January 20 to February 14, 2014 NOMADS Project, Mercedes, MS

February 15 (Approximately) to June - Gate Guarding, TX or LA.

June, 2014 - Up to Alaska!

September - NOMADS Annual Meeting, Branson, MO

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hot as Hell and the Devil

Black Hawk,  SD

Yesterday we hit the road driving a bit over 100 miles each way to see this:

Hence "The Devil".     As most people know, Devils Tower is actually the hardened magma of a volcano that cooled and fractured into columns.  Over millions of years of erosion the rock became exposed.   The tower rises 867 feet from its base.  

In 1906 Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument under the new Antiquities Act.   His action made Wyoming the home of both our first national park - Yellowstone in 1872 - and our first national monument.

I was going to walk the  mile and a half trail that circles the base.   I did it once before.  This time I started but knew it was not to be.  After a few thousand feet of steep uphill and down, I decided not this time.    The temperature was hovering around 100.   When I walked it before I was 11 years younger.   More to the point I was 40 pounds lighter!    In addtion, a few years back I had heat exhaustion while visiting San Antonio.  I was so sick I mostly slept for 4 solid days.  Since then heat zaps whatever little energy I have.

Len and I had packed a lunch and decided where we were parked was as good a place as any.  I've debated on posting this picture.   No, he is NOT doing what it looks like, he is fixing sandwiches. Honest.

Not only was it HOT there but even worse about 20 miles before the Tower we could see this off in the distance.

I do hope they got the fire under control.   The fire signs all around here near Rapid City indicate a Very High fire danger.  

Today it is again near 100 - probably no where near hot as hell, but it sure is uncomfortable.

Okay, Judy, I finished my post now.   Do hope you get some relief there in Tennessee also.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Left up North, went South

Black Hawk, SD

Yup, today we left NORTH Dakota and moved all the way down to SOUTH Dakota.

Backing up a bit ..... while in Dickinson we visited their farm machinery museum.   Tell me, does this look like something "John Deere"?  

Another day we drove part of the Killdeer Mountain And Four Bears Scenic Byway.  Along the way we stopped at:

This was a relatively small NWR but it does have a pleasant picnic area.

We walked one of their trails.   We noticed we were being watched.

We took a detour off the Scenic Byway and followed the Gap Road Loop which is a gravel road through scenic Killdeer Mountain Wildlife Management Area and at times through open range.  These babies were in no hurry to get out of our way.

We left ND today a little after 8.  It took us just a bit over 4 hours to drive the 221 miles to where we are now camped.

From the time we left Dickinson, ND until we arrived here in Black Hawk which is 6 miles west of Rapid City, we passed no area that was populated enough that I would consider it to be a town.  That's the kind of drive I like.

Even our home for the week is in a rural setting.  Again, something I like.

We are at Three Flags RV Park, a Passport America park that also gives 50% discounts to Escapees members.   We have 50 amp, full hook up with cable and free WIFI at $20.00 a night.   However, we set up our own satellite and I am using my own WIFI as it is faster.   Only problem is I am on roaming so after I post this blog, I go back to their WIFI.

I think we have the best site.  It is at the end of the line and overlooks rolling hills.

Tomorrow - Devils Tower about 100 miles from here.  We were there 11 years ago but look forward to a return visit.

Safe Travels all!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Dickinson,  ND

This morning we packed our lunches and drove the 35 miles or so to

Our first stop was at a visitor center overlooking the Painted Canyon.  Breath-taking!

 A few miles up the road we got to the Fee Station.  We showed them our America the Beautiful Senior Pass and started the 36 mile loop drive.

We wanted to see two things, bison and wild horses.   Were we ever lucky today!   First we saw these fellows off in the distance.

Can you make out the black spots?  Bison!    We saw several more in the next few miles.  But then we  saw this beauty up close and almost too personal.  He could not have been more than 30 feet from the roadway.

All together we counted 18 bison along our route.

Now for the horses.   We counted 59 but not real sure if we got them all.  Some were at a distance and it the herd.

Others were up close:

REAL CLOSE!  Looking out our truck window...

And of course we saw the ever present uncountable Prairie Dogs.

And walking across a field and in front of us, a lone Pronghorn Antelope.

