Saturday, August 6th, 2011

exploring south dakota {another picture overload}

The stress of the instability of our lives this summer hasn’t kept us from trying to enjoy and get to know our eventual new state of residence. We quickly discovered that Watertown, despite it’s small town feel, does have some family friendly activities. Just a couple of blocks down from Mike’s office is an outdoor water park with large slides, splash areas, lazy river, and even a toddler section. Unfortunately, my big girls aren’t quite tall enough to experience the water slides, and I wasn’t able to accompany them on the lazy river due to 3-person limits and weird age restrictions of babies vs. other riders (all other riders have to be 48″ or taller if baby attends). Hopefully, next summer the girls will sprout the appropriate inches so that we can enjoy all that’s offered there. I haven’t taken any pictures there in our two visits, but with only a $5 admission fee I know we’ll be there again a lot in the future either this summer or next.

There is also a small zoo in town which touts over 800 animals including a tiger, zebra, lots of primates, various birds, a wandering albino peacock among others, reptiles, a petting zoo, and even a playground.

I took the girls one day, and it was a fairly relaxing experience without big crowds and the pressure of too big an area to cover in an allotted time. Again the admission prices were reasonable enough to suspect there will be more visits from the Hawley family. I was pretty lazy about taking pictures again but did capture a couple shown below.

A lady at church told me about the children’s museum in Brookings, SD and recommended it. It was especially satisfying to learn that it’s only 45 minutes away from Watertown. Last week Mike suggested I ask another mom from church to go one day, and she and her kids were game. We managed to figure out a system to fit all 6 of our kids into my Suburban, pack up a cooler for lunch, and have a movie ready that all the kids would enjoy for the drive. It was also nice to have a chance to chat with another woman from Watertown and church and get to know her better. The kids all had so much fun, and the museum was as nice than all the other children’s museums we had nearby in Wisconsin. Both families ended up purchasing the family pass, so I hope to spend lots of time there to help get us through the winter I’m not looking forward to.

I’ll try to not do a picture overkill, but it’s so difficult to document the children’s museum experience in few pictures.

There was an auto shop where the kids could work on the engine and go under the car to change the muffler.

A fitness area got the kids all riled up. And Violet also got to see what it was like to sit in a wheelchair which lit up a light when wheeled really fast.

They had a similar grocery store set-up as the museum near Chicago but also took it a step further on the outside to show what it was like to actually pick some of the fruits and veggies and show how they grow. There were “real” tomatoes, corn, and pumpkins to pick. Then the kids could gather up the veggies to throw on a conveyor belt that was magnetic/upside down to send to the grocery store.

There were barn animals. Violet got to gather eggs from the chickens, milk the cow, and help piglets suckle their mama.

I thought this climbing structure was awesome how it was supposed to resemble clouds in the sky. The kids kept going to back to it every time we’d pass by. Vi was more interested in stealing the flip flops set aside by the climbers.

Of course, the newscaster section was a favorite and in the same section there was a stage with costumes in the dressing room to wear for the show. Annie loved the police officer uniform while Mimi gravitated toward the girlier attire but with a not so girly expression.

As usual, Vi was quite passionate about the water area. All 3 girls were pretty much soaked by the time we left this section.

Oh my, I totally want one of these life-size Lite Brites for my room.

All the kids were mesmerized by the sand patterns they could make with the spinning wheels.

Honestly, how cool would it be to have this set-up in your home? A large picture window as a painting easel. The girls did not want to leave this place.

I think the most time was spent in the “restaurant”. The kids adored serving us. Why can’t this always be the case?!?

Connected to the restaurant was a reading area with those bean bags. Violet and the 3-year-old from the other family had a blast jumping in and out of the them the entire time we were in that section.

At the end of our visit we took the kids to the outside part of the museum. There were larger than life and movable dinosaurs that totally freaked Violet out. It also turns out that there is a splash park out there along with a man-made creek that kids are encouraged to explore in. The kids immediately started jumping in and getting all soaked. In some parts of the creek the water was waist high. The moms were not prepared for this or thrilled. I didn’t get any pictures of this because I was too busy trying to figure out how to deal with dripping, wet kids. Now we know for our next warm weather visit to bring bathing suits and towels.

At the end of the day all the kids seemed to have expelled their energies and had a blast. Some of the other sections in the museum I didn’t photograph were a post office, different types of homes such as a teepee and old log home on the prairie, a music exploration section, and more I can’t think of. After I decided I’d get the family pass I didn’t feel the pressure to try to see every part and just let the kids spend as much time as they wanted in each section we did visit. Plan on more picture overloads from the museum in the future.

7 Responses to “ exploring south dakota {another picture overload} ”

  1. Jenni says:

    Beyond cool museum. I think you’ll find enough to do there and be happy. Again, I have to tell you how great Annie was on the phone. Please tell her that. She sounded very grown up and was a very reliable phone answerer!!

  2. Jake says:

    It’s nice to know that there’s stuff to do there so that when we come for a visit, we know what’s out there. Thanks for doing the research. Looked every bit as good as the Children’s Museum in St. Paul. I wonder if they have reciprocity with other museum memberships? I want the Lite Brite thing too. It would make a great message board.

  3. Shoebox Princess says:

    Wow! That looks like a great place to take kids. I wouldn’t mind having a glass easel around here for kids to paint on (or me). I hope the settling in comes soon for you. I know it’s hard for you to be “homeless.”

  4. Cheryl says:

    THat looks like a great museum. We were just in South Dakota last a few days ago. We spent a day in De Smet at the Ingalls homestead and then went to Mount Rushmore and the surrounding area. It was so much fun. We all really liked South Dakota.

  5. Denise Wilkins says:

    What a cool museum! If we are ever in SD, we’ll have to head over. I’m glad you guys are getting ready for a more permanent phase of life. I’m happy for you.

  6. Julie says:

    I am glad to see you found a new museum buddy in SD. It may take me 6 years, or probably forever, to find someone who wants to hang out with me here, but don’t feel bad or anything. Hee,hee! No really I am glad to see that you are quickly meeting new people, not that I had any doubt that you would, and good to see that there is fun stuff to be done in little old Watertown, SD. Love the Lite Brite, love Violet helping the piggy nurse and I miss all of you!

  7. Micah Geary says:

    Looks like so much fun. Who knew, SD? Miss you guys and yes 17 acres makes Jason jealous.

Feel free to comment, but I do moderate all comments.