I realize it’s Monday, but after spending the weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota, we arrived home too late last night for me to post.  This trip came about because Phil’s father had always wanted to see Mt. Rushmore.  While Mt. Rushmore was never on my own “Bucket List,” I was completely seduced by this beautiful land — Little House on the Prairie and Dances with Wolves in the flesh.

In these rolling, golden grassy plains with a sky that stretches to eternity, we saw herds of buffalo, antelope, deer, coyotes, prairie dogs, wild turkeys, and bighorn sheep (females – not the rams with the

Buffalo Roam

curled horns).  The desolation of the land is part of its beauty, but it comes with a latent sadness.  One can easily imagine these hills so teeming with wildlife that they would resemble the Serengeti more than an empty prairie.  The history of the bloody conflicts between white settlers and Native Americans hangs heavy here.  So for today’s “gratitude” quotes, I am using inspiring proverbs from several Native American tribes.

Quotes: Native American Proverbs:

“Our first teacher is our own heart.” — Cheyenne

“Man’s law changes with his understanding of man. Only the laws of the spirit remain always the same.” — Crow

“When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.” — Cherokee

Gratitude List for the week ending October 29:

  1. Seeing buffalo close enough to touch.  Majestic.
  2. Walking the Presidential Trail with Em at Mt. Rushmore, giving us many different perspectives on the carvings.
  3. Crazy Horse Monument in progress

    The play of light on the carvings as clouds come and go. The moving light and shadow makes it a living sculpture.

  4. Seeing Crazy Horse Memorial in progress.  It will be stunning and haunting when it is finished.
  5. We stayed two nights in Hill City, and discovered that on Saturday, Main Street businesses give away candy and kids dress up in their costumes and trick-or-treat on the town.  We got

    Kids trick-or-treat in Hill City

    some silly hats and joined in. Such a nice surprise.

  6. Phil and I went to the Halloween Wine Dinner at the State Game Lodge where we stayed in Custer State Park while his parents ate dinner with the kids and watched a movie with them.  It so happened that it was the night before our anniversary, so we appreciated getting some adult time.  We sat with a very nice local couple – Nancy and Larry.  In fact, we learned that it was Nancy’s grandfather who discovered the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs and made sure that the bones would remain in situ on the site, making it the largest collection of Columbian and Woolly Mammoth bones in the world.  When we visited the site the next day, we relished having heard the backstory behind the discovery and excavation
  7. Reading Mary Pope Osborne’s Tales from the Odyssey, written for young readers, out loud during the drive. The kids and adults enjoyed the story.
  8. At the end of the day, whether you are in Italy or South Dakota, the connections you make with people is the biggest reward of travel. We met the family who owned the tiny BBQ restaurant in Wheatfield Wyoming, the waitress at the Hill City Cafe who made necklaces, of which we bought three, many business owners giving out candy in Hill City, a nice Dutch couple in the bar at the State Game Lodge and of course Nancy and Larry at the wine dinner.
  9. A low-hung crescent moon, cat’s eye yellow, dangling in the black sky on the drive home.  A Halloween moon if I ever saw one.
  10. Last, but definitely not least, I am grateful for the number of people who have expressed interest in joining me for my brand new 12×12 in 2012 picture book challenge!  And that PiBoIdMo starts tomorrow!

What are you grateful for this week?

Categories: Family, Gratitude Sunday, Halloween, Travel · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,



  1. I hadn’t hit double digits when my family went on The Longest Road Trip Ever On Earth and stopped at Mt. Rushmore. I remember how fun it was to repeat “Gutzon Borglum” over and over until my big brother threatened to hold a pillow over my mouth permanently. Ah, memories!

  2. Sounds like a fun trip. It never was on my bucket list either. Hubby’s family always vacationed there. Less than a year after my first trip, I returned for our wedding and introduced my family to the area. This fall, we took our son on his first trip. I say first, because I’m sure he will return several times. Glad there is a lot of interest in the 12×12 challenge. Sounds like a fun support network.

  3. Your #1 is definitely on my bucket list. What a fun trip for you and your family. 🙂

  4. What a great trip. I would have loved it. I was also well impressed when I popped in earlier to see all the interest in 12×12. We shall have to find a way to keep each other accountable 🙂 I too had a beautiful halloween moon over my tennis match tonight!

    • Joanna – The power of a group all working toward a common goal ALWAYS helps with the motivation. It will be interesting to see how we all go.

  5. Sounds FAB. Did you get to feed the Friendly Burros in Custer State Park?

  6. Wonderful adventure, Julie! Inspiration for a non-fiction pb perhaps!

  7. You know how to take one on a virtual trip across America girl…Loved every moment of the ride…But, I thought The Little House was up in Minnesota or some “Then regarded as a western plain”?

    Oh what the heck, I never actually saw but two episodes….But, next to every John Wayne and Walton Episodes, I think Little House was my Mama’s home away from home…Bless You
    I’ve missed you…

    Me Computer has been on a trip as well…and it DIDN’T even invite me…
    God Bless You

    • Yes, I’m behind on my blog reading for sure! But I’ll catch up.

      The Ingalls family ultimately ended up in South Dakota, where they settled and Laura met Almanzo Wilder – her husband. They stayed there until Almanzo’s health failed and he could no longer survive Dakota winters. Then they moved to Missouri, where she lived until she died.

      Walnut Grove, of the Little House show, was portrayed as being on the prairie when in fact, you are correct, it was in Minnesota. They lived in Walnut Grove before pushing further west. Just a blurring of story lines to keep things simple for the show I suppose…

      I hope your computer comes back with more than just a T-shirt!

  8. What wonderful things to be grateful for! And getting so close to such majestic (not to mention dangerous!) animals is quite an experience.

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