Posts tagged South Dakota

Not the most consistent writer, am I???!!!!!!

Heck, I almost forgot I even had this blog sitting out here, and there have been many times when I should have actually been documenting my thoughts and actions.

Guess I’ll see what comes from these fingers tonight, maybe it will be the impetus to write a bit more often in the coming months and years.  Then again, it may be such a ramble that maybe I would be better shutting it down forever! LOL  Only time will tell.

Actually, I probably wouldn’t have even started writing tonight, if it hadn’t been for my dear friend Linda dropping me a note to see what I’ve been up to and where I am heading next.  In a nutshell, I’m getting ready to leave AZ at the end of this month for cooler climes, as I am heading to MT to see my daughter graduate from college and visit with my son and his family before heading to Yellowstone National Park, WY to work this summer at the Mammoth General Store!

In the process of catching her up we made an amazing discovery…….  We’re getting older…….. LOL  See, we’ve known each other online for at least 12 or 13 years now, but have never had the chance to meet in person.  Someday that will change… Slowly but surely I am heading that way!  Just have to take time to smell the roses along the way.

So much has already changed in the years we have known each other; she’s retired, moved, become a mother-in-law and grandmother, all things that have happened to most of us in that same time span.  Myself, I’ve become a 2nd time divorced nomad! LOL  Much more than that really, but it is the easiest way to explain who I am becoming, assuming I can explain.  Those of you who have read my blog from start to finish already know what started me on the road to wherever; for those of you who haven’t read it all yet, feel free to stop now and catch up or just join me as I trip down memory lane.

Back when Linda and I first “met” everyone was living with the “Y2K” fever and fears.  What was going to become of the world as we had known it up to that time period?  Were computers going to shut down forever?  Would phones stop working, would electricity become a thing of the past? Were we going to lose touch with the rest of the globe as a result?  Or, was everything going to go forward as it had before?

For quilters online it became a chance to pull together, no matter where we lived.  To reach out to total strangers and share our hearts and our skills while we could.  Y2K quilts started a craze that has connected us forever.  Little pieces of fabrics traded around the world became our connecting thread in a time when uncertainty was the only certainty we knew.  Can you even imagine what 2000 little squares of fabric are like when you have no clue whether you will be able to reach out to those you have met thru the “Net” once the year 2000 became a reality?!  They were our tie to what had been, and our hopes for a safe and normal outcome once Jan.1st of that year had rolled into being.  As we all know the world as we knew it did not come to an end, thankfully.  The bonds that were forged online continued and many a friendship has grown from those earlier times.  Many of these friendships will always only be online, but thru luck and planning many of these people have actually met in person and become even “faster” friends. Others will meet as time permits and in many cases thru some mighty strange circumstances.

I had lived in a little town at the time called Thompson Falls, MT.  I was raising my daughter mostly alone at the time as her father was an over the road truck driver.  The computer became my connection to a world I thought I would never be able to see, but even that has changed with time.  I met, traded and chatted with many, many women and even a few men who relied on these machines to pull us outside of our current circumstances, whatever they were.

Okay, enough about what has drawn us together, intertwining our lives in ways we would never have thought possible.

At this moment I can honestly say my life truly changed yet again just over 2 years ago.  On March 16th, at 7 a.m., 2008 I left my “safe” job as night auditor at a motel in Kalispell, MT. and moved down the road to the home I now live in, my 19′ little house on wheels.  Those first weeks even though I was safely sitting in the driveway of my son and daughter-in-law’s house were a real experience!  Cold as only MT can be in the oddest of March’s.  The winds howled, the trailer rocked, the propane heater worked when it wanted and stopped when most needed though no one could find an explanation for it’s pulling tricks on me, and while I wondered whether I had a stupid mistake in forsaking my safe but most tiresome of lifestyles, I also knew that I had to try something different.  I was stuck in such a rut that I literally lived to work, sleep and go back to work.  That is not living, that is nothing more than existing.  Thank you, Lord, for my children!  Without them I would not be where I am today!  They are the ones who saw an opportunity for me to move out of the rut and see as much of this country as I possibly can while I am still young enough to enjoy the experiences.

And there most definitely have been a lot of them! And, God willing, there will be many more in the coming years!

