Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary

Hi all,
 Holy cow what crazy weather we have been getting. Most days start out sunny by afternoon the clouds roll in and rain and hail follows. The other day a tornado touched down about 25 miles from us. Tornadoes are rare in the hills. The car port has had a couple light hail tests already and we are thankful to have put it up.

 Wendy and I took a drive up to Sylvan Lake the other day planning to fish and hike a little. Wendy doesn't fish but likes to sit and work on pine needle baskets or cross stitching. After not being able to catch anything for a bit we decided to walk around the lake. Just as we got about 1/4 of the way a big  dark cloud came and turned us back. Sure enough rain and small hail again.
  One perk for volunteers and workers in the Black Hills area is a VIP pass, this gets you discounts at area attractions. Last year we used ours to the total of more than $500. While we did many things we still have some new things we want to do.
 So today with the weather forecast calling for a good day we headed to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary. We invited another volunteer couple who reside in our campground to join us.
 Jim and Betty work Fri.-Sun. checking park passes throughout the park.
 The Sanctuary is located south of Hot Springs and a good hours drive from Custer. They offer an assortment of tours to choose. Ours VIP pass entitled us to a two hour guided bus tour. ($50. value per person).
 The story of the sanctuary centers around Dayton O. Hyde who in 1986 after encounter with some sad looking horses in a cattle yard felt the need to do something to save them. He ended up working with the director of the BLM and created the Institute of Range and Mustang (or I.R.A.M.) a nonprofit organization. The sanctuary encompasses 14,000 acres of beautiful South Dakota country along the Cheyenne River. There is also  a deep canyon that is pretty much left for the horses.
 We were lucky to have a small group of only eight, so we got to take the small bus.
 We learned a lot on the tour seeing a great sampling of the more than 750 horses that are free roaming in the sanctuary.
 They are divided into three groups 1) the Curly Mustangs a horse with a woolly type hair. They have long curly hair in winter and shed it in summer. 2) the Choctaw Ponies are a rare breed thought to be of Spanish ancestry. They are a hardy breed with stamina like no others. 3) the American Mustangs the results of much crossbreeding such as Draft horses, Thoroughbreds, and Indian Ponies to name a few. The most numerous there are approximately 30,000 wild mustangs on public land. 
 A photographers dream shoot I will let the pics do the rest of the talking.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

Hi all,
Getting ready for the big Memorial Day Weekend. We received work schedules that may change slightly but it looks like Wendy will be off Mon. to Wed. and I am off Tues. & Wed. That should work out nicely.
  To better explain what we are doing this summer, Wendy has taken a campground attendant position. In that she will work 8 hour shifts cleaning restrooms, fire pits and filling in as a host when they have days off. This is a paid position and we worked with the Supervisor so she will only work four days.
 I will be a campground host and will be on duty from 5pm to 9 five days a week. Reasons for doing this was 1) money is always welcome. 2) A camp host gets a prime spot in campground. We also didn't figure we could both do pay positions with one vehicle as we would then be in a volunteer village area.
 As with most state campgrounds we will be full this weekend. The weather forecast is periods of rain and upper 60's. But it looks better Monday.)
 Many of the camp workers here have been putting up car ports to hopefully prevent hail damage and I jumped on board to. Last year I got dinged by hail and cost was over $200 and that with help from a good friend.
  I picked up the carport at Menards, bought a few tie downs, and Wendy and I put it up the other day. I tell Wendy we will budget it down under insurance.
 We have already had some nice interactions with some of the campers. It is nice hearing where they are off to and bits of their lives. We have also had to help through a few reservation issues also. One example was a WI. lady who knew she had reserved site 45 on the lake. Well we only have 42 sites and none on the lake. After getting out our laptop so she could check her email verification we found she was at a different park 30 miles away. Another group came in and set up on a site that was reserved. We have a big sign at the campground entrance and a small sign on each site post stating a reservation is required for all sites but some people just don't understand. On this one we had to call our leader so he could help out. Sorting through these can be difficult at times but as long as you keep your cool and do your best to help the customer out it can be a good experience. Such is the life of a camp host. Have a nice holiday.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ready to roll

Hi all,
We have been getting settled in here in Custer State Park and are anxious to get the season rolling.
We have some minor training to do and our campground opens Friday. One new thing is having Ipads and Internet access in all the campgrounds. This will allow live access to the reservation system and should help resolve conflicts as they arise.
 The other day was treat day where we get uniforms and meet & greet others and oh did I mention mega homemade treats. I kidded them that it was for my birthday as it was the same day.
 It's the annual open house weekend where they have free park entrance and free fishing. They have quite a few other activities planned throughout the park all ending with the famous buffalo chip toss on Sunday.
 The weather is to be on a slight warming trend, nothing to write home about but any move up is welcomed.
 We are camped in the Stockade North Campground, this is located at the west entrance to the park. Last year we hosted at the Game Lodge campground on the east side. The change was mainly to be by Stockade Lake, a pretty lake with lots of bluegills, crappie, and bass. I guess I owe Wendy big.
 The campground has 42 sites all but 8 have electric. It is in ponderosa pines and has a nice playground area. Park naturalist also hold nightly programs in the outdoor amphitheater- weather permitting.
home sweet home

