Sunday, July 20, 2014

Guest Blogger

One of many roads we've ridden
Hi everyone! Joan here. You may wonder why I'm writing the blog instead of Steve. Well he's been a little under the weather this week; missing work for 3 days and eventually visiting the doctor last Thursday. Seems as though he has a viral sinus infection with lots of coughing and headaches. On top of that the doctor determined that the over-the-counter decongestants he had been taking were causing his blood pressure to spike. Now he's on a different med. Friday he went to work but was not able to narrate his normal bus tours as he continued to cough when he tried to talk for any length of time. He worked in the Welcome Center instead and now he's got the next 3 days off to heal.

Our Crazy Horse jobs are going well. Steve enjoys driving people around the mountain and to the top. I’ve ridden with him a couple of times and have learned quite a bit about the memorial. He does a good job with his narrative.  Working in the gift shop is a little more physical as I have to stand the entire time I’m there. I think this job is tougher than when we were cutting down trees in Oregon during our first workamping job. The fun part of the job is getting to meet people from all over the world. I love hearing their stories. The second best part of our job is that we only have to work four days which means we have three days to play!

Yesterday was time to get out of the house and do something. One of my favorite things to do is to drive the gravel forest roads. I drove and Steve came along for the ride. We took Deerfield Road west out of Hill City about 11 miles to the end of the pavement and continued onto the gravel road.  These roads are in great shape and easy enough for any vehicle to travel.  The scenery is spectacular and you wouldn’t believe all the wildflowers that are in bloom.  Of course I had to make several stops. I was trying to take a picture of each flower I saw.

After driving west for 2 ½ hours and crossing into Wyoming, we were still wandering along the gravel forest roads when we came upon a sign which seemed to be in the middle of nowhere (we didn't know it then but if we had continued another 6 miles we would have reached highway 85 just north of Newcastle). We couldn't see any buildings, but decided to explore anyway. We turned and drove maybe 100 yards when we saw a fairly new building with about a dozen ATV's and pickup trucks parked outside. We went inside and found a rather nifty restaurant.
Steve and I both had prime rib which was excellent. We’ll be back! When we left we decided to take the forest roads back home. Still recuperating from his sinus infection and with his tummy full, Steve slept most of the way back home. For entertainment I decided to count deer. I stopped counting after 75. Hoping to see elk was my primary reason for going back the way we came. They are very elusive and unfortunately I didn’t get to see any on this trip.

My friend, Terri, from Seattle flew in to town the 1st week in July and spent a week with us. We picked her up on Saturday in Rapid City and on Sunday she and I headed off to visit Devils Tower in Wyoming.  The drive from Custer is only about 100 miles but when you add in all the stops for pictures along the way it can take a while.

We decided to get off the interstate at the visitor center in Wyoming and take the northern route to Devils Tower. I should have remembered from earlier vacations that anyone who travels out west soon realizes that just because there is a point and a name on a map does not mean that there is a city or town there.  

Needing fuel, we figured we’d get it at the first town we came to. After all, the map showed one just a short drive away. Driving through the first town we were disappointed that all they had was a little store. Not to worry, there were several more towns along the way. 

In the meantime we we’re stopping every few minutes to take pictures. You really have to drive it for yourself. Absolutely beautiful! After arriving at the next town we began to see a pattern.  These “towns” were just spots in the road where a few houses were built. Terri was driving and I kept leaning over to look at the gas gauge and getting a little worried. Traffic was non- existent. Finally we drove into a town that had a post office, hotel and several stores. As we got to the end of town we could see the gas station. Yes! Terri pulled in and wouldn’t you know it.......they were closed on Sunday! 

With 40 miles left to reach the interstate and our hotel we decided to continue on.  We began to see Devils Tower off in the distant and stopped to take pictures. We had plenty of daylight so we decided to bypass the turnoff to the tower in favor of going to town for gas. I breathed a sigh of relief when we saw several “open” gas stations.  

We got our room, had dinner then drove back to Devils Tower. It worked out great as there were very few people in the park. We took even more pictures!

 Tuesday Steve and I went back to work and Terri used our car to sight see. Wednesday I had traded days off so Terri and I could spend the day together while Steve worked. I took Terri through the wildlife loop at Custer State Park where she could get up close and personal with the buffalo.

We watched 4th of July fireworks from the rv park so we wouldn't have to fight the traffic coming and going from Custer. We had a great time with Terri and I’m hoping to see her again in October when I plan to fly to Seattle.

Another interesting place Steve and I visited recently was in Rapid City. It’s called Chapel in the Hills. It is an exact replica of the Borgund stave church in Norway. The original Borgund stavkirke was built around the year 1150 and is considered the most completely preserved stave church still standing in Norway. 

Several years ago I hosted 2 foreign exchange students from Norway. We've kept in touch over the years. The funny thing about seeing this is that my two exchange students, Janne-Marie and Jeanette are both visiting in the states with their young families. 

When I posted pictures on FB to show them where I was, their first response was that I must be visiting EPCOT! One day I hope to make it to Norway. They’ve promised to show me around.

They have big planters here in Wyoming!
I cannot say enough good things about South Dakota. It is absolutely beautiful! The scenery is fantastic in every direction. There is also a fragrance in the air that smells so sweet. You notice it everywhere here in the Black Hills or at least I do.  Wildlife and wildflowers surround us. I may sound like a broken record, but if you have not been here, you should add it to your list of places to visit.

That’s it for now. Steve got up at 3:15am this morning to take a special group to the top of Crazy Horse for a sunrise ceremony. He has been sleeping since he returned home about 9am. I hope he wakes up in time to go spotting with me tonight!

Won't be long and shell'll be on the road. LOOKOUT!
Ryan is big enough now to help poppop through the woods!
One last thing. Have to wish grandaughter, Emily a very Happy 16th Birthday and also a shout out out to grandson Ryan who is celebrating his birthday a few days after Emily.  We love you both very very much.  Be sure and watch the mail this week!