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The Happy Wanderers

Our adventures.

August 2006 Travel Log

8/31/06: Keystone, SD: Yesterday, our 2nd day off for the week, we just spend around the house relaxing with hobbies. Connie spent most of the day filling the home with tantalizing aromas. She LOVES to cook and play with recipes, and I sure don't mind being her Ginny pig for tasting her creations. Her first batch of home made cinnamon rolls were good, but her 2nd batch are delicious! Although she wasn't happy with the new spaghetti sauce recipe, I didn't have any problems stuffing myself. But I also know she'll take the leftover's (there's a lot) and adjust it to her liking. I spent the day working on my web sites and programming the new version of my Military Campground software. So yes, we just lunged around and relaxed. Sometimes, this is just what we need to get re-energized.

By taking a look at our monthly expenses, you can see how workamping benefits us economically. Besides generating some income, expenses are DRASTICALLY reduced. It sure would be nice to keep monthly expenses this low without working, and still be able to move around and explore. Okay, I can dream, can't I?

8/27/06: Keystone, SD: This past week was a week of farewell's. Many of our foreign workers left this past week. We only got to meet a few, and we wished we had more time to get to know them better. Many were from Romania, Czech Republic, and Poland, among other countries. Boy, they sure work hard! Most of them worked 60 - 80 hours a week among 2 or 3 jobs in town. Our assistant manager at the Rushmore Express, an intern from Las Vegas, also left this past week. The shocker was our manager from the Rushmore Express also left with 1 day's notice. She wasn't scheduled to leave for another 6 weeks. Hmmm... We'll probably never know why she and her fiancé left like this. It seems like almost 50% of the various worker's have now left. It sure seems like a VERY SHORT season here. The town is fairly empty and there's not many guests.

A few days ago, we met with fellow Boomers Dave and Diane West, and Soren and Barbara Walther near Custer State Park. When returning home, we saw our firstBison in Custer SP, SD view of a full herd of Bison. Due to the shortage of staff, our work schedule was slightly changed this week. We were off today, but work the next couple nights, then are off again. They were polite and asked us if this was okay. Only for this week, as we want 2 consecutive days off to go on longer trips in the area. Today, we visited the "Mammoth Site" in nearby Hot Springs. This active archeological site has the remains of over 54 mammoths, as well as many other Ice Age creatures. The site was once a sink hole that trapped the unsuspecting animals. A very interesting exhibit of fossils of Columbian and Wooly mammoths.

Mammoth Site, SDMammoth Site, SDMammoth Museum, SD

Afterwards, we visited and took a 90-minute tour of Wind Cave National Park. This cave is now the 4th largest cave in the world. There's over 120 miles of explored cave, in 3 main levels, beneath a land area of about one-square mile. They suspect this is only about 5% of the cave's actual size. About 7 additional miles is explored and added each year. As with the other caves and caverns we've visited in this area, this cave also has it's own personality. Instead of stalactites and stalagmites, the cave is decorated with boxwork. Boxwork is a crystalline formation that predates the cave. Wind Cave is also known for its length and maze-like configuration and passageways. Imagine the 120+ miles of passageways beneath only a square mile of land.

Wind Cave NP, SDWind Cave NP, SDWind Cave NP, SDWind Cave NP, SD

8/20/06: Keystone, SD: It's the beginning of anther weekend for us, and we took advantage of a beautiful day. We headed out early this Deadwood, SDmorning for Deadwood, SD. The entire town of Deadwood is a national historic landmark. Founded in the mid 1800's, the town was known for being rough and lawless. It's also known for Calamity Jane, and "Wild Bill" Hickok. "Wild Bill" was killed in Deadwood, and is buried in the cemetery overlooking the town. Most of the town has kept the look of the 1800's. The town was neat to look at, but it's still primarily a tourist town. Even gambling is legal here. The streets are lined with saloons and gambling halls.

Outside of Deadwood, we stopped at another tourist attraction, "Tatanka, the story of the Bison". This was another of the free touristTatanka, story of the Bison, SD attractions allowed on our pass, and we're glad is was free. The actor Kevin Costner, had dreams of building a fancy resort in this area. His making of the movie "Dances with Wolves" only inspired him even more. He had a local artist create a set of bronze statues of Bison, being hunted by Native Americans. These statues were to be placed at his resort. But Kevin couldn't get any backers for his dream, so he settled on making a small visitors center about Bison, with the statues nearby. It is a pretty area, and the statues are very well done. The scene is of hunting at a Bison drop. This was a method of scaring andTatanka, story of the Bison, SD stampeding the Bison off a cliff, where they dropped to their death. During our visit, the sun was in the wrong location for good photographs. In the small museum, there was a picture of Chief Flying Hawk, of the Oglala band of Sioux. Along with his picture was a quote from this chief. I liked it. It was almost as if he was talking about our RV'ing lifestyle:

"... If the Great Spirit wanted man to stay in one place he would make the world stand still; but He made it to always change, so birds and animals can move and always have green grass and ripe berries, sunlight to work and play, and night to sleep; summer for flowers to bloom, and winter for them to sleep; always changing; everything for good; nothing for nothing." Chief Flying Hawk

 

Since we were in the area, we also drove through Sturgis, SD. This is the infamous town that hosts the large motorcycle rally every year. The rally ended last week, so we knew it wouldn't be crowded for a visit. Maybe we missed something, but we didn't see anything special about Sturgis. Just another nice, small town. I guess since we're not biker's, we don't understand. Another day off tomorrow, and we have plans to see some more Boomer friends who are in the area now.

