We are back home after spending the 4th of July holiday in the Black Hills with family. My daughter Brianna planned the whole family vacation, the only thing I had to do was show up! It had been a while since we all took a vacation together.

On the Raymo family vacation was Roxie and I and three of our four children and their families. Josh, Kristine and Zane. Brandon, Katie, Adelyn, Gretta and Eli. Brianna and Seth. We had a total of 12 people staying in a really nice home with plenty of room for everyone. It was situated in the pine trees with deer around every morning. The scenery was beautiful. Jeremy and his family were unable to make it because Jeremy’s wife Jennifer who is serving our country in the Army was currently in Africa. They also have a family vacation coming up in August to the DC area. Here is some of my favorite moments.

Lunch with the grandkids

Our first stop was at the famous Wall Drug. Forty three years ago Roxie, Josh and I were there and I took a picture of Josh sitting next to a saloon girl statue. To our surprise, that girl is still at Wall Drug! So Josh was encouraged by all of us to do a recreation of the picture. It was awesome! We all had a good time taking pictures. Josh was a good sport about it.

Between Wall Drug and Rapid City we had to pull over on Interstate 90 because of a severe thunderstorm. It was raining and the wind was blowing so hard the car started rocking back and forth. Then it started to hail. I couldn’t believe it when a semi passed us on the interstate! I don’t know how he could see where he was going. It lasted about 15 minutes then we got back on the road. All of us were texting back and forth to see how everybody was doing and where they were.

We finally arrived at our destination and Brianna and Seth were already there to welcome us. The home was amazing, sleeps 18 people, 6 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and large areas for the kids to play. Two patio’s one in the front and one in the back. The home was perfect for our whole family. Roxie and I had a king bed with a master bathroom. My favorite part was sitting outside in the early morning drinking my coffee and smelling the pine from the trees. We gathered for meals, played board games and just sat in the living room area and visited.

Each day we had something planned. In the mornings we would explore the hills together as a family and come back to have lunch and rest a bit then each family did something on their own in the afternoon. One afternoon Roxie and I went to the new Elvis movie. My biggest surprise was Bear Country. I had been to Bear Country a couple times before and wasn’t really impressed with it. This time however, was amazing. Lots of bears walking right up to our car. Big bears, small bears there were so many of them, plus the wolves, elk and other animals. We really enjoyed it. Mt Rushmore is always impressive to see. It was fun to stop by Dahls Chainsaw Art in Keystone. Jordan and Jarrett Dahl do amazing work. It really has turned into a tourist attraction in the Hills.

The four days went by so fast, we had some really good family time. Everyone got along so well and enjoyed being together. I’m looking forward to our next adventure as a family.

Tony Ourada - State Farm ad


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