Posted in Travel, Vacation

Mount Rushmore, Buffaloes and Bull

 

It is Wednesday evening and we’ve come home from a day-long tour. We left at 6am to the meeting place an hour away and we were the first to be picked up and the last to be dropped off around 5pm.

 

For the most part, the weather held up nicely. It had rained the night before but was clear until late afternoon.

We took a bus tour with around 30 other people. Our bus driver was on his late 60’s, a retired history teacher and high school coach who has lived here all of his life. He was well qualified and an excellent driver, especially through small tunnels and pig tail curves. John also has a big heart and a sense of humor.

While we travelled through Rapid City, he talked a bit about the Ellsworth AFB and the fact they would be in charge of Custer State Park when President Eisenhower would stay in the Coolidge Mountains to hunt and fish.

We continued to Keystone where there is a steam engine that runs daily to Hill City and back. The track, train and engine are the original. We have tickets for that tomorrow.

The next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. An entire family took this responsibility on because the survivors of the battle asked a gentleman if he would work on a Memorial for their hero.

The family has done great things to keep funds coming to finish this project. They have also established an Indian College, grants and scholarships, a hospital. All of this has been done with outside donations, not one penny from the government.

They had a gift shop that did handmade items certified by particular local tribes. When looking closer, I found that the garments were made in China.

 

Next, the driver took us through Custer State Park. I’ll just mention there is one outhouse for the entire park. Period
However, you might not want to answer nature’s call if there is a group of Bison (during rutting season) surrounding it. They were very up close and personal with our bus and we were able to get quite a few pictures.

We saw 2 groups of Prairie Dogs, a black footed ferret, antelope and elk. It was great because they are living out in the wild, free to wander and just by driving on the Wildlife Loop, we were able to see them in their natural habitat.

We then made our way through the twists and turns that is Needles highway and 3 of the narrowest tunnels I have ever seen. We would see Mount Rushmore from different angles as we got closer and closer.

When I arrived, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions this majestic beauty created in me. I found myself standing there and not wanting to take my eyes off of the monument.

Okay, I admit to being somewhat disappointed because the luncheonette that was in North By Northwest was not there. However, the viewfinder that Cary Grant used was still there.

It is Wednesday evening and we’ve come home from a day-long tour. We left at 6am to the meeting place an hour away and we were the first to be picked up and the last to be dropped off around 5pm.

 

For the most part, the weather held up nicely. It had rained the night before but was clear until late afternoon.

We took a bus tour with around 30 other people. Our bus driver was on his late 60’s, a retire history teacher and high school coach who has lived here all of his life. He was well qualified and an excellent driver, especially through small tunnels and pig tail curves. John also has a big heart and a sense of humor.

While we travelled through Rapid City, he talked a bit about the Ellsworth AFB and the fact they would be in charge of Custer State Park when President Eisenhower would stay in the Coolidge Mountains to hunt and dish.

We continued to Keystone where there is a steam engine that runs daily to Hill City and back. The track, train and engine are the original. We have tickets for that tomorrow.

The next stop was the Crazy Horse Memorial. An entire family took this responsibility on because the survivors of the battle asked a gentleman if he would work on a Memorial for their hero.

The family has done great things to keep funds Coming to finish this project. They have also established an Indian College, grants and scholarships, a hospital. All of this has been done with outside donations, not one penny from the government.

They had a gift shop that did handmade items certified by a particular tribe. When looking closer, I found that the garments were made in China.

 

Next, the driver took us through Custer State Park. I’ll just mention there is one outhouse for the entire park. Period
However, you might not want to answer nature’s call if there is a group of Bison (during rutting season) surrounding it. They were very up close and personal with our bus and we were able to get quite a few pictures.

We saw 2 groups of Prairie Dogs, a black footed ferret, antelope and elk. It was great because they are living out in the wild, free to wander and just by driving on the Wildlife Loop, we were able to see them in their natural habitat.

We then made our way through the twists and turns that is Needles highway and 3 of the narrowest tunnels I have ever seen. We would see Mount Rushmore from different angles as we got closer and closer.

