Sunday, May 31, 2009

May 31, 2009 Murdo to Mitchell, SD and Storm

The day started out warm and became hot and sunny. Why not go to Mitchell, then, huh? On the way we crossed the Missouri River again. Remember our ventures a few weeks ago learning about Lewis and Clark? They also traveled through here. It is still mind blowing to learn that these people were traveling against the current of this mighty river, pulling their huge barges with ropes while wading in the river edge and walking along the river bank, when they could. When we pulled into Rondee's RV Park in Mitchell, we set up and, naturally, took a nap. A quick spin into downtown gave us the opportunity to see The Corn Palace. The pictures you see on the walls are all ears of corn and the rest are native wheats and straws from the area. These are changed every year, freshening the appearance and giving the birds some fresh feed. We will visit it up close and personal this week and let you know what we find. As we were returning to the campground, we noticed the northern sky was darkening. Soon a Severe Thunderstorm Warning was sounded and the storm was just north of us. The wind had been blowing steady with gusts of over 35 MPH and then died down considerably for this storm. We could see the rain and hail in the sky falling about five miles north of us. It is raining now but there is a sunny sky to the west - relief is on the way. We will spend the next couple of days doing some preventative maintenance on the Monty and then on to Sioux Falls and environs.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

May 30, 2009 Murdo, SD

We escaped The Badlands unscathed and are now in Murdo, SD. We are at the American RV Park and Motel, a Good Sam Park. We will only spend one night here and then on to a couple of nights or so at Mitchell, SD. We are trying to set up our bill payments on-line and so are taking today and probably into Monday to try to get it all straight. Murdo is a really small town that has only an Old Car Museum and a couple of motels and restaurants for this museum. We will not go there but, when we get to Mitchell, we will go to the "world's only" Corn Palace. The outside of this arena is sided every year with local corn and wheat, etc making it probably the worlds biggest bird feeder. We'll let you know more about it when we actually see it. (I know you can't wait! Us either!)

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009 The Badlands Again!

Every time we look at a sight in The Badlands, we see something different! The lighting, the color, the wildlife - something has changed ever so slightly. The Indians called this area "Bad Land" and, when the French settlers first came to this area, they named it Bad Land. The bottom suddenly drops from the prairie leaving crevasses and lava formed spires and no crops can be grown here. The prairie grass that is here is great feed for the livestock that roam the area and for the native Mountain Goats, Big Horn Sheep, White Tail and Mule Deer, Pronghorns and Bison that are abundant here. Carol has been seeing wild mountain flowers growing out of the rocks and so here is one that she can take with her forever! Nothing I wouldn't do for that lady! The raw, rugged beauty of The Badlands is stunning and beautiful! Carol also loves the shades of pink found in the rock formations here. They are featured in many of her photos. We saw a Mule Deer "bouncing" away. They do a sort of bounce/leap when they run. There are some really big cows around here. Must be the good prairie grass and clean air. The horses were frisky today, many running and loping instead of merely feeding their faces! Our lunch stop for the day was a beautiful scenic overlook from a back road we took to the top of Sheep Mountain - just us, the sky and the beautiful vista below us - WOW!!! When finishing our lunch, a nice couple from Arkansas stopped by and took our photo. Contented looking couple, eh? We have never seen a Long Horn steer with this large a rack! We saw the mountains of The Black Hills off in the distance and they reminded me of "...for purple mountains majesty..." This evening we were taking our evening drive through The Badlands and called my sister to sing "Happy Birthday" to her. We have a family tradition of calling sisters, children, grandchildren on their birthdays and singing for them. I couldn't carry a tune in a bucket but we never miss. It was so good this time that even the rock formations liked it hence the photo of the Smiley Face found in the rocks using the shadowing of the setting sun. Soon it was getting dark and the formations still were wonderfully beautiful. Finally we saw a great sunset that said "Good Night!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009 The Badlands at evening

We arrived in Wall, SD in mid-afternoon and did not arrive into The Badlands until early evening. We thought that we could just take a quick peek and see what we would get to tomorrow. Late afternoon and sunset in The Badlands is beautiful. Soon after we entered The Badlands we saw that we were being watched by a Mountain Goat or sheep, not sure at this time which. This area is very strange. One drives along looking at grassy plains and all of a sudden the bottom seems to drop out of the ground in multiple locations and huge rocky, colorful buttes rise. There are very few trees and a lot of grassy plains. We saw huge herds of Bison in the valleys grazing and drinking from the streams. Some of the areas look like I would imagine a moonscape to look like. We came across some Mule Deer serenely chowing on grassland salad. The setting sun looked eerily like a sight from another planet - tan buttes painted rose by the sun with deep shadows in the deep crags. Fabulous! Sunsets in The Badlands are like nowhere else - simply gorgeous! As we left The Badlands, we saw the sun finally setting over a pond with the grassy plains in the background and the beautiful clouds painted shades of mauve and blue. Tomorrow we hope to see the area in direct sunlight. That should be amazing!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009 Bye Bye Black Hills

Today was our last day in The Black Hills and we took one last cruise though Custer State Park. We had to say "Good Bye" to our friends the Bison, Burros, Pronghorns and whoever else was around. While in The Black Hills we came to love the area - the beautiful scenery, the plentiful wildlife, the great people - we love it all! We decided to go house hunting and found this little "fixer-upper" ranch that had everything that we wanted. The lilac bushes were the final great selling point! Once into the park we saw this Bison jumping and spinning around and around and finally running away. We can only opine that he was nailed by a snake or similar varmint and was jumping and spinning to dislodge it and then escaping. We first saw the baby Bisons two weeks ago when we first arrived and now they are growing up fine! The Pronghorns are everywhere! We first saw them in Wyoming and have seen them daily ever since. We will sure miss these mountain vistas. Did you ever see million ton Bison playing hide and seek before? Here they are! Here are a couple of these fabulous mountain rises and valleys. This mountain lake with the mountains behind it has caught our eyes every time we passed them. The clouds added even more beauty so we wanted to share them with you. As we drive between Custer and Hill City, we had to say "Bye" to Chief Crazy Horse, too! The mountains between our campground, Rushmore Shadows and Rapid City look like this, changing only with the clouds and lighting - fabulous! The layers of the mountains are shown in this last photo in the dying light of evening. To all of this, add the scent of the Ponderosa Pines and this entire area is totally addicting! We are hooked!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009 Carol's Birthday and Custer State Park

Today is Carol's Birthday so, when asked where she wished to go for the occasion, she said "Custer State Park!" The day started out cloudy but slowly brightened up. We first went to a Black Hills Gold Factory. Black Hills Gold is named for the style and must be made in the Black Hills to carry the name. Its design is grape leaves and vines and is tri-colored - beautiful! She now has a Black Hills Gold watch. First up in the park, we saw some bull Bison butting heads and romping and stomping around the range. Then we came to the wild Burros. This time we brought some baby carrots for them. They were using their best manners and even said "Thank you" when we were leaving. We saw our first baby Burro this time. He/she was very shy and stayed away from us. We saw another hugerific Bison. I asked him what he liked to eat and he said "I eat what I want, when I want to and anywhere I wish, why?" That was our cue to leave! The day ended up nice with the sun shining and light clouds in the heavens. We also drove under Carol's favorite bridge. It is a combination of wood and steel.The wood is bent and it looks really cool!