“We’re Not Tourists!”

I dropped my parents off at the airport yesterday after a four-day visit. They were our first official South Dakota guests, and we had a great time hanging out with them and showing off our little slice of America. Although it’s hard to show something off when there is more than a passing familiarity. I’d been carefully planning each and every day to ensure they got to see as much as possible until my mom reminded me, “We’re not tourists!”

Oh. Right. They lived here from 1983-1986, too.

Be that as it may, we didn’t want to just hang around the apartment for four days, so we made sure there was plenty to do. They arrived Thursday evening around 9:00, after a 45-minute flight delay. (Actually four days and 45 minutes, as they were originally supposed to come out the preceding Sunday but couldn’t find space on the flights, it being Labor Day weekend and all. The delay worked out for the best though; our new king bed didn’t arrive until Wednesday, so we avoided a few nights sleeping on an air mattress. Further proof that everything works out as it’s supposed to.)

Side note: Rapid City Regional Airport is the cutest thing ever. I just wanted to pinch its little cheeks.

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Friday, my parents wanted to visit Ellsworth AFB. I’d taken the base tour back in August, but was confined to a bus. Because they have their military IDs, we were able to wander around at will this time. Our first stop was the street we lived on 30+ years ago.

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Sadly, our house is no longer there. They tore down all the old brick houses about 15 years ago and replaced them with much nicer dwellings. Covered porches? Garages?? I wish we’d had those amenities when we lived there!

Afterwards, we hit the base exchange and commissary to stock up on a few items. Groceries are a lot cheaper on base.

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Tara had to work that day, but we met up with her at Firehouse Brewing in Rapid City when she got off, and enjoyed a nice few hours of conversation, wine, beer, and food. The Firehouse is quickly becoming our favorite spot, I think.

Despite my mom’s protestations over not being tourists, we did end up doing a few touristy things with them. No Mount Rushmore or Crazy Horse, but we hit Sylvan Lake and the Custer Wildlife Loop on Saturday, and I took them to Wall Drug and the Badlands on Monday. Sunday was our one low-key day; we watched the first Broncos game of the season and cooked up some homemade fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.

My favorite part of their trip was probably our visit to Miner Brewing and Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City on Saturday. We spent a few hours sampling spirits and had an excellent lunch. It was nice and relaxing, and the weather was perfect.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. They are back in Washington now, and we are trying to get back into the routine of not having guests. It’s strangely jarring, returning to an empty apartment after entertaining for several days.

Actually, the whole experience was a novelty. I’m so used to living 10 minutes from my parents’ that playing host feels strange. I have to remind myself that way back when I lived in the PNW and they were still in California, there were nine years’ worth of long-distance visits where they were houseguests. That feels like a lifetime ago, and in many ways, it is.

The rest of the week I’ll be busy with work and running errands. Friday, Tara and I celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary! Once upon a time we were planning a road trip to Alaska, but we decided to move to the Midwest instead. So we’re going to hang around downtown Rapid City, doing a little bar-hopping and hitting up the local video arcade. Then this weekend we’ll be playing tourists ourselves and checking out Wind Cave National Park. Ooh, fingers crossed – maybe we’ll see a buffalo.

Thanks for a great visit, mom and dad!

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