When I arrived, I wasn’t prepared for the emotions this majestic beauty created in me.

Okay, I admit to being somewhat disappointed because the luncheonette that was in North By Northwest was not there. However, the viewfinder that Cary Grant used as well as the stone wall.

The luncheonette was fabulous with a great variety of food at decent prices. For $3 you can have unlimited drink refills.

We did go to a shop for souvenirs. Mind you this is for an American statue with our most famous presidents at the time it was created and NOT ONE T-SHIRT WAS MADE IN AMERICA. This is a National Monument on a National Forest, and the only items made in America were authentic American Indian art.

After having lunch and ice-cream with our presidents, it began to rain, so I sat at a table on the cafeteria and continued to be be mesmerized by the artist’s rendition.

Then I wondered out loud, how would these 4 react to the country as it stands now….. or even about their faces plastered on a T-Shirt made in China. They would probably update the Declaration of Independence.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Travel, Vacation

Spearfish Canyon, South Dakota

It is Tuesday evening and the sun is about to set here in the Black Hills of South Dakota.  I’m sitting next to an open window in a comfy rocking chair, listening to the sounds of nature that I will never become bored of.  We have a chipmunk at the door, hoping that Mike will put some nuts on a tree trunk.

 What was looking like a day that would not be remembered fondly, turned into another spectacular day of our vacation.  After Mike spent most of the day doing what most folks do when they have food poisoning, he declared at 3:00 pm that he was better and wanted to see Spearfish Canyon.  So, he packed his camera, I mapped it on the GPS and we headed out.
The Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway is only 5 minutes from where we are staying.  It took us about 45 minutes to drive the distance and end up in the town of Spearfish.
We took our time, as do most people driving through the canyon.  I believe there is a gathering with owners of 3 wheeled motorcycles nearby, because we followed 4 and saw several coming from the other direction.  There are several places to park on the side and take pictures.
Bridal Veil Falls seems to be the most talked about in the vacation guide for this canyon.  While it was beautiful to behold, I thought the area right before Little Crow Peak was better.  I was able to slowly step down from the road to Belle Fourche River.  I got into the cold and rushing river, sandals and all.  I seriously considered jumping rocks but felt that 40+ years since my last experience, expired all the luck I might have of not falling in again!
The town of Spearfish begins just as you exit federal lands.  We didn’t drive through it as our intended destination immediately on the right.
Perkins Restaurant was a godsend for us tonight.  Mike wasn’t sure what type food sounded good, he just knew he was hungry.  The bonus is their freshly made baked goods that you can order to take with you.
We leave at 6am tomorrow for Rapid City.  We booked a day-long tour of Mount Rushmore, the Black Hills, Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park.  It seemed like a great way to see the sites, learn the history, take pictures and meet other tourists.  The entry fees, lunch and tourist trap stops are all included as well.
I am just thankful my husband is on the mend and there is a happy ending today
Posted in Travel, Vacation

