Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Fun Between the Drops

Hi all,
 Another week passing here in the beautiful green Black Hills. The weather has warmed some but we are still getting some good rain. It never is enough to wash out your plans but don't go without your umbrella. We talked with a couple that hiked up Harney Peak( highest pt east of the Rockies) and the clouds opened up on them all the way down. They still were in good spirits, just shows it is all about attitude.
  Custer State Park is famous for wildlife viewing and lately we have seen some of the not so famous. We have spotted osprey at three different lakes and have seen them doing there part to reduce the fish population.
 There are also multiple blue heron nests on an island on Stockade Lake. They sure do some loud squawking at times.
 Tuesday the park put on a picnic for all us park people. These are nice gatherings and chances to talk with others doing different jobs.
 Wednesday I got up early to go fishing with JD another camphost in the park. We just shore fished but did pretty good. JD is from Washington and says all he fishes for there are trout. He really likes the crappie and bluegills here. He says he is just saving the fish from drowning.) We want to put on a fish fry one evening if we can make it work with our schedules.
 Later Wendy and I pulled out the VIP passes and headed to Keystone for the Presidential Wax Museum. Some of the figures looked very life like while others not so much so. We then played a round of mini golf at Holy Terror course. We pretty much stunk up the course but had fun and happy we did it for nothing.
                                   This balloon gave us a early awakening one morning.
And a nice picnic area up near Mt Rushmore with some great views.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Hiking to jobs

Hi all,
Well I said we had some exciting news and guess what- oh I'll tell ya later.)
We had a nice and quiet Fathers day, Wendy had to work 8-5 so a little fishing for me and calls from the kids. We also had a yummy Omaha steak dinner that the kids provided for us.
 For our days off we took a hike on the Prairie Trail in the park. A nice moderate three mile hike that was to showcase wild flowers. We thought that the flowers wouldn't be out yet but were actually surprised to see quite a few.
 As with most all trails here you have to climb the Hills, but the views were great. It was also a good place to be in the open as the wind in the ponderosa pines were creating almost a fog of pollen. We never have seen pollen like this and were surprised to see it in the pines. Thankfully we don't suffer from allergies or we would be miserable.
 Also had a nice meeting with another couple that volunteer in the park. Doug and Betty are from Florida and have worked in the park for six years. She works in the office and he does maintenance projects, he is now painting picnic tables. There really is a multitude of jobs here offered, some paid and others as volunteer.
 To elaborate more on the different opportunities there are volunteers manning the visitor centers and Badger Hole, a cabin that was owned by poet Badger Clark. We also have volunteer cabin cleaners and some operating the sani truck on vault toilets. There were some doing an elk study last year and we met one couple who works the Mickelson Bike trail. Now if you want pay we have campground attendants like Wendy, five entrance stations that require 2-4 people each. Maintenance also offers many positions and then we hire naturalist to do many programs throughout the park.
 I probably missed a bunch but it just shows that whatever type of work trips your trigger you may find it here. Note: our supervisor tries to fill next seasons host and vol. cabin cleaners by October the previous year so apply early. Applications for most paid positions begin around Feb. 1st.
  On Tuesday we took a ride up to Hill City. We were just there to bum the streets and have lunch. We did use our volunteer passes to visit the Museum at Black Hills Institute. It is a small museum featuring rock, fossils and everything prehistoric. A small museum not real exciting to us.
 Okay the moment you have been waiting for- We Got A Job!! How exciting- we landed our winter gig at Suwanee State Park in Live Oak Fla. We were trying to find one in northern Florida as our daughter Amanda has recently taken a job there. It will be nice to be near some family for the holidays.
 Our job is as cabin cleaners- ( Wendy just can't leave the cleaning stuff) . This is a small 30 site campground with five cabins. The cabins are nice size with kitchens and baths which is more than we have seen. They also provide linens so I will have to learn to make a bed-----')
 We will be there four months  Nov.  through Feb. Amanda has been to the park and gave it a good review as nice and clean.
  Had to include this little guy who just wouldn't leave our tablecloth alone.  Must have sure gave himself a belly ache.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wild West in the Hills

Hi all,
 Well this past weekend took the cake for crummy weather. Rain and highs in the 40's are about as bad as it gets this time of year. As bad as it is for us we feel bad for the people who are camping in tents and on their vacation. One guy asked me when they moved Mt Rushmore-? They couldn't see it through the fog. Just like things usually go on Monday the sun was shining and it was up in the 60s.
  So with the sun energizing us we took a drive on the wildlife loop marveling at the vibrant green colors the rain has provided.
 Then we looked at the VIP passes and decided to check out Four Mile Old West Town. This was a remake of a old west town featuring 50 structures. This was probably a neat attraction at one time but now a run down mess. It did have some neat old antiques but the whole place needed repairs. As it sits outside of town they probably have a tough time drawing tourist, but I'm sure many tourist drive up and say no way. Oh well it was still a nice day and worth the price we paid(0).
 Tuesday was spent at the lake doing a little fishing and not much catching. For dinner we had reservations at the Bluebell Chuckwagon dinner. Bluebell is on the southwest side of the park and features a lodge, campground with cabins, and is the area for horse rides.
  This was another chance to use the VIP passes and do something we hadn't done last year. They loaded us up in wagons pulled by pickups each with a guitar player leading us in song. Our leader was a fourth grade teacher who has actually recorded CDs of cowboy and fun music for kids. He played some well known songs for sing along and mixed in some of his own funny songs.
 After rolling along and seeing plenty of wildlife for about a good hour we arrived at Parker Canyon
where we had our steak chuckwagon dinner while being entertained by the quartet of musicians from the wagons.
 Just as we finished dinner the clouds decided it was time to go and gratefully we pulled down plastic shades to keep us all dry.
  Oh and stay tuned for the big news next week.)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

This That and Fish

Hi all,
 Things have been going pretty well here in Custer SP. Wendy has been working at the two Stockade Lake campgrounds and Sylvan Lake campground. Sylvan is a bit separated from the main part of the park but she uses a state vehicle for the 9 mile ride. Her schedule has been 8-5 for two days and 12-9 for two days. After they get a couple more attendants trained her days will all be 8-5. That was her preference, I wonder if it has anything to do with my hours being 5-9??
 Weather has been warming a bit but we are still getting some thunderstorms and rain. Monday was a sunny day so we got in a nice drive to see the heads( Mt Rushmore). We did the Iron Mountain Road where the tunnels frame it and did a quick drive by. We took a stroll through Keystone enjoying the light early season crowd and had lunch.
  I still had time to get in a little fishing. I have bounced around the shore of Stockade Lake doing pretty well with some nice bluegills and crappie. I know it's a pretty rough life.
 Wednesday started out sunny so we took a short hike on the Stockade Lake Trail. Only 1-1/2 miles but does have some elevation gain giving it a moderate rating. As the trail is not one of the popular ones we enjoyed it all to ourselves. We also figured we haven't been hiking much lately so this was a good refresher. Then it was off the lake for some more fishing. Did I say how rough it is here?.)
 Wendy has always loved doing crafts as a hobby. She has cross stitched for many years and recently she has really involved in pine needle baskets. She actually picked it up going to a naturalist program in the park last summer with grandson Lukas.
 Also a couple of my latest carvings. You can't fish all the time .)