We got out twice for trail walks.   One trail was 8/10's of a mile.  It was easy enough.   The other trail, not so much.   And it was only 1/10th of a mile.   This is the view.

And this is looking down the path to our truck.

Back at the entrance gate, we stopped at the  Visitor Center.  Behind the center is the Maltese Cross cabin that Theodore Roosevelt had built for his visits here where he could relax and decompress.  It was here he came following the death of his wife from complications of delivering his daughter and the death of his mother on the same day.

Some furnishings in the cabin are original, as is this desk while the future President wrote, read and studied.

Ah yes, one more "animal" we saw up close.  Just as the Ranger started her talk about the cabin, this fellow slithered between the Ranger and where the rest of us were standing.  A Bull Snake.

Upon leaving the Park, we spent some time in the town of Medora which is at the entrance to the South Unit of the Park.    Medora looks like an old west town but is chock full of gift shops, restaurants, and other touristy stuff.   I was wanting ice cream and Leonard NEVER says no to ice cream.

Then we went in the

This museum is about the North Dakota cowboy = ranchers, rodeo performers, etc.  Not a lot of familiar names but two we found interesting.   In the museum is the gun Tom Selleck used on his old TV show Magnum, PI.

As I was briefly scanning various biographies, for some reason I read one about a rancher with the last name of Bell.

 The part that was interesting was that the cowboy star Tom Mix always had Mr. Bell train and tend to his horses.   For those who do not know who Tom Mix was Google him.  Why was this interesting to me?

Over 45 years ago my Mom and Dad bought a cabin in north central PA.   The cabin is up in the mountains with a shallow river running in front.  The river is Mix Run.   About 1/2 up the dirt road in front of the cabin is the birth place of Tom Mix.   About a mile in the other direction is the Mix family cemetery.  The cabin which my parents bought way back then is now owned by my sister, brother and me.  That cabin is the school house Tom Mix went to.  The name of the settlement is Mix Run, the nearest town about 4 miles down the mountain is Driftwood, PA.     Thus, the interest in this long ago cowboy star!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Enchanted Highway

Dickinson,  ND

We arrived at North Park Campgrond in Dickinson yesterday morning.    More on the campground at a later post.

This morning we wandered down the Enchanted Highway, a 32 mile drive from Exit 72 of I94 south to the quaint town of Regent.   Along the route are the worlds largest metal sculptures.

Geese in Flight - 2001    It is in the Guinness World Book of Records as the largest scrap metal sculpture.  It's built of used oil well pipe and oil tanks, weighing over 75 tons.

The drive up to the sculpture, 100's of geese on metal posts.   This sculpture is right next to I94 and can be seen for miles.

The sun ray is 156 feet long and 110 feet tall.   The largest goose has a 30 foot wing span and is 19 feet long.

The Deer Family - 2002

Made from oil well tanks cut apart and welded.  The buck is 75 feet tall and 60 feet long.  The doe is 50 feet tall and 50 feet long.

In the area of the deer is this maze made in various designs on 1/2 inch steel.

Each sculpture site has a large parking area with a sheltered picnic table.  

12 miles down the road from the deer is

Grasshoppers in the Field - 1999

The grasshoppers were the 4th site erected.  The large grasshopper is 50 feet long, 40 feet tall.

Fisherman's Dream - 2006

This three dimensional sculpture is made of tin.  Jumping out of the water is a 70 foot long rainbow trout.

Pheasants on the Prairie - 1996

These are made of wire mesh.  The rooster is 40 feet high, hen is 35 feet and chicks are 15 feet tall and 20 feet long.

Lots of these little fellows are living in the pipes that make up the feet of the pheasant.

Teddy Rides Again - 1993

This is a tribute to Teddy Roosevelt.   Teddy and his horse Mulley stand 51 feet tall and weighs over 9,000 pounds.

Tin Family - 1991

The Tin Family was the first site erected on the Enchanted Highway.  Built of used farm equipment, it took local farmers hours of labor and welding.  The Tin Pa is 45 feet and is held up by 16 telephone poles.  Ma is 44 feet, son is 23 feet.

For an idea of how tall Pa is, Len is standing in front of him.

In the end of the Highway lies the town of Regent.   There is a cafe, museum, playground, a bar, and small co-op grocery store and this, the gift shop where we purchased post cards and hand dipped ice cream cones.