Vacation Foe: Food Poisoning

Day 4 of our vacation to SW South Dakota

Do you remember  a 1950’s B-Rated Film Noir where a wife lures her husband to South Dakota for a vacation and tries several different ways to kill him?  She tried leaving him in the Badlands, pushing him off a mountain in the Black Hills, poisoning him in Keystone but he always survived?
Hold that thought while I tell you about yesterday.
Hotel Roy and the Merchantile now have running water!  Lynn, the owner, worked on it while we were gone and greated us with the great news.  she also invited us next door to her gorgeous  cabin to sit on the porch.  We knew about the story of Hotel Roy and the Merchantile, but what she showed us made it come alive and made it even more meaningful
When her husband was a small boy, he was given a train set with hand made buildings.  He became a home builder as well as a craftsman and decided to build full size replicas of them for when the family came.  He began this work of love and had it fully completed around 6 years ago.
Three years ago, he died unexpectedly and suddenly, leaving a family to grieve but this monument of love.  The widower decided to make her husband’s labor of love available for road weary travelers.  It is very remote.  I have not heard a vehicle besides our own, since we arrived.  Time passes very quickly as you look onto the vast mountainous horizon, hear only the birds and the needles of the trees sway back and forth.
We left early in the morning and headed to McDonald’s for free WiFi and breakfast before touring the Badlands.  It was a perfect day to go because it was so clear, and hot enough to keep the rattlesnakes in their holes.  It also slowed the prairie dogs down a bit so you could get better pictures.  You might say that as you ‘drive the loop’ around, that all there are is a bunch of rock formations.  However, not one is the same as they vary in colors, shape and size.  They do all have in common the horizontal lines that are from water levels over thousands of years.  Please note that takes a few hours to finish the loop around and there are only 2 bathroom stalls in one location.  Don’t blink or you will miss it.
We then headed to Keystone to zipline.  Yes, at 52 and 59 we are not swayed from doing things that are made more for the younger generation.  When we arrived, the only people we saw that were our age, had cameras in their hand and two feet firmly on the ground.  We bought a deal through Groupon for the steepest and longest available (800 ft) and in the end it was totally worth it.  It was exhilarating and wow, what a rush of adrenaline!! We purchased T-shirts proclaiming our feat and took pictures for proof.
After doing some research and debating, we decided on a German American restaurant in Hill City before driving the hour home.  There are only two items on the menu, an extensive German beer selection and several German deserts. I choose the spaetzel and he chose the steak.  All were delicious.  Since the restaurant is on the Main drag, we walked through some shops before the trek back home.
We tried to get to bed as early as we could since we were going on a tour the entire day and needed to leave by 6:00 am.  Unfortunately, my poor husband has been ‘double bucketing’ since 2am.  Today’s plans have changed, but I left a day open for unforceen events.
It is noon, my husband is able to keep some water down.  I contacted the tour company and they switched it to tomorrow.  I called the owner of the restaurant, as a courtesy, and she sounded very uninterested.  I have called the health department to register a complaint.  I realized today is Amazon Prime Day, I am reading a good book and looking at the gorgeous view.
It beats trying to remember the name of that movie starring Jane Mansfield.
Posted in Travel, Vacation

Driving from Iowa to The Black Hills

Good Morning!

As I posted late last night, we safely reached our destination.  It took us about 9 hours of actual driving from Osage, Iowa to Deadwood, South Dakota.  We stopped along the way and it was a very relaxed 11 hour trip.
I was up early due to the time change and the plan was to take early morning pictures of God’s majestic beauty that is the Black Hills of South Dakota.
I was here around 50 years ago and have virtually no memory of the vacation however, many of the historical places have not changed and I am almost sure nature has not, either.
Strangely as I sit here smelling the air, listening to the quiet movement of needles and watching the wildlife scamper around with breakfast, I am reminded of something else.  The mountains of Colorado where my father’s family gathered in the summers during the 1970’s.
Yesterday, we travelled through the 3 states of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.  Once we crossed the border into South Dakota is when everything seemed to change.  Interstate 90 lacked semi’s and had transformed to just campers, pick up trucks, vans and SUV’s.  The rest areas were manned information centers, free brochures and travel books along with a museum or historical artifact.  Signs were not for gas, food and lodging; but, family friendly tours and things to do.  The landscape went from flat, to foothills that looked like table tops and finally the mountains.
We stopped at the Missouri river crossing, Wall Drugstore, ate our first buffalo burger, drove through downtown Deadwood, before reaching Madsen’s Mountain.
We were so glad that the owner came to meet us and tell about the bitter sweet history of the place we are staying in (next blog)
The only hitch?  The cistern ran dry earlier in the day, they had water delivered but it is not pumping to our place.  I think I heard them in the middle of the night bringing in another load of water.  The result is that as of this morning, we have water trickling from the kitchen sink, which we can pour into the toilet.  The poor owner is so embarrassed and apologetic.  We have told her that we are totally fine.  We will be gone all day in the Badlands and she has someone coming to fix the problem.
P.S. It reached 107F as a high yesterday.  At least it was 65 degrees last night.  UGH!
#JewelsForThePauper
Where everything is fit for a Queen
But
Priced for the Pauper
Posted in Travel, Vacation

Need to get away?

