Waking up in Keystone, SD for the last time was tough. This town, in spite of all of its tourist-y attractions, was one of our favorites, and I’ll go as far as to say that, whether we book here again or not (which we will!), we’ll be back!

Our sweet barista at Grapes and Grinds put her employee discount on our tab for our morning coffee and bagel and we watched our son usher in the first group of kids to the playground while we chatted about our day ahead and the need-to-get-done items in it. First and foremost, laundry (man, does that accumulates quickly!), a shower and workout at the Y, and getting our blog up for our readers. Since we weren’t in a hurry (because our next gig was only about 7 hours away and we didn’t play it til the next evening), we took our sweet time in Keystone. Rudy played hard, and we met so many cool families who were eager to talk with other adults while their kids joined the Lord Of The Flies tribe that our son was leading. While make believe sword fights and prisoner captures, games of tag, spin til you’re sick, boo-boos obtained, who can swing higher, punches thrown, wrestling moves learned, and rolls down the hills achieved, we parents took turns popping into the cloud of boys to break things up, remind to be kind, kiss said boo-boos, instill grounds boundaries, and generally laugh as the children navigated through their social circles, soaking in playtime feverishly and learning, with each encounter, how to be little humans. I loved catching the glimpses of what my sweet son’s future self may look like, and quietly stored away these precious snapshots of his ever-evolving childhood.

This trip is the very first time I have begun to understand Every. Single. Parent’s. warnings of “Hold onto every moment because before you know it, they’ll be grown and gone.” Jared and I have witnessed our little guy grow more independent, more understanding, more inquisitive of the right things, funnier, smarter, and all around, just more… Every kiss for no reason is savored. Every hand hold for security and connection is welcomed, every cuddle, touch, sweet whisper, giggle…all of it. Jared and I are not fools to think this won’t change. But, we are also enjoying watching the evolution of Rudyard and we’re soaking in every single second.

The “Big Idea”:

By 1:00, we knew we had to pull ourselves away from paradise and take our trio down the hill. But, before we left, I had a crazy idea. During the few days we had stayed in Keystone, I had viewed the ski lift across the street and thought about (despite my intense fear of heights) how fun it would be to take Rudy up in it to view the valley and catch one last peek of “Rount Mushmore” before we left. Then, I had an EVEN BETTER idea!!! I looked at Jared and said, “Hey! Why don’t we take our instruments up on that thing with Rudy and make a music video?!?” Now, Jared, for self preservation purposes, and after being with me for almost 14 years and being used to my crazy impulses, usually responds with a quick but timid “No.”, indicating that he is inclined to be talked out of it, but he wants to hear my list of reasons. It’s a game we play where I let him believe he has a say in the matter. Wait, he reads these blogs too…crap. Secret’s out.

Jared’s interjection: “Hey!”

Anyway, after a bit of convincing, we walked over to the lift to see if it was even legal or possible to bring some instruments on it. Their response was, “I guess. I mean, if they won’t break and if they fit.” Gotta love teenagers with summer jobs. Well, Jared??? Still not sure? How about this to sweeten the deal…the man in front of us just bought all three of us lift tickets!! His whole group of pre-teen campers had been part of “Rudy’s Crew” earlier in the day at the playground across the street, and the man had thoroughly enjoyed watching his antics and was legitimately bummed to have to take all his campers (who all high-fived, fist-bumped and waved goodbye to our boy) away for the day. So, when he saw us, he thought he’d do something nice. It was SO NICE, and just the push Jared needed to go grab the instruments and head back.

Oh crap. A little part of me was hoping we wouldn’t be able to make it happen. And, without meaning to, I’m afraid I genetically passed some of my height phobia onto Rudes. He was already looking at me like, “We’re gonna do what?! All the way up where???” I had to act unaffected and remain super excited and positive, which actually kind of helped me too, until we got up in the lift. But, as soon as we started singing, it all kind of disappeared and it was just us three, atop the trees, singing to each other. We hooked the phone onto the handle of the lift, but the angle was crap and so our first take on the way up of “Smile”, didn’t come out great. We decided to do “Happy Day” on the way down so I could hold the camera manually, since I don’t play any strings on the tune. Rudy took the tambourine, so I was on camera crew.

The result can be viewed on our Facebook page, (if you haven’t already) and it was worth every pang of fear and height phobia I’ve ever struggled with. Families who were coming up the opposite way when we were going down were clapping along and taking videos. Everyone was smiling and happy. We finished the song about 2/3 of the way down when the lift stopped, suspending us in mid air. Without missing a beat, Jared launched into Nirvana’s “Molly’s Lips” and we all sang along. Still with time left, the best cure for the fear was Blackbird. We sang until the last “you were only waiting for this moment to arrive”, and landed safely on the ground. Even Rudy, who was nervous the whole time, genuinely loved the experience, loudly exclaiming when the ride was over, “This is the best day EVER!!!” and “That wasn’t so bad at all! We can do ANYTHING when we’re together!” This child…

I suppose everything from this perfect moment on would be, literally, down hill. We bid our goodbyes to Keystone and headed down the hill into Rapid city for laundry and YMCA. Workout and shower accomplished, we found a laundromat on the outskirts of town with a wonderful cast of characters. There was a French family, a young lady and her dog from New England living in her pink van, a family from Florida with 5 kids on vacation, a lady with some kind of dog bed that exploded in the washer, a mom and daughter, and a friendly laundry lady. It was a pleasant experience, chatting with strangers, Rudy playing with kids and watching cartoons, and mostly, getting all our stuff done at once.

About 7:30pm, we grabbed a high-test coffee and headed out of town towards Great Falls, MT. South Dakota, it was awesome!!! See you again soon.

We nestled in between 2 semis at a truck stop, enjoyed the cooling temperature and cuddled up together. Three more gigs to play before all of this became a “What we did on our summer vacation” essay for school…not sure if I’m ready to be a has-been yet.

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