Friday, July 30, 2010

Sturgis/Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway











Today we decided to take a drive starting with Sturgis. The big annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally starts August 9th but we are already starting to see a lot of motorcycles. The expected attendance is around 500,000. Rapid City and Sturgis are small towns and this is a big boom for them. We drove through Sturgis and there were already lots of stands set up with Sturgis t shirts for sale. We drove on to Deadwood but it was getting close to a Rodeo Parade and people were sitting in front of the stores waiting for it. Deadwood is an old mining town and is now a National historical landmark. It looked interesting but we decided to stop by here another time. We kept on driving through the spearfish Canyon byway, another very pretty drive. We saw a waterfall and stopped to take some pictures of the area.
We went back to Mount Rushmore during the evening as we had been told that they spot light the monument once it is dark and it is pretty dramatic. First they have a short film about it and then they asked anyone who was in any of the armed forces or peace corp or who had been in the past to come up on stage. They were given a hugh round of applause. Then they shined the spot lights on the moument. It was dramatic and everyone was feeling patriotic as you would expect.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Water Water Everywhere





























It started out a sunny day and we decided to go to Lake Sheridan that we had gone by earlier this week. We put in our kayaks and were taking a leisurely and enjoyable paddle. There were a few people doing some water skiing. We also saw some people jumping off a cliff into the water. Looked fun. As we started ending back, we noticed some dark cloulds coming nearer. THey soogot closer and darker. WHen we were almost back, we heard some thunder. We got the boats on top of the Jeep without any raindrops on our heads. We had only driven for about 10 minutes or so when we started getting some rain. We went a little farther down the road and saw a number of cars on the side of the road. We noticed some hail on the road and stopped to take some pictures. SOme of the hail looked as big as golf balls. I took a picture attached here of the trees. The white you see that looks like snow is hail. We started down the road and we in total shock. There must have been about 50 cars on the side with broken windows, front and back in all the cars. We felt a few hail on our car that must have been the last of it. We were glad that we didn't hurry to much when paddling back as we probably just missed this hail storm by minutes. We felt sorry for all the people with their damaged cars. Again we were lucky that the storm missed the campground just got a lot of rain. What an interesting day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Custer State Park






















Custer State Park is one of America's largest state parks. There are 71,000 plus acres of prarie fields, serene lakes and rugged granite mountains. You should be able to see plenty of wildlife. There is elk, antelope, moutain goats and sheep, deer and 1,500 head of bufallo. We got some pictures of some of these. You drive through windy roads and through small tunnels, several of which are only good for one car at a time . We had to honk to let people at the other end know we wanted to come through. Motorhomes have a different way to get into the camping areas in the Park. We just drove through the area. Plan to try to come back to do some hiking later this week.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Badlands
















Monday we just went down to America's Mailboxes to change our address from the Texas one we got in June. As we had decided not to become Texas residents due to Driving License testing and other requirements, we later decided South Dakota was the way to go. We had read or talked to a number of people who said how easy is was. Boy they were right. We got our new address and the people at America's Mailboxes also took care of going down to city hall and getting our car and motorhome registered and also getting our license plates. We just had to give them paperwork on the vehicles. No inspection of the units were needed. Tuesday morning we went to the DMV. From the time we went in the door, it only took about 30 minutes. The people who worked there were great and so friendly. We gave them our passports, SS cards and filled out form with new address, etc. We then just took the eye test and got our new pictures taken. Minutes later we had our brand new permanent licenses. Amazing, compare that to California DMV's which everyone there dreads going to. We are now South Dakotians. Actually this was the seventh state we have been in on this adventure and My, Nikki's, first state I hadn't been to before. So far we think very highly of this state.





Our scenic adventure for the day was to go to the Badlands, about a little more than a hour drive away from Rapid City. We first stopped at Wall as they advertise and advertise all along the drive there about the famous Wall Drug Store. Well we got there and it was big but had all the standard stuff you see at all the gift ships at all the tourist spots. Not impressive to us but lots of people there and so appeals to a lot of people.





