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A Short Vacation

June 26, 2007

We spent last weekend visiting our good friends Margee and Deaver down in Spearfish, South Dakota. Margee was my office-mate at USC–we went through the PhD program a year apart and so shared a few classes as well as planning and putting on two graduate conferences. We got to be close with them while in Columbia, shared the experience of being on the job market together, and then by a strange coincidence ended up each in one of the Dakotas. Margee is a Victorianist at Black Hills State, and Deaver is the director of the Writing Center there. My job sounds somewhat better, but they definitely got the more beautiful place to live.

Margee and Deaver always take good care of us–good food, movies and games, etc. This time we also went south from Spearfish and did some outdoor adventuring. We went to Bear Country USA (cheesy, but the kids liked it), saw Mt. Rushmore, camped at Custer State Park (and went swimming in Center Lake), and toured through Wind Cave, one of the largest cave systems in the world.

Here’s the kids with Rushmore in the background.
Rushmore was iconic, big, and impressive, but ultimately it’s more than a little irritating to see the Black Hills defaced in such an extravagant manner. It was much more fun roasting marshmallows around the campfire and looking at buffalo as we drove towards Wind Cave.

A really fun time was had by all. And I ripped a bunch of CDs from Margee, who has stuff by all the people I should have listened to five to ten years ago, as well as old stuff from my childhood (who’d have thought I’d be nostalgic for Cyndi Lauper?).

Now we’re home, a mere six hour drive. We’re leaving for a three week trip to the Carolinas next Thursday, so we’re trying to get the house and yard in leaveable condition–which mainly means mowing and mowing and mowing the 2 acres of grass and tumbleweed. One of my students is house, dog, and garden sitting for us. It will be really good to see our families and we’ll also have time to visit with some friends in Columbia and Hendersonville.

The book is still slogging along, but very slowly. I’m truly anxious about finishing on time. I’ve hired a student as an assistant to help with proofreading and with securing rights to illustrations, and Gwyn is diligently hand-drawing the maps (she’s working on them while I type this). But ultimately, I’ve got to write another 15,000 words or so, and I’m having trouble getting it done. I’ll be working in the morning while we’re with family, but it still looks dubious. We’ll see what happens.

I’ll sign off now. Scrubs is on…

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