Did I just see a pig fly?
Oh wait, no. It's just the Engels getting together for a family vacation.
That's right, folks. A few weeks ago, we went on a family vacation, and we were all present and accounted for. We set out for the journey - some from the furthest reaches of the country (you know, L.A. and Florida) - and converged at the Black Hills in South Dakota.
It had been a couple years since we had been together under the same roof and even longer since any of us had been to the Black Hills, so we thought we should remedy both of those situations. All the usual suspects were there, as well as Taylor's girlfriend Ashley and little Kahlyn who was just a wee womb-dweller the last time we were all together.
Patrick scored by finding this duplex in Hill City. There was plenty of room for the 15 of us along with two of everything -- kitchens, dishwashers, grills, hot tubs, VCR players...
Both sides were connected by this balcony which had a nice view overlooking the city.
On the first day, we took a ride on an old 1880 steam train.
Remember in my last post when I mentioned Akio's obsession with trains?
Yep, he was excited.
Poor Kahlyn bumped her head on the pavement that morning (getting down curbs are tricky when you're one!) and was sporting a big ol' bandaid on her head. Only one as cute as she can pull off a look like that...
When it came time to board, Uncle Patrick and Akio lead the way onto the train.
Luckily we all found seats together.
Kahlyn was a little distracted as she apparently had a few urgent phone calls to make.
But once she was off, she was able to let loose and enjoy the ride.
Though a bit windy at times, it was a lovely ride with a beautiful view.
Later that day, we made the obligatory stop to see Mount Rushmore (or "the Heads" as my dad refers to it).
We all took turns striking a pose in front of the "Heads."
Patrick, me, Mikala, Kyle
Taylor and Ashley
Marcus and Brooke
Lindsey, Jordan, Kahlyn, Akio
Mikala, me, Alexa
Dad, (Patrick), Mom
The whole gang
The next day we split up into separate activities. Jordan and Lindsey went to the gold mines and caves. Mom and Dad took Akio and Kahlyn to Flintstone Park. Taylor, Ashley, Marcus, and Alexa rented ATV's. And the "cool" group - me, Patrick, Mikala, Kyle, and Brooke - went on a hike in Custer State Park.
Along the hike, there were these cute little pine cones.
And part of our path was made up of whatever this type of rock is (sorry, this falls into one of the many gaping holes in my geology expertise).
The path we chose was called the "Lover's Leap" trail. Not because of all the lovers that take the trail - for instance....
... but because, as legend has it, two star-crossed Native American lovers leapt off this cliff to their deaths. Romantic, I know.
I wish I had a panoramic camera because the view was truly stunning, though my vertigo was definitely making itself known.
Patrick wanted me to stand on this rock, but I said "Noway, Jose."
Our ride home was almost as scenic as the hiking trail. We saw this buffalo casually crossing the road...
...and even caught some hail on the way back (luckily we just missed it on the hike). There was also a double rainbow ("all the way!"), but I sadly did not get a photo of it.
But here's an even prettier one I found online somewhere to fill the void.
And with that, I will continue with our Black Hills adventure tomorrow.