Friday, July 4, 2014

Bison Feeding and Arches

Hello Friends and Family,
Well, we've been home for a about 10 days and very busy so I am a little behind in posting the end of our adventure. 

We stopped on our way back and spent a couple of days at Terry Bison Ranch Campground in Cheyenne Wyoming. This is a working bison ranch of over 27,000 acres and one of the cool attractions here, aside from the old fashion restaurant that serves bison 6 different ways, was a train ride out to the prairie where a small herd of bison roamed. Once there, the engineer stopped the train and bison came up to be fed by hand. Mrs. T thought this was the COOLEST THING. We had seen bison on the trip but never this close.
Mrs T gets a close up look at a bison.

The engineer, John, tells us how to feed the buffalo and instructs us to not try and pat them.

Mrs. T. feeds a bison by hand and kept all her fingers. They are actually very gentle eaters.

From here we went to Colorado and into Utah where we explored Arches National Park in Moab, Utah. You can see how Arches NP gets its name. We intended to spend half the day here and then explore Canyonlands NP in the afternoon, but this was so big and beautiful it took all day and wore is out.

As we drove into the park we were stuck by the beautiful rock formations, one after another.

Then after an hour of driving and photographing, we came to the first set of arches that give this magnificent park its name.
Stanley led the way as it was a hike to get the arches. You can see how big they are by the people that were climbing around them. From here we continued on to other parts of the park and even though we spent 7 hours driving, hiking and photographing the sites were unable to see it all.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Needles Highway

Hello again from the road,
Sorry to be away for so long but we have had some WiFi troubles in some of the campgrounds we have visited.
After Leaving Crazy Horse we took a scenic drive along the Needles Highway. Brother-in-law George made this call as he had found it on line and boy was it a good call!
This road goes through Custer State Park and has some of the most beautiful rock formations we have seen yet. It is called the Needles because of the rock towers and one that even has an eye of the needle. It also has some rather narrow tunnels and when a big tour bus pulled up to drive through.....well you'll see what happened.
 Here we are at the beginning and as we drive along what is called The Needles Highway we can see more formations in the distance. They get lot closer.

This was the original site for the Mt. Rushmore carvings. But the sculptor rejected it because it was not suitable granite.

There are six tunnels along the highway and each is only one narrow lane so we have to wait our turn to drive though. While taking this photo a tour bus pulled up behind us and a sign on the dash read "Student Driver" . I'm thinking he took a wrong turn and is now stuck. But, he drove through the tunnel with a room to spare.

More Needles

This is the view driving through another, narrower, tunnel.

Same bus and driver. See any space on the sides?

This is the "Eye of the Needle " formation. Pretty Cool!

And when we leave the Needles we come to this lovely mountain lake. What a ride!

See you.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Crazy Horse

Hello Once Again,
This morning we visit The Crazy Horse Memorial, the largest mountain carving in the world. This monument is under construction in the Black Hills, not far from Mount Rushmore. This is a monument dedicated to all Native Americans and was started to commemorate their culture, history, and contributions to our nation. 
To give you an idea of how big it is, all four heads of Mount Rushmore would fit in Crazy Horse's head.
Crazy Horse was a Sioux Indian that led the attack on General Custer's 7th Cavalry in 1876 at Little Bighorn. He spent his short life as a warrior and leader of his people. He is every bit as fascinating a figure in western history as we have seen and his likeness was chosen to represent all Native Americans. 
So far the family, beginning with the late sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski in 1948, creating this sculpture have been able to carve the head and a rough start to his upper body and horse.
It is slow going partly due to the fact that it is a private enterprise and not accepting any government money and also due to the massive scale of the project. 
Take a look.
This is a view of the entire sculpture from the visitors center. The little machine on the flat area on the right is a full size excavator.

This is a closeup of the head. Note the bulldozer by the chin.

This is a model of the finished memorial. Is that Stanley at the bottom?

Well what do you know? It is.

And here is our entire group.
Get ready for the next adventure!

See you.


Hello all,
Today we went to the historic western town of Deadwood, SD. This town was founded around 1874 when General Custer and his troops found gold in the Black Hills area. White people flocked to seek there fortune and ignored the fact that the Black Hills was part of Indian land granted by treaty. Nevertheless, the town grew and a lot of gold was removed from the mines and claims, none of it to benefit the Native Americans. 

