Saturday, July 28, 2012

Where in the world are we? And what have we been doing?

Boy, it has been too long since I posted a blog.  We have not been laying around eating bonbons though that does sound kinda good.  We have traveled almost 1100 miles since leaving Lower Brule, SD.  We went first to our home town, Box Elder, SD, as we had some business to take care of. One of the challenges that we have on the road is ordering things online and having them delivered where we will be 5-7 business days later.  This situation happened to us when our wonderful Dyson vacuum needed a replacement part. We decided to send it to Box Elder and just hang around until it came.  As it happened Dyson got right on it and it arrived the day after we arrived.  We were parked at the Elks Lodge in Rapid City, a nice simple parking spot, but only 30 amp.  It was sweltering in Rapid City, hovering around 100* so we only were able to run 1 air conditioner.  We were out and about every day and Pansy is OK with the bedroom air going.


The two real highlights of our stay in Rapid City were meeting Sharon and Don DelRosario for dinner and going to Mount Rushmore.  We had a delicious dinner with Sharon and Don at a new restaurant, DahKoDa.  We talked and talked until I thought the staff might just kick us out.  We all posed for pictures in front of the interesting statue of a buffalo in front of the restaurant. This work of art had pieces of cars, keys, nuts and bolts that together made this bison.


The next day we drove to Mount Rushmore.  We had gone to this National Park back in the 70’s.   There were lots of improvements including a Visitor Center that accurately documented how this mountain carving affected the Native Tribes in this part of South Dakota.  The evening show was very patriotic and colorful.  The movie that was shown explained the reasons that each of the Presidents was chosen for the mountain. 

While we were waiting for the show to begin we had the best time ‘people watching’.  One of the families, an obvious military family, sat a couple of rows in front of us.  The two children each had binoculars and digital cameras – so did mom and dad only the more pricey models.  The kids would share the pictures, were so well behaved, and a joy to sit behind, unlike some of the other children completely out of control of their parents.



Just before the show began another family took the bench just in front of us. Most of the children were redheads. A couple of the girls were blonds which reminded us of Tom’s Mom’s family. She was one of 11 living children, most were redheads and 2 blonds.  At our family reunion in Fresno we know most of the redheads at the Park and Zoo belong to our reunion.

The final event of the evening was the invitation to all service men and women who have served in the Military.  The stage was full and as we stood to honor these men and women each stepped forward and told their name, service, and rank.  The flag was then lowered by 6 volunteers from the group.  It was a very special closing of this patriotic evening. 


We left Rapid City for Lewistown, MT.  We stopped overnight at Miles City, MT.  We didn’t even unhook the Jeep.  When we tried to bring in our front roadside slide, it wouldn’t retract.  After calling CoachNet and checking with the owners of the RV park, Dave from Big Sky RV Service came over.  Dave, Tom and Dave’s helper, the put their back into lifting the slide as I pushed the button to retract and it came right in.  Since then we have not had any problems.

We traveled to Lewistown, MT, for the Golden Spike Rally. 


More on that next blog.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

South Dakota–Right in the Middle

As we were leaving Sioux Falls’ Fairgrounds we saw the Roller Coaster being constructed for the upcoming Sioux Falls Fair.  They said it would take 3 weeks to complete and was the first time they would have a Coaster.  It looks like fun… if you like scary like granddaughter, Jamie.


So we left our perfect spot with Water, Electric, and Sewer for $25/night – no tax.


We drove west on I-90.  On our way over the steep hills from I-90 into Lower Brule DA PAD was experiencing some coughing and a little black smoke coming out the tail pipe when climbing the hills. On the downside of the hills DA PAD performed just fine. Tom thought it might be as simple as fuel filters. We travel with extra filters; we were staying a couple of days so we had time to check it out before leaving,

We were driving to the Lakota Sioux Indian Reservation RV Park in Lower Brule about 15 miles north of I-90. 

