Wheres Ray/Wendy yr 2

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Weekend

Hi all,
 A special thank you to all those who have given their service and more for us.
Ready or not the tourist season is upon us. Training for all the new volunteers and employees completed on Friday. They get an in depth week and a half of training for all the new people, very nice if you haven't done this type of thing before. You get the park history, an explanation of how things are currently run and a complete tour of the park and lodges. As a bonus they also do a tour of Crazy Horse and Mt Rushmore.
 Wednesday all persons involved in the park gathered at Crazy Horse for a meeting on customer satisfaction or as Wendy and I call it a pep rally. Pictures also of our recent 5" of the white stuff on May 19th. Lets hope the last!
On Thursday we all met at Lake Sylvan Lodge for breakfast and kick off meeting. They told us of many new plans and happenings in the park. We have a new visitor center going in that will open in 2016. It sounded pretty cool as they won't have a counter with people behind it- instead the VC people will be roaming about able to show guest the various displays of the park. There will also be a replica of the Eye of the Needle( famous rock formation along the Needles highway) that they can walk through and a small climbing wall for the kids.
 The old VC will be utilized for naturalist programs.
 Also at the meeting they presented certificates for outstanding customer service from the past year. These are taken from guest evaluation cards that are given or emailed to them after their stays. I was lucky and received my first award. Kinda nice knowing you wowed a guest enough to take the time to recognize you.
 Wendy continues to work on her amazing basketry, she has to replenish her stock after selling nine of them at Betty's Campground. I continue to fish, I have started to dot the calendar to see how much fishing I can get in. I am up to 8 days thus far- pretty rough life huh? I put up a couple bags in the freezer and the other day just gave my catch to a local fella fishing by me.
May have to tell Wendy to start a blog on Basket making.
 I also have some hiking sticks to complete yet when the weather gets better. I saw a guest with some pine sticks that he was fashioning for canes. He had one inscribed as a Viet Nam Vet. As we discussed our common hobby I asked him if he would like to get a couple diamond willow sticks and he was all excited, I took him and he was happy to get a few to work on.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Open House Weekend

Hi all,
Well the snow didn't last long, a couple sunny and warm days made a quick meltdown. We do have quite a few days with some rain in the forecast but for the most part the winter here was dry so the rain is appreciated by most.
 It is open house weekend and all the campgrounds will be opened. We only look to be about half full which will allow us to get back in the swing of things before the busy holiday weekend comes up.
 Open house weekend has some nice features as free fishing with no license, pancake breakfasts and the famous buffalo chip toss on Sunday( hope they can find some dry chips). It does seem to bring out many locals from as far away as Custer and Rapid City, a good chance for them to enjoy the park before hordes of tourist take over.
 These were some shots Wendy got as the snow left us.
 We did get exciting news that our daughter Colleen and the family will be coming in for a visit. They had visited us here two years ago with our other daughter Amanda and her hubby Pat.. That and I get to spend some time with a couple of the grandsons, or as we call it the grandkid fix. Colleen had three boys and helped raise two stepsons, but they are just growing to fast. The stepsons are out on their own and her oldest boy Noah is almost a senior and working so we will just get to see the two younger boys. But we did get to spend time with Noah at Christmas and will see him in September.  We have been lucky to get visits from family each year while here, we take time off to play guides and it breaks the routine for a bit.
 We have met some of the new volunteers and it has been nice to catch up with some of the other returnees. They had a chili luncheon for everyone the other day that was pretty nice. They usually do about four of theses though out the season. Which is nice as most times everyone's different schedules keep you from meeting some.
 Looks to be a busy year here, we have the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Bike rally and the 50th of the Buffalo Round-up. If you don't have reservations in by now it is slim picking.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers Day Surprise

Hi all and Happy Mothers Day to all the special people out there.
 Had a good drive from Kearney and with nothing but rain in the forecast we just decided to push on and complete the drive to Custer. We completed the 1400 miles in just four days, good thing we now can settle in for a few months.
 It rained while setting up and was about 50 a big change from the 80 degree weather we had in Louisiana.( no comments- you know who) Oh well we always think it is cool to see spring in the south and then see it all over again moving north.
 We checked for mail at the office and did a small drive on the wildlife loop to see some of the critters we have been missing.
   We then got the RV all cleaned up, although I clean the front off daily while driving it had been a while since a top to bottom cleaning had been done. Whew, got that done and just enough time to drop a line in Stockade Lake. Wendy knew I was chomping at the bit to go fishing. A little slow but I managed about a dozen crappie in just over an hour.
 One reason cutting the fishing short was a rv repairman was coming to work on our furnace. When it came on Thursday morning all it would do is blow cold air. Turned out to be a bad board that is not stocked. We run electric heaters most times but like the furnace to heat things up in the morning. And the bad news is the forecast is calling for a crazy late spring snow of up to 24" and night time temps in the mid 20's.
 Not being able to order a new furnace board until Monday I was a bit worried a power outage could be disastrous. I do carry a generator and thought I better have it gassed up and ready in case.
 It began snowing at 7 am on Saturday morning and I quickly buzzed into town to fill up tanks for the generator. It continued to snow lightly through the day and into the night. Still snowing Sunday morning, Happy Mothers( Nature) Day?
 It snowed til about two and looks like a good 12" of the pretty white s----. I have been telling Wendy I don't mind the snow as long as I don't have to shovel. Well the thing is I don't even have a shovel anyhow.