The gold rush brought prospectors, merchants, and some notorious people. Among them was a well known gunfighter known as Wild Bill Hickock. He had been the marshal of  Abelene, Kansas where he took part in a famous gunfight but now was newly married and looking to make his fortune.  Not being the prospecting type, he took to gambling and tried to make his money playing poker. One day, he came into the No. 10 saloon and was forced to sit in on a card game with his back to the door. A man named Jack McCall, whom Wild Bill had cleaned out the night before, came in and shot Wild Bill in the back. All this is re-enacted in the new No. 10 Saloon  four times a day.
Here is "Wild Bill"  telling us tourists the story of this tragic event. 

Here he is playing cards with some volunteers from the audience. They don't look old enough to even be in a saloon.

And here that "dirty coward" Jack McCall does our hero in.

George trying to get into the  act

Main Street and the No. 10. Very touristy, but you can't visit the west without a bit of it.

Wild Bill's grave site. This was the third monument erected because people kept chipping off parts of the first two. His real name was James Butler Hickock. 

This is the Bullock Hotel, built by another famous Deadwood character, Seth Bullock. He was the first marshal of Deadwood and helped clean up the town.

By the way, Jack McCall was eventually hung for the murder of Wild Bill.

Next, if you think Mount Rushmore was big, wait till you see Crazy Horse Memorial!

Mount Rushmore

Hello All,

Sorry I've fallen a little behind but it has been a very busy week trying to visit all the cool, historic and beautiful places in the Rapid City area. 
This afternoon we went to historic Mount Rushmore were we joined thousands of other people to view one of the largest sculptures in the world. It is located in Keystone SD in the Black Hills and is a spectacular site. 
Lets take a look!
Here is Stanley as we enter the park. You can see it was a busy day. 

This is the view from the entrance.
We walked through the corridor of state flags. Each state and the year it entered the Union is represented with its state flag. 

Here is the Arizona plaque and flag,

Here I am standing before the monument. I have looked forward to this for a long time. The four presidents represented here are Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and a personal favorite, Teddy Roosevelt.
These were all great men who were key in making the country what it is today. We learned a little more about each one as we took our tour of the monument. In my right hand I am holding an electronic  walking tour guide. As you come to a station with a number you press in the number and a recording tells you an interesting story about what you see. All very cool and IT ish. The walking tour is about .6 mile. Mrs. T and I made the hike with brother in law George. 

For example, Washington's head is turned to the right as he appears to be looking off into the distance, or the future.

Lincoln appears to be looking in the same direction, toward the future, but more solemn.
Jefferson appears to be looking up slightly, toward the heavens.
Here is the model that was created by the artist, Gutzon Borglum. This photo is at the end of the tour inside his studio. Note that the original plan was to sculpt the presidents down to the waist. But the project took so long, 14 years, that they stopped with just the four heads.

Next stop, Deadwood, site of the Black Hills Gold Rush and where Wild Bill Hickock meets his end!

See you!


Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Train Ride

Hello Again,

Today we took a ride on the 1880 Train, a steam train from the 20's, from Hill City ,SD to Keystone about 9 miles through the Black Hills. 
When ever we get a chance to take a scenic train ride we take it. It is a wonderful way to travel even if you end up back in the same place a few hours later. This is a fun and  relaxing way to travel.

While on the 1880 we saw some beautiful scenery and a few critters. Here you go.
Here I am with Stanley in my pocket waiting to board the train.

This is our locomotive being hooked up to the rest of the train. Interestingly, it runs on used crankcase oil from oil changes so it uses recycled fuel and there is no risk of burning the forest with wood or coal embers.

This is the conductor. He is the real man in charge.

This is a view of the entire train rounding a bend.

This is one of the many road crossings we passed along the way. There were no crossing gates just the signs like the one here. The engineer blows the whistle to let the cars know we are coming. The signal is two long, one short and one more long. We heard it a lot. 

One small bit of scenery.

Some of the larger bits of scenery.

And Choo Choo Stanley enjoyed the ride.

See you!