We were much more impressed with the Badlands themselves. You are driving through lots of grasslands(also went through Buffalo Gap Natiional Grassland. Brings to mind "Amber waves of grain" from America the Beautiful. Then you stop and walk to a lookout and look out unusual rock formations. A lot of ancient fossils of an arry of estinct animas have been found here and some can be found in the vistor center and museum there. Often you would see a lot of wildlife but we weren't there at the right time of day.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pactola Lake and Mount Rushmore











We decided to take a drive to check out some of the lakes for possible kayaking later in the week.




Once you get out of the main section of Rapid City, you are in forest areas. More great scenery.




We stopped at Lake Pactola to take some pictures and went into the vistor center. The Lake is the largest reservoir in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Under it is the submerged town of Pactola and an old mining camp from back in the 1870's. Rapid City also had a really bad flood and some areas were not rebill and made into parks. So they have quite a few parks through the center of town. We also went by another lale called Sheridan Lake which we are thinking of kayaking this week.




We decided as we were in the area to go ahead and go to Mount Rushmore. You see pictures of it but it is really awesome to see in person. It was really interesting to read about how it started and how the sculpturing was done. It took 14 years to complete but only 6 and a half years of actual work due to weather amd monetary shortfalls. At first it was to have Old West heros carved into the granite spires of the Needles area in the 1020's and the idea was to promote tourism. Then Gutzon Borglum, a noted artist was convinced to get involved. He was the one who thought of having carvings of Presidents and using a southerly facing body of granite (for proper illumination by the sun) in the Keystone area. It then becamemore of a memorial and Borglum insisted that vistors never be charged to see the sculputure. Though these days there is a parking fee. Most of the sculpting was done by specialized methods for blasting and shaping the granite. There were also smaller models of the 4 Presidents and then measurements ajusted for the actual sculptures.

Colorado Springs through Wyoming to South Dakota


We just took it easy the rest of the week. Were thinking of going to Pikes Peak but wanted to go real early and it was still raining some. Decided to do that another time. Thursday I was able to get my permanent crown put in. So we decided to pull out Friday morning. Stopped one night at a road side RV spot about an hour past Cheyenne. I guess it was a good one night stop place as we actually got one of the last spots. There was a big event in Cheyenne that weekend called Frontier Days and I think a lot of people were headed there. Next day we made our way to the Lazy J RV Resort in Rapid City, South Dakota. We will be here for about 10 days.

Attached just a picture taken from the MHome during the heavy rains in Colorado Springs. You can kind of see the big raindrops.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Garden of the Gods


















We decided to go to the Garden of the Gods Park. It is near the town of Manitou Springs. It is a registered national natural landmark and is free to the public. It has dramatic views with towering sandstone rocl formations against the backdrop of Pikes Peak. They have lots of trails to explore and great picture taking. It was one of the busiest places we have been so far. A great place for families to come and being free didn't hurt.


After we were done exploring and admiring the scenery, we went into Manitou Springs, which is a charming little town. We had lunch at a small european cafe and sat outside watching all the people go by. I had pork goulash over potato pancakes which was very good.
On the way back, we started getting rain. We stopped at Camping World and when we left and started back through town, it was pouring. All the corners were flooded. When we got back to the campground, it hadn't rained yet but within a hour or two, it arrived and rained hard for several hours. We read the next day that Colorado Springs got 4 or 5 inches in an hour. They had flash flood warnings as well.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Off to the Dentist I go

One of the reasons we decided to spend sometime close to a bigger city was so I, Nikki , could go to the dentist due to my broken molar. I called a dentist and luckily was able to get an appointment that day. In fact within the hour. We got ready in a hurry and were able to find the dentist office without a problem. The dentist said that if it had to break, it was a good break. No special work, just a crown. She fitted me with a temporary crown. At first she said it would be two or three weeks until the permanent one would arrive. As we were talking about the fact that Joe and I would probably have to go on to South Dakota and then come back, she said she would check with someone who does rush work for them sometimes. They said they could and she said she would overnight the mold for the new crown today and the company doing the work would make the crown and overnight it. We would have it by Thursday or Friday at the latest. If it was Friday, the dentist said she would come in on what was their day off, to cement the new crown in. It would cost $100 for the rush job, shipping and all but this is definitely worth it. It would cost more in diesel to have to come back here from South Dakota. Everyone in their office is so nice and made it an easy experience.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bye to South Fork Hello Colorado Springs