I’ve lived and worked at the base of Mt. Shasta (California), and ridden a old renovated train across part of that mountain, and I’ve worked and wintered in AZ. two years in a row and ridden the new “light rail” train system between Mesa and Phoenix which only finally opened for business last winter!  Talk about history!  Old and new alike! I’ve stood on both rims of the Grand Canyon, crossed the Hoover Dam at least twice (I don’t usually “do” dams as they are way up in the air compared to being on level ground, to say nothing of having an awful lot of water on at least one side of them! LOL), revisited the Vermilion Cliffs (which I hadn’t seen in 20 plus years), I’ve walked the grounds of  Montezuma Castle cliff dwellings, and listened to exquisite Native American flute music piped into the area of the Casa Grande Ruins!!!  Very eery, but totally enchanting!!  I have revisited the Badlands and Mt. Rushmore in S. Dakota, seen Crazy Horse’s Monument (for the first time), revisited the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and so much more I can’t even begin to recount!  All in a little more than 2 years time!  Blows me away to even think about it!!

And, of course, that now leads us back in a loop to where I am headed next.  Yellowstone Park via Zion National Park as I travel up thru UT.  Yellowstone and I have a history of our own.  It was the vacation spot we always went to when I was young.  Visiting the geysers, staring into the hot pools and watching the bison graze as well as checking out the bear “jams” as dad drove us from one spot to another and mom gave us little tidbits of information about the park.  It became a summer “retirement” location for my father to work in off and on as my children grew up, but most of all it represented a dream of mine.  I wanted to also work there one day myself!  As a child I saw students from all over the world working at various positions in the park as well as folks who had retired but wanted to work a bit to give pleasure to themselves and others at one of the most marvelous wonders this world offers for our enjoyment of Mother Nature.  As an adult I took my children to visit their grandfather there in “God’s Backyard” and hoped yet again that someday I too would be able to work there.  Well, come May 24th another of my dreams will come true, because that’s just what I am going to do, as I mentioned earlier!

What comes after that?  I have no clue.  I realized I was again letting myself be sucked into the rut of safety by coming back to the same location to work until just a few weeks ago.  Don’t misunderstand, I love this park in Mesa, most of all I love those people who come to winter in this park and could easily see myself coming back year after year and working myself into the ground to continue making sure their time was enjoyed to the fullest I could help make it, but that isn’t why I changed my lifestyle.  I changed it so I could also have time to explore and enjoy as much of this country as possible before I too have to someday get off the road and settle down for a well deserved retirement.  So, I turned in my notice and this summer will once again start looking for another location to work in next winter.  I’m thinking possibly southern New Mexico or the Gulf Coast of Texas!!!  Maybe even Louisiana if nothing appeals to me enough in this half of the country.  I’ve always wanted to see New Orleans!!!  LOL

Can you tell my foot has gotten “itchy” again?!

I’ll keep you posted as I see what is to come!

Oops!   Just realized I forgot a couple of things!  Some post back a ways I had said the kids sent me down here to AZ last fall with a bright, shiny red 1 ton diesel to pull my trailer with as they sold the van out from under me and were planning on going back on the road permanently themselves…. Well, they changed their plans after being out for 2 or 3 months in northern California and returned home.  Decided they liked being in one place where they could all spread out better till the boys are grown and gone, so they moved back up to Whitefish, MT right near Glacier National Park.  They have loved the area for many years, so I’m tickled they decided to go back.  At the same time, they also decided mom was right, as lovely as the diesel was for pulling my rig, it really was way more vehicle than I needed, especially in parking lots!  So, I now have a lovely white 2006 Nissan Titan with a 6 ft. truck bed and a full back seat to call my own!  May 1st will be her maiden voyage pulling the trailer and I don’t think she will mind one bit!  The truck is supposed to be able to pull 9500 lbs. but my trailer, even stuffed with my junk comes in under 4000 lbs.!  I’m really looking forward to taking to the road, can you tell???!!!!!!!!

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Change of Plans

Yep. I’ve made some changes that I feel are better for me in the long haul.  Day after tomorrow I’m heading back to Montana till its time to head down to Az. for the winter again.

I’ve had a darned good time for the most part these past three weeks, but therein is part of the problem.  I’ve only been gone three weeks and I’m about to go batty!  I’m so accustomed to working and staying busy as a result that this forced vacation stuff is not making me the happiest of campers.  Heck, I’ve seen places that I’ve not seen in 50 years, and am so thankful for the opportunity to have seen them again, or in the case of Crazy Horse Memorial (the first time). But, I would need to be hauling in major bucks to see all the other things there are to visit in western South Dakota, and that just isn’t happening right now.  There are caves, Black Hills Gold factories, theme parks and all sorts of other stuff to visit, but I just can’t afford to.

