"if you are not living on the edge, you are taking up too much room"

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

big shoulders

We are entering into  the Fall "shoulder" season here in the Black Hills. Some of the business' that cater to the tourists are starting to close for the winter and many of the seasonal workers are heading for warm weather regions. We are open year round at Crazy Horse, 365 days per year. Yep, we are open Christmas Day and yes, we do have visitors that day. :-)
Several of our work campers left in the middle of September but our tourist numbers have not declined leaving us with some very busy days with a limited amount of staff. The remaining work campers and seasonal workers will be done in the next few weeks and we'll say our "see ya later's" to them as we settle in for the winter. Some of the work campers will return but most are wanting to explore new areas, I can't blame them the call of the road and new adventure is appealing.

This year our tourist season has been extremely busy, possibly a record setter for this area. They have released the "official" numbers for attendance at this years Sturgis Rally. 739,000 people were here for just that one week! This is the largest number ever recorded for the rally and it doesn't include the numbers of people here for the weeks before and after.
We have seen a large increase in visitors, compared to prior years, this late in the season at Crazy Horse as well. The weather is still very comfortable and that, coupled with the lower fuel prices, have kept our season going strong.

Rudee's schedule has changed a little so now we don't have all the same days off. This week my boss is leaving for a week so I will need to work some extra hours to cover for him and this leaves us with just tomorrow as our only day off together :-(
No worries though because in the middle of October our open hours are decreased and we can get back to a more "normal" schedule and can say goodbye to split shifts and 14 -16 hour work days. I like the three days off that working that shift gives us but we are both pretty worn out by that fourth day at work.

One thing nice about living here is the grass doesn't grow as fast as in Indiana. I mowed our yard in the middle of July just before our Grand Kid's visited and the next time I did it was just last week. Even then it wasn't very high, of course the deer help keep it trimmed by grazing through our yard several times a day. :-)
For all you work campers out there, keep this area in mind for next year. We offer some decent benefits, competitive wages and try to be flexible with shifts and days off. The downside is that we are open early (7 am) and don't close until late in the evening 7 days per week so we need to cover all the different shifts. While the work is not extremely physically demanding, you can count on being on your feet for your entire shift. Some of our work areas require you to be outdoors at times and you can be exposed to the elements. We have work campers at the entrance booths, visitors center, bus tours, gift shop, snack shop, restaurant, campground and in maintenance. The latter two are more physically demanding and you will be outside working, mowing, cleaning etc. The campground is your basic full hook ups (30/50 amps, water,sewer), pull through sites type of campground. There is no cable TV or Wifi but the laundry and shower house are nice and well maintained. Here is a photo of our site last year.

Rudee and I will be more involved in recruiting and training work campers for next season and may be able to attend an event or two this winter so keep your eyes open for us! I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

been a struggle, but we're back

Hi all,
Let me first apologize for our absence here. We have had an extremely busy and challenging summer.
Work has had it's challenges and that has been a lot of the reason for not blogging. We both still love our jobs here and are satisfied with our decision to come off the road and join the work force once again.
The main challenge at work was my new boss. She was a terrible disappointment as a leader. She was afraid to make a decision when problems arose and often would avoid everyone by spending the majority of the day in a closed office avoiding all contact. Myself and the other Assistant Director did our best to keep the department afloat but without her support it continued in a downward spiral. She recently resigned and my cohort was promoted into her position while I remain the Senior Assistant and we are working hard to restore things to the way they were.

Earlier this summer our Son, Daughter in law and new Grand Daughter came for a visit. We picked them up at the airport in Denver and they spent a week with us. We showed them all the sights and it was great getting to know Jaina. A few weeks later our Daughter, Son in Law and their 3 kids arrived for a week as well. We sure miss seeing them on a regular basis and it was great having them around even though it was only for a short time.

Sturgis celebrated their 75th anniversary of the week long motorcycle rally, Needless to say the Black Hills were filled with bikes. We made it to the rally a couple of days but boy was it crowded.

