our trip to south dakota: snakes and birds and horses; oh my!

Our last day in Custer was super fun and super full.  The boys started the morning off right, hunting down our breakfast with replica (read: convincing, but not real!) rifles Papa Tony had borrowed from a neighbor.

Then we loaded into the van and headed into Rapid City to visit Reptile Gardens.  It's like a zoo, but it just houses snakes, alligators and spiders... and, oddly enough, birds and prairie dogs.  (Don't ask me; I don't know.)  It also has THE most beautiful plants.  It always takes me by surprise how much I like going here - like, randomly, I really love this place.

I really felt a kinship with this turtle.  He looked simultaneously like he was enjoying the sun, and also like he wasn't really on good working terms with his legs.  I was all, "I feel you, Guy."

These turtles reminded me of the kids.  I'm now going to start saying things like, "Stop trying to be 'Turtle On Top'," and "There's plenty of room on the rock for the both of you," and "Sun your own shell, and let him sun his."  And when a million kids are talking at once, I'm going to be like, "You kids are just a regular pile of turtles!"  That one makes less sense, but it's whimsical, so it's still a keeper.

This girl looked totally sassafrass wielding an arcade rifle that was literally bigger than she was.  (If you haven't noticed already, guns are kind of a thing in cowboy country.)

Once we got home, the little kids went down for nap, and the big kids went outside to play.  Penelope got to realize her dream of riding a horse for the first time!  Beforehand, I had tried to talk her through just how big horses are, and how high up you feel when you get up there - "You have to decide now whether or not you're going to choose to be brave, even if you feel scared.  Make the choice now, while you're sober-minded, and then continue to choose your choice, even if your feelings change."

Uh, it turned out the pep talk on courage was totally unnecessary, because the next thing I knew, she was coming up the pasture, riding Joe without even a saddle.

Girlfriend was enamored.  First, she got to help Todd's dad brush and saddle Joe.

Then it came time to get up in the saddle and ride.  At first, Penelope rode by herself while Tony led Joe down the driveway with a lead rope.

But Penelope wanted to ride out in the pasture, so Tony got up there with her and they headed out for a bit.  She loved every second of it.

Finneas also tried his hand at riding, because he's Finneas and his philosophy about trying new and thrilling things is always, "Sure, why not?"

He was a total natural, though he wasn't really the horse-lover at heart that Penelope seems to be.  He was all, "Cool, brah.  Thanks for the good times."  And then he was on to the next Finneas Activity: chilling in the recliner like a boss.

It was a great day, full of fun and semi-exhausting things to do, which was exactly what we needed - the kids conked out right away when we put them to bed.  Which was perfect, since we had to get up early the next morning to make the drive home...

1 comment :

todd said...

like they say, "same turtle, different turtle"