Our RV park was right on Sharp Lake formed by the dam on the Missouri River.  We called our camp hostess, Nancy, when we got close to the park and she met us at our site.  We paid $15/night for 30 amp and water. 

Lower Brule is south of the capitol of South Dakota, Pierre, pronounced Peer.  We decided to drive up the next day.  We stopped first in Fort Pierre, founded in 1742 by the La Verandyre sons. That expedition buried a plaque claiming the area for France.  The plaque was not found until 1913 and a memorial was placed on the spot where it was found. President Jefferson later bought this land owned by the French in 1803 – The Louisiana Purchase.

The Memorial is high on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Missouri and The Bad River and the view was pretty good.  On our way up the hill we passed the Casey Tibbs Conference center and just had to look up Casey Tibbs on the Zoom.  Love being able to discover more information as we travel using the Zoom.  Tibbs was to Rodeo what Babe Ruth was to Baseball.  He was one of 10 children raised on a farm 50 miles from any town.  His family trapped wild horses and broke them.  This is where he learned to ride bucking broncos. He started in rodeos as age 14 and by age 19 he became the youngest saddle-bronc riding crown.


We drove across the bridge to Pierre, the second smallest capitol city in the US.  Anyone know the smallest?  If you follow our blog you might remember it was Montpelier, Vermont.  We went to visit the Capitol. There is a self guided tour brochure that we used to discover this beautiful building.



While visiting the galleries, we met Senator Mike Vehle and chatted for about 30 minutes on everything from South Dakota residency for RV’ers to education to traveling the US.  We thoroughly enjoyed the time the senator took to hear our opinions.  We are pretty proud to be citizens of this state.

As we left the capitol, having parked right in front (how many capitols can that happen?), we passed this beautiful statue, The Fighting Stallions, created by Korczak Ziolkowski who spent half his life working on Crazy Horse. This was a memorial to the Governor and 7 South Dakota citizens that were killed in a plane crash in 1993.  The statue was enlarged in brass from a mahogany sculpture made by Ziolkowski in 1935.


We visited the Cultural Heritage Center next.  This museum is built into the side of the mountain.


The Center has displays from the La Verendyre Plaque placed in 1732 to present day farming and energy practices.  We found that L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz books, was at one time a newspaper editor of the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer promoting woman’s  suffrage.  This is a large museum and well worth the several hours to tour. 


We returned to Lower Brule and the next day did some ‘fixing’.  A while ago our TomTom stopped working and upon inspection (tearing apart), I found the battery had expanded and needed replacing.  I got on line and ordered another. It was delivered, but the connector was too fat to fit in the existing plug.  I contacted the seller, again and again, and no response.  I finally gave up, leaving a poor report on the seller’s eBay site, and decided to wire the old plug to the new battery.


Success. I charged the new battery and now the TomTom is just like new and will be perfect for geocaching in DA TOAD without switching the Garmin GPS from DA PAD to DA TOAD and back again.


2012-07-11_11-43-29_608The next job was to check the fuel filters in DA PAD.  This was a two person job.  Tom unscrewed the filters, dumped the diesel fuel into a glass measuring cup.  This is what we found (on the left).  Lots of crud settled to the bottom.  The clean diesel was at the top of the measuring cup and that I carefully poured the diesel back into the new fuel filters.  Tom screwed them back in then cranked and cranked the engine.  Apparently when the filters were so clogged the oil was sucked into the engine, creating the smoke we saw while pulling the hills.  Tom topped off the oil and DA PAD just started right up. 

The last day we were in Lower Brule we drove the Native American Scenic Byway north out of the Reservation.  There is no outlet on this road leading down to an Ox Box of the river.  The last mile of our adventure was on a dirt road and this is what we found. Beautiful in the setting sun.

This is the river, actually called Lake Sharpe at this point, beside our RV park.

When we left for Rapid City two days ago DA PAD just purred as we climbed up and down the many hills between Lower Brule and the Elks Lodge in Rapid City.