 After it quit we put on some warm weather clothes and took a walkabout. It sure looked pretty and I hope it doesn't damage to many trees. Our weather forecast is into the 50's the next couple days so this should all be gone by the time the campground opens on Friday.
 While in Florida we had spent a good time helping daughter Mandi plant a garden and some fruit trees and pruning grapevines. As we had not really had much experience with this either, it was a learning experience for all. We wondered at times if we were killing the stuff or not. Well she has been giving weekly garden reports and nice to know things are looking pretty good.
 Oh and if that is not enough----you have to tune in to our next post for some really big news ;)
a potato box doing good

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

On The Road Again

Hi all,
Well we finally left Louisiana on Sunday after a two day extension at Betty's. That is the norm around here, people come for a certain time and end up extending not able to drag themselves away from the fun. They call it getting caught in Betty's Web.
.  One big reason for staying on Saturday was attending Crawfish Fest in Breaux Bridge. Most all the gang from Betty's was attending. They have many festivals in this area and for almost any reason but the Crawfish Fest has to be the biggest.
 This is a three day fest and people camp out to enjoy the whole event. We waited in a long line of cars to get in about noon and the crowd just seemed to swell through the day. Many people come prepared with chairs and they were lined up deep from each of two stages.

 We bounced back a forth between stages as bands took 1-1/2 hour turns. The temp got up to 90, thankfully the sun hid some of the time to really prevent  a meltdown.
  Food there was good as Wendy and I enjoyed po'boys. Of course they had crawfish but we thought  not a good choice as seating was minimal and they are not something you eat on the run.
  We had a great time and even after the holdover still didn't want to leave.  As with everything all good things must end and who knows what new adventure awaits
 We got a nice farewell send off from the group and Jim said to have fun finding a Steeler sticker he had hid in my truck. He seems to blame me for desecrating a Steeler gnome, why me? who knows??
 We got in a nice day driving and ended it at a Mt Pleasant, Texas about 340 miles. This is a bit more than we usually drive but we are trying to avoid the forecast bad weather in Oklahoma.
 As we were driving along in Texas Wendy spotted a tire rolling across the median heading our way. Seeing it early I was able to adjust speed some and watched as it rolled across our lane behind us. Thankfully nobody else hit it either. We never did see what vehicle had lost the tire, just shows you never know.
 Monday we got on the road early as we had not unhooked. We drove 410 miles with a tailwind pushing us through Oklahoma to Wichita, Kansas. We stopped at a new campground and were able to walk to a nice Kansas BBQ dinner.
 Now down to 700 miles left we cut the drive to 287 ending at Kearney, Neb. We have stopped here a few times on our routes to Colorado years ago.
 We plan to drive about the same tomorrow and end up in Chadron, Neb. That should leave a short 100 miles and still put us in Custer on Thursday. Heck we could have stayed at Betty's one more day.)
 Just kidding, we don't really enjoy this pace of driving but we did avert storms and it has worked out all right.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Cajun Crazy

Hi all,
Well we had our going away party tonight and we are still here. Another thing that goes on at Bettys are going away parties for folks that have left.)
  We fooled em and stayed one more day, but the goings on at happy hour may have had something to do with that. Seems a bourbon tasting was sprung on us, then might as well do a little whiskey sampling, oh what the heck a bit of rum and tequila to.--- you get the idea.
 Good thing we had a safe ride home.

ok who really broke Bettys clock?
 Our kids say this is just a frat house for retirees and we could make a movie Weekend At Bettys.
 This week has flown by with great weather albeit a little cool. Monday we had a crawdad feast at Bettys. A local place does the boiling mixing in jalapenos and seasoning- very yummy.

 Tuesday Wendy and I had lunch at Suire's in Kaplan. A old grocery and restaurant famous for country cooking. Sorry no pics but I had a gator po'boy and Wendy the shrimp gumbo- more yummy. For our Wisconsin friends a po'boy is a sub style sandwich big in the south.
 We then took a drive to see some roseate spoonbills that were nesting on a small island.

 Wednesday we joined a couple others and got in a swamp tour on Champagnes Cajun Swamp Tours on Lake Martin. A cool day for this time of year but sunny skies made a good trip.  We saw plenty of gators, turtles, and different birds. One area of the lake is off limits due to nesting but you could drive  by and get a view from a safe distance.

 We also got in another visit with Tim and Renee having lunch in Lafayette.
 Thursday we joined Jim, Nanc, Merlene , Dan, and Betty for lunch at Dupuys. Dupuys (pronounced Dupwee) is a seafood restaurant in Abbeville where the group had been gathering weekly for oysters. As we are not oyster fans we enjoyed a shrimp po'boy with a cup of gumbo and Wendy a pan seared fish plate special, again all to yummy.
 As I write this it sounds like all we do is eat out while here. Well we have been here two full weeks and we have not cooked lunch or dinner yet. As we have happy hour at 4:30 nightly and everyone brings hors d'oeuvres that cancels dinner.
 Although kind of nice and we really enjoy the Cajun cuisine we really need to get back to our normal eating and probably a little dieting to .(