So, still being within 750 miles or so of western Montana, I’m going back to where I can just stop and wait out the rest of summer and visit family in the process.

I’m not parking in the kids driveway though, will actually be in a small KOA campground in Dillon, which is only 20 miles from the kids, so it will be easy to run out any time they aren’t otherwise occupied and at the same time will still give me some space to call my own here in my little house on wheels and them the space they deserve in their own home.

One day I will get back to Nebraska and Colorado, just not right now.

My son and I are going to try and plot me a slightly different route down to AZ. while I’m over near them.  If all goes as hoped, I may be seeing more of Idaho and some of Utah and less of my old route through Nevada, just depends on what kind of large hills might get in the way of the van hauling this trailer over then! LOL

When we know, I’ll let you all know!

TATA for now!

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I’m Back!!!!!

From the Badlands!  Yep, I decided yesterday that I wanted to take a ride, so about 2 in the afternoon (and didn’t get back here till 9 p.m.) I headed down the road thinking that I might go back towards Mt. Rushmore and actually visit Crazy Horse…. But, I just wanted to drive and not get out of the van unless I really felt like hopping out, so down the road I went.

Drove thru Sturgis which is gearing up for Biker Week and I mean they are gearing up!  Tent stores set up with thousands of t-shirts and other stuff to appeal to biker fans who will be flocking to this area within the next week.

Not being a biker, I passed on checking out the goodies and headed on down towards Rapid City where I knew I had to decide just where I was going.

Seeing more and more Wall Drugstore signs as I went, I knew it was time to hit the Badlands!

Last time I was thru them it was late evening in March (20 years ago) so I didn’t see much at the time.  Yesterday was a whole different matter.  If you have never been there, you have got to go!  Not only does it look like a moonscape but the National Grasslands add their own appeal to the area.  The views were breathtaking!

To think that the last time I really saw any of the views offered was 50 years ago just blows my mind!  Just wish a family member was still around for me to pin down the actual year I saw all the wonders of western South Dakota and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, but I just have to be content with the knowledge that it was when I was between 5 and 7 years of age, I guess.

Since I was near Wall Drug, I did stop in to look around there, too.  I remember stopping there with my brother 20 years ago though we had only popped in for a few minutes, but I have to tell you…….  Nothing seems to have changed! LOL  That place is a great tourist “trap” and well worth stopping by to see!

Well, I have to do some laundry and a few dishes and get myself into town for an oil change, so I guess I’ll hop off till the next time!

Since I am only here in South Dakota for another week, I know I’ll be popping in again before then.  Crazy Horse still awaits!

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And so my journeys continue!!!!

When last I wrote I was down in Mesa, Az. for the winter….  Now it is full-blown summer 2009 and I am on a journey the likes of which I could only dream about before.

Last March I was okay’ed to return to work up in McCloud, Ca. by the owner’s wife, so when May 1st rolled around I was already heading that way, having departed Mesa the evening before accompanied by my dear son and his family who had come down a week before with the notion of seeing me plus making themselves a nice little vacation by travelling to California my way!  My way being back up through Nevada and in through Calf. via Susanville since the van cannot haul the trailer over Donner Pass.

We took off in the middle of rush hour traffic for Flagstaff, Az. the last day of April.  Spent the night in the parking lot of Wal-Mart with scads of other rvs’ doing the same as us.  The following morning we headed towards the Grand Canyon!  Yes, I got to see it for the 1st time in my life!  I was over the moon and have plans to go back when I have time off again this fall, because for all that I saw of it I still have seen only a small portion of that beautiful creation.

We next headed towards the Hoover Dam (which I had sworn to never cross again, but had to eat my words and actions!)  A few miles after turning off at Kingman my son suddenly signalled to pull over, their 2 month old truck was sounding “funny”.  Luckily, there was a small gas station out there in the middle of nowhere, so we pulled in and ran the diagnostics on it.  Being a diesel it can run tests on itself, but everything seemed normal.  Well, figuring that for some unknown reason it might be overheating (the van wasn’t), we let it set for about 30 minutes and slowly headed back on the road.  Trevor felt that he would be better taking her slow till he could figure out what might be going on, so I followed with my hazard lights blinking for both rigs.  Trev didn’t want me to have to stare at their hazards as we trailed down the road, so he left them off.

About 15 miles south of the Hoover Dam, about 8 p.m. at night I suddenly was enveloped in this beautiful blueish cloud of the stinkiest smell you have come across unless it was the smell of a skunk.  Trevor realised it was the truck and once again pulled off the road.  So did I.   At that point he had to turn on his hazards to warn everyone that we were in trouble.  I sat behind them realizing their lights were not running in sync with mine. Mine would blink off and theirs would blink on.  Darned things continuously blinked and reflected into my eyes either straight from their rig or straight off of their rig because mine shown off the paint job!

