We made it to North Dakota on Thursday of last week. It took Elijah and I two flights to get here – I blogged about this briefly in this post: 7 Flights – and that portion of the journey went really well. When we got to Bismarck I was immediately surprised by the pleasant weather and lack of humidity. Eli and I were able to stand outside the airport, in the sun, without immediately starting to drip in sweat. I do love the Texas heat, but the lack of humidity is a good change.
This was the first time that we were to meet my brother’s wife, so I was reeeeaaally excited. Although I did know that we were driving straight to South Dakota to spend the night, I was not fully prepared for the news that it would take a further 5-6 hours to get there. Of course, that was no problem for me, but little man is barely used to carseats as it is (we don’t use them in China), so the thought of him strapped in for five hours seemed a little daunting after having him not be able to move around for the previous 6 hours. Thankfully, my brother and Shauna were prepared. They bought Elijah a huge box of Goldfish and a DVD of the Despicable Me Minion movie (Elijah’s favourite).
Watching the sun go down while we drove towards South Dakota was beautiful. We stopped a couple of times for gas and coffee. Richard and I haven’t seen each other in over two years so we had plenty to talk about. Since we last hung out we have both acquired a very special new person in our lives (him a wife, and me a baby), so we caught up while our two “new additions” slept. It was some good quality time for us.
It was already 11pm when we checked into a hotel. All of us were tired, but Elijah seemed like he wanted to play. He had probably confused his sleep in the car with a nap. We sat in the hotel room, eating sandwiches, looking at old photos, and having a laugh. In the morning, Richard and Shauna went to get his biometrics done for his permanent residence card (a process I too will have to do some time in the next few years), and I stayed at the hotel with a very sleepy baby. Elijah didn’t wake up until R&S arrived back with breakfast and coffee.
Instead of getting straight onto the road back to North Dakota, we stopped to do some shopping. We browsed the interesting selection of goods at Cabela’s, which is a specialty retailer of hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, and related outdoor recreation merchandise. Cabela’s has a distinctive look to its retail operations, a look which turns its retail stores into tourist attractions. The stores are more like huge showrooms, bringing the outdoors inside. They feature museum-quality displays of taxidermied wildlife, large aquariums, indoor mountains, and archery ranges.
For lunch we stopped in an amazing little town called Deadwood. Richard and Shauna were eager to take us to sample and buy some chocolate truffles. I was equally enthusiastic about the prospect of taking pictures of this picturesque little town. It is so heart-warming to see how much my brother loves little Eli. From the moment that we climbed into the car at Bismarck Airport, Richard was eager to spend time with him. He said that he didn’t want to drive because he wanted to look at, and talk to, Eli… How to melt a momma’s/ sister’s heart!! ❤︎
Elijah is really enjoying the books that a friend bought for him. Two little Sesame Street nursery rhyme books which he pages through shouting, “baba baaaa baba hahah hahaaaaa”. He makes the exact some sounds, and laughs in the same pattern. It honestly sounds like he is reading the stories to himself!
When we finally pulled up at Richard and Shauna’s house in Medora, we were all thrilled to be able to get out of the car for good. We had all left home the day before at 11am, and had therefore been traveling for 30 hours! Elijah and I were shown to the room where we will be sleeping for the next 10 days, and we found a nice surprise waiting for Eli on the bed. More Minion goodies! A 2 in 1 snack & drink cup, a minion ball toy and a t-shirt.
The perfect end to our long journey: meeting and sharing dinner with the new in-laws. I guess it is not just Richard who is gaining new family members – all of us are. What a wonderful feeling to have our family grow, and to know that we are being joined by such lovely people. We sat out on the deck (which my brother built himself) and ate together. The weather in Medora is perfect! Warm in the day, and cooler at night. It felt good to put on a hoodie and sit out in the fresh air. I love the Texas heat, but this is nice and refreshing. More stories coming from the stops we made along our mini-roadtrip through North and South Dakota.