Some time to spend with friends, family, sight seeing, and driving. 

So we opted to do laundry before we did anything else because we didn’t know when we’d be around a laundromat again. We were going to meet up with Nate and Heather for pizza later, so we had some time to kill anyway. Of course Rudy wanted to try the claw machine again. I have a pretty strict rule that he is always allowed ONE try, but that’s it, because those games are notorious for sucking pockets dry of coins and depleting childrens’ hearts of their dreams. So I gave him the dollar and, sure enough, Lucky Rudy grabbed himself another buddy for the road! We named him “Pig-n-Pants”, and now he travels next to “Zombear” in Rudy’s pack. 

We spent the next part of the beautiful Monday afternoon walking along the Missouri River bank.

Some geese playing “Follow the leader”.

That night at “Charlie’s Pizza”, Rudy smashed the high score on the Ms. Pac-Man game!

After pizza, we decided that, since there was really no rush, we’d stay an extra day so we could get in some water play time. This picture was an EXTREME close-up, but we had my phone in a water protective sheath and couldn’t gauge how close we were with the sun reflecting off the water and such! At least we didn’t have anything in our teeth!

Dad joins the fun!

A little family smooch after our last dinner in Yankton, at “El Tapatio”. Note the hat Rudy has on. This was a gift from Nate to Rudy. Heather sewed the patch on it, so now it’s a one-of-a-kind CS hat. Rudy loves it so much.

Mr. “I’m not sleeping. I’m just resting” for three hours…

One of my favorite parts about being on the road is the chance to meet up with old friends who we normally wouldn’t be able to visit. This is my friend, Jeff Paul. He was one of the first friends I made when I was nine years old and my mom had just gotten married to her third husband and our whole family moved from Orange County to Thousand Oaks, CA. Jeff and I did theater together for years, as well as choir. We were in school together until we graduated. He has always been an extraordinary music genius and is currently working on composing an oboe concerto. He plays in many projects from jazz to rock to the South Dakota symphony orchestra, yet still remains as humble and sweet as ever. He gave Rudyard respect and attention when he talked, and almost stole my husband away from me permanently when he shared his stories of meeting John Williams and playing in an orchestra conducted by him as well. I was honestly surprised Jared maintained his composure, not crying or kissing Jeff (too much). It was a joyful time and we hope to make the visit an annual occurrence when we come to SD. 

Since Rudy agreed to try Vietnamese food for dinner with Jeff, we made a deal to find ice cream afterwards. The B&G Milkyway was the Sioux Falls answer to Dairy Queen. I tried the small Heath with chocolate ice cream, Rudy did a medium vanilla with M&M’s, and Jared went for the classic butterscotch dipped cone…that was quite a mess and challenge for the man and the beard. But they were all delicious, and we enjoyed them on a cool patch of grass beneath the sign and the night sky.

We drove for a ways and found a rest stop to enjoy the sunset and the rest of the night.

The next day brought us to Wall Drug, in SD. We have been here several times, but alway enjoy a bit of a walk through the shops and to see the attractions. It’s a nice place to stretch our legs and people-watch at the same time. Rudy also thought it would be fun to get some souvenirs for his friends back home while we were there. 

We all know that Fred can NOT be replaced, but Rudy still can’t resist the opportunity to give all the hugs he can to other sloth friends he meets on our travels. This big guy caught all of our attention as we passed the store. He was an extra good hugger too!

I know that pictures of Rudy with giant animal statues and other various attractions may not be the fodder for the most interesting or introspective of blogs about Champagne Sunday, but as my blogs also serve as our family memories, into the blog they will go. It is no secret to anyone how important our little trio is to us, and how impossible it is to even separate the family from the band anymore, so I will say this as a bit of commentary: As long as our son wants to stand next to statues, climb on stuff, pose in a silly way, or just volunteers to be IN a photo, we will continue to snap away. One day, he may not want to be in the pictures, or he may roll his eyes as I lean in to kiss him instead of saying “cheese”, and my momma heart may break a little. (Jared here: A little?) So, for as long as this sweet boy lets us, we will document all the places we go and things we do, stuffies that need hugs, antics to be had, and anything else I can possibly think of, to capture every single moment we can with our son and his life at this time.

Once we had gotten our fill of trinket-searching, goofy pictures, and Wall Drug in general, we thought it best to move on to our biggest destination for the day, The Crazy Horse Monument. We’d heard about it for several years, but this was the first time we really were able to dedicate the time we knew it would take to be able to fully enjoy it. As most of you all have a way to Google search the monument and it’s history, I need not go into detail about it, but we highly recommend you either do so, or take the trip to visit it if you’re ever able. The sheer amount of human will power, strength, creativity, determination, and commitment to a dream it takes to pull something like this off, AND to have it continue long after your death, tells you something about the family who began the sculpture and the journey, and is a story well worth checking out. It is inspiring, to say the very least. In the meantime, to tide you over, here are just “some” of the pictures we took at our day at the monument and museum.