Upshot of that night, and for which there is a whole separate story about (I’ll consider writing it all out another time)……….  A semi capable tow truck was sent out to collect their truck and fifth wheel trailer, plus several family members, as myself, my daughter-in-law and middle grandson drove across the dam into Boulder City to be met with winds gusting in the range of 45 and 50 miles per hour.  I pulled into a strip mall parking lot and there we sat from 10:30 p.m. till the tow truck appeared at about 2 a.m.  I just couldn’t drive in that wind so my son and I swapped places for the ride into the Las Vegas KOA where we had reservations for the night or what was left of it. Oh, we got settled about 4 a.m., so that will give you a clue of how little of the night was left!

One thing lead to another, the truck was picked up the next morning by the Ford dealership and there we all sat.  Kind of a good place to be stuck, there were stores within walking distance and taxis available if needed.  I only spent an extra 2 nights there as I needed to head for Cal. once it was determined the family was not going anywhere any time soon.  Seems as how there had been a recall on some parts that the kids were not notified about and that was what had malfunctioned.

They spent most of a week in Vegas and I spent most of that time in Cal. as I only needed 2 more days of travel to reach my destination.

Imagine my surprise (and that of Tricia, the manager) when a day or two later the HR dept. head called wanting to know what the heck I was doing back without her prior permission.  Well, one thing lead to another as Tricia and I tried to get her to understand that permission had been granted even though it had come from higher up (the owner’s wife) when she had not answered the emails Tricia had sent back in March.

So, after waiting a week for season to really spring into action, I went to work part time for one week and then full time for two weeks thereafter.  Then, the axe fell and I found myself without any more employment as the owners had other plans for the park.  They didn’t include me nor did they include Tricia who had managed the park for nearly 3 years.

Well, to backtrack a bit.   My son and family did arrive in McCloud during that first week I had been back.  We enjoyed each other’s company and grandma got to be grandma with her 3 boys a whole bunch!  I even took them fishing one afternoon and made them the proudest of grandsons, cause they caught trout!  And, I mean trout!  Between them, in less than 2 hours they caught 11 “keepers”!  We had fish for dinner that night!  And, the next afternoon they went back alone (it was only across the road from the park in a creek out front of the Forest Service Dept.) and they caught 7 more! LOL  Talk about some happy fishermen!

Anyway, they finally had to take off after being there for a week, and I needed to start working full time by then.  Little did we know how things were going to change on June 1st.  That was my last day of work though I sure had no clue until that day was over.

So, I did the only thing I could, I raced for Montana, after warning the kids I was on my way.   Only took 3 days, even in gusting winds, hail and torrential rains.  Man, I was glad to finally be able to stop and rest after that trip!

Then began the frustrating try for another job to get me through the summer till time to head back down to Mesa.  I actually was 1st place for a position in New Mexico, until a couple who had worked in that little park saw the ad and asked for their old jobs back.  They won out and I went back to looking.  Granted, there are lots of jobs out there, but either they were so far away from this end of the country or they needed people to stay longer than I could or they didn’t pay worth a hill of beans, and so passed the month of June with me sitting in the kids’ driveway.

Okay, I could handle being sort of idle for 3 months (the kids taught me how to 4 wheel, so idle wasn’t really what I would have been all of the time) if needed, but the kids didn’t need me parked there disrupting their lives for that long, so the more I tried to find a job, the less fortunate I became, and the more unhappy I became, as they noticed.

It was time for something to change, but what?

The kids came up with the answer, bless their hearts!  Not one that I really wanted to accept, but one that was the only way to solve my problems.  They gave me a really awesome early birthday present that I still cannot believe I have accepted, but also know that it was the only way to turn my life back around.  Yep, they gave me some expense money and sent me on my way (no, I didn’t have to leave, but that’s what I have done).  They needed their own lives back, and I need to not be feeling like a total mooch while I wait for the middle of Sept. to arrive with me then in Mesa once more.

The money was to allow me to wander wherever I might care to, even if it was little jaunts around the area, but I took it one step further as had they and am now on a very extended vacation, the first I have taken in 30 years.

So, where has this vacation taken me so far?  The first night I made it as far as Billings, Mt. where I stayed the night in the world’s 1st KOA campground!  Yep, that’s where those parks all began, who would have thought?!!

