Thursday, August 28, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
We were only a couple miles in and there was a place you could stop and hike, so we decided to hop out and see what we could see. Kathie and I were walking toward the trailhead when this woman and her kids stopped to talk to us.
She was about 5'3" and maybe 120lbs soaking wet. I honestly don't remember all of the conversation (it was pretty short), but basically the last thing she says to us is, It'll be rough for you two. She didn't say, it's a rough hike; no, she said "you two" would have a rough time with it.
I don't remember if I said anything to Kathie right then, but I remember thinking it was pretty funny that Miss Skinny Chick was concerned enough about us Fat Chicks to let us know we would have trouble with the hike.
I know we had a pretty good laugh about it once Kathie had made the hike (I stayed below to take pics) and we were back in the car.
If you click on the picture, you can see Kathie on her way up (center right).
To you skinny folks out there: Thank you for your concern, but keep it to yourself!!
I would never go up to a skinny person at the pool and tell them to avoid the deep end cuz they're going to have a hard time floating!!
HE HE HE!!!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I stepped off the plane from South Dakota at 3:15 and tried in vain to get clear across Denver Int'l Airport in less than 5 minutes to make my 3:20 connection, but to no avail! It was off to the Customer Service Desk I went.
They had me flying standby on the 9:05pm flight, but just a few minutes a go they confirmed a seat for me on the flight.
Come to find out, there are 5 individuals on a flight from San Francisco who won't arrive in time to make their connection to Houston. I feel kinda bad that these folks travel plans are about to go haywire, but I'm very grateful to know I'll be on my way home in a few hours. The next available flight with a confirmed seat was for Monday at 9:55am!
I hope the folks from San Francisco are able to get booked on other flights soon. I was told the next available standby flight was tomorrow morning!
Friday, August 15, 2008
Deadwood is a town steeped in history and there are few things I like more than history. Here’s a short list of some of Deadwood’s history.
- Martha Jane Canary (Calamity Jane) and James Butler Hickok (Wild Bill) are buried side by side at the local boot hill, Mount Moriah.
- Gold was discovered here in 1876, thus the reason for Deadwood’s existence.
- Wild Bill Hickok only lived here 6 weeks before he was shot to death by Jack McCall at the #10 Saloon.
- Each of the plots that minors bought were laid out along the river and numbered. The person who owned #10 built a house on his site. It later became a saloon; hence the name, the #10 Saloon.
- Deadwood got its name because of all the dead wood throughout the forest and along the river.
Wild Bill Hickok's tombstone. The original was made of stone, but people would chip pieces off as a souvenir. This bronze tombstone is a replica of the original.
One of the many colorful old houses. I liked the bear carving.
This has to be THE MOST colorful house in Deadwood. The house is called Raspberry Hill. The picture makes it look purple, but in real life it's definitely a bright raspberry color.
In 1898 the last wagon trains bringing goods and people from Pierre to Deadwood stopped. The railroad was faster and cheaper. To commemorate the 100th anniversary, a wagon train of about 200 people, horses, wagons, etc., set out from Pierre on July 29th and followed the original route the wagon trains took. They arrived today, Friday August 15th, at noon. I'm glad we just happened to be here to see it.
Well, what to my surprise should be just up the road from Deadwood??? That’s right, Devil’s Tower; the mountainlike structure in Richard’s visions.
Kathie has never seen the movie, but she was a good sport and went along for the ride. I say it’s just around the corner. It’s actually about a 50 mile drive over into Wyoming.
I have to say, it’s pretty stinkin’ awesome to see up close and personal.
Kathie and I had been walking up and down the main street of Deadwood and had stopped to eat some ice cream. We were sitting on a bench outside the shop when along came one of the men dressed in costume.
He walked up to us and said hello. I asked if he was Jack McCall and he smiled and said, "No ma'am. I'm Wild Bill Hickok." He told us about the re-enactments, what time they started and where they would be. According to Kathie, he was flirting with me. You can read her account of the conversation here. She gave me a hard time about it the rest of the day! :)
If you could see beyond his really bad, long hair wig and period clothing, he was a pretty good looking guy. I mean hey, he said I was purdy and called me love. What more could a girl want?!? :)
For some strange reason, I didn't have my camera with me when all this happened. So, the picture above is from a different day.
This one's for you, Stacey. He's no Horatio, but...
This is my 100th post!
Kathie needed to get some work done on her grant, so I put $20 in the tank and went for a drive. I had read in one of our (many!!) brochures that there was a scenic drive close to Deadwood, so I found a map, charted my course and set off.
You may notice that most of the pictures are a little "fuzzy." No, my camera wasn't acting up. It was actually raining quite heavily and the clouds were pretty low. Needless to say, I was a bit damp when I got back to the kabin (KOA spelling!).
Below is a map of the drive I took. Even from a topographical map I could tell it was going to be a long and winding road. I left from Deadwood and made my way to Spearfish and then backtracked. It was about two hours there and back.
