Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Monday, October 17, 2016


Hi all,
Year 4 of this full time lifestyle is in the books, time to reflect on where we  have been and how well we have done with our budget.
  Travel highlights of the year included, 12 states, 15 national monuments or parks, and 11 state parks. Our trail ride into Bryce Canyon was the most memorable.
          RV MILES                        TRUCK MILES                     TOTAL
           5,848                                    12,754                                  18,602
 We spent 6 months volunteering( 4 mo. Roper Lake S.P. and 2 mo. Custer S.P.) and 1 month at Wendy's folks so our camp cost  remained low.

                                    2016 ACTUAL                            BUDGET
Total Spending             33,479                                          35,306

Camping                        3,487                                            7,200

Fuel                                3,183                                            5,400

Grocery                          3,741                                             4140

Dining out                      2,846                                             2,520

Entertainment                1,229                                              1,044

Truck                             1,641                                               600

RV                                 1,129                                                600

Most of these cost are variables others that are fixed like insurances and registrations are not shown.
Need to readjust higher cost for RV and Truck upgrades and repairs. Mostly offsetting this with lower fuel cost.
 Wendy's health insurance remains a big question mark again this year. She has been on a short term plan this year. For that reason plans are for us to change residency from South Dakota to Florida using the daughters physical address.            
 Other 2016 highlights was time spent with family and friends. Family time included two weddings and a grandsons graduation.
 We had visitors each month while at Roper, how cool was that. We had Wendy's brother visit us at Custer and finally met fellow bloggers Laurel and George. We had fun traveling with Tim and Renee and spending time with Rick and Rita while near LasVegas. Boy, how did we squeeze this all in??lol.
 So what does 2017 look like, so far we will spend the winter in Florida at Amanda's, after that explore some of the east coast.
 A BIG THANKS to you all for following along and being part of our adventure.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Back to Wisconsin

Hi all,
Monday we made the quick exit out of Custer as the forecast was rain and dropping temperatures. After just perfect weather this past week we got up Monday to a cool light drizzle. Our trek east was into a pretty stiff wind and we just didn't have the time to pull off and wait for it to ease up. I sure won't do any bragging on the gas mileage we got.
 We made one stop just short of Sioux Falls and pressed on the next day to Wisconsin. We pulled into Wendy's parents yard for two nights, they are doing well but still nice to get in visits when possible.
  Onward south we went, good friends from high school John and Judy were building their retirement home just 20 miles south so we figured a good time to drop in. Turns out they had just moved in and we were the first guests. Wow, what a nice place they got, they made quite a few upgrades and John was on site assuring things were getting done right.
 We are so happy for them getting the chance to live their dream.( but we just don't understand anyone's dream of retiring and moving north??? haha).
 Next we made a one night driveway stay by Wendy's sister Patsy, getting in a nice dinner and chat with her and hubby Sonny.
 Finally we pulled into Mukwonago at Country View Campground home for the next week. While here we will get in some quick quality family time and a couple doctor appointments for me.
Add caption
Colleen and Wendy
 As far as plans after that Wendy and I are torn between Louisiana and a couple festivals or beach time before heading to Amanda's, we better decide soon.

Pumpkin farm near Delavan, WI 

Isaiah, Lukas, and Manuel

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Custer Round Up

Hi all,
Yahoo!! We survived the famous Custer State Park Buffalo round up. This was the 51st annual event. The buffalo are rounded up and driven to corrals where the new calves get branded and vaccinated, cows are checked for pregnancy, and they begin sorting for the auction that goes on in November. This is done to maintain the herd at the 1,300 level they desire.
  What a week it was,  beginning on Tuesday with a full day of training on how this all gets pulled off. Training began with a talk from the park superintendent then a movie from a previous round up to get us in the mood. We then loaded up into vans and drove out the wildlife loop to the round up location to get a better visualization of parking areas and where the buffalo action would be going on. Not done yet we had more training on our duties for the Arts Festival that coinsides with the round up weekend.
 It takes a ton of volunteers and staff to put this on. There are two viewing and parking areas for the expected 14,000 spectators.
 We were assigned to a small team for crowd control, our main focus keeping the crowd off the wildlife loop road and in a roped designated area. We began to realize our team of 5 was going to be spread pretty thin we only hoped the crowd would behave and not overtake us.)
 We got a nice surprise earlier in the week as Wendy's brother Rich called and said he would be driving from Wisconsin for the event. We were a bit worried we wouldn't be able to spend much time with him and traveling alone it might be lonely waiting for the action. Well Wendy had a great idea, we got a waiver for Rich to volunteer and aide us in crowd control. Boy, how thoughtful are we??.lol
 Friday is the big day, we met at the old visitor center at 4:45 am to caravan with a police escort to our respective areas. As we drove along we passed a long line of cars (close to 200) already waiting for the 6:15 parking lot opening.
 As we awaited for the opening of parking and the crowd we were greeted with a awesome sunrise. Our weather ended up being slightly overcast which may have been a blessing not having to bake for hours in the sun.
 The roundup was to begin at 9:30 but it took until almost 10:30 before we spied the first of the buffalo. After that it goes pretty fast, they come in driven fast by riders some riding and cracking their bullwhips. They also use a number of pick up trucks to assure the herd doesn't veer off course.
  It all went pretty good although the herd did make a charge off the intended course up a hill but didn't take riders to long to circle  around and bring them on in.

