Sunday, January 3, 2016

New Year's Road Trip!

Happy New Year, everybody! I started 2016 in the best way possible: by getting up with the boyfriend at 4:00 am and buckling a pair of twin 6-year-old girls and all of their various accouterments into my little SUV. It was time for Clover and Piper to head back to Missouri, and I decided to go along for the ride: we drove 14 hours to Sioux Falls, SD to meet up with their mom and do the semi-annual twin exchange. 

The trip to Sioux Falls was great: the girls were incredibly well-behaved, happily watching DVDs in the backseat. We had a lot of pit stops, saw some great scenery, saw some boring scenery, took turns driving and sleeping, listened to some podcasts, and talked, talked, talked. I love road trips with Joe because we never run out of things to talk about, but I can also take a vocal break and say nothing for a while, and it's always comfortable. 

When we arrived in Sioux Falls, we met the girls' mom in her hotel and all five of us got into swimsuits and swam in the massive pool and went down the massive water slide and enjoyed some massive discomfort walking around half-naked in a nearly public space, as is the norm for hotel swimming areas. It was fun, and I'm so glad for this dynamic we have going, where my boyfriend, his ex-wife, and I can all hang out with the kids and have a good time. I feel like we're special divorce unicorns. It's an awesome feeling. 

I had originally planned to bring my camera and some cute things to wear so I could take some pictures for the blog, but 4:00 am destroyed my ambition. At that moment when Joe shook my foot to wake me up, I felt like I would never want to get dressed again, and could not imagine myself wanting to take the time and effort to organize a photo shoot during this grueling drive. I left my Canon behind, as well as my cute outfits, and regretted it the entire time. First lesson learned in 2016: Just bring the freaking camera. It's not that big, or that heavy. Luckily, I do have an iPhone, so I did get to take some photos on the trip back.

Here we are in the Red Rock Restaurant in Wall, South Dakota, enjoying a selfie break while we wait for our food. I'm wearing the same clothes I wore the day before for some reason. I suppose I just couldn't roust myself into pulling different clothes from the bag that I packed for myself. And you have to know that makeup just isn't going to happen during a road trip of this magnitude. It just isn't. The Red Rock was good to us, even in my disheveled state, and Joe and I will stop there again. The pie was incredible. If you're ever in the area, go and get some pie. 

We opted to take a slower approach to returning to Montana, and took an extended pit stop in Rapid City, South Dakota. We were only there for an hour and a half, but I fell in love with this city. Downtown was magical, with beautiful old buildings and statues donning hats and scarves, and actual people walking and ice skating and smiling and nodding and waving. I loved the people we met; we stopped in a tea and spice shop ten minutes before closing and were welcomed with a huge smile and good conversation with a college student named Ian, and left with a bag full of fragrant teas. We ducked into the historic Hotel Alex Johnson to ogle the beautiful lobby and spent a huge chunk of time in the gift shop, talking with Jennifer, the woman in cat-eye glasses who ran the place. She was so much fun and so easy to talk to, we felt like we had known her for much longer than the forty-five minutes we spent with her. We also spent some time in an alley, taking pictures near dumpsters: 

This is Art Alley, an outdoor art gallery where artists cover the walls and dumpsters and utility boxes with art that will take your breath away. It was a bit surreal, walking here in the dark. We felt that small fear that comes with walking down a strange alley in an unfamiliar city in the dark, but the artwork worked against that feeling. I imagine this is what Alice felt when falling down her rabbit hole: fear and excitement and cold in her toes.

This alley is the reason I will never take a trip without my camera again. How cool would it have been to do an outfit post here? So cool. Oh, well. We will be making this trip again and again and again, so don't be surprised if that post still happens sometime.

We arrived back in Great Falls around 4:00am this morning, at which point we took a tiny break on our way home to stop and help a man push his car up a hill. Well, Joe helped push and I followed them with my hazards on. That's the kind of guy I'm with: he'll stop to help push, even after fourteen hours of driving, just because it's the right thing to do. It was a great way to top off the trip, and when we got home, we collapsed into bed and slept for the rest of the week. 

On New Year's Day last year, we spent hours moving a couch into my house and breaking up the old one with a hatchet. This was much, much better than that. Maybe the New Year's road trip can be a new tradition. We shall see, I suppose. I hope everyone had an incredible New Year's weekend of their own, and I hope you all have a fantastic 2016! 

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