Sunday morning we went to the last get together for a small breakfast. We said our good byes to all and wished everyone safe journeys. We are on the road again but not a real long drive. We arrive at Mountaindale Resort in Colorado Springs in the middle of the afternoon. It is about 20 miles south of Colorado Springs's center of town. Once you get out of the city, you are in the midst of lots of trees and greenery. The campground itself is very nice. We have a great pull through spot on a second level. The spots in the area where we are have nice views of the trees and hills out the window, not just views of the motor homes next to you like some places we have been. See picture of a fox taken from the motorhome.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Where the Deer and the Antelope Play











Saturday was our last run. We met at 700 AM to get an early start hoping we would see some wildlife. We were driving along and first saw what someone thought might be a mule deer. It was a little too far away to tell for sure. However, soon we saw what turned out to be a herd of antelope. They were closer and so we were excited to see them. After that, our lead jeep was having some weird noises and decided to go back into town to see what was wrong. Another couple went with them in case they had any problems along the way. We found out later it was just a rock sitting on the brake line. better to be save than sorry as they say. We had been a small group to begin with it and so now were only three jeeps. We continued on our way seeing some of the sites but got back early afternoon.








Just took it easy rest of the day and had a good last dinner with the whole group.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bristol Head















On this run, we went NW of Creede. More great views. Lots of rocks all over the road near the top. Just real slow going. But a phenomenal view at the top. Had lunch here while checking out the views. Brristol Head clilmbs to 12,713 feet.






On the way back, we stopped for ice cream. Their one scoop looked more like 3 scoops. THey really piled it on. Very tasty.






As Nikki's birthday, we went out to dinner at a place called Chalet Swiss. What a find!! The owner is also the chief. We decided to have just appetizers and then some delicious lobster bisque to share instead of a full dinner. We had mussels in a very good sauce and swiss raclette, which is a melted cheese dish garnished with pearl onions, cornichons(baby pickles) and small potatoes. We also had Escargots Vaudois, which is served in the traditional escargot dish with a escargot in each of the six spaces in the dish. It was in a home made herb butter, which included curry. We mopped up every bit of sauce with our bread. Just wonderful. They also have fondue, which one of the girls next to us who ordered it gave us a bite. Wish we had time to go back there and have that as well.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rat Creek and Continental Divide














Wednesday was a day off and Joe did some catch up with work. Otherwise, we just took it easy.





Thursday was another run. There were two different groups and the plan was to start from both ends of the trail and meet at the Continental Divide where there is a great open space on the top of the mountain with 360 degree views. Our group had the run that was mostly uphill. In fact, the last little part before we reached the summit was very steep and we all had to go one at the time. Again just fabulous views.










Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More 4 Wheeling - Elwood Pass











Another run, this time to Elwood Pass(11,75 feet). We actually made it up to the summit of Grayback Mountain which was 12,616 feet. Along the way we stopped a number of times to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. Some people brought their dogs and they really had a great time playing each time we stopped. See picture of two of the dogs playing.I talked to some people who ended up taking 500 or so pictures over a few days period. We had a few tricky spots and some water crossing which were fun. We stopped for lunch and then some of the group continued on a dirt road to travel home throught Wolf Pass for long drive on pavement but with pretty scenery. We had gone that way on our way to South Fork. It was pretty steep and slow going. We passed a good size water fall but being in motorhome at that time, didn't stop. For our run, we were one of those who went back the way we came but with a little detour for some different views.

We got back and went to Happy Hour. Dinner that night was hamburgers and/or hotdogs. Always lots of conversations about different places everyone has been and planning to go to. Some people have been traveling and living in their motorhome for up to 15 years. Others are still working and have a house but try to travel as much as possible, like us up to a few months ago. Some have a rv resort home base they own and travel most of the time. Interesting mix of people and everyone so nice.