Back from the Black Hills....

We enjoyed a nice family Christmas out in Rapid City!!!  It snowed light, fluffy flakes just about the entire time we were there (not enough for helping the skiing while we were there, but at least another lift and a couple more runs are now open).

Zack and I sang at the 8 pm Christmas Eve service at Canyon Lake United Methodist Church.  By the time we got out of the church, it was our bed time so we went back to the motel to get some sleep.  Christmas Day we had a nice waffle breakfast, then hit the motel gym before showering and heading over to Dad's for Christmas.

Zack and Alexa with Grandpa visiting before we ate our dinner.


After the traditional ham Christmas Dinner, we all went to see the opening of Les Miserables.  After the movie, we headed back to Dad's and baked some pizzas for the evening meal and more visiting.

The day after Christmas, we picked up Dad and drove up into the Black Hills for lunch (ate at a deli in Keystone) and then stopped at Mount Rushmore.

Two sets of 4 faces....


We drove back through Hill City and dropped Dad off while we all hit the mall to take advantage of some clothing sales.  Then we all went to the Firehouse Brewery in downtown Rapid City where we hooked up with my nephew Cody and Sean.  We thought we had made a reservation (we called and told them a group of 7 at 7 on the lower floor since the stairs would be too difficult for Dad to climb), but there was no table for us when we arrived and ended up waiting about 45-55 minutes until we finally were able to sit down.  It ended up being a late dinner due to that, but we had a nice visit.

The drive home featured snow for 8 1/2 hours and bad roads where you couldn't use cruise control due to the slick conditions, speed had to be kept in check and visibility was akin to blowing sand in the desert.  Luckily, I grew up driving in snow, so the task was left to me to drive the entire 10 1/2 hours.  We saw a lot of people spin out and go into the ditch in front of us, behind us, next to us and along the way.  One guy in a big Ford extended cab pickup passed us in the snow covered lane coming into Mitchell going full speed.  A few hundred yards ahead of us he lost control and went down in the median.  That's what you get for thinking 4 wheel drive, big truck tires and testosterone means you don't have to slow down in such conditions.  The worst was around Sioux City where we passed right around rush hour and all the people entering the Interstate had no idea it had been snowing all day and the roads were in terrible shape.  I saw a total of 13 cars in front of me end up in the ditch or in the median.   Two came from the opposite side of the freeway spinning through the median and one almost jumped up on our side of the road.  It was nerve wracking to drive in that stuff and I got a stiff neck and shoulder gripping the wheel, but thanks to some Advil I took at our lunch stop in Mitchell was able to relax.  Things cleared up south of Sioux City and the final 2 hours home were normal.

It was a nice trip out and back in spite of the car wheel troubles, and difficult driving conditions.

We picked up the dogs from the boarding kennel, and got Zack's car from the repair shop.  His Element looks all nice and new in the front end with all the deer damage repair (was about $5800 total).  It's been snowing lightly since we got home and I have shoveled 3 times since.  Some neighbors have not even shoveled the blizzard 12" from before we left which makes going for dog walks all the more challenging.  Nevertheless, I've been out on the Karate Monkey plowing through the snow with the dogs and have managed to stay upright.

I'm just about finished with my adaptation phase of weight lifting for December, although I pulled the plug last night after 60 minutes on the bike and 1 complete set of 10 reps for all weights when my legs started to cramp up a bit.  I just didn't want to force a second set of 10 reps with the legs not behaving.  Probably all the driving, lack of water and the time I spent on a recumbent exercise bike at the motel in Rapid City (slightly different muscles for sure).  Not to mention, I've reached the point in the weight lifting where the plates are starting to be added and I'll have to switch to weight lifting days being only a warm up and cool down on the bike - not a 60 minute session with 1 minute intervals on every 5 minute time (:05, :10, :15, :20, :25, :30, etc...).  Especially true as I move into next week's weight lifting phase where the plates load up quickly.  I skipped this last year and focused on long base rides due to the tepid winter instead of weights.  Looks like this year is a more typical winter and the weight training is welcomed - especially for my age where I need to keep up with the weights.  Even if the trail was cleared by the county, there is so much ice underneath that I doubt it can be ridden for base training yet.  I'll have to get out and take a look.  Otherwise, it looks like a winter of indoor base training and some gravel road slug rides.

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