Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ft. Robinson- Vacation Continued

Ft. Robinson is where Mom grew up. Grandpa started the Stagecoach rides there back in 1962. Our family hadn't been there for a long while, so it was like discovering it over again. The country is really beautiful out there.We saw the buffalo up close, and staying in the officer's quarters was wonderful. Jen is convinced she wants to marry an officer now. We all got a ride in (what used to be)Grandpa's stagecoach: it was incredibly bumpy, which was really fun for ten minutes. If you're prone to motion sickness you may not want to ride in a stagecoach; though since the windows are open at least you wouldn't have to pull over to empty your stomach.

Even the "Family Reunion" part well fairly well, considering that our family doesn't seem to understand us. I can picture this in thought bubbles above their heads: "Homeschooling? weird. Church people? Odd. Girls not going to college? That's just plain wrong! Poor ignorant children!" Education is everything to them.

And they don't want to know why we do what we do. And since we don't agree on religion, the environment, politics, history, or family life, that doesn't leave much to talk about. Mostly food and the weather. So it was good that we A: only had three days together, B: the entire family wasn't there, C: we had a large enough house to provide for personal space and D: we had activities to do. The whole reunion went very well.

Ten years from now, I'm just guessing our family reunions will look much different. Hopefully what with marriages and grandchildren, the Duff family as we know it will double; and then we'll really get to celebrate!


Our formal vacation this year was a five day trip up to the Black Hills of South Dakota, and then a four day stay at Ft. Robinson in western NE for a family reunion. We were last in the Black hills eight years ago when Mom was pregnant with my youngest brother. So while technically all three of the younger boys were there, none of them remember it.

We camped in tents of course, visited Mt. Rushmore, the Presidential Wax Museum, and went hiking. We also went on the drive-through nature loop in Custer St. Park, which took forever, and stopped at Jewel Cave on our way to NE. It was enjoyable; however, there is such an age range in our family as well as totally different expectations for vacation according to each family member, that sometimes vacations don't turn out as happily as expected.

The boys want to hike every day. I don't want to hike at all. Mom grew up camping and wants to completely rough it. Jen wants to shower. The boys enjoy being dirty! I endure camping so we can visit museums in other states. Sigh. Other than that, I would say the Black Hills is a one-time trip: It's such a tourist trap that everything is crazy expensive. The Caves are really worth touring; Mt. Rushmore is great, but once you've seen it, you don't really need to see it again. The wax museum is enjoyable as well.

Ft. Robinson was much different: for our family reunion, Grandpa reserved one of the large former Officer's quarters. It was a three-story brick duplex dating from the early 20th century, and it was beautiful. Our family(which made up almost half the size of the group) got the entire third floor to ourselves. And it had a shower!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

It doesn't get any cheaper

Every spring a nearby town has town-wide garage sales- always a great way to find a bargain. This year one of the churches was selling all clothing items for a nickel each. There's no way you can get the same amount of material for so little, so instead of looking at the actual garment, I looked for material I liked. I found a LARGE pair of pale blue pants, 100 percent linen. Linen is really expensive, but it's the best for historical reenacting. I'm sure I can get good use out of those XL pants! I also found two stretch shirts is really pretty colors, also XL. Yesterday I finally got around to making-over one of them to fit.

Here you can see the size of the nickel shirt compared to one of my T-shirts.

I simply cut around my shirt, keeping the hem and neckline,
but creating new shoulder and side seams.

I cut the sleeves smaller...

And here's my new T-shirt, which I bought for a nickel,
cut up and re-assembled with very little trouble.

LIVING History

Jen was been gone for ten days, off partying in Idaho, which in itself gave a different flavor to home life- a bedroom all to myself! Josh loaned me a fantasy novel which I read while Jen was gone, alone, in the dark upstairs- no wonder people are afraid of the dark. I got a little freaked out as I was reading(upstairs, alone, in the dark, at 10:30pm, which is past my bedtime) about these big black nasty spiders, and then a real spider crawled across my neck. I decided that was a providential sign that it was time to stop reading for the night.

Since our van is gone, we are now forced to use two cars whenever we travel as a family- except while Jen was gone we squished seven people into a five person car, to save on gas. What does that tell you about our frugality? As Dad would say, we're Scottish! When we had the van it was a better ratio- eight people in a seven person vehicle.

Last Saturday Caleb, Andrew and I traveled to Ft. Atkinson to take part in the living history demonstrations there. I was a bit concerned about the qualifications for being admitted, since I get the feeling most historic forts/parks/houses have some pretty high standards on what you have to know and what you have to wear to be able to participate. Caleb and Andrew had no knowledge whatsoever because I sort of forced them to go(I'm not used to going places alone, but that's another issue). However, upon arrival we signed some papers and were allowed to dress in borrowed historic clothes to immediately take part in the living history demonstrations. The boys were enlisted in the infantry, because they are sadly short on soldiers. I started out at the laundry station, but moved over to the quilting room. Andrew loved it because he got fed lunch. My desire is to eventually do Revolutionary War reenacting on the east coast, but Ft. Atkinson is the closest thing to it in my neighborhood. It seems to be a really good place to start as a reenactor, since it's such a relaxed atmosphere. I didn't take any pictures, but maybe next time I can sneak a few after visiting hours- can't let visitors see you with a camera, you know!

The next living history event is July 3rd and 4th, and I am definitely planning on attending- and bringing Caleb and Andrew along too. Come visit me in 1820! It's a lot of fun.