We are expecting a slow down in visitors soon and, frankly, we all could use a few slower days. The amount of visitors this year has far exceeded the last several. I expected a busier year with the lower fuel prices and we have certainly not been disappointed. Our work campers are finishing up their commitments and the campground is starting to empty out as they head for warmer weather and a much deserved rest. With them leaving our workforce is less and that means a really busy time for next few weeks for those of us left behind. Our operating hours are cut in mid-October when our laser Light Show ends and that usually signals the end of the busy tourist season.

We did add to the fleet over the summer. Rudee and I went car shopping and found a nice used Kia Sorento. We wanted something with a little more passenger room and better gas mileage then the Dakota.

I have been keeping my eyes open for a small cargo trailer to pull behind the bike. They want big $'s for the new ones and I couldn't find a decent used one so I decided to just make my own. I ordered a utility trailer from Harbor Freight assembled it and added a plywood deck. I found a used car top carrier for $30, painted it to resemble the bike and added a decal we picked up in Sturgis.

Turned out pretty nice and will be great to use for motorcycle trips and to do "Wally World" runs.

We are both looking forward to being able to get off work at a more reasonable hour. Right now we are working four ten hour split shifts. We open the doors at 7 am, work until noon, take a few hours off and then come back in until closing around 9 pm. That sure makes for some long days and short nights but within the next month we will be back to more "normal" hours. Plus I'll have more time to blog and keep you posted.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I've been a bad blogger

Ok, I admit it. I've been in a blogging "funk" lately. I'll try and improve and keep ya up to date on the goings on around here.

Spring has been a little slow arriving in the Black Hills. We have seen a few really nice days but lately it's been rain and even a "small" blizzard last week. YIKES, did he say "blizzard"? Yep, we had about a foot of snow and lot's of wind which caused some major drifting last week end. I was busy at work juggling staff and keeping the visitors center open for business. I started by sending most everyone home early Saturday since the snow machine started churning in the afternoon making the roads a mess. Rudee and I ended up closing up shop by ourselves and made it home with the help of 4 wheel drive. We did stop for a car that had slid off the highway, everyone was OK and they had help on the way. Sunday we headed to work early and stopped by the campground to pick up a couple of the work campers. We couldn't turn into the campground because the roads were drifted in but they walked to the highway to meet us. The rest of the work campers were all trapped in their rigs until late in the day and even then you had to have a 4-wheel drive vehicle to even attempt to get out.
Fortunately the snow didn't hang around too long and by noon Monday the roads were cleared and a lot of it had melted away. :-)

Rudee's sister B.J. and brother in law David came to visit our little corner of paradise a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time showing them all the sights and even got special permission to give them a tour to the top of Crazy Horse. B.J. really loved seeing the deer that visit our yard everyday. Needless to say they were very well fed while she was here. :-)

We have had very few days to ride the motorcycle but did catch a really nice day earlier this month.

We had a great ride through the Hills. Both of us needed the "wind therapy" after a long winter.

We are still adjusting to our stationary lifestyle and are starting to fall into a routine again. The bank account is even starting to look better too. We have been discussing selling the motor home since it would be nice to be out from under the payments but we are still in the "hanging on" mode in case the ceiling all caves in around us we can make a break for the road again. We also still own my Mom and Dad's old place in Florida and are entertaining the thought of putting it up for sale too. This would help us pay off some of our bills but it has always been our "safety net" if we ever just had to have a place to live. I guess we still have some "adjusting" to do. :-)

The work campers have been arriving in droves and part of my job is to get them trained. I developed a training program which includes one full day of classroom training. This training gives them a little more adjustment to what the job is all about and what's expected of them. Prior to this they just dumped the poor people right into work and you had to "learn as you go". The training seems to be well received and the new folks are working out well.

I guess I better get going, got a class to teach today ....... I'll keep you posted.