Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

We have now been on the road for a month. We left June 27 and it is July 27. Believe it or not, none of us are really ready for it to end. We really could, I think, do a two-month road trip and manage just fine. What really amazes me is that the kids have been forced to live without their things (with the exception of books and iPods), their rooms, their personal space, their video games for a long time now. They’re forced to share bed space and one bathroom at each stop, and they have to help load and unload the van everywhere we go.

They’re not fighting with each other.

They’re not whining.

They’re flexible about where and when we eat, who and what we see, and don’t pester us for anything more than an occasional ice cream cone (we don’t have Dairy Queens where we live, so finding one in every small town has been a treat).

I’m very proud of them. I’m especially proud of Parker because he opted to sit in the back seat with Kyle, responsible for monitoring him and largely keeping him entertained (we bought a splitter so he can plug in two sets of headphones to the iPod and share music). He makes sure Kyle is comfortable, and lets us know if Kyle needs something.

I’m proud of Anika for being a little trooper on this trip – she is in the middle and therefore responsible for handing everything between the front and back and often being the one who has to turn around and get Parker’s attention when we need him. She has read 8 books during the trip, including the first three Harry Potter books, and has willingly helped at every turn.

Today we left Keystone after enjoying some morning time on our back porch getting one last glimpse of the images in the mountain. We drove from Keystone to Canistota, South Dakota to stay at the Cameron Inn. Once you leave Keystone and the tourist industry that is there, there are no big cities with the exception of Rapid City population 69,200). We live in a small town – Bath, NY is a village of less than 6,000 people with four stop lights and five funeral homes. It’s small – or I thought it was until we arrived in Canistota, SD.

There are 651 people in Canistota. They all know each other and they all know when you’re not from around there. But it was the perfect place to stay, as we are planning a day trip to De Smet to see the Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead tomorrow, which is about an hour away. As it turns out, it was the right place to stay, and if you are ever driving through South Dakota and need a place to stop, you absolutely must experience the comfort and hospitality of the Cameron Inn (thanks, Bridget, it was perfect!!) Out of all the places we stayed, the Cameron Inn was our kids’ favorite. It was large, comfortable, came with a complete kitchen in the room but also had a community kitchen for those in smaller rooms to use. The gas station, grocery store, restaurant, and bar are all just across the street.

We bought local sweet corn (delicious!) and steaks and grilled out, enjoying a bit of down time and extra space. Oh- and Anika and I enjoyed the jetted tub and a very deserved bubble bath. Everyone in Canistota that we came across were friendly, welcoming, and made us feel at home. Had we been looking for a place to plant roots (like Charles Ingalls was all those years ago) this area of South Dakota might have appealed to us too.