Thursday, August 28, 2008

Brain Constipation

I have quite a number of blogs jamming up my brain right now, but for the life of me I can't seem to purge them. Even when I try concentrating really hard, all I seem to get are a few brain farts here and there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Translation: You're Too Fat

I was daydreaming at work today (knock on wood, it's been a little slow) and was remembering our trip through The Badlands last week.

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!!


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Profiting From Others Misfortunes

Our flight out of Rapid City, SD was delayed this morning. Denver was having severe thunderstorms that delayed the plane getting to us and those same storms kept the plane grounded for another hour before we could take off. Our original flight time was 11:40am; we finally took off at 1:45.

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, SD

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.

  1. Martha Jane Canary (Calamity Jane) and James Butler Hickok (Wild Bill) are buried side by side at the local boot hill, Mount Moriah.
  2. Gold was discovered here in 1876, thus the reason for Deadwood’s existence.
  3. Wild Bill Hickok only lived here 6 weeks before he was shot to death by Jack McCall at the #10 Saloon.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Over looking the town of Deadwood from Mount Moriah.

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.

Devil's Tower

Anyone remember the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind? I absolutely loved it as a kid. I haven't watched it in many years, but one of the scenes I remember is when Richard Dryfus recreates the mountainlike vision he's having by piling the mashed potatoes on his plate into the shape of the mountain.

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.

The pictures don’t do it any justice.

The visitor center is right at the base of it, so it’s pretty easy to hike up to and around it. We went about half way around and came back down.

Wild Bill Pickup

One of the attractions of Deadwood are the re-enactments they do of Wild Bill Hickok's murder and the trial of Jack McCall, the man who shot him. There are loads of people dressed in period clothing walking up and down the street, ready with a smile to have their picture taken with you.

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!

Back to The Blackhills

Wednesday morning we left The Badlands and headed back to The Blackhills; Deadwood to be exact.

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.

The massive cliffs and gorgeous pine trees were my only company. They were quite friendly and allowed me to take their picture quite a number of times.

Bridal Veil Falls - it's about halfway between Cheyenne Corner and Spearfish. There's a good size shoulder area here where you can park. Had it not been pooring rain, I would have ventured across the street and hiked about for a bit to get different angles of the falls.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Badlands

Monday morning we left The Blackhills/Mount Rushmore area and headed east to The Badlands. It's only a few hours away and we made it by early afternoon, but both of us were exhausted and we spent Monday doing absolutely nothing. Unless you count napping and blogging as something.

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!

I think these were my favorite. They were this golden yellow on the bottom, vibrant red in the middle and this dark ash grey on the top. Absolutely gorgeous!!

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.

The prairie dogs were everywhere there was a flat grassy area. One of them "barked" at us when she thought we had strayed a little too close to her den. It was a funny little high-pitched chihuahua sounding bark.

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!!

The Badlands National Park

Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, SD

This was a pretty cool site. Back in 1974 a man by the name of Phil Anderson bought the land and was preparing to build houses on it, when earth moving equipment unearthed what later was discovered to be mammoth teeth.

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

Where The Deer and Antelope Play

Sunday was also spent driving through some of the most gorgeous country. A lot of our driving that day took us through Custer State Park where we were treated to tons of wildlife.

Most of what we saw were antelopes; tons and tons of antelope!

We finally happened upon deer. If you look closely you can see that the doe has a collar on. They must be doing conservation studies in the park.

Last, but not least, we saw buffalo. Not very many, but oddly enough, most of the ones we saw were just sitting or standing along the side of the road by themselves. After this guy crossed the road and we could pass, it hit me that I should have taken video of it. As we came upon him, he was walking across the road to the right. As we stopped to take the pic, he decided that the other side of the road was where he wanted to be. It was his road and he didn't care who had to stop while he made up his mind!!

Crazy Horse

Sunday we went to the Crazy Horse Memorial. It was way more interesting than I had thought it would be. I've known about it for years and knew that it's what could be called the neverending sculpture. So I wasn't really sure why I wanted to visit a place that looked like it hadn't changed in 20 years.

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

Mount Rushmore

Or as I like to call it, Rount Mushmore. I've said it twice now, so Rount Mushmore it is. I was dead tired yesterday when we went, and my brain doesn't function that well on a full nights sleep!

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

On My Way

I’m on my way to South Dakota to spend a week with my friend Kathie Ball. We’re going to visit Mount Rushmore, The Badlands, Deadwood and Sturgis. The visit to Sturgis is for my brother Beau. The yearly motorcycle rally is there and I promised him I would stop and get him a shirt. From what I understand, we’ll be there right in the middle of 100,000+ motorcyclists. Not exactly my idea of fun, but I think I can endure long enough to make the purchase!

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

Edouard from the 11th Floor

These were taken from my office windows around lunchtime today.

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

What Not To Wear

My weekday morning routine includes making a cup of ice water to drink on my way to work. Some folks need their coffee; I need my ice water. It doesn't matter how cold it might be outside.

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

Ummmm...speaking of weather!!

Tropical Storm Edouard
National Hurrican Center
Weather Underground (my favorite TS/Hurricane tracking site)
For those of you who may not know, according to the forecast map above, Houston will sustain a direct hit. But, if you can see it on the map, anywhere that it's pink along the coast has the chance of a direct hit.
It's not forecast to be a hurricane at this time, but we all saw how quickly Dolly formed and actually became a Cat2.

Weather or Not

Maybe it's the same in other parts of the world, but it's definitely true here.

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!!