Tuesday, July 03, 2007

There's no place like home

We're finally home from our vacation. WCK turned out to be a very good traveler. She had just a few typical unhappy two-year-old moments, but nothing that couldn't -- and hasn't -- happened at home, say, on a trip to Hy-Vee. For the most part, she was very agreeable about sleeping in her travel crib, staying in different hotel rooms, and riding in the car for long stretches at a time. She did have one awful bout of carsickness on the Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park, but she bounced right back. (Note to parents: Never feed your child an enormous peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and then immediately head out on the Wildlife Loop. If you absolutely have to do that, have more than four baby wipes in the car with you. Just something to consider.)

If there was anything to see in the state of South Dakota, we saw it: Roaming buffalo, Mount Rushmore, the Corn Palace, Al's Oasis, that low-budget prairie-dog farm outside of the Badlands, you name it. One of our early stops was Wall Drug, which is nearly impossible to explain to anyone who has never been there. I guess it's part drug store, part enormous tacky gift shop, part restaurant, and part bizarre playground for the kids. Wall Drug features an enormous animatronic T-Rex that roars every 12 minutes. We kept WCK away from the roaring, but she still spotted his head peering over the wall. From then on, she decided to remind us every 12 minutes that she was scared of the dinosaur. She would approach strangers at Mount Rushmore and inform them, "Scared! Dinosaur!" We think it was her personal warning system: "Hey, if you're going to Wall Drug, don't go see that dinosaur, people!"

We'd long planned to take her to Dinosaur Park in Rapid City, SD, which is, well, a free park with a bunch of concrete dinosaurs in it. By the end of the week, after hearing about the scary dinosaur 600 times, we weren't sure how well she'd tolerate it. We were expecting to stay for about 30 seconds and then sprint to the car. Instead, WCK embraced the dinosaurs and gave them all kisses and drinks of water from her sippy cup. Scary dinosaur was forgiven!

We also took her to Storybook Island, another free park in Rapid City that's filled with displays from kids' stories -- think a very, very, very low key version of Disneyland for two-year-olds. WCK loved Storybook Island more than anything. I think possibly WCK is going to run away from home and move to Storybook Island the first chance she gets. The one exception to her Storybook love: As we approached the Wizard of Oz display, WCK shrieked, "No! Don't like it!" and ran away. Tears came to my eyes. I want to cry just thinking about it. A few days later, we tried to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder exhibits in DeSmet, SD, and she had pretty much the same reaction. Now, if WCK didn't look exactly like all of my baby pictures, I think I would march down to the hospital right now and accuse them of switching babies on me. Nobody who hates The Wizard of Oz and Little House on the Prairie simultaneously could possibly carry my genes.

Anyway. It's good to be back, despite the mountains of laundry and unpaid bills and the nice film of dead bugs all over the new Pilot.

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