Sunday, September 4, 2011

I visit George, Tom, Teddy, and Abe

I have announced summer to be officially over. It seems quite premature, but doesn't it always? I imagine our cold, wet spring accounts for the feeling of not-yet-begunness summer had its entire stay. Still, this morning for church I wore jeans and blouse with three-quarter length sleeves because, as I went out to throw hay to the horses earlier, the scent and chill of autumn was definitely on the air. How can I tell? Each season has a very distinct smell to it; Spring is sharp and fresh, summer is lazy and warm, autumn mellow and woody, winter of course is biting and crystal clear.
 But scent isn't the only thing that determines this new season in my life: We started school last Tuesday, which is really what I'm here to blog about, because it was not your average first day of school, oh no. I just happen to be home schooled -- or home educated, if you prefer -- so the word average doesn't even enter into the equation.
 On the first day of school, I got to go to Mount Rushmore: the shrine of democracy, and had a few other stops on the side. Read it and weep.
The road trip began as all others do -- with the road. How exciting. There's really nothing to do while 'tripping except take pictures of the landscape and... yourself. I refuse to publish any of the latter since most of them involve Little Brother and I on a caffeine high.
Speaking of that caffeine high, all I can say is thank goodness for awesome little coffee shops, shaken iced teas, Amariconos, and iPods. Shaken iced teas are the bestest things since sliced bread. You get your regular ice tea but with a 'shake' of Fruit Tea Blast flavoring. Sweeeetness! And they even taste great when they've been sitting in the car for an hour and a half! moving on....
Our first stop: A little Keystone taffy & candy shop. It's pretty much world famous. I think they even say that on the packages.
the taffy makin' process.
They have a million different flavors for their taffy {made in a little glass room in a corner of the shop - see photos}. Anything for jalapeno to the native buffalo berry that grows right there in the Hills.
The lady was nice and let us sample before we walked out with two pounds of the stuff in every flavor. Mum says we're going to send some to friends "of course", but I'm not so certain they'll be full bags.... om nom nom....
LB and I would have like to take this truck up on its offer -- Mt. Rushmore helicopter rides -- but besides being $49 short, Mum said they have at least one crash a year. Uh... Who hires these pilots? Or do you fly the chopper yourself, I wonder. I could be on to something...
Ah, yes! The reason we've come! Mount Rushmore itself, as seen from the Hall {or walk?} of State Flags.
As seen from Grand View Terrace... aptly named. The place was buzzing with tourists, as you would expect at a National Monument. Lot's of rich retired folks in their giant caravans - er - RVs. British television is ruining me. People have also informed me of dropping my 'r's, and only yesterday I said tomăto instead of tomāto! Gah!
LB using his first public machine -- we're so proud. It only took him three minutes to figure out that you need a quarter to make the thing work."I can't see anything!" Hehehe.
The day was spectacular for this kind of sightseeing: cloudless, breezy, and in the lower 80s. We decided to take the Presidential Trail and from there took the 'strenuous' branch -- read: 1 million stairs. It started great, all nice and even, chipmunks playing and chattering alongside the walkway. Then we started going down. And down and down and down. And what goes down must eventually come up it seems. All in the form of unevenly cut stone stairs. Not so great when you're wearing flipflops. I had zero traction, and by the end of it a scraped knee, sore rear, and blisters between my toes. And I was starving. I needed happiness.
please excuse the lack of head, i lost it some time ago.

And it came in the form of 5 tons of raspberry-chocolate best-soft-serve-in-the-world.
While omnomming, I had a good time people watching and writing down what I saw. What a treasure trove for that kind of thing!
*walked the trail with a couple from Tennessee
*was served my ice cream by an Italian
*sat across from eight Australians while eating above item
*had a table next to a guy from Greece that was Skyping with his brother {also Grecian} who was in Turkey
*walked into a Chinese family's photo --  I'll just back away slowly and hope you didn't notice....
*encouraged and elderly East Coast lady up the strenuous stairs -- "I can't make these .... stairs!" "...Of course you can! {tries not to laugh out loud and therefore look like a total jerk}

By the time all this had taken place it was already late afternoon and we started to head back home. Then we came upon this little slice of heaven...

They call it... Pactola reservoir. It's right in the heart of the Hills and utterly beauteous. We had to pull over. And we found the perfect spot, too.
And get this - The water is warm! Like warm warm! I so wished I had had a swimsuit or at least shorts. But I had to settle for wading, which was alright.
I promise you my feets aren't really misshapen, whatever this photo may imply. I have very nice feet, thankyouverymuch.
I had fun splashing LB when he wasn't looking. Benevolent sister? But of course! I just had a perfectly large rock, and when one has a perfectly large rock one simply must place it with some force behind an unsuspecting person in the water. :)
But like all travels, this one had to come to an end. A whole day on the road, trails, and in quaint little shops, and very well spent. The next day we had a real day of school - textbooks, papers, and brand new pencils. I'm taking nine classes this year, and now TLOS has a designated spot in my day everyday. So maybe I'll finish it after all.
 In spite of my ranting and raving, I am feeling the tingles of excitement for this...this... newness.
A tree in the backyard is turning yellow though it is only just September. Order and routine has returned to its throne in my day -- everything is scheduled so that I get the important stuff done. Priorities, Gwyn, priorities.
Music lessons are also back and I'm excited to show my teacher my new violin, Dido. {I have pictures of her for you coming soon...}
So bring on Fall and the turning leaves! ... just winter stay away for now...
I shall return to you all later!


  1. Sounds like you had an awesome blast!

    Have you ever watched the 'Modern Marvels, Mount Rushmore' documentary? It is REALLY interesting. Big thing for a documentary...

    If you have an Netflix account, it is on there to watch on the site..if not..I don't know what else you could do.

  2. Now THAT sounds like one amazing first day of school! Lucky duck. Your post made me laugh, and your ice cream made me drool :D

  3. Ashley - No I have seen that... but I do have Netflix {finely!} so I'll have to check it!