We reached Rapid City on Thursday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Answer is FIREWORKS

If you read the last blog you will remember the question, “Why did we come to Sioux Falls?”, and the answer is “Fireworks”.  We had stayed at the Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls 4 years ago and remembered the down-home celebration we experienced then and so we returned this year.  Also, we are on our way to the FMCA Golden Spike Rally in Lewistown, MT, and Sioux Falls is on the way. 

I just have to say… I LOVE fireworks.  Maybe one of the reasons is our daughter, Jennifer, is a pyrotechnic and shoots fireworks for baseball games, football games and other celebrations.  Our niece, Denise, has been a pyrotechnic at Disneyland for more than 20 years.  We also go to the big fireworks celebration, Winterblast, in Lake Havasu, AZ.  And we have helped ‘crew’ a number of shows for Jenny.  So we can't miss a big 4th of July show with fireworks.   These are some of the pictures taken this 4th of July.  It was a wonderful patriotic celebration with a performance by the Sioux Falls Municipal Band, a circus, and the fireworks.
These fireworks were pretty but they were not synced with the music playing in the background.  We are so spoiled seeing Jenny’s shows.  If you would like to see her 4th of July show following the Fresno Grizzley Game, click this link.

One of the cool things we have discovered in Sioux Falls is the Memorial for the Battleship, South Dakota.  It is displayed as a life size outline of the ship with radar, guns, and a very nice museum in the middle.
This is where we looked for over 30 minutes for a geocache before giving up a “did not find”.  Sad smile  In our defense as geocachers, it was a Difficulty-3.5 micro and only 2 groups have found it since it was placed.
We did find a cache earlier in the day. Open-mouthed smile   We did not do much caching as it was blasted hot and we tried to stay in air conditioned venues as much as possible.

We drove down to the area that the city is named for, The Falls.  They are spectacular.

This is all that remains of the Queen Bee Mill, built to process grain grown in South Dakota. It was built in 1879 and produced as much as 1,200 barrels of flour a day.  It was the most ambitious attempt ever made to use waterpower west of the Mississippi River. It burned in 1956.

This was the hydro-electric power plant that also used water power to produce electricity, but now is a cafĂ©.  The wall below the windows is where a laser light history show is shown every night at 9:30 throughout the summer.

We took the Free Trolley Ride around the Historic District of Sioux Falls and learned where we should visit the over the next few days like the Clock Tower Museum.


One day we went to the Sertoma Butterfly House.  We were just getting out of the car in the parking lot when a lady came up to “Da Toad” with her camera.  She was taking a picture of the Travel Bug on the back of “DA Toad”.  Of course we got to talking and exchanged Path Tags with Tobi (BakerGeckos), a fellow geocacher.  What a special lady that we hope to meet again some day down the road.

The Butterfly house also displays one of the best salt water aquariums we’ve seen.

Trying to photograph butterflies in flight is really challenging so most of my pictures were of butterflies that had landed on something. There are several white butterflies in the picture below.

One landed on Tom and a little girl coaxed one onto her finger.

These butterflies are drying their wings before flying away.

The flowers in the butterfly enclosure were so pretty.

The next day we went to the Museum under the Clock Tower.  We found the largest manufacturer of hot air balloons and the giant balloons used at the Macy’s Parade in New York, Raven/Aeostar, is in Sioux Falls. They manufacture the envelopes, the burners, and the baskets.

There was a good display on bicycles, but the weirdest thing there was a picture of a bunch of boys in the 50’s and one looked JUST LIKE Tom when he was a teenager. (What do you think, Ellen?)

This is the full picture of the boys and some of the bicycles on display.

Our last night we went to the laser light show.

We discovered many new things in Sioux Falls this year.  I am always amazed how much there is to see and learn about this beautiful America.  Even when we revisit an area, we never run out of things to do. This is why we travel full time.  I know we will never live long enough to see it all, but we are sure going to give it our best shot.
So until next blog, we will be on the road again, caching places that we’ve never been.