Monday, June 23, 2014

June....Are You Sure It's June?....What happened to May?!

Local Color
OK, I know it's been over a month since I've written...and I apologize for the delay. I just can't write to write. I enjoy writing the blog when we've discovered something new and exciting; or when there's something that I really want to share. But unlike some, I can't just write to have something to post each day. Nuff said about that.

Joan and I have settled into our summer work schedule - Tuesday thru Friday..32 hours/week. We were surprised about the weekends off, but we're not complaining. I rotate between buses (to the base of the mountain), vans (to the top of the mountain) and the OC (Welcome Center). Joan works in the gift shop. Joan and I seldom work the same hours as the buses only run from 8am-8pm, while the gift shop stays open until 10:30pm. Depending on our schedules, one of us has the car while the other either carpools with other workampers or takes the motorcycle to work. I've even walked to work (it's only 1 mile from the campground to Crazy Horse).

While we were in Lake Mead earlier this year we started to notice our Splendide washer/dryer acting up every once in a while. About every 3rd or 4th time we used it, it would stop working between the wash and rinse cycle and the selector knob would start clicking as it turned around the dial. After a couple of weeks of using it here in SD, it started acting up again. I did a little research and discovered how to interpret the blinking lights and determine what Error Code was being signaled.  I downloaded the Technician Training Manual and began my attempt at repair. The error code indicated it was either the pump or the water sensor. I contacted Splendide and spoke with one of their tech support reps who confirmed my test analysis and referred me to a local mobile RV tech who might have parts. I replaced the water pump first and everything seemed OK for the first couple of loads; then the same error occured. The mobile tech was great; allowing me to return the pump and purchase a sensor. I installed the new sensor and was able to wash a couple more loads of laundry before the error returned. After consulting with the mobile tech; and he in turn consulting with the manufacturer it was decided a control board could be the culprit, so I engaged the mobile tech to perform the repairs. Both the pump and sensor cost less than the deductible on my warranty so I had done them myself. But the control board was on the high side so I decided to have it repaired under the warranty. $250 deductible and a new control board later and everything has been working fine for several weeks. It seems we're doing laundry more & more these days.

The 2nd week in June my youngest son Chris celebrated Christmas by utilizing the Christmas present he received last year....a flight from Florida to South Dakota to visit us for a few days. And he brought along his girlfriend Lindsey. We had a great week exploring some of the local tourist destinations and restaurants. On the days we had to work Chris and Lindsey visited Mt. Rushmore and went horseback riding. We took several drives along Iron Mountain Road, Needles Highway and Custer State Park Wildlife Loop where we got caught in the middle of a buffalo herd. And we took a couple of long drives through the National Forests in the area spotting lots of deer and elk. We went to Wind Cave National Park and they even got to take a tour to the top of Crazy Horse Mountain. We really enjoyed getting to know Lindsey better and were sad to see them go at the end of the week. See you guys soon!

We've taken several motorcycle rides since we've been here, including a ride to Deadwood with Rudee and Phil. The other day Joan rode on back with me while we took a short 50 mile ride to Deerfield. About half way there we spotted something unexpected on the side of the road. A large thunderstorm had swept through the area the night before and we had seen small hail back at our campground. We turned around to investigate and what did we discover......snow! How unusual to see snow in the middle of June at 6000' elevation.

Dianna & Joan
2 weeks ago I stepped out of the RV and heard someone ask "Are you Steve?". A couple (Dianna and Pat) were walking through the campground and stopped to introduce themselves. They were friends of some of our fellow RVers Dan & Jonelle and had stopped for a few days in our campground to visit. They also knew Phil & Rudee and had been hoping to meet Joan and I as well. Over the next few days we had a great time getting to know them. One day we were out driving looking for wildlife in the middle of the national forest when we saw a sign for Bear Mountain Lookout. We decided to check it out and a few miles deeper and higher into the forest we came to a fire tower. We stopped and got out of the car to explore, only to be greeted by a voice from above...."Hi, would you folks like to come up and see inside?" It was the lookout, Colleen inviting us to visit her in the tower lookout.

Steve, Colleen, Dianna & Pat
So we all proceeded to climb to the top and spent almost 30 minutes chatting with her. What a view! And what a good time we had! Hopefully we'll get to see Dianna and Pat again soon. And I expect we'll visit Colleen again before the summer is finished.

Phil and I finally managed to sync our schedules last week and played a round of golf while the girls checked out the Mammoth Dig at Hot Springs. Phil is regaining his former glory as a ball striker after a several year layoff, while I just matched my annual average for the number of holes played (18) since I started full-timing. The weather was nice and the course was in good shape. We both plan on not letting this be our only outing of the summer and we're hoping to get Dan & Jonelle out with us soon.

3 or 4 times each week Joan persuades me to take her for a wildlife viewing ride down 1 or more of the country/forest roads. The roads in our area of South Dakota are wonderful; probably the best roads of anywhere we have traveled. And that includes both the paved primary roads and the back country and national forest roads.

Even when we're off-road I can set the cruise control and ride along at 25-35 mph without worrying about humps and bumps in the road. The scenery whether on road or off is some of the most interesting we've experienced as well.

Forested roadsides with plenty of open views and vistas; gray rock out-croppings spotted throughout the roadside forests; beautiful fields of multi-colored green grasses surrounded by forested mountain sides; deer, wild turkeys, elk and buffalo around most every corner. I would recommend this area of South Dakota to anyone who enjoys driving; regardless of whether you were touring in your car, riding your motorcycle or off-roading with your jeep or ATV. You could easily spend a full week riding/driving and never get bored.

We had hoped our friends Ernie & Donna, Jim & Debbie and Dave & Lydia were going to be able to take a vacation out here with their bikes, but plans never really got off the ground as Jimmy's work restricted time frames in which certain employees take time off and Dave's daughter was expecting twins with a summer due date (congratulations to the Dumke family on the birth of Eva & Eden on 6/22). Hey Guys....even if you can't come while we're out here you need to add it to your Bucket List. It's probably my 2nd favorite travel location and Joan and I would really enjoy meeting you guys out here some time in the future.

Mutliple Shout Outs
- to Tommy Ritten - Happy Birthday Tommy.....82 and still going strong. Hey Tommy, when you coming out for a visit?
- to Bill & Barb Z - Good luck with the new knee...looking forward to seeing you at Lake Mead this fall and congratulations on the new grandtwins!
- to Jim (my Dad) - keep working hard. We're all waiting for you to be able to come home and we're proud of all the progress you've made

PS - note from Joan
Happy Birthday to my Dad and Happy Anniversary to my wonderful Husband!!!

Yep, that's right folks. Tuesday 6/24 is our first wedding anniversary. It's been a great year! Love you Joan.

That's it for now. Stay Tuned. More to Come.

Can You Tell We're Having Fun?