Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Gone fishing

Hello all,
 Our weekends are now Tuesday and Wednesday, I think that will be a plus when trying to do touristy things.
   On Tuesday I went fishing with Jay Zapp. Jay is doing our cabin cleaning and has done many other jobs volunteering here for a number of years. He also has worked at Escapee parks in the winter seasons.
 Jay is a avid fisherman and has done tournament fishing and also worked as a guide.
 We headed to Stockade Lake on the west side of the park. It is just beautiful and will definitely be a destination for our kayak.
 So, I watched him load up his boat with about 8 fishing rods and 2 very heavy tackle boxes. I sheepishly load my single pole and small tackle boxes.
 He is only fishing for bass today and doesn't mind that I will try for some crappie or blue gills. At the end of the day he had landed only about 5-6 bass and none of good size to him. I had landed a mix of more than 30 blue gill, crappie, and perch .

 I am sure he could have done better bass fishing, but was gracious allowing me to sit on some crappie holes.
 I missed fishing with my brother in law(Sonny) and grandsons this spring. But will surely take the grandsons out to this lake when they visit later this summer.
 On Wednesday we toured Wind Cave. Wind Cave National Park abuts south of Custer State Park.  We told our guide he needed to impress us as people have asked us which is better Jewel Cave or Wind Cave.

 We found them to be very different. Wind Caves biggest claim is called Box work. It resembles honeycomb or some say corrugated cardboard. It is very unique in caves and they believe the have 95% of all known box work. The tour from Jewel cave also differed as you passed through more of a narrow passage way. You had to keep an eye out so you didn't bump your noggin.

                    Wind Cave National Park also hold bison and a good elk herd.

 Our weather here has been a bit cool and we have had some good rains. But we think the park looks so nice now with all the green. The brown dry grass will surely happen soon enough.
Nice and green

Found the donkeys!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

Hello all,
    A big thanks to all the veterans this Memorial weekend. THANKS !!

 We got in a nice hike the other day. Lovers Leap is just a 1/2 mile from our site. It is a nice 3 mile loop that meanders through Ponderosa Pines up high to a beautiful view on top. Our supervisor proposed to his wife at this view.The trip down then follows a creek crossing it many times. We had a great day for doing this and only saw one other couple at the end of the hike.
 We have a full house in the campground so it is keeping us busy. We were going to grill up a couple burgers during our shift on Saturday and ended up cooking at 9:00pm. Oh well, time flies when you're having fun. It is fun talking with all the people and hearing of their adventures. It is really neat when people that have never been here come in. Seeing the excitement of the park and our critters in their faces is priceless.
 Had a cool happening the other day. I went over to meet the cabin cleaner just to be cordial. We got to talking and then it hit me we had met this fellow in Alabama at the Escapee park this past winter. It really is a small world. He is a big fisherman and was taking people for fishing and boat rides on the river there.  And the best part, he is always looking for a fishing partner. So on Tuesday I will make the sacrifice for him.  :)

Didn't last very long!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Hi again,
 Spring weather is running a ugly course, our prayers go out to Oklahoma.
 Our weather has been cool with some rain. After last years dry year most people are not minding the rain.
 I  feel bad for the families trying to enjoy a nice vacation and  the weather doesn't cooperate. Guess we can all say 'been there done that'.  We were able to change one family from a tent site to a cabin.They were from Georgia and were really freezing.
  We have our weekend as Tuesday and Wednesday. We took off as tourist and hit Jewel Cave. We were using our VIP comp card so we got in free. We took the 1-1/2 hr. scenic tour. Jewel Cave is the 2nd longest cave but believe that 95% is still uncharted. They are able to determine cave size be air flow in and out of the cave.

Don't get very good cave pictures
 Next up was a stop at the National Museum of Woodcarving. This is located just outside of Custer, S.D.
 Much of it is a tribute to Dr. Harley Niblack. He developed 3D animation and has had works in the Smithsonian Inst. He also was hired by Walt Disney in 1954 for animation at Disneyland.
We capped off the day with a short drive on the wildlife loop. It is just so handy just outside our campground. We have probably been on it about six times already. Seeing wildlife just never gets old to us.

