As the Independence Day holiday approaches, so does my vacation. Every year over the 4th of July week, Bob and I head to the Black Hills for a few days of hiking, sight seeing, and relaxing. It is a time of rejuvenating for us, and I always look forward to it. We will probably hike around 45 miles over the 7 days we are there, weather permitting, and we will do some of the normal touristy things that everyone who goes there does, even though we have been there many times in the past. It is a place that we will always love to go.

There is a quiet peacefulness in the Black Hills that always renews my spirit. When you get out in nature, away from the crowds and noise, your mind can relax and regroup. The stresses of a busy life melt away, and I feel refreshed again, like I can go back and take on the world again. There is nothing like a few days hiking the trails in the Black Hills to do that for me, and the anticipation is building in me moment by moment. I think this might be a long week.

Many people go to the Black Hills every year, but few realize that there is a world there that is out of sight of the normal avenues of travel. Many people are rushing here and there trying to cram 14 days of sightseeing into 7 and hoping to take away memories that will last a lifetime, because many will never come back there again. I was that way too I suppose, until Bob and I discovered hiking, and got out into the real Black Hills. Now when we go over, it isn’t the touristy sites that appeal to me the most. It is the anticipation of what new sights we will see on the trail today. Like the part of the Mickelson Trail where there must have been thousands of butterflies. They were literally everywhere, and they seemed to have no fear of people. One little guy came around us and didn’t seem to want to leave. He would fly a little ways ahead of us and land, and as we came close, he would finally move a little more. At one point we got so close we might have been able to touch him…had we tried. He seemed to be begging us to take a picture of him, so I did, and then…satisfied, it seemed, he left.

When the week is over, we will return to our busy lives, a little sorry that our days of refreshing are over, but feeling very blessed to have been able to savour those sweet memories of a quiet time spent close to nature. It won’t be the last time we take in the elixer that is The Black Hills, but unfortunately, it will be probably another year before we get to go again, so I am thankful for the pictures, both on my computer and in my head, that will hold onto that sweetness until I am once again able to go again for a few days of refreshing in my Black Hills.

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