Monday, May 25, 2015

Campground Critters

First and foremost, I want to express my respect and gratitude to all those who lost their lives in service to our Nation.  In loving memory of 1st Sgt. (Ret.) Richard Pinter (1941-2015), known as "The Lone Bugler" who dedicated his retirement years to honoring these heroes by playing taps at 21 ceremonies each Memorial Day Weekend.  We were proud to serve as this patriot's motorcycle escorts for 9 years. 

Now for my regular ramblings...

I’ve made friends with several critters here at Heritage Village Campground!  We have lots of rabbits:  domesticated, wild, and even jack rabbits!  The stables nearby opened recently, so all the horses have been out in the fields.

Peter Cottontail

My Little Ponies

We have loads of Bambi deer out in the surrounding fields.  They always stop to watch me when I walk by—must be my irresistible good looks! 

There’s a llama across the road who is charged with herding the sheep—the Border Collies around here are worried about losing their jobs to this lad.  I love the picturesque pastoral scenes, with the new calves nursing at the mamma cows.

With all the cold, inclement weather, my friend Robin bird decided she needed a warm place to build her nest.  So she selected some prime real estate:   Our solar panel stand!  Can’t wait to see the eggs hatch!

Prime Real Estate for this Robin!
My absolute favorite pal here at the Campground is Bella the Labrador Dog!  She lives with the Campground Host, and is such a friendly, polite lass!  She seems to like me lots—probably because I never fail to bring her a doggie treat!

The snow has finally melted, but thankfully, I snapped a pic of our temporary campground mascot, created by Work-camper Tim!
"Snartwork" (That's snow artwork) by Work-camper Tim
Now we have had what seems to be never-ending rain.  But here was the “silver lining” yesterday:  a beautiful rainbow, complete with a happy little bluebird in the foreground!

Happy Little Bluebirds and Rainbows--They Do Exist Together!

Nice chatting with you, but gotta run!  Mom and Dad actually have a day off together, so we want to go visit some of the sights and have some family fun.  Talk to you soon!


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Stormy Weather

I hope everyone reading this blog has been safe and sound from the crazy weather occurring in parts of the U.S.!  It seems like everywhere we go, the bad weather follows us!


It rained 6 of the 8 weeks we stayed in Livingston, TX.  Less than 48 hours after we left to head north to South Dakota, Livingston incurred a tornado.  We stopped in Oklahoma City to have warranty work completed on the RV—a week later a tornado touched down within a mile of the RV Center, causing severe damage, and, sadly, injuries to many folks.


On Mother’s Day, we had a blizzard here at Crazy Horse!  Visibility was very bad due to the heavy winds, and the snow drifts created 10 foot peaks!  Most of the work-campers could not even get their vehicles out of our campground—Mommy and Daddy included.  They thought they had all their bases covered for transportation to and from work.  After all, we have Big Boomer, they each have a motorcycle, and they each bought the Mickelson Trail pass to walk the 1.5 miles to Crazy Horse.  Unfortunately, they just didn’t factor a blizzard into their calculations!  There was no way they could use the motorcycles.  And Big Boomer would just get stuck in the drifts (as happened to one of the work-campers with his pick-up truck—he had to call a service truck to tow him out!).  Their only option was to walk—after all they do have snowshoes!  Fortunately, a co-worker who lives in Custer said he’d take them in if they met him on the highway.  So they only had to walk about ¼ mile!  Yes, they have “postman” mentality:  neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow stops them from going to work!


Mommy was one of only 2 people who worked the Welcome Center, but it sure was busy!  You wouldn’t believe all the folks who braved the inclement weather to visit Crazy Horse that day!  Daddy’s job was to shovel snow all day (ironic, isn’t it—we sold the sticks and bricks back East ‘cause we didn’t want to do all the household chores and maintenance anymore!)


Last week we had a hail storm!  The day started out with sunshine, then went to rain, then sunshine.  Next thing I know, I hear pounding on the roof of the RV!  It was a hail storm!  Now, today, we awoke to about 4 inches of snow!  Daddy's probably shoveling at work again!  Will someone please ask Mother Nature to check her calendar!  It’s nearly June and supposed to be Spring!


The only “silver lining” is that the Black Hills area was suffering from a drought.  They had a very mild winter, with severely below average snowfall.  There were many concerns about Spring forest fires.  So hopefully this alleviates the problem!


Gotta go--Mommy is off from work today and she just made me a cup of hot cocoa to warm my button nose!  Talk to you soon!
Heritage Village Campground

Heritage Village Campground

That's a lotta snow!

Does Look Pretty, Though!

Some Nasty Clouds!

Hail on our homestead!

Snow on the Mountain!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Hi, Ho, Hi, Ho - Off to Work We Go!

We arrived in Custer, SD on Saturday, May 2, and spent a few days getting reacquainted with the beautiful Black Hills.
The George S. Mickelson Trail is a 100-mile biking and hiking rails-to-trails project that follows the historic Deadwood to Edgemont Burlington Northern Rail Line.  And it runs right by the campground and the entrance to Crazy Horse Memorial, so we can walk to work if we want to.
We went into the center of Custer, stopping at the Chamber of Commerce for our Mickelson Trail passes (well worth the $15/person annually) and taking some photos of the bison statues.  We checked out the local food markets, the ACE Hardware, and of course, the local eateries!

PoPo with Bronze Bison Outside Custer Chamber of Commerce
 Rapid City is about 30 miles away, so we went to do a major supply run at Wal-Mart, Petsmart, and every other "mart" in existence before starting work—don’t want to waste too many of our days off doing food shopping when we can hop on the motorcycles and tour these great lands!