Love the little ones
  Our daughter Colleen and her boys Noah and Lukas took part in one of those obstacle runs where you end up crawling through the mud. Looks like they had a great time. Sure makes us miss em. 
Can't wait til July when they come for a visit.
The end of a great day.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

1st weekend

Hello again,
  We now have had a couple days on the job. It is going good,  I guess all that training paid off.
This was a busy weekend in the park. They  had open house allowing everyone free admittance and there is also free fishing without licence. We also have a ton of activities going on, a volksmarch, some Dutch oven cooking, a fishing contests and much more. It all gets capped off Sunday with a buffalo chip flip. We waved at the younger kids the other day as they were loading up all the buffalo dung.
Gold panning
Dutch oven cooking
 Our campground was nearly full with only a couple tent sites open. Seems to be a favorite weekend for the locals as there are many from Rapid City. Later when the foreign tourist start flocking in they avoid the park.
 Our schedule is a bit weird and may take a little getting used to. We get up and dress in our fancy uniforms and spend about an hour spritzing up two bathrooms and checking 4 recycle cans. When we're done with that we change to street clothes and do our breakfast. We are then free until 5 when we change again and go on duty until 9.
 We are also trying to work in our meal schedule, trying to avoid cooking and eating when we are on duty. The previous host said don't worry you will get fed. I found out what he meant the other night. We began our  rounds and were immediately offered some smoked tenderloin. Later we met up with some of the dutch oven cookers and were testing some pecan bread/cake. Yea, I know its a tough job but somebodys gotta do it.)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So, what are we really doing?

Hello all,
 So Monday we finally got into the meat and potatoes of our jobs.
Many of you have been asking what we will exactly be doing.
 Our main focus is to be on duty from 5pm to 9 pm. Our focus is meet and greet, talking to as many guest as possible. The big point in these visits is to try and make sure guest know when there departure is. Seems many get mixed up on the day they are to leave. So nicely we say how was your time? now get the heck out.)
 The campground is full virtually every night, so if someone forgets what day they are to leave and the next guest comes in it is a big problem. Most times like that people leave the park for the day and are many times unreachable by phone in the hills.
Tatanka Theater with nightly Naturalist Programs
 We spot check the bathrooms in the morning. Assure t.p. is there and attend to any minor cleaning needed.  A cleaning crew does the main cleaning later. They also clean the fire pits. There is another couple that cleans the 11 cabins in our campground. We also have a group site and day use area across the highway that we should check, but no cleaning.
Day use area
Game Lodge Campground in background
 Oh there are many other things that we may do, rent open cabins which most times are all full. We sell park passes if someone forgot to get when they entered the park.
Fishing pond and creek in campground
 The park is on a new reservation system, all sites get reserved. If they come in without a reser. we direct them to a phone to call the reservation company to get the site. We do not have to post open or occupied sites. As it is a new system everybody is learning along with us. We already have had our part in a big snafu when two campers set up on reserved sites. They say that's not how it was done before. They also don't take the time to read signs. We had to do some creative maneuvering to find them a spot. At the end they were thanking us for going out of our way as we don't actually start until Friday.
 So with just a couple meetings in the morning we will be set to go. We are very eager to get going and believe we made a great choice in coming here.
Our backyard

Saturday, May 11, 2013

More training and touring

Hi all,
Well day 3 training on the new job.
 We spent a lot of time in class today. We had presentations from the Wildlife management team which is the most interesting to me. Then Forestry management which main issues are fires and pine beetle infestation.
 We then loaded into the fun mobiles (vans) and traveled to Legion Lake. We had lunch at Legion Lake Lodge and toured there cabins. Then a drive through the campground there and on to Badger Hole.

