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

Friday, July 26, 2013

Hump Day

Today marks the middle of our work week ..... Hump Day! We are looking forward to our days off because three of our biker friends from Indiana will be here. Niles and Deb Robinson are staying for a month while Ron and Terri Remley have been here a week and have one more to go. Joannie and Craig Isenhower are on their way, currently riding through Iowa. They will be staying for 2 weeks and we are looking forward to a lot more riding and socializing.

We seem to be in a rough weather pattern here in the Black Hills. We have had a thunderstorm almost every day (or night) for the last week. Early this morning the rain (and hail!) hitting the roof woke me up. The hail was small enough to not cause any damage but it seems like every time it rains we also get hail.

The tourist season is in full swing here. Traffic is heavy in the popular spots and finding a parking space is a lot more difficult then it was when we first got here. I guess we spoiled ourselves and are looking forward to the time things slow down again and we have the curvy roads to ourselves once again.
Starting next week we will have a ton of bikers invading for the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. I'm sure we will be busy at work but I am looking forward to seeing all the bikes and of course all the biker babes too. ;-). I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Today is a special day for us. Thirty five years ago Rudee and I repeated our vows and started a lifetime of adventure together. We have had many ups and downs over the years but have always been each others best friends. We met in High School at a varsity basketball game and have been an "item" ever since. We have never had a lot of money but there is a lot of love and faith in our lives. We have raised two wonderful children who are now both married and making their way in the world. We have also been blessed with 3 grandchildren and one step grandchild who are the light of our lives.
I wanted to do something special for my bride on our special day so I arranged to surprise her with a private tour to the top of Crazy Horse. This morning we rode the bike out to breakfast and I told her I wanted to go into work to check for our mail which had been forwarded from our mail service. Once we got parked in the parking lot I told her what I had planned. We were both really excited as we went inside and met our driver James.

We had to fill out release forms since we were heading up to an active work and blast site. Once all the paperwork was done he led us out to a waiting van. James has worked at Crazy Horse for several years and gave us a lot of history as we drove up the gravel roads getting closer and closer to the top of the mountain.

We parked near one of the maintenance buildings where we had to put on our hard hats.

We then walked to the end of Crazy Horse's outstretched arm and turned around for this impressive view.

Here is a shot of the complex where we work from Crazy Horse's point of view. :-)

and a zoomed in shot of our campground.

Ever wonder what is up Crazy Horse's nose?

We both were thrilled to be able to experience this and it made our 35th Anniversary one we will never forget. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

old friends, new friends

I guess I have been neglecting the blog a little and my updates are stretching into only once a week. I think about blogging during the week but our workday usually ends after 10pm and our priority is food and bed. :-)
For some reason my week was more of a struggle to get through last week. I can't really put my finger on it but work was more like "work" if you know what I mean.
One thing that I have noticed here, and have heard of from other work campers, is the tendency of some of our co-workers to take it upon themselves to be "supervisors".  They are usually people who are on their 2nd, 3rd or more season(s) of working at a certain location. They might have even been "the boss" in their former career and feel like they need to "help others" with their supervisory experience. Unfortunately we have encountered these types last year at the KOA and a couple here at Crazy Horse as well. Instead of doing their part to get the job done they just stand back and "look busy" all the while interjecting their opinion on how you should do the work, oftentimes in direct conflict with how your real supervisor trained you to do it. This puts you in between a rock and a hard place and tends to add stress to your day. Rudee and I both have ran into this while working here and with us being the "rookies" we are both targets for them. I actually had to tell one coworker to back off a little because he was not following proper procedures and was trying to instruct me to do as he did. I told him our supervisor trained me to do it a certain way and he told me that as long as the supervisor was not here that he was in charge and would do things as he saw fit. Needless to say we disagreed and I distanced myself from him so I could do the job as I was told to do it. Rudee had the same issue with a different excuse. Her coworker told her "we didn't do that last year so we don't have to do it that way this year".  I don't understand this type of thinking. Sure we only make a little more then minimum wage but does bucking the system make you feel more important? We are here to have some fun,earn a few $$'s, make some new friends and enjoy the adventure. I think that is what work camping is (or should be) all about. Oh well rant over. :-)