The second day found me on the road towards North Dakota.  Bowman, to be exact.  My plan was to spend a night there and then head down into South Dakota.  Well, I saw Bowman for just a few minutes and then I took off once more.  The weather reports had not been delightful with threats of hail the size of golf balls, so I decided I had to stay ahead of the storms.  I covered over 400 miles in just one day thanks to additional threats of tornadoes!!!!!!!!!!  I had forgotten that I was headed for Tornado Alley!  Well, I landed in Belle Fourche, South Dakota without any mishaps and there I stayed for a week.  Found an inexpensive little park by the river and used it as home grounds while I scoped out the area.   Actually, I took a day trip to the Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (a place I hadn’t seen in 20 years) and then I explored the little city of Spearfish, SD, where I finally started collecting the makings for a scrapbook of my travels since turning to full time rv’ing as a way of life.

In the process, I also found another little RV park much more to my likng and so I moved here on Wednesday of this week.  It’s still part of Belle Fourche, but it’s 3 miles out of town on the Red Water River.  Great park, lovely owners and I would recommend this park to anyone!  It’s called Wyatts’ Hideaway Campground & RV Park, on route 34.  At this point I am set to leave on the 22nd, but am thinking of extending yet another week, leaving on the 29th.  Sturgis Biker’s Rally begins the 1st of Aug. , so I want to clear out before the crowds begin to hit.  I have nothing against bikers, but I just feel that I will need to be gone by that time.  Heck, I still have places to explore beyond the state of South Dakota!  With the time I have to fill, moving on once in a while is the only thing to do, though I prefer not hitting the summer heat of Az. any sooner than I have to.  If all goes as planned, I will drop down into western Nebraska next (my birth state) and then angle into the flattest parts of Colorado, down around Colorado Springs, I hope.  And, after checking out such places as Mesa Verdi and maybe even Telluride, I will head into upper New Mexico if it isn’t too steep for the van, trailer and I to drive into.  Going to take I-25, so hopefully it will all be passable for my needs.  There I hope to see Taos, Santa Fe, etc. and then later in August head down towards Las Cruces to begin my swing back into AZ. via Tombstone and Tucson!!

Actually, I explored a couple of places just a couple of days ago.  I drove back to Deadwood/Lead area by traveling through the Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway.  Gorgeous trip right into the Black Hills!  Haven’t been in this area in 20 years (and that was only a pass through on the way to my father’s funeral in Nebraska, that’s when I also last spotted Devil’s Tower as my brother and I drove along the interstate).

Well, Deadwood and Sturgis have both changed in ways that broke my heart.  20 years ago there were no real casinos in Deadwood, it really lived up to its name then, now it is overwhelmed with casinos for those who enjoy that kind of life.  Personally, I do like to hit a casino now and again, but not when I am unemployed!!!  So, I rattled around the hills for an afternoon and then came back to my little home on wheels.

Today I took another road trip, one that I haven’t taken in 50 years!  Yes, I wrote that right!  50 years!  I was all of 5 or 6 years old when I last was at Mt. Rushmore………  Heck, Mt. Rushmore wasn’t much older than I was when I was there for my 1st visit!!  It was finished in 1941 and I was born in 1952, so I was there some time in the latter part of the 50s’ when the mount was only about 15 or so years old. Now while the approach is the same, the area is so much more grown into what that spectacular mount deserves.  The grounds are developed so one and all can see this wonder and revel in the beauty of this dream come true and still not intrusive.   My breath was totally taken away when I drove around that last curve before my arrival at their gates.  No, I can’t begin to describe this wonder, it has to be experienced by each and everyone of you to be understood.  So, if you haven’t been to Mt. Rushmore make plans, do it this year or do it as soon as you can, just DO IT!  It is a lifetime experience no one should miss.  Oh, and remember Crazy Horse is in the same area, just a slightly different road to get there.  Because I was so overwhelmed with my trip today I didn’t go see Crazy Horse yet, but I will be heading out again on Monday or Tuesday, just for that purpose and for another look at Mt. Rushmore.

I have been so blessed to be making this journey back in time (my lifetime, that is).  A child will go where it is told, an adult will go where it chooses, most of the time at any rate, so the experiences are totally different.  What I have seen both at Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore have reminded me of those family trips taken as a child, but these adult trips are worth a whole lot more!

I nattered on long enough, once again.  Next time I’ll try to make it shorter, like after each little expedition, okay?  Much easier to write and read if it is done as a travel blog and not as a book with each entry.

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