Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rapid City & Omaha Zoo

On our way back from Montana, we stopped in Rapid City for 2 days and went to Reptile Gardens and Watiki indoor waterpark.  Then we headed to the Omaha Zoo!

Father's Day

This Father's Day was especially bittersweet for Dusty.  On one hand it was very sad and emotional.  On the other hand, it was very uplifting and rewarding.

Dusty's real dad, Jerry, died in a pressure tank explosion when Dusty was 21 months old.  On Father's Day, we went to visit his grave.  The boys and I gave Dusty some time alone, and then we joined him.  It was very emotional, and Dusty just feels cheated.  

It makes us realize how special it is that our boys have both of us around to spend time with.  Even if that time is just laying around being lazy, it is precious.

Uncle Sam, Jerry's brother, invited us over for dinner to look through pictures.  We don't have a lot of pictures of history from Dusty's dad's side, so we dug in.  He gave us several pictures and newspaper articles regarding Jerry.  Sam still lives on the land that Jerry and Sharon lived on when they had Dusty.  He walked us out to the well where the pressure tank exploded and told us the story.  I know it is kind of weird to take a picture of where the accident happened, but it helped to see as well as hear.  And the boys were very interested in it too, so here it is.  Such a sad, sad accident that never should have happened.


I think the highlight of our trip was going out to a branding.  I've been to several brandings in my life, but I've never once paid any attention.  The smell was very familiar though!  Dusty's childhood friend, Juli, invited us out to her family's branding.  It was a blast.  It had rained the night before, so the road was pretty muddy.  The minivan didn't make it far before we decided it was time to jump in with Juli.  When we finally made it up close to the corrals, we ran into part of the crew that was trying to take the branding trailer up.  The branding trailer and truck were stuck, and the truck trying to pull them out was stuck.  So the 3rd truck had to get truck #2 unstuck, and then try to get the branding trailer/truck unstuck.  Then it would get stuck and truck #2 had to get it unstuck... over and over and over again.  Finally, after the branding trailer just kept sinking lower and lower in the mud, they left it.  When we got to the corral, the cowboys weren't there yet with the herd.  When they got there, we had to wait out a rain storm, but then they got busy.  What a highly efficient operation!!  First they separated all the calves from the cows.  Then, they sprayed all the cows with fly spray.  Then, it was time to get branding.  They had about 4 cowboys roping the calves.  They would bring them in and secure them with a Nord Fork.  In the matter of seconds, they tagged the calf's ear, gave it two vaccinations, branded the calf and castrated the males.  Juli's boys are the cutest little mini-cowboys ever!  They are not afraid to get down and dirty by helping clean the calf nuts in preparation to eat them.  Booker and Bodey were so jealous that they had their own pocket knives.  Here are a few pictures from the day... I didn't have my camera so there aren't as many as I would like.
Booker using the pocket knife to clean a calf nut.

Who's next?

Juli's husband, Cody, getting ready to rope the next calf.

Juli's 3-yr old son, J.P., cleaning his cowboy boot with his pocket knife!

Enjoying the day.

They just can't wait to go help!

This is the lady that performed the "nut removal".  She was good at what she did!

Rounding up the next calves.

A little blood on his face after cleaning nuts.
A day of branding wore them out.  They fell asleep soon after hitting the road!


Well, the boys are travel-able!  We took the long 18-hr drive to Glasgow, MT last week.  We did so many fun things, that the boys (including Dusty) didn't want to leave.  Here are a few of the things we did.
Nana's brother lives in Russia, and they made the trip to MT for Dusty's grandparents 60th wedding anniversary.  The boys enjoyed getting to know and playing with their 6-yr old son, Danya.

The boys thinking they are super cool riding in a convertible! 

Jack trying to teach Booker how to rope.

Dusty showing everyone up with his roping skills!

Bodey on a horse ride.

Our family friends invited us over for some Rocky Mountain oysters.  We all tried them.  Not anything that I'll crave in the future, but not horrible.

Booker's ride in the Big Sky!

There was so much to do and see at Dusty's childhood friends' house.  They had bum  lambs and bum calves.

They had tons of riding toys and a trampoline.

Booker, Bodey, J.P., and Charlie.

So funny to watch a 5-yr who can barely see over the wheel take everyone for a spin in the golf cart!

Big Sky - Fort Peck

Fort Peck Lake - Dusty was on cloud 9 when he caught a 9.5 lb walleye.

Booker got to shoot his .22.

Dusty's Uncle Norm was so generous and let us stay in his motor home at the campground that is part of the hotel where Dusty's family was staying.  We had access to the pool, restaurant, laundry, etc. 

Dusty's Uncle Sam has a hot tub that he turned down to 90* so the boys could enjoy swimming with their 3rd cousin, Eli.

It wasn't very warm outside, but they didn't care, they still wanted to have a water gun fight!

Rare family picture... I'm usually behind the camera!

Uncle Sam (Dusty's real dad's brother) & Aunt Gail