Sunday morning we met with our "biker buds" Doug, Rand, Fred and Jan for breakfast in Custer. Fred and Jan were pulling out to continue their travels and we wanted to say our goodbyes. They are heading further east to visit more friends and family.
Sunday evening I was working the entrance gate and heard an air horn blowing from a passing truck. Hey, I recognize that rig! Turns out our friends from Indiana, Niles and Deb Robinson, were due to arrive on Monday but ended up pulling in this evening. Once we got off work we drove over to Custer where they are camping for the next month and caught up with all the hometown news. Welcome back to the Hills guys!

I have been corresponding back and forth with Jim and Robin Hicks. We "met" on the Escapees HDT (heavy duty truck) forum and they just got started with their camp host duties in Custer State Park. We made a date to meet for breakfast Monday morning in Custer. They also just happen to have a Goldwing motorcycle so we decided to take a little ride afterwards. :-)
Once we got breakfast over with we headed to Deadwood via New Castle Wyoming so we could see some of the countryside. Stupid me, I forgot the camera so no pictures of our outing. :-(
We decided to take advantage of our VIP cards and stopped into the 76 Museum in Deadwood. They have a lot of rodeo memorabilia as well as a huge collection of horse drawn carriages. Jim and Robin had to be back to work by 5pm so we dropped them off at their park before heading on to Keystone for dinner. Thanks for a great day guys, looking forward to some more rides together.
Leaving Custer State Park we rode Iron Mountain Rd. into Keystone. This road has several tunnels and if you are headed the right direction (we were) Mount Rushmore is visible through the tunnel. :-)
I don't think I could ever get tired of the scenery in this part of the country.

Tuesday was warm and sunny and we wanted to do some more riding so we headed to Wall SD home to the famous

We have been here before so just did a quick look around and got our free ice water before riding on.
Next stop was Badlands National Park where we paid the $10 entrance fee to ride through the park. The temperature had risen into the 90's making the Badlands even badder. :-)

We made a stop at the lodge and cooled down with a glass of ice tea before heading across SR 44 towards Rapid City. We sure were happy to be back in the Black Hills where the temperature is more moderate then in the "low lands". :-)
We head back to work today and our schedules are very similar so we can ride together, at least for today anyway. :-) I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

something sounds a little "fishy" to me

Wow, another work week down here in the Black Hills. Monday, our first day off, we were invited to go on another ride with Doug, Rand, Fred and Jan. The weather sounded a little iffy with rain and storms predicted but we are all true "bikers" and wont let a little rain stop us. :-)
We rode for most of the day ending up back in Keystone, SD for some ice cream. We never got wet and had a great time with our new friends.

Tuesday we decided to launch our Sea Eagle Kayak. I wanted to try my luck fishing again and decided that Center Lake in Custer State Park would be the perfect place. Once we got the boat inflated and launched Rudee paddled us around while I was busy casting for our dinner. Unfortunately my luck was all bad and after a couple of hours of no bites we decided to just paddle around the lake and enjoy the view.
We  got the boat wiped down, deflated and back into it's carry bag and we were both getting hungry. On the way out of the park we stopped at Legion Lake Restaurant and had a quick snack of a plate of Nachos. They have a small gift shop attached to the restaurant and they sell some fishing bait and tackle. I found some Berkley Dough Bait for Trout and decided to try that since nothing else seemed to be working for me.
We stopped at Bismark Lake, which is a National Forest Recreation Area that is inside Custer State Park. I had no idea if the fishing was good or bad in this lake but what did I have to lose? :-)
We decided to not launch the boat and fish from the bank instead. They have a nice board walk that extends around part of the lake and have a couple of fishing piers connected to it. There was no one else around and I was beginning to think my bad fishing luck would continue.
I rigged one pole up with a bobber so I could try using my remaining night crawlers and rigged another one up for trout fishing.
Once I got both lines in the water the action started! I was catching Perch like crazy using the night crawlers. They were all small ones though and I threw them all back. Eventually the trout started biting and I got a couple of nice strikes on the other pole. They stole my bait a few times until I hooked and landed a nice size Rainbow. Now that is what we have been looking for! I put the trout on my stringer and quickly re-baited the hook. I needed at least one more so Rudee could eat too. :-)
I kept catching and releasing the perch and finally just before we were ready to pack it in I hooked another Rainbow. Now we can both eat!
Here is the "catch of the day"