Our pretty red work truck- vintage 1995

spacious site with kids climbing rock

looking up past playground to amphitheater
 With a park this big (71,000 acres) there are good points and bad points as to where you're located. On the good side we are only four miles from Custer, on the bad side we have to drive 14 extra miles to head to Rapid City and the big stores. On a good side we have excellent internet and phone connection- last year we bought a booster and antenna at Game Lodge to get some service. The phone worked if you stood in the doorway. We also get some good tv channels where we only got PBS channels at Game Lodge. On the bad side we don't get buffalo at this area of the park, a cattle gate prohibits them from here. We have to drive to see them :(.

first birds at our feeder

that's all pfft

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Checking in at Custer

Hi all,
 Had a slight change of plans, our scheduled arrival to Custer was May, 8. As we looked at the weather forecast which was crummy we got the ok and pulled in on Monday. Turns out a good move as we came in and set up in good weather and got cold and 4" of snow today.
  The campground we are in at Custer State Park (Stockade North) will not be open until May 16th. This gives us a nice chance to settle in and bum around some. We also have not been near a good grocer so a good restocking of supplies was in order.
 We have already drove the wildlife loop twice to see the baby buffalo. The first time we saw quite a few buffalo but only saw one red dog (baby). After stopping by the office today we heard they were up a dirt road in the tree lines. So off we went on sloppy roads and guess what - we saw none. Figures, you just can't rely on these critters to play fair. Oh well, will have to try again.
 We did see some mountain goats, lots of deer and antelope and no they were not playing,)
 There has been quite a bit of tree damage this past winter. We saw many areas of fresh logging and lots of brush piles.
 I had posted that I was doing some wood carving so this is a pic of some of my work so far. Not bad only cut myself once.) and no I'm not taking orders yet.)


Sunday, May 4, 2014

History lesson day

Howdy y'all,
 Well Wyoming is cowboy country.) Glendo WY is on the east side of the state about 1/3 up from the south border. It is nestled along the Platte River. We are camped at Glendo Lakeside RV Campground, just outside Glendo State Park. It is a nice clean private park (not passport) and the owners were friendly.
 We took a drive through the state park. It is along the Glendo Reservoir a huge body of water. Some of shoreline is very picturesque with colored sandstone. The lake is a popular walleye fishing spot, darn no license- maybe next time.
 Saturday we took a short drive south to Fort Laramie. Fort Laramie played a integral role to the early settlers as three major trails to the west passed this area, The Oregon Trail, the California Trail, and the Mormon Trail. It also hosted several important treaty negotiations.
 We began at the visitor center where we watched a short video on the history of the fort. Then looked through a small display, and Wendy was happy getting five new stamps in her national passport book.
 Then outside where they have about 20 structures in various condition. Some were merely footings, but 11 were very well done restorations complete with furnishings. The fort covers a lot of acres and we sure got a good walk in. It is a nice area that looks to get little attention due to the out of the way location.  Our grandson Alex said once while we were in Cades Cove you can just smell the history.
 Also a couple things that one must see while in the area are the Oregon trail ruts. Ruts from the wagons that run up to five feet deep in sandstone.
 Register Cliff is also a neat site where many early travelers would etch there names in the soft rock. Many are still quite visible today with dates as early as 1839.
  We also checked out Guernsey State Park, a huge park with some neat CCC built structures. A long drive up a narrow winding road takes you to a good view, I had to lock the doors to keep Wendy from jumping out. She sure don't like living on the edge.)
 Along the route we stopped by a old iron bridge crossing the North Platte River. The triple span bridge was built in 1875 and the best preserved in existence. It was used up until 1958.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

One week to go!

Hi all,
We are at Glendo, WY a short 120 miles to Custer SP our summer gig. We are actually getting excited to get there and meet up with old friends.
 The last few days have found us in cold 40 degree weather and windy conditions. Not crazy windy to not be driving but enough to knock the mph's average down some.
 As we are mostly in transit mode I will post some of Wendy's pics and just ramble a little.)
 Seems a little black cloud has been over me the past few days. In Rifle I was getting in to the truck a super high wind blew through, bad enough that it took my hat off from behind. After chasing my hat I fought my way back to the truck. Later I started hearing a pop noise from the truck door. Seems that wind knocked the door out of alignment- I better get that fixed.
 Next we were set up in Rawlins WY for a one night stay when Wendy said she heard some noise from below. Uh oh- water was running from somewhere??? Turns out for some reason the toilet water had continued to run and overflowed the bowl. Luckily the water found a decent drain exit and didn't flood us out.
 As we got to the campground today I noticed something hanging under the side of the truck. Turns out a mudshield that is put between step rails and the truck. It has a metal clip that was totally rusted so this will require a new one and looking at the other side I better get two.
 Also had my good watts water regulator split on the connector, along with needing to get a new water pump and put that in. Kinda reminds me of the days of owning the old stix n brix. Its always something.
  Ok now you can put your violins and handkerchiefs down now.)