South dakota

This photo I took at Badlands National Park.

That time arrived again, it was time to move onto my husbands next duty station and this time we were heading to South Dakota. We got a flight from Honolulu to LAX. We had actually decided we wanted to do a road trip from LAX to South Dakota. On our way there we stopped in Vegas, Utah, went to see my husbands parents in Colorado springs and then onto south Dakota. It was a really nice road trip and the kids surprised me in how well they managed.

Before we left Honolulu we actually already had a house that we were in the process of closing on. We had bought our first house and we were excited. It was in the perfect location, close to town, close to the school and close to my husbands work. We moved in and started working in re decorating to freshen the place up and put our own little stamp on the place. It took a few days and we were happy with the results. Our house hold goods turned up roughly a month later and I was dreading unpacking, just like always but also super excited to have our stuff and to start making this house a home.

After unpacking we had a bunch of cardboard boxes left over and downstairs in the basement we had a wood burner. I was getting sick and tired of all these boxes being in every corner of the house and our recycling bins just weren’t able to keep up. My best friend was due to arrive from England so we were cleaning the house to get ready for her arrival. My husband had come up with a good idea on a cold morning, to break down the boxes and burn them in the wood burner to get rid of them and also warm up the house.

A quarter of the way through my husband burning these boxes I noticed there was more smoke in the house than there should’ve been. All my kids were upstairs in the living room playing, I had gone down to the basement to check on my husband and see what all the smoke was about. As soon as I got down there I had to open the window immediately, I saw that the fire inside the wood burner was getting bigger. My husband panicked and took the box, that was on fire, out of the wood burner and ran it upstairs and threw it out the front door. Before he even got to the stairs the box broke in his hand, landed on the carpet and immediately a fire broke out. We were in such a panic that we didn’t even think to throw water over it. All we knew is that we needed to get rid of the problem and the problem being the box.

I remembered that we had a fire extinguisher in the cupboard under the stairs so I grabbed it and immediately tried to put the fire out. Unfortunately this fire extinguisher, that was left by the previous owner gave 2 big bursts and then ran out. It was tiny, the fire went out for a second but reignited. It was in that moment I realized there was nothing I could do. I shouted up to my husband to get the kids out. I was on the other side of where the fire had broken out so going up and out the front door wasn’t an option for me. The fire was climbing up the stairs, thick smoke had filled the entire house by this point. Once I knew my children were out I climbed out the basement window, ran and told my neighbor to call the fire department. I sat and just sobbed into my 5 month old’s chest.

My house was going up in flames. When you see adverts of fire fighters talking about how fast a fire can spread they’re not joking. The fire fighters arrived pretty quickly but when you’re watching your house burning it feels like an eternity. Nothing in my house was able to be saved apart from a few bits and bobs. But my kids were safe, they’re not replaceable but material things are. I am so blessed and thankful that no one got hurt.

It took about 5 months for our house to be gutted and rebuilt from the inside. Thankfully the structure itself wasn’t damaged and it was only the inside that was damaged. The worst part about it was that my best friend who had spent hundereds of pounds to come and visit us is now suffering the devistation with us. Me, my husband our 3 children, 3 dogs and my best friend were in a hotel room for her entire 2 week stay. It wasn’t until after she had left that the insurance company was able to find us a house to stay in until our house was finished getting fixed.

This is the upstairs of our house. The fire didn’t reach this far and this is just what the smoke damage did.

5 months had gone by, our house is finished, the builders did a fantastic job in rebuilding the inside and laying the new carpet and putting in the new kitchen and bathrooms etc etc. We were so happy to be home and actually start enjoying our time here.

Our time in South Dakota went smoothly, my mum came to visit in the summer Just like she always did. My dad had come that September and my other friend had come the following year. We were only in South Dakota 2 years until my husband volunteered to go to Alaska for a year. By going to Alaska for a year we were able to choice our base of preference which we chose would be England. Base of preference only gets given if there is a job for you to fill and luckily for us there was.

I like South Dakota. You get the right amount of snow, the weather is never predictable. There was a time where we had all 4 seasons in one day. Snow, trees changing color, hot and sunny and rain. All in the space of 12 hours. I had never seen anything like it. The wind is crazy too. They don’t joke when they say its windy in SD.

The time we spent here I really enjoyed. We were in a better place financially, we had our own house, my eldest had started kindergarten, and life was great.

The time for my husband to go to Alaska was getting close, we had actually decided that me and the kids were going to follow him and experience Alaska too. My husband had to go to Colorado springs to do some classes for his upcoming job in Alaska. While he was there I was busy getting the house packed up and put into storage. We had actually decided to drive from SD to Alaska and boy am I glad we did.