June 2017 // Black Hills, SD


I randomly texted Ben mid-work day a few weeks ago and said, “We should go camping!!” With his first 3-day weekend coming up (in idk how long!), he jumped on it and made some calls to see if any campgrounds were still open the weekend of July 4th. As you would imagine, everybody was packed to the brim EXCEPT for one spot that had literally opened up within the hour due to a cancellation, so we snatched it up and left the next week! (Why is it that these thrown-together ideas sometimes turn out the best?!) It was such an impromptu trip, but soooo refreshing to step away from our workload for a while and spend time soaking up some fresh air, sunshine and family time. I was able to push out the last couple weddings we’d shot before hitting the road and that made our trip that much easier to enjoy before we basically lost all wi-fi! šŸ™‚

Jewel Cave! I’d visited this cave probably 15 years ago with my family and it was just as cool as ever. You don’t know true black until they shut the lights off over 600 feet below the earth… Cedric had to be reassured a few times that he was safe, but was overall a big fan. I kept thinking of Psalm 139 while we were down there… Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the night will be light about me.” The darkness hides not from you; but the night shines as the day: the darkness and the light are both the same to you.

Cedric saw a short video of the dynamite being used to create Mt. Rushmore and after that he kept calling Mt. Rushmore “Boom Face.” hahaha!


Small victories, man.

“Flex, Cedric!!”

Cedric praying for “Bubba…and Beema… and Dad… and Mom… and Pooh… and juice… and BIG ROCKS… and bapes… and…”

Still praying. Sweetest thing in the world. Also what a feeling to be bringing our own child back to all these spots we used to visit as kids… we loved it!!

We took three or so different scenic drives while we were west river and one of them was Needles Highway! Absolutely gorgeous views.

He jumped. Not from this particular rock, thankfully, but you never know with him…

I told Ben before we even started packing for the hills that I wanted at least ONE family picture while we were out there!! We took a hike around Sylvan Lake (which required picking up and carrying the stroller multiple times…lol) and I found this spot that we later returned to with the tripod and remote. There happened to be a guy just waiting there for his wife, so he offered to push the button for us and I got my picture! It’s almost amusing that Cedric looks so serious because he was literally giddy with excitement to be out there climbing [all the BIG WOCKS, MOM]!

We took the Wildlife Loop and it did not disappoint!

This guy got a liiiittle too close to my car window for comfort… šŸ˜

Ben made us hot chocolate every morning for us to plan each day’s activities over. We both love waking up to the birds singing… wind blowing through the trees… sun warming our skin. But this was our first time camping as a family, so it was more like,





Hey Dad?



Out pease??


Hey Dad?

(…you get the picture.)

Trip wouldn’t be complete without a bit of touristing. šŸ™‚

It was very important to Cedric that his blanket also climbed the “big wocks.”

Badlands! So desolate… so beautiful.

Another family picture!! Someone pinch me!

Ben pointed out the dinosaur to Cedric from the interstate and it was love at first sight. After staring out the window for a brief pause, he confidently asked Dad, “…Buy it?”

Men in search of over the counter viagra substitute walgreens, must be informed of possible contraindications.

Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom!!! I know this was a long post, but if you only knew what it takes to get it down to THIS many photos! We jam-packed every day, but pulling into our own drive safe and together is the best closing…

  1. Elizabeth Mitton says:

    What and awesome weekend trip for you guys. Hearing you tell us about it over Skype was fun, but the pictures…oh they tell the story so well!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    PS I love the pics of you in your Indian blanket and the ones of Cedric praying and the ones of Ben pointing out the view to Cedric…Precious memories :):)

  3. These are beyond GORGEOUS!!!!

  4. Allison Bontrager says:

    Love this, Emily! You should totally do more posts like this- your family vacation looks so perfect, and how in the world did you capture alllll the moments so beautifully?! You will treasure the photos and memories forever.

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