading to Keystone. 

Once in the car, we realized we had a bit more time to kill than we thought. Well, let’s find another park. We looked for one where Rudy could ride his bike after our lunch of ham slices, peanut butter and jelly on ritz crackers and Lärabars. We found Evan’s Park, an absolutely breathtaking property smack dab in the middle of a “Mayberry-esq” neighborhood, complete with bike path and an icy cold creek to splash in! Heaven! 

As we walked next to our boy on his bike, we came to a spot in the creek where some teenagers were playing around. Rudy insisted on saying “hi”. I told him not to be sad if they didn’t want to hang out with him, but he was adamant. He just took off his bike helmet and looked at us straight in the eyes and said, “It’s ok. I got this.” Jared and I just shook our heads and sat down to watch. Within 10 minutes, Rudy had all 5 kids doing some ridiculous dance with him. He was coaching them on the best way to execute the moves and laughing when they couldn’t get it quite right. I fully believe that amazing people don’t just wake up one day and start changing the world, I believe it starts just like this…with a 5 year old getting teenagers to remember their youth and dance like monkeys in a creek in South Dakota. 

Hey! Our sticker from last year is still there!

The Show: Crow Peak Brewing was a favorite on our tour last year, so we were soooo excited to come back. Also, what we’re finding with these places is that, although it has been a year since we visited, it still feels familiar and like we were just here. This joint was no different. Parked in the same spot. Same excruciating heat as we opened the car door. Same freezing cold air conditioning to greet us as we walked in. And that’s where it stopped. Different art, different bartender, different beer. Oh man. Well, I guess we’ll just have to get to know a whole new set of people. And we did! By the end of the night, we had a completely new set of Spearfish fans, as well as some who returned from our gig here last year. People brought dogs, babies, motorcycles, scooters, lawn chairs and their own beer steins to join us in the heavy, heavy June heat and celebrate their “happy of choice” with Champagne Sunday. Rudy even found a darling playmate named Ruby, and they spent the evening exploring through old beer kegs and following a map all over the grounds! Pure summer bliss. 

It never ceases to amaze me how the relationship changes between us and audience over the course of 3 hours. At the beginning, we’re getting the once-over looks and the hushed commentary about the hawked couple and the kid who clearly aren’t from around here, and, by the end, people are offering their homes, wanting to babysit, telling us more places to play and begging us to return next year. It is the best kind of magic…the love that is so abundantly returned to us after we  have performed. 

Exhausted from water park play, bike riding, socializing, a 3+ hour gig, new friends and pure heat stroke, we threw back the ends of our warm, bug sprinkled beers, and crawled into our shoebox to sleep. Goodnight Crow Peak. You have filled out cups full once again. We’ll see you next year. 

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