Archives for August 2013

Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 – Travel Day with Tunnel Trouble

Woke up to the unfortunate sound of rain on the roof this morning, making everything wet just before we packed it up, although once it passed through there wasn’t a cloud in the sky! That helped dry a lot of things out just in the nick of time. Managed to get everything packed and were out of there by 9:00 or so. Followed the route I had previous planned, which quickly turned out to be a mistake. I thought the west side of the Black Hills wouldn’t be as twisty and windy as the east side when we came in, but within a couple of miles we came to a tunnel, which turned out to be impassible. The height was okay for us, at 12’2″, but the width was marked at 9 feet. Thinking of my other RV, which was 8 feet, I figured I could make it and started through, slowly. I forgot this new unit is actually 100+ inches, more like 8 1/2′, which, with the awning and slide toppers on both sides, actually made me wider. I soon realized I couldn’t make it, so we had to back out, which is when I caught one of the slide toppers on the edge of a protruding piece of rock, so we tore it up a bit, unfortunately. But we managed to get out okay, and fortunately there was a dirt road leading up to a logging area that was convenient for us to turn around, though we did hold up a little traffic in the process. So we headed down to the nearest detour, which took us through the entrance to Custer State Park (which we had avoided by coming from the north previously, otherwise I think we would have had to pay an entrance fee), through the town of Custer, past the Crazy Horse memorial carving, and on to the Willow Creek Horse Camp, which was just off the main road, so all of the roads going that way were easy and straightforward, with no more excitement, thank goodness. We quickly found our spot, which was a bit odd, with us on one side of the road and the highline for the horses on the other, but no big deal, we can still see them out the back window. The place is empty, and we can certainly understand why. They consider this a group camp, but the size of the sites aren’t much bigger than a single , or at most a double site in most other places, yet they charge an exorbitant fee for them. I’m guessing that’s because the KOA across the street charges twice or three times as much for horsecampers, and you think that would be an influence, but obviously most people have concluded it’s not worth it. For example, we’re in a site that’s rated for two rigs and 6-8 horses (though I don’t know how they figure that, it would be more than 2 horses per highline), and it’s $44 per night, with no Golden Age Passport discount allowed apparently. So it’s going to be an expensive weekend, and that’s just for camping! Anyway, after getting set up and putting the horses on their anchors so they could graze, we disconnected the van and I ran into town to the Post Office to pick up mail, though there was only the Dish receiver and not the hearing aid. Apparently, the UPS truck doesn’t arrive until just before the post office closes at 2:30, so I would have to come back then. I ran down to a little grocery store and found an open Wi-Fi signal nearby, so I spent some time on the computer looking for replacement parts for the slide topper, as well as a new motor cover for the main awning, I apparently just brushed that too. I heard from one local store in Rapid City that there was a hailstorm going on there, even though all we had was a few clouds in Keystone. Eventually I found out all I needed, and just as I was getting ready to go into the grocery store, a UPS truck pulled in front of me and parked! I ran out to see if I could get my package from him, and sure enough, after he finished his drop off, he found my other package, saving me from another stop at the post office. That done, I ran into the grocery store for bacon and ice cream, then back to camp, which only took about 10 minutes by this nice road, and discovered Hubby had managed to get a good satellite signal using the old receiver, so all I had to do was plug it in and within minutes, it was ready for activation. Which means we needed to find a way to call and get it activated, and there’s no phone signal here, surprisingly. We headed across the street to the KOA for two reasons, one to activate the Dish and the other to send in Hubby’s quarterly heart monitoring, which we needed a landline for. After checking around, we ended up at the lodge, where the woman was extremely helpful, even taking us up to one of their hotel rooms to plug into one of their phone, because that was the only one with the right end. Then we went to restaurant row (also in KOA) and there were a couple of courtesy phones, where I could make my Dish 800 call with no problem, and by the time we got back, the Dish was up and running and we had achieved all of our goals for the day. Eventually I put up our highline on the poles here (though they have a cable, I don’t like to use them because the horses can’t move around as much), and settled in for the evening, at last recording some new programs and back to being able to pause and hold live TV, something we haven’t been able to do since the hard drive crashed!

Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 – Rest Day

We all had a nice quiet rest day today, did some computer work, watched a few movies, generally relaxed most of the day, except for putting a lot of stuff away in anticipation of our move tomorrow.

Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 – Ride Day to Mt. Rushmore!