This is Highway 85 just south of Lead. Even on the big roads, the view is stunning!
The scenic road "started" once I turned onto SR 14A at Cheyenne Corner. The map doesn't show it because it's just that, a corner with a small convenience store.
I never did see a sign giving the name of this river. The road basically followed it all the way to Spearfish. All of the pics below are of the same river.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I don't sleep well in places other than my own bed and according to Kathie, I snore really loud, so neither of us got much sleep the first two nights. I don't know if she's telling the truth or not since I've never heard myself snore!! We stopped at the Wal-Mart on the way to The Badlands and she bought earplugs! Problem solved for her!
Tuesday we were up and on our way to The Badlands. I wasn't sure what to expect. I had heard of The Badlands before and had this vague idea that it was kinda like the Grand Canyon meets Death Valley. Well, it is kinda like The Grand Canyon, but instead of a river slicing through it, The Badlands were once covered by an inland sea. This inland sea eroded The Blackhills and the sediment from this settled in the area. As the sea receded, the water eroded the sediment left behind into what can be seen today.
There you go, my unscientific explanation of how this beautiful landscape came to be. The pictures may portray it as a stark and barren world, but take my word for it, it was teeming with life.
Yep, that's me on the edge of the abyss!
We had an awesome thunderstorm coming in from the west. We managed to miss the rain, but were treated to a lovely showing of lightening and thunder.
Here's some of the life I was telling you about. I was lucky I even saw this guy. The photo makes it seem like he was pretty close, when in reality he was at least 300 yards away. Thank goodness for the zoom on my camera! I have a picture of him without the zoom that gives a better perspective, but I didn't want to send you guys into a picture overdose.
We also saw rabbits and other small rodents, but they were too quick for pics. There were signs everywhere warning us of rattlesnakes. Thankfully we didn't see any of those!!
Since then a total of 55 mammoths have been found in this one area. Scientists believe it was a huge local watering hole created by a sink hole in the land. Bad thing about it were the steep sides; mammoths would fall in, but then were unable to climb back out. As a funny side note, all of the mammoths found were males. Hmmmm....
Visit the Mammoth Site website for more information and history.
Upper right corner is a skull with both tusks. Bottom left are leg bones, spine and ribs.
This is the most complete skeleton they've found so far. Starting at the bottom of the picture are the back legs, then the pelvis, spine, ribs, front legs and the head is underneath the front portion of the body.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Most of what we saw were antelopes; tons and tons of antelope!
Well, lets just say, a lot has been accomplished. The sculpture was started in 1948 and in the museum they have pictures throughout the decades of the work that's been done. When you see the pics, it's very clear just how much has been done.
When all is said and done, the sculpture will be 641ft long by 563ft high. It is massive!! To give you a visual of just how big that is, Mount Rushmore would easily fit in the area just behind Crazy Horse's face.
This is a scale model inside the museum.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
This pic was taken just around the corner from Mount Rushmore. There's a break in the trees as you come around and right there in front of you is George Washington's profile! It was too stinking cool!!!
They have an evening show where the Ranger gives a twenty minute speech on why these four presidents were chosen and what they stand for in American History.
George Washington - Birth: Revolutionary War General
Thomas Jefferson - Expansion: Louisiana Purchase
Abraham Lincoln - Preservation: Saved the Union during the Civil War
Teddy Roosevelt - Development: Conservation of natural wonders
They then show a 20 minute video done by the Discovery Channel about Mount Rushmore and once it's good and dark, they begin the lighting ceremony. It's really pretty cool. I got it on video, but it's pretty grainy. In real life it was awesome. It's so dark outside, but then slowly the monument lights up.
It was really cool! I highly recommend making the trip here just to see it!
Saturday, August 9, 2008
I’m not sure what our schedule will be. We’re “camping” at KOA campsites. They have cabins you can rent and the one we have sleeps 4. It’s actually pretty cool. There’s a set of bunk beds, and a full size futon, a table, small counter area and a bathroom with a shower. It’s pretty stinking small, but big enough for the two of us. I found out the other day that it has a/c and heat. I was a little worried about this as I wasn’t sure what kind of blanket to try and pack. The lows while we’re up there are supposed to be in the upper 50’s and for a girl from Houston, that’s a tad bit on the chilly side. That’s winter weather where I’m from!!! Yes, laugh out loud and make fun. I can take it! :D I decided on my little Navy fleece blanket that Arlene made for me for Christmas a few years ago. That and the sheets I brought will hopefully keep me warm enough. If not, I’ve budgeted for a few trips to Wal-Mart!! I have to go there anyway to get a pillow. I tried packing as lightly as possible, but still didn’t have the room for a pillow.
As I type this, I’m on the plane heading to Denver for a layover. I’m typing this up in Word first and then will post when I get to a hotspot. There’s gotta be wireless somewhere in South Dakota!! :) I’ll try the airport in Denver, but my experience with airport wireless is that it’s pretty dang expensive. Granted, it’s usually good for a month, so maybe I’ll splurge and be able to access it on the layover back home.