We reported for Job Orientation today at Crazy Horse Memorial, and it was terrific!  We watched the film “Dynamite and Dreams”, an inspiring documentary about the sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski and his dream, the devotion of his wife and children to continuing the project, and the magnitude of the work involved to create this entire complex.  It truly captured my heart and touched my soul.

Crazy Horse Memorial - Notice the Paint Outline for the Stallion!

Best of all, work campers got a tour to the TOP of the mountain, something usually reserved for major donors ($125 per person) and special occasions (the Volksmarch, held in June, allows folks to hike to the top).   

To give you an idea of size of this project:  ALL of Mt. Rushmore would fit inside just the head of the Crazy Horse Memorial!

Traveling to the top, this road runs up the back of the mountain.  Notice that this is a 3-dimensional, in-the-round carving.
Looking over the complex from the top of the mountain.

The Memorial has progressed considerably since my parents visited in 1999.  They had just completed the face at that time.  Now work is focused on the horse’s head and finishing Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm.  Still a tremendous amount of work to do—we won’t see it in our lifetimes.  But a great masterpiece is in the making, and you can’t rush perfection!  After all, it took about 120 years to complete St Peter’s Basilica and 182 years for Notre Dame to be completed!


We are looking forward to seeing the laser light show that projects on the mountain carving, illustrating cultural diversity and promoting harmony among all races.  This is something they did not have in 1999.


Most folks don’t realize that the mountain carving is just one piece of this humanitarian project.   Devoted to paying homage and respect to all North American Indian tribes with a focus on education, they have a huge collection of Native American artifacts in their Museum.  In 1979, they established the Crazy Horse Memorial Indian Scholarship Program, and in 2010 they opened the Indian University of North America!


One of the things we admire most about the Crazy Horse Memorial and its Foundation is that it does not accept government assistance.  It is a nonprofit organization that relies on entrance fees and individual donations to sustain its operation.  Rambling RV Rat thinks this is a wise business decision.  After all, Mt. Rushmore's Presidents were to have bodies carved, too.  Unfortunately, the Feds cut off funding, so all we have are their heads!


I think Korczak is smiling down on the Crazy Horse Memorial from heaven, pleased with the dedication to the continuance of his dream and his life’s work.  And I am so thrilled that as 2015 seasonal staff, we are a part of the dream, too!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Badlands National Park/Buffalo Gap National Grassland

Mom and Dad visited the Badlands previously in 1999, before their RVing days.  They flew to Rapid City and rented a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.  They wouldn't spring for an airline ticket for me nor could we ride 3-up on the motorcycle (Mom didn't have her license yet), so I was left home for my Grandma to rodent sit.  That’s why I am especially excited to be here this time around!
View from the Campground
This place is surreal! It is very early in the tourist season.  I hear not a whisper, see little sign of humans, just me and acres and miles of rock formations dating back millions of years!  Some of the rock tables and plateaus look like how I envision the surface of the moon!  Then I see high peaks, with the rock formations so fragile, crumbly, and dry like paint peeling.   I am in awe they are still standing!  The sun, casting shadows, gives the illusion that the rocks change colors right before my eyes!


Though the area lacks in human life, the wildlife has been prolific!  We encountered dozens of long-horn sheep and prong-horn deer.  Not to mention all my rodent buddies, the prairie dogs (I couldn’t fraternize with them because they are suffering from plague!)  Most importantly to Daddy, we saw a rattle snake!  Unfortunately, none of us were quick enough to snap a picture of it!

Long-horn sheep at Norbeck Pass--look like a set of bookends!
Prong-horn deer

Prairie Dogs
We rode the motorcycles down Sage Creek Rim Road--a moist, rocky, unpaved/ungraded road that prohibited us traveling any faster than 15 miles an hour.  Virtually no one else was on the road, but we hit the jackpot in our animal expeditions—dozens and dozens of bison, right near the road!  These huge, majestic beasts stopped grazing and cast their dark eyes upon us, watching our every move.  I squealed with fright!  Since they can run at speeds up to 30 miles an hour, they could surely overtake us!  Needless to say, we refrained from getting too close and personal for photo taking.

The Beastly Bison on Sage Creek Rim Road
Long-horn sheep along Castle Trail

We enjoyed seeing the back-country and grasslands by completing a 4 mile hike roundtrip from Fossil Trail to Castle Trail.  And while Daddy and I climbed the ladder up the ridge on Notch Trail, Mommy chickened out, worrying she may fall on her attempt to descend (she freaks out with heights sometimes).
PoPo reaches the top of the ladder on Notch Trail

Mom actually did sustain an injury.  She would have liked to say it happened while doing something adventurous like climbing the ¼ mile strenuous ascent of Saddle Pass Trail (We only went up 1/8 mile before she panicked and retreated).  But instead, Mommy just tripped while walking 20 feet on a pressed pebble path to the trash bin at Cedar Pass Campground minutes before our departure.  She’s banged up badly, with a deep gash, bruising, and swelling of her knee, causing her to walk with a limp. We just call her “Gimpy” now. 

The visit to Badland National Park and Buffalo Gap National Grassland has been extraordinary, with the wonders of nature never ceasing to amaze and delight.  It is a “must see” place, and merits a Rambling RV Rat 5-cheese rating.

Mother Nature is amazing - flowers growing in the crevices of ancient rock formations

Badlands/Buffalo Gap earns PoPo's distinguished 5-cheese award