Vacations are great and our recent one was, too, other than a few mishaps. We went to South Dakota where my husband grew up to celebrate his 70th birthday. Two of our kids and their families went along with my sister-in-law, nephew and his girlfriend. We formed a two week-long group of 14 eager tourists. The first day, we were treated to a private “Crazy Horse Monument” tour guided by Monique Ziolkowski, director of mountain carving. She is the daughter of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski who began the dream of creating the Native American memorial in the 1950s, a once in a lifetime opportunity. Next, we visited Mt. Rushmore which is amazing every time we observe its patriotic glory. No mishaps there, just great ice cream. Next stop, Pactola Lake which held great memories of boating and water skiing in my husband’s younger days. To prove, at 70, water skiing was still on the agenda, he relived his past glory until he pulled a hamstring and had to quit. Several days consisting of a black and blue leg and quite a bit of limping ensued. He was a trouper and toured through the pain as we all tried various things at “Keystone Adventures”. He passed on the zip line but to show the grandchildren that we didn’t have to sit on the sidelines, I was game. It was fun but I felt that I broke a tooth after the abrupt stop at the end. My tooth was fine and the grandchildren applauded my finish. So, we decided to go up the mountain on the chair lift. At the end, it just keeps going and you have to scoot up in your chair and jump off to the side. I, of course, did not hear any of these instructions and did not scoot up or step off right away. When I finally realized what I was supposed to do, I felt as if someone was chasing me as the seat followed me to the end of the deck. What felt like 20 tiny running steps to get away finally freed me from the stalking seat. My sister-in-law was laughing so hard, tears came to her eyes and of course my kids were recording me. This video will go down in infamy along with several others starring me.
As our travels continued, we visited Cody, Wyoming and observed the “Cody Stampede”. Jackson Hole and Yellowstone were next on our list and we enjoyed their beauty. After the first week, with each leg of our trip, a group of family members went on their own adventures. By the last week, it was down to just the two of us. Our final adventure was a scenic boat trip in beautiful Twin Falls, Idaho. We had a great trip that we won’t soon forget. Throughout our travels, I listened to our grandchildren ages 4, 6, 16 and 19 ask my husband how it was to grow up in Wall, South Dakota. They loved his “Black Hills” stories and as we visited each place, they tried to follow in his footsteps. I was constantly reminded that our kids and grandkids learn from all of us and really do listen to our stories even if they have heard them, as my daughter would say, “a million times, Mom.”
Reliving growing up in South Dakota while sharing stories with our kids and grandchildren was a memorable gift for my husband’s 70th. Of course, he’s still limping around and I now call him “hop along” but this too will pass but the memories will last forever!
Tina Jensen is a member and one of the coordinators of activities for the Escalon Senior Fun Bunch. She contributes a monthly column for The Times.