My parents, my oldest brother and his family, and Michael and I shared a cabin high in the Black Hills for the week. And it was almost perfect, except for the part on the first day there when my dad broke his leg. In five places. (He is totally fine now, recovering from the surgery that put a rod in his leg, and my mom is slowly driving him back while his leg is propped up in the backseat.)
Aside from that little hiccup it was great trip and great time with family. To be completely honest, it was pretty difficult to spend time with my mom's parents. My Granpa hasn't been the same since his stroke several years ago, and my Granma has Alzheimer's and pretty severe arthritis from her many years as an umpire (she has always been pretty hardcore). But there were a few great moments that made it worth it: a couple good conversations with my Granma, listening to my Granpa's hysterical laughter at my uncle's jokes, and a sweet hug goodbye from both of them. There is no way around it, watching loved ones age is a tough thing, and I have a whole new respect for my uncle who takes care of both of them. That guy has a giant heart. I am grateful for him, my grandparents' 68 year marriage, my other grandmother's excellent health, and Michael, for holding my hand through the tough stuff, making me laugh when appropriate, and driving 97% of the time.
We stopped at the Wild Horses Monument overlooking the Columbia River for the very first time on the way to Spokane to stay with Michael's brother and sister-in-law.
Coffee in Spokane, lunch in Missoula, and Tina Fey's voice narrating Bossypants all the way to Jackson Hole.
Breakfast in Jackson, a hike to Schwabacher Landing for an unbeatable view of the Tetons, and a very boring drive across the rest of Wyoming.
Spent some time at my Grandma's cabin in Silver City, lovingly named "Hill Home" by her late sister. Her family has owned the cabin since 1945, and it was built sometime in the 30's. My parents had their wedding reception on the porch and all three of my dad's siblings had their weddings inside. Also, there are really terrifying outhouses behind it that I was forced to use as a kid. Luckily, my grandma had a bathroom added a couple years ago, so my mom didn't have to escort me to the bathroom this time around. (Not pictured: my dad's broken leg, ambulance ride, or first night in the hospital.)
Sheridan Lake and a trip to Hill City.
Rapid City day. Visiting my dad, lunch with my aunt, the always amazing Dinosaur Park (it's not amazing), and the biggest buffalo burger you've ever seen.
A trip to Wall Drug, and the Badlands. And dinner with my cousin and her fiance, but I was too hungry to take pictures of that.
Visited my dad in the hospital one last time, spent time with my mom's parents in Rapid, a quick stop at Mount Rushmore, and dinner at our cabin with my dad's mom and sister.
We drove twelve hours through the night to make it to Missoula with enough time to explore the city a bit (after taking a nap). Ok, ok, Michael drove through the night. I took over for a few hours in the morning.
We made it home!
As always, many of the highlights of the trip included food. I rely heavily on Design Sponge City Guides and Yelp for advice on where to eat. Here are some of my recommendations (organized west to east, because I couldn't help myself):
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
- Java on Sherman: We stopped here for lunch on the way home. Both had delicious paninis and split a simple but wonderful garden salad. We had already met our coffee max for the day, but they looked like they knew what they were doing and serve Stumptown Coffee so you know they're legit.
- Catalyst Cafe: We had lunch here on the trip out to SD. Michael had an enormous club sandwich (a half order is plenty), and I had a soup and salad combo. They boast about the bread being from a local bakery but neither of us loved it. My pear and pecan salad, however, was what dreams are made of.
- Biga Pizza: We both loved this place. We split a mixed greens salad and a 12" pesto pizza and had a few pieces leftover to take with us back to the hotel. I read reviews about their seasonal pizzas being amazing, but neither of us were feeling very adventurous, so we opted for one of the more standard pies instead. If I'm ever back in Missoula, I'd like to sample a few other kinds, but I don't at all regret our choice. The crust was the best part--it didn't try too hard, if that makes sense. Not too salty or seasoned. Just a simple thin crust that didn't detract from all the other ingredients. I'm a fan.
- Rendezvous Bistro: We got into Jackson very late and with rumbling tummies. We were tired and cranky (or at least, I was), so we ordered takeout from a place just a quarter mile down the road from our hotel. The menu was a little pricey, but Michael spotted a couple sandwiches in our price range and made the call. He ordered the Cuban Pig for himself and the Grilled Cheese for me. It was (and I don't say this lightly) the best grilled cheese I've ever had. It could be the extreme state of hunger I was in, but I think it also had to do with the ingredients: bacon, aged white cheddar, roasted garlic & dill aioli. Wow. Just wow. (Side note: this place felt hip, like this is where the beautiful people go out to eat. I felt mighty out of place in my yoga pants while we waited for our food near the hostess.)
- Shades Cafe: We were planning to get up early and eat the cereal we had packed before hitting the road, but we woke up to a heavy cloud cover and the whole reason we stopped in Jackson was to see the Tetons, so we checked the weather and decided to slow down our morning while the clouds burned off. We ditched our cereal and stopped at this highly recommended little cafe, just a block off the main drag. We were the only ones there at first, but as we were leaving the place was filling up, with what seemed like a lot of regulars. We ordered our usual drinks (a latte and a mocha), and a breakfast burrito and eggs benedict. The coffee was superb and the breakfast burrito really hit the spot. The benedict was decent, but we found ourselves fighting over the burrito.
Rapid City, South Dakota
- Dakota Thyme: My aunt (my mom's older sister) chose this spot for lunch. Good salads and sandwiches. It was a pretty cute little cafe, and they seemed to have really fresh ingredients. I'd definitely go back, but next time I wouldn't sit outside. It's in Rapid's downtown/Main Street area, which is pretty cute, but it is also adjacent to a parking garage and dumpster. It didn't ruin the experience, but the wafting garbage didn't enhance anything either.
- Que Pasa: This hip new mexican place is actually right next-door to Dakota Thyme. We went here for dinner with my cousin and her fiance. This is a busy place that is so new it is only has enough employees to open for dinner. They don't take reservations, but it was worth the 20 minute wait. Honestly, it felt out of place for South Dakota, but it was a nice change of pace from the homemade sandwiches and fast food joints around town. I had the house margarita and the Taqueria Chopped Wedge salad and Michael had the Chimichangas. We were both very pleased.
Thanks for reading my ramblings about food and family. Or scrolling through the pictures. Here's a few more from my Instagram feed to send you on your way... :)