The town of Lefor lies midway on the Enchanted Highway.   It consists of several abandoned homes, homes needing tender love and a few nice homes.   This is what remains of their bank.

 The drive was lovely and a fine way to spend the morning.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Liking North Dakota

Downstream COE, Riverdale,  ND

We've seen a lot and done a lot.   Tomorrow morning we move on just a little further west.

But in our short five days here we've visited:

The site of a Hidatsa settlement.    These people lived in mounds such as this.

They lived in these settlements during the summer.  There would be around 120 lodges with 10 to 30 people living in each lodge.  In the winter they moved into smaller lodges along the river where trees provided firewood and wind protection.

Another day we visited:

This is their two year old visitor center.  In it is a learning center and various displays.

 We drove the 8 mile auto tour checking out the various waterfowl, deer and beavers.

A fish hatchery

Here at the COE park is the Garrison Dam National Fish Hatchery.   We went on the self-guided tour yesterday.   The hatchery produces a variety of fish including chinook salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, walleye, northern pike, black crappie, sauger, burbot, paddlefish and pallid sturgeon.   I have to admit, I never heard of some of those fish.

Paddlefish are a prehistoric species living 30 years or more and exceeding 100 pounds.  That IS NOT a lightning bolt going through its head.  It is a reflection from overhead lights.


Pallid sturgeon are an endangered species found in the Missouri River.  They grow to about 80 pounds and live 70 years or more.

In addition the inside tanks, there are 64 acre and a half ponds outside.


Last night we drove about 65 miles to visit with Carol and Kevin from www.weremovingon.blogspot.com   On the way we saw this:

Being curious souls, we stopped to check it out.   It is a military cemetery for the Arikara people.  Interned here are Arikara veterans of every American war going back to Battle of Big Horn through Afghanistan.

The Arikara are one of the Three Affiliated Tribes, the other two being the Hidatsa which I wrote about above and the Mandan whom I blogged about when we visited Mitchell, SD.

We were also curious about this plant that we see growing in abundance in this area.

We are told it is Canola.

We then met up with Carol and Kevin for a short time at the campground where they are working until September.   We all drove the 33 miles back to Garrison where we enjoyed their company at dinner.

We first met Carol and Kevin when we were in Austin, TX.    How pleased we were to learn they were working right across the lake from where we were camping.   But that drive to across the lake was over 60 miles.   NOTHING is close in N.D.  Still worth seeing these nice people again.

In another stoke of luck, I remembered a couple of NOMADS whom we worked with last winter in Tucson, AZ live in ND.    I looked up their address and found they lived only 40 miles from the COE park.  So today we got together with them.   Jim and Janet Fagerland are a fun couple and two of the hardest workers we've come across.    While in Tucson it was these folks and Len and I who worked on scaffolding removing and replacing ceiling tiles in a church.   Well, truth be told, the last week I was of no help having sprained my ankle on that Monday.

We visited at their lovely home while Jim grilled some great steaks and Janet prepared potatoes, carrots and salad.  And for dessert the most delicious rhubarb cobbler ever.   Four years ago Jim and Janet retired, Janet from teaching and Jim from working at BNI, a coal mine only a few minutes from their home.

Jim arranged that we receive a tour of the mine.  Unfortunately due to heavy rains we were unable to see as much as  planned.   Lots and Lots and mud.

Getting ready the the tour.   From left Janet, Leonard, Janet and Jim's Sister-in-law Georgia who is visiting from Illinois and Jim.

Leading the tour was a young man working as in intern while he gets his degree in Human Resources.   (For those who didn't know, that was my profession pre-retirement).   We piled into a small van as our tour guide Eddie drove the muddy slippery roads.

The coal is mined up to 140 feet below ground level.  The ground is either purchased or leased from the landowners.   Once the coal is harvested, the ground is returned to it's natural state and reverts back to farmland or fields.  This process can take up to 40 years.  

Below is an area that is currently being minded.    They predict there is enough coal in the surrounding area to continue operations for over 200 years.

An area has been reclaimed back into its natural state.   The picture is poor as it was raining heavy at the time.

We sure did see and do a lot in only 5 days.     We are finding that as we travel there are not only things to see and do but quite often we are blessed with the opportunity of meeting up with friends!  Thanks for sharing some time with us Carol and Kevin and Janet and Jim!