I meet Kathie in Denver and we’ll travel together from there in Rapid City, SD. From there we rent a car, drive to our first campsite, settle in a bit (make our bed) and take a nap!! We both are on EARLY flights. Mine took off at 6:30am. On a good day, I’m up at 6:30 to get ready for work. This morning I woke up at 4:36 – THANKFULLY!! I’m not sure what I was thinking when I set my alarm clock for 4:45. I should have left the house at 4:45. As it turned out, I left at 4:54, parked my car at around 5:30, caught the shuttle to the airport, stood in a long security line, made my way to the gate by 6:15, boarded and took off a few minutes later.
Can I just interject here my *love* of airport security and metal detectors? Because of my hurried departure from the house this morning, I got dressed without really thinking. I made sure I knew last night what I was going to wear and had it out and ready, but for some reason I forgot about which bra I should wear. You may be asking yourself, why does it matter which bra you wear when you travel. Well, in my case, it makes a lot of difference. I buy my bras from Omar the Tent Maker because he carries my size (none of your business!! LOL) and uses plenty of rebar, I mean underwire, to keep the twins somewhat stationary. This steel reinforcement affords me a great amount of stability, but sets off metal detectors. I’ve grown accustomed to having my boobs patted down by a TSA worker.
The flight so far as been uneventful. Each seat has a TV you can pay to watch and I was willing to shell out the money, but the card swipe wasn’t working. Guess it worked out anyway, I wasn’t really all that excited about the selection of movies. The previews showed Prince Caspian and I was all set to watch that, but it wound up not being available.
The guy sitting next to me is very nice. Talkative, but not overly so and he shared his breakfast with me! :)
I'm at the Denver airport waiting on my connecting flight into Rapid City. I bumped into Kathie at the arrival/departure monitors. We're both exhausted from the early flights. Both of us can't wait to get to the KOA and nap!! At this point, I don't care if the rest of the day is spent sleeping!! Hello!, this is vacation after all!
No pics yet. The Denver airport looks much like any other airport. I thought I would try getting a pic of the mountains, but much to my surprise, they are pretty far off in the distance and shrouded in haze.
One funny note: The airplane had individual little TVs that displayed a map of the US, current speed and altitude. As we descended into Denver I was watching our speed and alt, but couldn't see much out the window. All of a sudden at 5336ft the airplane touched down. For almost a minute I thought the map/altitude thing was broke. Um hello, we touched down, we should be at 0 elevation.
Yeah, took me a second to realize Denver isn't called the mile high city for no reason.
Yes, go ahead, laugh at me! I come from a particularly flat part of the world!!
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
It's been *breezy* all day with quite a bit of, as Forrest Gump would call it, sideways rain.
Honestly, I was expecting a lot more drama. I haven't seen one bolt of lightening or heard one crash of thunder all day long! Ummmm, where did the storm part of this Tropical Storm go???
Oh well, at least we're getting some much needed rain.
Monday, August 4, 2008
So, I'm leaving the house this morning with my purse, snack for later, cup of ice water and my keys; same juggling act every morning.
With a bit of a twist this morning. This morning I decided to drop my cup of ice water into my lap as I was getting in the car.
I drink the ice water to wake me up in the mornings, but hadn't tried this method before!!
Note to anyone reading: Spilling the ice water in my lap did help in waking me up. Not too surprisingly, it's more effective than drinking it. But, unless you want to walk into work looking as though you just peed your pants, I suggest the drinking method.
In record time I'm out of the car and back in the house, flinging my soggy pants into the dryer. Heaven forbid I washed cloths this weekend and had something else to just put on instead.
Anyway, 15 minutes later my pants are dry and I've made another cup of ice water (I should have just left well enough alone!).
I arrived at work just fine, but decided to go out for lunch. Thanks to a semi truck and his inability to figure out which lane he wanted to drive in, what was left in my cup was flung all over the radio/ac area and into the drivers side floor board.
Thankfully, I escaped without getting completely doused again, but the same can't be said for my radio and ac. Fingers crossed it won't short anything out!
I'm hoping for a better Tuesday, but I'm afraid I'll be wet before getting in the car thanks to TS Edouard.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
National Hurrican Center
Weather Underground (my favorite TS/Hurricane tracking site)
If you don't like the weather, wait 15 minutes!
With the high today of 100 degrees, imagine my surprise when I start to notice that it's getting dark outside. It's late afternoon, but 5:23pm isn't sunset at this time of year.
The temperature is now 85 degrees with some pretty gusty winds.
Granted, this is Houston and when this line of thunderstorms passes by, it'll be back up into the 90's before bedtime. But wait, what you can't tell from the pic above is what direction the line of thunderstorms are coming from. Oddly enough they are coming in from the NE. Looks like we might get another storm in about an hour.I love it!!