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L I T T LE PA R E N T ON T H E PR A I R I E

>> FINDING HOME It was getting late as I blinked my eyes and strained to look at the unfamiliar road signs. Will this drive ever end? It had been a long day of driving; several stops to change diapers, mindnumbing children’s songs, and loud panting from our dog. We were all feeling extremely ready to be out of the car and at our destination. Our destination? Here, South Dakota. This was the road trip that marked the life-altering move from Denver, Colo. Our belongings had gone on ahead of us in a giant moving truck, and we followed a few days behind. We broke the trip up to two days as we had a spirited 1-year-old daughter at the time and a relatively young dog in tow. On this second day of traveling, I remember being tired, emotionally exhausted from crying (who doesn’t cry the whole way while driving through Nebraska, anyway?), and hungry. A dangerous trifecta, indeed. As we pulled into the vicinity of Sioux Falls, as luck would have it, I was the driver and my husband (the Sioux Falls native) was the trusty navigator. “I think I know a shortcut,” my husband declared. “Get off here.”

50 // JANUARY 2017

BY TRACY KIRBY CRISTA BALLARD PHOTOGRAPHY

I sighed – unwilling to get into the entirely cliché “are-you-surewhy-don’t-you-look-at-a-map” discussion – and turned on my blinker and exited the main interstate. As we drove for a few miles or so, I began to notice there were no street lights and it appeared we were on a two-lane highway of some sort. Feeling my blood pressure acutely rising, I checked in with my navigator; “Where are we? Where are we going? And … where are all the people?” Suddenly, I felt the car lurch over an odd bump and the wheels began to bounce around erratically. What is happening? I thought as my coffee began to spatter out of its cup. Peering in my rear view mirror, I spotted a cloud of dust being kicked up from our car, and then I knew: We were on a dirt road. “Just a couple more miles of this dirt road and we will be at the new house!” My husband joyously said in victory. Remember that trifecta I mentioned? Being hungry, tired, and emotionally exhausted? It caught up with me right then and I admittedly burst into a dramatic sob. It was ridiculous. I sobbed. I sobbed because of the dirt road

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