The last part of our recent Western sojourn was spent in the Black Hills, where we rented a beautiful house in the woods with nine friends from Worthington.
Yep, there were 11 of us who called Muskroot Lane, located somewhere between Deadwood and Sturgis, home for four days.
Oops, better make that 12 of us — 11 humans and one Mr. Squishy.
Squishy — a bright orange rubbery toy with big eyes — came along as companion to Kris “Tooje” Tutje. He was enlisted for the job by a friend who knew that Tooje isn’t the best traveler — too fidgety and perhaps a bit claustrophobic? — and would need something to keep her occupied on the long drive across South Dakota.
Squishy served that purpose but also became our vacation mascot. He accompanied us on every excursion. Being so photogenic, there are more pictures of Squishy than another other person or subject matter.
Squishy at Mount Rushmore. Squishy going down the waterslide on the rented pontoon boat on Lake Pactola. Squishy in a tree branch. Squishy on the ground, having fallen from the tree branch. Squishy wearing a child-size fireman’s hat, picked up at the Firehouse Brewery in Rapid City on the pretense that we were taking it home to our “little girl at home.” Squishy gambling in Deadwood. Squishy at Wall Drug.
You get the picture (pun intended).
Squishy was the undisputed star of the show.
On the last full day at the house, somebody with too much time to kill constructed a "Mr. Squishy Launch Site" from a couple of bungee cords on the outside deck, complete with a target on a tree in the nearby woods. But nobody really had any intention of launching Squishy. We’d all become much too fond of the funny little guy.
Like the rest of us, Squishy has now returned to Worthington and probably won’t be traveling again any time soon. But I have no doubt that he will pop up again and be ready for another big adventure.