 

Day 2 of this fun, old fashioned, couple vacation and we have so many great memories to add.

Last night, we reached Osage, Iowa. The town, as well as the AirBnB we reserved is off the beaten path. Anyone can stay at the Holiday Inn and eat at Howard Johnson’s…..wait, I mean you could have 50 years ago. I digress.

Can you say that you have spent the night in a refinished country church from 1890 and eaten the best BBQ in the State of Iowa? We can now cross this off our bucket list.

Elliott’s Burr Oak Church is about 5 minutes from Osage and was totally refurbished in 2006. It was originally a Baptist Church and much the original elements were saved. It boasts two separate lofts with a queen and twin bed, a half and a 3/4 bath, kitchen with an island and an open concept dining/family/living room. It was perfect for us, but you could also bring the family along as the couch folds out.

The family has obviously taken a lot of time to furnish and decorate. The converted gas chandeliers were the first in the county. The quilts were a mixture of period, handmade and modern. The wood throughout is all reclaimed in a simple shaker style and absolutely gorgeous. The wood floor shows the cut nails along with the wear of the rollers from the huge divider doors.

While there were the modern amenities like 300 channels of TV and Wi-Fi, I read a book and kept looking around.

We took a break and headed to town for dinner. I had used TripAdvisor to help us choose. Osage my be small but it’s Main Street is vibrant and the people are friendly. We decided on Piggyback Shack and I am so glad we did.

We both ordered the assorted meat plate with a side and cornbread. I had the brisket and shredded pork while my husband ordered the turkey and pork loin. They brought bottles of 8 different kinds of homemade BBQ sauce that had ingredients such as blue berries, raspberries and avocados. I was almost relieved when they served it on a lipped metal baking tray with a pile of napkins and wet wipes…and I did not wear white.

All the meat was nicely smoked, had smoke ring and was very tender. The smoked macaroni & cheese as well the potatoes were both rich and creamy. Nothing could top the cornbread! It was dense and moist served with honeyspun butter.

This restaurant is also known for it’s pies that are made fresh daily. I knew this before ordering dinner, but didn’t save room for dessert.

The only thing I can complain about, sans the 105F degree heat is the spotty cell phone reception. We know when we have reception when our phones suddenly make sounds in rapid succession, but we can’t get messages answered quick enough before we lose reception again. So, if I haven’t answered your email, text, IM, DM, etc, I am not mad at you, nor am I ignoring you.

Upload in 3.2.1 ( while I have WiFi)

Posted in Uncategorized, Vacation

Vacation…All I Ever Wanted…Vacation…Had To Get Away

Those that have followed me are probably wondering what I need a vacation for.  After all, I have been home a total of 12 days in the past 4 weeks.  Now it will be 12 days in 5 weeks.  My husband has not been with me, this is not work related and we need a vacation!

This trip has been talked about and planned for over a year.  It began after I sadly chose bedroom carpet and wood floors in 4 rooms over that year’s vacation.

 

I was blessed with parents who chose vacation.  I was also well-trained for vacation, I can fall asleep in a car immediately after the engine starts.  I love picnic lunches and purchasing postcards and trinkets at tourist traps.  I have genetic wander-lust!

My husband’s family did not do much of this while growing up and unfortunately we did do this at all with our kids.

Therefore, I am on a mission to take a week’s vacation, with my husband, to some of the places I went to as a child.

Today is Day One and the destination is Mount Rushmore.  Yes, 15 hours by car to see 4 past presidents chiselled in stone.  It does sound like Clark’s quest to see Marty Moose.  We did rent an SUV, but I will still be on the look out for Christy driving a fancy red sports car.

I am also keeping a look out fun attractions as we make our way to an AirBnB in Osage, Iowa and looking forward to dinner at a smokehouse that has had great reviews.

#JewelsForThePauper

Where every item is fit for a Queen

But

Priced for a Pauper