North viewing area

view from south viewing area

Into the corral

All in!
 Overall we had a great experience and were glad we changed to our summer schedule to include this.
 Our day was not near over, as Wendy and I had duties to assist at the Arts Festival. Wendy was manning a registration booth while I was monitoring an entrance gate. We did this from noon til 5 and then scooted back to our campground for our host duties.

 Yes, definetly a long day we zombied through and laughed as we said we were going to bed on Richards Wisconsin time zone.
 Saturday Wendy found someone to take her registration hours so she could spend some time with her brother. They got in a nice hike on the Little Devils Tower Trail while I slaved away at the gate.(
Mountain goat

Black Elk Peak (Harney Peak) in background

Great fall colors

 One perk during the roundup is that the park volunteers were given a place at the Art Festival to sell their treasures. Wendy did great with her pine needle baskets, me not so much as I had put out some diamond willow hiking sticks but there was to much competition, oh well.
 Our next plans are to leave here on Monday and travel to Wisconsin for a quick stop before heading south. Our winter plans are to work camp at Amanda's place in Live Oak, Fla.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Counting Down

Hi all,
The countdown is on, only 10 more working days and then we are out of here. 
That only leaves four off days to do stuff here.
 Time to get busy with some last visits and trips to our favorite places one more time. I got in one last trip to Cold Brook Reservoir to get one more limit of crappie. We got a nice sunny 80 degree day and the fish just jumped in the boat.(haha)
Yes the water is that clear

 Wendy and I spent a day bumming around beautiful Lake Sylvan and visiting with Bill the host there.
Sylvan Lake
Another day we hiked the Coolidge Walk In Trail a 3 mile one way trail that includes 15 creek crossings. It was nice to see all the crossings are now fixed with boards which should help with erosion of banks in some areas.

 We had been waiting for some fall color change to take a drive up to Spearfish Canyon Scenic Highway. Monday was the day, Al and Nancy who are hosting at Center Lake joined us. Wow! did we hit it right,  80 degrees and blue skies and the fall colors were popping.
 We made a bunch of pull offs each time just in awe of the beauty. Two required stops along the scenic highway are Roughlock and Bridal Veil Falls. We took a short walk from the Roughlock along the Spearfish Creek.

 We took a break for a nice lunch in Spearfish then decided to tour the DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. We had done this before but was a first for Al and Nancy.
 Established in 1896 between 20,000 and 30,000 rainbow trout are provided from here yearly. The grounds are visitor friendly as you are allowed to purchase and feed the fish. Also on grounds is a replica traincar that was used to transport fish in the early years. We also toured the house of DC Booth the first manager that was built in 1905.

  The next two weeks will go fast as we have training for the buffalo round that takes place on Sept.30. That is a big weekend here as they also have a craft fair in the park and a chili cookoff going on.

Wendy's work for the craft fair

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Buffalo Bits

Hi all,
Wow, down to only one month left here in the Black Hills. This two month stint is actually kinda nice.
Want to give a special shout out to fellow blogger Pam who was staying in the park last week. Pam is a fellow Wisconsinite and writes a nice blog called Nomadic Newfies , she also takes great pics so check it out if you like at http://nomadicnewfies.blogspot.com . Nice meeting you!
 Hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend, things here were quite different than normal. This weekend we were filled with many local (Rapid City) campers getting a last big summer weekend in. We had multiple sites where related families were getting together, not that they were bad just seemed all had plenty of other family come down so with no overflow parking cars were parked everywhere. We had to ride around pretty much with blinders on to keep sane.
 We thought it would slow down big time after the weekend but we have been close to full yet. Oh well guess it keeps things interesting.
 We got in our first buffalo jam at the East entrance to the park. Some of these guys were getting pretty agitated as they were trapped between a steep hill and cars. Luckily no damage was done.

 Sunday was a bit sunnier and we headed to Custer for a car show featuring Studebakers. While we like to see the old cars I must admit I didn't know much about these.
 Well one fella was happy to give us a quick history lesson, The start of Studebakers can be traced back to this German family first building Conestoga wagons in 1750. They became the largest producer of horse drawn wagons and carriages. Production of horse drawn wagons ended in 1920 and by then had an electric car but then made the switch to gasoline engines.
 They continued to produce cars in the South Bend, Ind. plant until 1963 and the last Studebaker rolled off the production line in Ontario, Canada in 1966.

On Monday we headed off for a drive and instead found ourselves taking in a nice one mile hike in Wind Cave, the Rankin Ridge Trail meanders up to a fire lookout tower. It offered some fantastic views.

Happily we got one more chance to get together with Laurel and George before they head out next Monday for parts unknown. We decided on catching a breakfast in Custer and a drive through the Black Hills. We then changed it up a bit to include a tour at Wind Cave National Park.
 We opted for the Natural Entrance tour well that was what was free with our VIP cards. We thought it was a good tour and our guide, Hannah did a fantastic job.

Box work
 After that Wendy and I showed them our favorite dirt road drive in Wind Cave N.P. into Custer S.P.
capping it all off with pie and ice cream at the Purple Pie in Custer.
 We had a great time hooking up with these guys and look forward to meeting again.