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Friday, May 30, 2014

FOTO FRIDAY - 5/30/14

Dear Family and Friends,

I took this picture recently in South Dakota.  We stopped to view the scenery and some tourists were feeding the chipmunks sunflower seeds.

The picture is adorable.  The down side though is that we should never feed wildlife.  This makes them unafraid of humans and that is not a good thing.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

South Dakota Prairie

Dear Family and Friends,

We drove from Mt. Rushmore across the prairie of South Dakota.  It was a long ride with little to break up the ride.  The grasslands and the flat terrain have their beauty, but we had our fill after about two hours.

The sights are many miles apart but they are there and we found them!

First we drove through the town of Sturgis.  We now have that checked off the bucket list.  It is a quiet town unless you happen to hit it in August during the motorcycle rally.

Here is a picture of downtown Sturgis.

We continued down the freeway seeing many signs advertising Wall Drug store.  We had to stop and see it.  This is the front of it, but this picture is deceiving.  It is huge and covers a whole city block.  It is a lot more than a drug store...almost a whole city inside.

Further down the road we came to Mitchell, home of the only Corn Palace on earth.  This is a picture of this year's design.  Each year they take down the corn and put up a new corn exterior.

We detoured off the freeway and went to the town of De Smet.  This was a fun place because this is the part of South Dakota that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about growing up on the prairie.

The school

This is the last house that Pa built.

We bought one of her books on CD and listened to it all the way to Minnesota.

We are now hugging grandkids again.

Heading back to Washington state tomorrow.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Mt Rushmore and beyond.

Dear Family and Friends,

After enjoying Deadwood, we headed out to see Mt. Rushmore.  The main purpose of this trip was so that Matt could see this monument.  Mt. Rushmore was on his bucket list.

We couldn't have asked for a nicer day weather wise.

Here we are posing in front of the monument.

They have audio guides that you can rent.  You learn about the man who designed and supervised the carving of the monument and that 90% was carved with controlled amounts of dynamite.  Also about how it was for the 400 workers.

Here are Matt and Chuck listening to the audio guide while looking at the monument.

We were fortunate because Nick Clifford, the sole surviving worker on the monument, was in the bookstore signing books.  He started working on Mt. Rushmore when he was 17 years old.  He is now 92 years old.

When we were leaving Mt Rushmore we found a place on the highway where you can see George Washington's profile.

Custer State Park is very close to Mt. Rushmore.  If you go to Mt. Rushmore be sure to drive through this park as well.  It is awesome.

The drive through the park included beautiful granite outcroppings.  They reminded me a little of sand castles you build at the beach by dripping sand and water.

There were tunnels so small that only one car could go through at a time.  No big RV's on this road.

The most awesome tunnel we went through had a view of Mt Rushmore as you came out the other end.  How cool is that?

You can see from this picture that the Custer State Park is not that far from Mt. Rushmore.

Another awesome day of touring.


Friday, May 23, 2014

FOTO FRIDAY - 5/23/14

Dear Family and Friends,

This is a picture of Turi.  Turi is a small village overlooking Cuenca.  I took this picture from the terrace in condo, El Molle, and then I did some photo editing.

It looks almost Biblical.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Deadwood, South Dakota

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck, Matt and I enjoyed our stay in Deadwood, SD.

When one thinks of Deadwood three things come to mind....Gold, Hickok and Gambling.

Actually, these three things, pretty much in this order, made Deadwood the popular tourist attraction that it is today.


In 1868 the Treaty of Laramie was signed giving the American Indians this territory, however in 1874 an expedition led by Col. George Custer found gold in this area.  This gave rise to the Black Hills Gold Rush.  So what it comes down to is that this land legally belongs to the Lekota Indians.

The gold rush gave rise to the lawless town of Deadwood.


Wild Bill Hickok (James Butler Hickok), a notorious gunslinger, came to Deadwood in July, 1876 in a wagon train.  Arriving on the same train as Wild Bill was Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary).