Legion Lake
Badger Hole is a old cabin that  Badger Clark, South Dakotas first poet laureate lived for the last 30 years of his life. He wrote many things most notably The Cowboys Prayer.
Badger Hole
 We then headed back to the classroom for presentation on buffalo management. Good to know as the herd of 1400+ roam the entire park.
 Next up were presentations from Wind Cave and Jewel Cave National Parks. We were really getting tired during these. Wendy said she almost dozed off a couple times. We sure aren't used to the classroom thing.
 Not done yet we had our fire management, radio and fire extinguisher training.
 Training Day 4
 This was a cool day. We began with a buffet breakfast at Game Lodge. They had some awards passed out to staff for last years work. Then off to the vans for Crazy Horse Memorial. There we had a customer service presentation (pep rally). It wasn't to bad and kinda fun.
After that a presentation on Crazy Horse Memorial. This was nice as we got to meet Ruth Ziolkowski the wife of Korzac who began the monument.
 They then had a nice buffet lunch for us. We then got another special treat as we loaded up and drove the arm of the monument. ( this is a $150. tour ).

 Next up to Mt. Rushmore. A presentation there and then a nice ice cream treat. Also saw a couple mountain goats just at the front entrance.
 This was a nice way to end the week. We are lucky and get the weekend off, on Monday we will finally get to train on our actual jobs.
  A nice bonus today we received a VIP card that gives us some good deals on area attractions. They want us to utilize those so we can give better info to our guest in the park- sure no problem ').

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Training days..

Hello all,
 Its been a busy week with our training. They map out the day pretty well keeping you hopping.(literally).
 We began Monday with introductions of the park staff and some basic park info. Then at 11:15 we loaded up the group of 45 (all new) into vans and drove to Mt. Coolidge. Mt. Coolidge is the second highest mountain in the area. It is used as a fire tower and also control center of communications in the park.
Built by CCC in 1940
Great views
 We then traveled to Blue Bell Lodge for lunch and a tour of the lodge. We also got to check out there cabins.
Blue Bell Lodge
 Then back to the vans and off to Blue Bell Campground and French Creek Horse Camp.
 We then drove the wild life loop road and a visit to the buffalo corrals. In September they hold the buffalo roundup that draws in about 18,000 spectators to watch. We will be leaving in August so not taking part in that.
 We then toured the wild life visitor station. This building was once the head herdsman's house.

 No we weren't done yet, back to the vans and off to French Creek Natural area and a drive through Game Lodge Campground.( This is where we will camphost).
 Still not done, slowly loaded our ever tiring buts back in the vans and toured Creekside motel. That is located next to Game Lodge.
 Back to those d--- vans we go and a tour of the Pavilion, where they will probably host 40 or more weddings.
  Ok guess what? You guessed, to the vans and a short drive to Reunion Cabin. This place was awesome, it sleeps 28 has two jacuzzi and rents for a mere $1,100 per night.
 We loaded up the last time and were finally done at 5:15. I don't know why we were so tired??
 Training Day 2.
 Begins with meeting some more park staff, then at 10:00 off to the vans.
 First stop was Center Campground and day use areas. Next was Valhalla, this was built in 1927 for Peter Norbeck. It is now reserved for the governor and guest use.

 We then went to the famous Black Hills Playhouse and viewed an old video of the park.
 we were scheduled to do Needles highway but it is closed for some logging.
 We then drove to Sylvan Lake Campground and Day Use area. Next was Sylvan Lake Lodge, where we got a nice lunch. We toured the main lodge and also viewed some of the rooms. This area also host many weddings as the lake and rock backdrop provides unique photo ops.
Sylvan Lake was one of the filming sites for "National Treasures Book of Secrets" in 2008
  Off in those wonderful vans again and off to Stockade Lake, then Stockade North and South Campgrounds.
 The last leg of the day was a quick stop at the shop/garage area. Then back to the Peter Norbeck Visitor Center where we completed one of those see if you can find this information in the center quizzes.
 Two days down and four and a half to go. I think it is really good training and will definitely make us better at our jobs- But I'm suggesting some low rider vans for the next training.).