Well, the day arrived, and we were met with the perfect combination of clouds and sun, even though the forecast had been predicting a 30% change of rain. It was going to be a bit warm, but we figured in the forest it would be cooler, and we were right. After breakfast, we walked down to the water trough, then to the horse trailer just a few more steps away, and got saddled up, booted (with my new Cavallos that I had picked up at the post office in Keystone on the way in, having lost one in the Badlands earlier in the month), and on our way by 11:00. We headed up the Centennial Trail (the same one we travelled on up in Ft. Meade), climbing through some rough rocky terrain (so happy we had boots on!) until it flattened out a bit on the other side and we enjoyed some long stretches of fairly easy trail where we trotted quite a bit, through narrow meadows, across brooks and streams, climbed a few more rocky stretches, until we reached the well-marked turnoff to the Mt. Rushmore monument, crossing into national park boundary where the trail got very challenging, lots of rough stretches of rocky trail, until we arrived at the end of the line, where we met up with a half dozen other riders, including the four women parked next to us at the horse camp. With Hubby staying behind, I walked over to the monument for a closer look, wandering through the visitor center and taking lots of pictures so Hubby can enjoy them later. I think I’ll suggest we drive back here so that Hubby can see it in person. We’ve been here once before, very briefly, back in ’87 or ’88, and it seems they’ve added a lot since then (if memory serves, which it may not : -), and I know he’d enjoy the extensive exhibits on how they build it. They were also playing a recording of the MLK “I have a dream” speech, since it’s the 50th anniversary this week, which added a certain atmosphere. After wandering around a bit, I walked back to the trailhead, where Hubby and I had a quick lunch, took a few pix with Mt. Rushmore in the background, then headed back up the trail the way we had come. With several stops for well-deserved grazing on some clover along the trail, we made it back by about 4:00, dumped a few buckets of cool trough water on the horses to cool them off, got everyone settled in for the night, enjoyed two movies back to back before heading off to bed.

Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 – Rest and Chores Day

No luck getting an internet signal this morning, except to download some of my email (though not all). Had an easy breakfast, and afterward, the camp host came by to say that we didn’t need to move the horse trailer all the way out of the campsite, that we could move it down next to the manure dumpster, which is only about 100 feet away! Fabulous! Now we don’t have to unload all our saddles and other equipment, we can just walk the horses down, as usual. Fantastic! We got a few last minute items out of the trailer and moved it down there after breakfast, with Hubby in a much better mood now, he wasn’t looking forward to having the horse trailer so far away. I still couldn’t get on the internet, but I had to make a phone call, so on the suggestion of one of our departing neighbors, I climbed up the hill to our west, which did indeed, produce two bars on my phone, enough to make a phone call. Hubby spent the day repairing one of our collapsible rain barrels, as we had discovered a few leaks, and wanted to put a new cock on it. He found an old can of that rubber sealant stuff, you know the one they spray onto a screen that has been fitted into the bottom of a boat? He figures that should fix it up, fingers crossed! I did some writing and resting, and kept making attempts to get on the internet, so far no luck! That’s okay, this is the slowest week of the year anyway, except between Christmas and New Years! No one will miss us this week!

Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 – Travel Day to Iron Creek Horse Camp

Didn’t worry about an alarm this morning, as according to everything I’ve seen, it’s less than 60 miles, and isn’t supposed to take that long. Nevertheless, we were packed up and moving by 10:30, stopping at the interstate rest area to use their dump (I love it when that happens!), Tractor Supply, and RV store next door to pick up a 10′ hose, Flying J just up the service road for propane, Perkins down the road for breakfast, Wal-mart for shopping, the Keystone Post Office for my general delivery mail (though they officially closed at 2:30, it was already past 3:00 when we got there, but when I knocked, the lady was kind enough to give me my mail), gas at the only station in town for generator gas, then finally on our way, much later (as usual) than we had planned. Then we started twisting and turning up Iron Mountain, mostly 15-25 mph, with sharp curves, tunnels with 12’2″ clearance we barely squeaked through, and a few lovely signs warning large vehicles that travel on this road wasn’t recommended for vehicles over 40′ (yeah, right). Saw some lovely views, and even though it’s only about 5 miles from Keystone to the campground as the crow flies, it was much longer by road, and we ended up arriving around 4:00! This campground is just one large loop, but the center is fenced off so it’s unusable and the sites are essentially just parking along the edge of the loop, no back-ins, and only room for one vehicle. There were nice big round pens for each campsite, so we quickly got the horses squared away. Since the site next to ours wasn’t going to be occupied until tomorrow, we left the horse trailer in it, since all of our stuff for horse care was in it. It seemed we would have to park the van and trailer outside the campground on the side of the road, so we decided to break out a little canopy that we had bought years ago and never used, and put it over the picnic table. Between that and the awning, we figured we’d have enough room to keep all our horse food, saddles, and everything else we would need, so we wouldn’t have to run all the way out to the horse trailer for stuff. It actually turned out to be pretty easy to put up (despite the instructions recommending three people!), we managed to do it pretty quickly, and it did create a nice covered “porch”. It was hot enough that Hubby broke out both generators so we could run the air conditioning for awhile, though fortunately the temps dropped well into the sixties by the time we turned them off shortly after dark. Had just enough of an augmented cell phone signal to check my email and do a little web surfing before I lost the signal again. Got the satellite up and running (though the receiver hard drive crapped out, so we only have live TV, yuck!!!) but we found an old Clark Gable, Yvonne DeCarlo, Sidney Poitier film that was perfect, with no commercials, so the evening turned out to be quite nice.

Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 – At Last, A Ride at Ft. Meade!

Apparently all of the walking around yesterday helped Hubby’s back, because he woke up this morning feeling pretty darn good, so we decided to take a short ride today, as we really hate to leave a place without riding at least once! I had found a mountain biker’s trail map and created a loop that was half Centennial Trail, half the biker’s trail, programmed it into the GPS and off we went! Passed a family picking wild plums, which I’d never seen before, and the mother gave me one to try. Small, with a big pit, and the skin was pretty astringent, but you could tell the fruit was going to be lovely with a few days of ripening. Reminded me of my persimmons back home, very astringent when eaten slightly green! We headed across a meadow on the clearly marked Centennial trail, having to go through several gates along the way, then a steep climb up the hill to a beautiful view of the freeway and the Black Hills to the south and west, and several places with a good view of Bear Butte, THE landmark for this valley, a geographical anomaly that looks like a giant sleeping bear in the middle of the plains, visible for many, many miles, probably why they chose to build a fort near it, so the troops could find their way home! Rode along the ridgeline for awhile, before coming back down the hill on a longer, gentler slope. Got a little unsure when we reached the road, but stayed on the Centennial trail, and following my GPS, went around a little pond where a young couple was sitting, then headed back up the hill again, though not as steep or long. Eventually we came to the top, which was mostly meadow, and finally came to the turnoff that took us away from Centennial and on to the biker’s trail, which was really more our cup of tea anyway. A fairly narrow, single track trail that hung onto the side of the hill for quite a ways, until we came around to a nice long meadow where we had a nice canter, then a switchback to take us parallel to the utility lines, then finally right back to the Centennial trail, and to camp. All told it was just about two hours, a perfect length for Hubby to see how his back went. He survived! We did some chores afterward, though, in preparation for our departure tomorrow, and by the time we settled down for the evening, he was a bit achy again, though no where near as bad as earlier this week. Just glad we had a chance to ride here, and to discover a number of other trails and grasslands for next time!

Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 – Birthday, and First Day Out in a while

For the first time in four and a half years, when I reached for my bottle of water for a drink this morning, I didn’t suffer a twinge of pain in my shoulder! I’ve been suffering for so long, I’m not even sure how to deal with it! I sure hope this is hre to stay! I’ve been working on it almost every day, with miniscule progress that I sometimes wonder is doing any good, but apparently it has, because this is a major breakthrough! And what a great way to start my birthday! Hubby feeling much better, so we decided to do some special things today and try taking a short ride tomorrow. After a leisurely breakfast, we drove down to Ft. Meade to tour the grounds and stroll around their very comprehensive museum, which filled us in on a lot of the history of the area as well as the fort. Afterward, we drove down to Deadwood for a car show festival they were having down there, had dinner at a wonderful little restaurant (and former brothel) called the Deadwood Social Club for a fantastic dinner, (with a piece of cheesecake for my birthday dessert) walked the streets to view the cars, listened to a little music from the live stage, then headed out so that we got home just before the sun went down, and took care of the horses which were patiently waiting for us. Settled down for the remainder of the evening, though our satellite receiver died again, and the hard drive crashed, but we managed to get it on enough to watch live TV. Ordered a new one, due in Keystone on Wednesday. Indulged in a little brandy before getting to bed, after a fabulous day! Hoping to get a ride in tomorrow.

Friday, Aug. 23, 2013 – And Again

Hubby starting to feel better, I gave him a nice massage and we’ve been doing some stretches to relief what has now become a bout of sciatica. Felt much better by the end of the day, looking forward to doing some other activities tomorrow!

Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 – Same Again

Another day of rest for Hubby, more computer work for me!

Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013 – More Rest and Work

Spent the day working on logistics for future destinations and letting Hubby rest.