8/15/06: Keystone, SD: This past weekend was a chore, relax weekend. But it sure went by fast! Besides laundry and shopping, we met with fellow Boomer friends Rob & Kim Johnson. We also worked with Rob & Kim last summer at Lake George Escape. They're workamping in the nearby Badlands, about 2 hours away. It was GREAT seeing them again, playing catch-up and comparing workamping positions. We walked around Keystone and enjoyed a Mexican lunch out. That's one thing I like about small towns. There's not many chain or fast food joints. We have a Subway and a small Dairy Queen. The rest are all local "Mom & Pop" type of restaurants or cafe's.

Now that the motorcycle rally is over, the town seems very quiet. Business has also really dropped dead. Although it's the middle of the summer, it almost seems that the season is over. I guess it actually is, in a few weeks. Labor day is the mark of the end of the season for many businesses. Our hotels will stay open until mid October, and the Express hotel stays open all year. Looking at our hotel reservation schedule, most of our upcoming business is from tourist buses. Tourist buses usually have the more senior tourist and they are TIRED! For a week, or more, they go, go, go and go. Tours try to see as much as they can in a short period of time. I doubt you'll ever find us on a tour, as we would rather slow down and visit sites on OUR schedule. Oh yea, today was payday! Yippee!

8/10/06: Keystone, SD: Wow, it was a busy weekend for us! After I wrote the previous log entry, we headed out for more fun. We started Black Bears at Bear Country, USA, SD.the morning with a visit to "Bear Country, USA". A 3 mile wilderness drive took us on a tour of various fenced in animals. But the highlight was over a hundred Black Bears roaming loose in a few acres of land, along with Timber Wolves. There were bears everywhere! After the drive, there was a short walk around other fenced in small animals. Again, the highlight was the bears. Especially the baby black bears. They were so playful, running, fighting, and climbing (tearing up) some pine trees. I normally only take pictures of animals in the wild, not fenced in or in cages. But Connie couldn't resist photographing the baby bears. Afterwards, we visited another nearby cave, the Rushmore Cave. It wasRushmore Cave, SD completely different than the Crystal Caverns. The Rushmore Cave is also privately operated, and has a narrow path going back into the mountain. At times, we almost had to crawl because of low ceilings. Although there weren't any steep descents as there was in the Crystal Cavern. This cave wasn't anything spectacular, until we came to a large room full of stalagmites. The cave has been well worn with visitor's, and isn't anything like the large National or State Park caves. But still, a fun experience to traverse into the bowels of the earth. Now it's back to work and planning for the next upcoming days off.

8/7/06: Keystone, SD: The Sturgis motorcycle rally has started, and there's no getting away from it. Even though we're almost 60 miles from the main rally in Sturgis, we have have a few thousand bikes all over the place. Some idiot biker had to rev up his overly noisy Harley Davidson for 5 minutes after midnight. While some of the bikes are interesting to look at, we'll be glad when they're gone.

We're on 'our' work weekend and are trying to get out, rather than staying home and doing chores. Yesterday, we visited the CrystalCrystal Caverns, SD. Crystal Caverns, SD.Caverns, which is privately owned. It's an interesting cave, with a steep climb down into the bowels of the earth. The cave has narrow walkways and the "rooms" are not any bigger than our motorhome. Since this cave was created submerged under water, it's full of crystals. Not the usual formations you see in a cave. The crystals have grown all over the place, but aren't especially pretty. The cave has been abused for decades and algae is growing all over the crystals. We then stopped for lunch at Fort Hayes, a rebuilt movie location. You may remember Fort Hayes was the Calvary fort used in "Dance With the Wolves", starring Kevin Costner. The actual location was about 19 miles away from where it stands now. A few of the main buildings used in the movie were dismantled and moved to their current location to become a tourist attraction. Fort Hayes has a western dinner show, which we'll attend later this season. Their $5 lunch was good and it's free to tour the movie set. After being here for 5 weeks, we also finally visited the Mt. Rushmore night lighting ceremony. We had heard it was good and inspiring, and it was. They also have good ice cream there.

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September 2006 Travel Log
July 2006 Travel Log

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Wednesday, 24 July 2019

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