Once we got back to the motor home I cleaned the fish and took a quick shower. We had been invited to go out to dinner with our "biker buddies". We met them at the Bull and Bugle in Custer where we sat on the deck overlooking the highway. We had a great meal and enjoyed swapping stories. Fred and Jan will be leaving later this week for their trip home to Texas. We enjoyed meeting them and sharing the highway with them on our rides. Have a safe trip home guys! I'll keep you posted.

Friday, July 5, 2013

the weeks are flying by

Our last week has flown by and now we are 1/2 way through our scheduled hours this week. The tourist season is picking up here in the Black Hills. On our days off we noticed a lot of additional traffic and less parking places available in the nearby towns.
We did get in a nice long bike ride Monday. Rand and Doug, our biker buddies from work, had some friends vacationing in the area and they also brought their bike. Fred and Jan are from Texas, as are Doug and Rand. They travel in a 5th wheel toy hauler with their Harley in the garage.
We met for breakfast in Custer at a small local cafe' we stumbled across a couple of weeks ago appropriately named "Our Place".
After breakfast they wanted me to lead the ride onto Needles Highway so the pressure was on. :-)
Both of these couples are experienced group riders so leading was not a chore and we quickly fell into a "riding rhythm" and had a great time. Here is our group at one of the scenic vistas.

We ended up circling around into the town of Keystone where we eventually found enough parking room to squeeze our 3 bikes into. The town was packed but Rand had requested ice cream and I sure didn't want to disappoint her. :-)
We had a great day of riding and getting to know Fred and Jan. They are in the area for another week so we are planning some more rides our next two days off.

Tuesday we decided to get our Sea Eagle SE370 inflatable kayak inflated and explore one of the lakes in Custer State Park. We had heard that the fishing was pretty good on Stockade Lake so decided to try our luck, well actually since I was the only one with a license, I was going to try my luck while Rudee paddled. :-)
We got the boat inflated and ready to launch in about 10 minutes. That's not too bad considering this was only our second attempt since we purchased the boat over a year ago.

Stockade is the largest of the lakes here in the park and the wind was blowing a little more then we like so we ended up staying on one end in a protected little cove. I fished while Rudee did her best to keep the boat in a good position for my casting. Over time we had a system worked out between us and had a great time on the water.  I got several small "hits" on my lure and finally caught one decent size crappie. I decided to do a "catch and release" so didn't even get it inside the boat. Rudee is telling everyone I got it off the hook and it slipped out of my hand but I remember it a little different. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. :-)
We enjoyed our day on the water and plan on doing some more paddling and fishing while in the area.

Wednesday was the start of a new work week for us and it has been very busy. There was a medical emergency in the visitors center shortly after I started my shift. I was working at one of the entrance booths so had no idea it was even going on. There was one worker who was a nurse and she started CPR on the person and there was two off duty police officers who assisted her, They also had a automatic defibrillator they used until EMS arrived. I wish I could have been there to help out, my past experience and training is on my resume' and they know I am current on my AED and CPR certification but unless you are nearby when these things happen there is little to no time to notify the trained people to respond. Sadly they could not revive the person and there was a sad cloud over the mountain the rest of the day. :-(

Our shifts are starting to become more and more separated from each other. I am starting to get more and more earlier shifts while Rudee is staying on evenings until closing time. We would like to work the same hours but it really is not that big of a deal since I can ride the bike in and she has the truck. We are both still enjoying the experience here. Last night after the laser light show I was in the gift shop waiting on everyone to leave so Rudee could close out. A man came up to me, shook my hand and said "thank you". I asked him if he enjoyed his visit and he couldn't talk because the show had stirred up a lot of emotions in him. He had tears in his eyes! That makes working here even more special and are things we will never forget. I'll keep you posted.