Saying Goodbye

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Leaving is such a bittersweet feeling. So much has happened since we first found out we were coming to South Dakota. My feelings about the location went from hysterically upset, to a genuine love and appreciation, to complete annoyance (mainly due to the weather), to a place of fondness. 
South Dakota isn’t the place I could call home forever, but it has been so many great things for us. There is a lot to love about these beautiful hills. Our time here gave us the first home that was completely, equally shared between Will and I. It gave us the opportunity to completely separate from family and our friends and face a life where we depended full on each other for everything…and that was a lifesaver for our marriage. It let us explore parts of the country we would probably never have made it to. it brought us once in a lifetime experiences, like the blizzard in October, that we will never forget.
It gave us wonderful memories, stunning pictures, a new life, and now a new love (Baby J for those of you not following along). 
I know we will always look back on this assignment and this place fondly, and with love and warmth in our hearts. We are ready to move on, but I’m so incredibly thankful that God sent us here and gave us this experience. I know for a fact it was the best thing he could have blessed us with, even though at the time we were sure it was a mistake and fought it with everything we could. 

Thoughts On Friendship
One of the biggest heartaches I’m experiencing right now is thinking about the friends we’ve made here and acknowledging that it’s possible we may never see them again. I want to believe that somewhere in life our paths will cross again, whether by chance or by choice, but this is a part of military life that is hard to swallow. 
You do your best to integrate into wherever becomes your new home, and that means trying really hard to make connections and build friendships so that you don’t live a lonely existence for years at a time. We’ve made a few friends here that I would consider more than just seasonal. They are some that I know if circumstances were different and life wasn’t pulling us in all different directions, we would be friends with for a long time, if not lifelong. It’s really hard to accept that you’ve spent the last year or years actively participating in each other’s lives, only to not know how the story will progress. 
One set of our friends here has been our absolute go to for all things baby, having just had a little one of their own last year. We were discussing the other day that it’s weird to think they don’t know when, or if, they will meet our baby. I keep hoping they will get stationed in Germany next so they are just a rotator hop away. 
I’m trying to just be grateful that these people came into our lives. That our time here was made brighter, and sometimes just bearable, because they were a part of it. It’s really hard to make true friends in life, and we’re very lucky to be able to claim a few more.
Things I Hope I’ll Always Remember About South Dakota (and the surrounding area)
  • Learning to share Will’s love of hiking and the outdoors through our countless hikes through the trails of the Black Hills. Specifically the French Creek area, hiking the Flume Trail to Sheridan Lake, snow hiking on the Iron Creek Trail, and getting lost after discovering Air Force Vista
  • Getting to watch my husband in his happy place, fly fishing to his heart’s content in some of the most beautiful streams there are.
  • Buelah. I feel like it needs no explanation. Pure beauty and relaxation, and Sunday morning brunch at the Bum Steer.
  • Conquering the hike to Elk Lake and the Cloud Peak Reservoir in the Bighorn National Forest.
  • Spending a couple of magical nights in Boulder, hiking the Flat Irons, and eating repeatedly at Brasserie Ten Ten.
  • The sunrises and sunsets, and that beautiful late evening glow that you only see up here because the land is so flat and the sun sets so late. 
  • Biko de Mayo
  • Staycations in Spearfish with the salad buffet at the Bum Steer, breakfast at the Green Bean, and late nights at our corner table listening to live music and drinking irish beers at Flanagan’s.
  • Getting up on a free Saturday morning and setting out at 10:00am and spending the day exploring the hills, freshening up in the creek and hitting downtown RC for dinner, and not getting home till 11:00pm. 
  • Surviving the Snowmaggedon.
  • Crashing the Black Hills Film Festival and drinking so much free wine we had to get a room at the Hill City Super 8.
  • Falling in love with cross-country skiing
  • The Napoleon dessert at the Alpine Inn. Flaky, decadent creamy, chocolately deliciousness.

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