Inside the museum with a view of Crazy Horse.

The famous “Point”. They actually just finished the fingers and knuckles of the hand this year. 

Inside the museum. This is a canvas teepee done up inside with replicas of peace pipes and “chairs”.

This beautiful piece was made out of special paper that can be wetted to mold and sculpt into whatever the artist chooses. 

A closer look at Crazy Horse. There is construction happening on him constantly. We were going to take a bus tour to the base of the mountain, but our day got away from us as we spent a lot of time in the various museums on the property.

One of the coolest things the museum offered was a “Scavenger Hunt” map of displays, art, and artifacts for kids to find. Once all were found, the kids were free to come receive their prizes, including a pencil, stickers, a piece of the rubble blasted off the mountain, and a small piece of quartz found in the rocks of the Black Hills. Rudy had fun, but I think Jared and I got way more into it! It was such a great way to get us into all the corners of the museum and learning things we may have just walked past! 

This carriage was in the sculptor’s work room. I honestly don’t know the significance of it to him, other than a reference of time, but it was super impressive and beautiful. It said it could seat 21 people, 9 in carriage and 12 on top. Can you even imagine a long journey traveling like that. And we find ways to complain about “coach class” on airplanes… something we all laughed at was in the middle of tons of sculptures, tools, and loads of finished and unfinished work spotted in the workshop, we spotted a bottle of Jack Daniels. I suppose when you have to hike up 750 stairs, hauling all your tools, dynamite, tons of equipment, and the last bits of your own sanity up the mountain daily, to carve a giant Indian and horse head, you have thoroughly earned your nightly whiskey. Here I am like, “Oh man, we just played music for three hours and loaded all our gear in AND out over two steps…. whew, I need a drink.” Hahahahah! I suppose it’s all about perspective.

This is the goal for the finished project. There seems to be no completion date set, but it is constantly being worked on. 

A sculpture outside the family house.

The gates to the property. If you zoom in, you can see all the different animals! Outrageous!!!

We may have been smiling because we were through…it was a looooong museum day, a challenge for any adult but an extra challenge for a child. Rudy did great and remained almost as interested and involved as we were. Super proud!

A stormy sky greeting us as we left the museum and headed for the Needles Highway, a HUGE recommendation for this leg of our journey.

I’d like to take a minute to give props to our girl, “Amelia” for her endurance, hard-working attitude, and fortitude through all the places we’ve pushed her to go. She has given us shelter from the rain, coolness in the blazing heat of the day, smooth sailing through many terrains, and an overall sense of security during our trip. Our rig is cozy, easy to maneuver, and Jared can even parallel park this old girl. (Jared here: . . . with the trailer on, mind you!) With every mile we travel, Amelia sees the path before we do, heads toward our destination, and gets us there safely every time. (Jared here: Hey! Actually, some of that is me, you know.)

So now, we’d like Amelia to slip through this little tunnel! Rudy could put his arms out the window and touch the sides!

Obligatory family selfie against the majestic Black Hills backdrop.

Ok… so as sacred as these rock formations were to the Indians who once dwelled among them, it is with no regrets I inform you that every single “penis joke” was made and several inappropriate photos of both Jared and Rudy were taken next to this majestic formation. All due respect to the elders and such, but my inner ten-year-old boy just cannot be silent when this “grand” of an opportunity “arises”…

Our next album cover.

There really is no way to capture the grandeur of the area. I tried to get some pictures to give you all a sense of where we were, the colors, textures, weather changes, and such. But it is really just better experienced.  

Another unimaginably small space to navigate through. There were signs before the highway began warning against bigger vehicles trying to travel the road. We totally understood why!

Finally through with our day, we grabbed some grocery store sandwiches and sushi, dined outside a gas station, and witnessed a two- hour drug bust take place! Not as majestic as the Needles Highway, nor as inspiring as the Crazy Horse Monument, but we had a show with our dinner and, when you’re on the road, you can’t be choosy with what it gives you! You just gotta roll with it.

This marked the end of our free time for the week. We hit our make-shift bunk bed early and readied ourselves for our gig to a new (to Champagne Sunday) venue in Rapid City called “Aby’s”. We had had so much fun the past few days, we all almost forgot we had more work to do. Hope you enjoyed vacationing with us for a couple days. We’ll get back to rocking tomorrow!!!

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