On August 2, 1876, one short month after his arrival, Wild Bill was playing poker at Saloon No. 10.  Hickok always sat with his back against the wall when playing poker.  On this day the only seat available had Hickok with his back to the door.  Jack McCall entered the saloon and pointed a gun to the back of Hickok's head and shot him.  In his hand Hickok was holding two black A's and two black 8's and another card.  This has become known as "the dead man's hand."

Jack McCall was captured about six hours later.  McCall was hanged March 1, 1877.

Hickok was buried in Mt Moriah Cemetery (Boot Hill) in the hills behind Deadwood.  His grave is one of the popular tourist attractions to this day.

By the way, Calamity Jane is buried next to him.  This was at her request.


Deadwood has always had gambling although it was illegal.  The government turned a blind eye until 1980 when they enforced the law.  By now Deadwood was struggling to survive and after several years South Dakota allowed gambling to be legal.

Today the whole town is full of casinos, hotels, restaurants and, during the summer, lots of tourists.

Following is my picture story:

Looking down on the town of Deadwood from Mt Moriah Cemetery.

The town as it looks today.

This is the saloon where Wild Bill Hickok was shot.

Matt is standing under the sign that designates the spot where Jack McCall was captured.

A large marker near Wild Bill's gravesite.

Another marker for Calamity Jane.

This is Wild Bill Hickok's grave.

Tourists leave trinkets and money there.

Here is Calamity Jane's grave right next to Wild Bill Hickok's grave.  Her request was honored.

Wild Bill Hickok is so important to Deadwood that they have several statues of him around town.

One casino even had his chair on display.

We had a fun day shopping and touring in this old town.

Our next stop is Mt. Rushmore.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Buffalos

Dear Family and Friends,

After seeing the giant buffalo statue in Jamestown, ND, I told Matt that I hoped we would see some for real when we get to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park on the other side of the state.  We had no idea what was in store for us.  Holy cow (pardon the pun), did we see buffalos!

Chuck and I have been to this park in the past and we felt lucky if we sighted one in the distance.

When we got to the park we stopped at the visitors center.  We asked the park ranger where would we be likely to see buffalo.  She said we could see them anywhere in the park, they sometimes hang out in the camping area.  When I looked surprised, she added that the buffalo act as they own the park.

I don't know why we were fortunate enough to see so many wild animals.  Maybe it was the time of year.....there were hardly any tourists yet.  One thing about visiting the park this time of year, we were able to see lots of babies.

  They graze in small herds (families)

This time of year all the coat built up over the winter is now itchy and needs to come off.  We enjoyed watching the creative ways they found to scratch the itch and remove the fur.

This guy is scratching on the road guard.

This fellow is rolling in the dirt.

Yes, they do act like they own the park.  These buffalo were in the road quite awhile before they made room for this car to pass.  They do not seem to be afraid of us humans, but there were signs everywhere warning us not to approach these wild animals.

Adorable babies....maybe twins.

I love this picture of mama and baby.

Not all the buffalo are in small herds.  We saw several old bachelors who have lost their families to a stronger male buffalo.

We certainly got our itch to see buffalo scratched!

Now we are off to Deadwood, South Dakota.


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt National Park - Wild Horses

Dear Family and Friends,

We got an extra special experience on this trip that we did not expect.

As we were riding through the park we saw a group of horses.  There was a truck parked along the side of the road and a woman was walking down the middle of the road with a camera and talking loudly.

I thought to myself, I wish she wouldn't talk so loud, she will scare the horses away before I can get any pictures.

Chuck parked our car and Matt and I got out to photograph the horses.  The lady came up to me and started telling us all about the wild horses in front of us.  It turns out that she comes here a couple of times each year to photograph them.  She has a Facebook page sharing her photos.

Apparently these horses feel good vibes from her.  She has been around them so often they seem to recognize her and her voice.

Thanks to Eileen Norton, I was able to get the following photos.  I know the horses would have run away from us if it weren't for her.

This was one of the best days of our trip.