It’s 10 minutes to 4:00 a.m. and I am wide awake. My alarm is set for 4:00 a.m. but my mind is in a hurry to start the day and doesn’t want to wait to be alerted. I scramble to my feet, excited to start the adventure of my life. An entire three weeks without the responsibility of caring for 3 lovely children, 2 huge dogs, 2 smelly rats, and 1 very large house that is a pain to clean! My poor husband is still snoring away, unaware of my excitement and eagerness to get going. I race to the shower, thinking about all the things I still need to do before we leave. Shower behind me, I’m a mental mess now, dripping water all over the place as I hastily dry off, fearing that I’ve forgotten something. My impatience is growing as I return to my bedroom and find that my dear sweet husband is still sleeping peacefully. The low sound of his rhythmic snores begins to echo in my brain and pulls me into a tizzy. In a semi-aggravated state, because obviously he isn’t aware of my eagerness to begin our adventure, I begin the process of waking him up by gently pushing against his shoulder. He lets out a few deep snores and smacks his lips together a few times before he turns to face me. I can tell that he is obviously not excited about getting up this early in the morning and he looks at me quizzically, one eye closed as he tries to adjust his eyes to the light coming from the bathroom just behind me. After several blinks, he is finally awake and sitting on the edge of the bed. I can hardly contain my excitement any longer and throw my arms around him in a tight embrace. “It’s time to get going!” I announce. He gives me a bit of a smirk and then trudges to the bathroom to escape my cheery disposition. I am a little disappointed in his response and hope that he will have a little more enthusiasm during the next three weeks.
After a little coaxing, saying goodbyes, packing the car, re-packing the car, and last-minute straightening and reminders to everyone, we are finally on our way. It’s now 5:15 a.m. and I am already annoyed because we have to stop for gas since we forgot to fill up the gas tank yesterday. I really just want to get going. The good thing about stopping is, now we have our morning coffee and soda to get us through the next 8 hours until we arrive at our first destination which is Mitchell, SD. I don’t know why I am so excited about Mitchell, SD in the first place. The only thing we plan to do there is visit the Corn Palace, and if I remember correctly, the last time I was there 11 years ago, there wasn’t much to see. Brian grabs my hand and bows his head in prayer. I quickly bow my head as well and pray along with him. With a final “Amen!” and a shared thought that passes silently between us, we head out onto the highway to continue our journey. We drive for about an hour, before both of us have to pee. Now we are second guessing our choice in drinking coffee and soda. This could make for a very long trip if our bladders keep forcing us to stop. Oh well, at least it’s just us that we have to worry about. If the kids were with us these stops would be a whole lot longer.
About 20 rest stops later… we are finally here in Mitchell, SD. We head over to our hotel which is a Comfort Inn. The place is pretty nice and the bed feels comfortable as I sprawl on top of it in happy revelation that we finally made it here. We decide not to lug all of our stuff in right away and head out to find the Corn Palace first. We don’t want to miss our opportunity to see this wonderful sight and were afraid it may close early. After taking a few wrong turns, we finally find it amidst the crowded buildings in the downtown area. It’s muggy outside, there’s road construction going on, and we aren’t quite sure where to park. Eventually we find a public parking lot across from the Corn Palace and park the car. I am grateful that we have finally made it here and just want to see something exciting and take lots of pictures. I am a little disappointed at first glance to see that they aren’t finished with the new exterior of the Corn Palace. Every year they change the theme and designs. Once inside the Corn Palace we are able to view pictures of the Corn Palace from all of the prior years. A Corn Palace Video blares in the distance, explaining the story of the Corn Palace. There’s a gift shop in the middle of a stadium seating area that gets our attention. We walk around the place for a while and discover some interesting facts. We learn that over 275,000 ears of corn are used each year in redecorating the Corn Palace and that all the colors of corn are naturally grown from special seeds raised just for the Corn Palace. Each color is apparently planted in separate fields to maintain its pure color and the Corn Palace Festival Committee selects a new theme each year.
After taking lots of pictures, buying a few souvenirs for our girls, and perusing the local shops in the area; we head back to our hotel to figure out what else we should do. Both of us are tired and hungry and noticed a Ruby Tuesdays Restaurant just a short walk away from our hotel. We decide to call the kids before we go and eat dinner, but unfortunately we now find that we have no cell service and no internet. A wave of heat hits us as we head out towards the restaurant. The temperature and humidity have been rising all day and even the short walk to the restaurant feels overwhelming. The restaurant is almost empty and I wonder if we should go elsewhere. A vacant restaurant in my opinion, is usually a bad sign. We order some burgers though and the pretzel bun burgers we order are really tasty. We order cocktails and spend a good amount of time talking and laughing. It’s the first time I’ve sat down with my husband to have dinner alone with him in what seems like ages. With full bellies and feeling a little lightheaded from the cocktails, we decide to walk to a nearby mall. It feels good to walk around holding hands and just be together as a couple. Exhaustion soon starts to overtake us though and we decide to head back to our room. Both of us plop down on the bed and fall asleep within minutes. The early morning, the long drive, the excitement of the day, and the fullness of a good meal, have laid the foundation for a good long rest.
Upon waking, we are both excited to be here on our own and decide to explore the waterpark. The hot tub looks appealing, but we soon realize that it isn’t working and head for the pirate ship instead. Still tired from a long day, I am feeling like we should just go back to our room, but Brian has other intentions. Splashing his way around the ship like a 5 year old boy, he soon has me gallivanting around with him and I feel embarrassment wash over me. Brian stands under a large bucket of water that keeps heaping loads of water over his head. I am reminded of a childhood that didn’t allow for such experiences and wishing I could be little again. As the sun begins to set, I am happy for our first day of fun and looking forward to the days to come. Maybe I will find the little girl inside of me after all…