Tuesday, March 31, 2009

And...another blizzard!

The day before the latest blizzard we drove about 20 miles east of Hermosa to the little settlement of Red Shirt SD on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We were intrigued by this school, wondering just which part of it was the classroom area.

I am amazed by the shapes a blizzard makes. We discovered this perfect pyramid once the wind stopped and we could see outside our 5th wheel. We had noticed that the snow went sideways and sometimes seemed to be going right straight up instead of down.

In the wide-open spaces around us where the ground was bare there was no snow. It simply blew away. Wherever there was a building or other obstruction these strange shapes took form.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Back to the Black Hills

The Black Hills in the last days of wintertime is a new experience for us. We're used to the summer season. We came across this buffalo on Highway 36. He looked a little thinner than the summer crop.

Now here is something we never expected to see. We're used to the Custer State Park burros crowding around cars and begging for snacks, but we've only seen the mountain goats from more of a distance. We stopped to take pictures of a group of them along the highway and to our great surprise this one came right up to the car window and asked for a treat!

The signs say "Do not feed the wild animals" but I confess we were naughty and couldn't resist this one. We had some garlic wheat thins and only gave the goat a couple. She loved them! She was so amazing!

Here I am in a rock cranny below "the needle" on the Needles Highway. I think I am pointing to a jet-stream in the sky.

Last but not least, this is our favorite shop in Keystone. We didn't expect it to be open in the off season, but it was, and we got our wonderful treat, 2 pounds of freshly made taffy. The Black Hills were busy today as there was lots of sunshine. Many visitors were at Mt. Rushmore, though nothing like the summer. The atmosphere was friendly.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Travelin' On

We've been parked for 2 months in our friends' backyard. We kind of slipped into this spot and were not able to get level because the ground was so icy and snowy, so here we stayed. We worried about whether the ground would get dry enough for us to get out when it was time. Well, after getting everything ready and hooking up, we started the truck and began to pull. We got about 6 feet before BigTruk's wheels started spinning, and then we had a serious mudhole. First we tried another pick-up pulling BigTruk, but his wheels spun, too, making more mudholes. Then we called in the big guns, this farm tractor! He easily pulled BigTruk and and the 5th wheel right across the slippery, grassy yard, and we were on our way!

The downside of RVing is that we meet wonderful people that we always want to be around....and then we have to say "good-bye. What a joy to be able to visit these dear friends, friends for life whether or not we get to see them again.

Our Alfa traveling about 20 miles an hour down the dirt roads leading to the highway. It was kind of sad saying good-bye to the prairie.

An exciting moment, the Black Hills coming into sight once more. This is near Hot Springs SD. I have not yet ceased to be amazed as I watch all our earthly possessions going down the highway. I am thankful to God that He allows us to continue this wonderful, simple, exciting life-style, going from place to place like a couple of old gypsies, or is it a couple of old hippies!!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fort Robinson, Nebraska

After nearly 2 months of looking at vast Nebraska prairie, we found out about Fort Robinson, just 60 or so miles west of where we have been staying. We spent a whole day there, exploring, and agreed this was the best thing we'd seen since we came to Nebraska.

Fort Robinson is the state's largest and most historic state park. It was an active military post from 1874 to 1948. Some of the colorful characters associated with the place are Crazy Horse, Walter Reed, Red Cloud, Dull Knife, General Crook. Through the years, Fort Robinson was the site of the tragic Cheyenne Outbreak, the nation's largest quartermaster remount depot, a field artillery testing station, an Olympic equestrian training center, the last great gathering place of the Sioux Nation, a training center for dogs used by the military and a World War II prisoner of war camp. (Click on the picture to enlarge. It's interesting reading.)

Here is one of the Fort complex buildings, Comanche Hall, built in 1909 to house bachelor officers. There are many large brick, adobe, or wood buildings all around the complex which served the different functions of a fort this size. All are well-maintained and most are used during the summer for tourist lodging. We couldn't help thinking that this would be a terrific place for workampers!

Keith is standing by the monument erected on the spot where Crazy Horse was mortally wounded in 1877. The building behind him is a reconstructed guardhouse where prisoners, including Crazy Horse, were kept. We're used to seeing the huge monument to Crazy Horse in the Black Hills near Custer. I didn't realize that the Black Hills' rich Native American history extended so far into Nebraska.

Here is a monument to the Red Cloud Indian Agency, established in 1873 to serve nearly 13,000 Native Americans. The agency buildings were quite extensive, with a beautiful backdrop of sandstone buttes. The whole area speaks of a tragic history for the natives who were forced out of their lands.

We were surprised to discover that there was a German P.O.W. camp here from 1943-1945. Apparently the Germans were put to work in agriculture, and some of them liked it so well that after the war they returned with their families!

A real Texas longhorn! We saw several in the area. They, and some horses as well as a sizeable buffalo herd, wander freely in the Fort Robinson park area.

This is a sod house, near a park called "Toadstool" for the unusual sandstone formations. This area looked a little like the Badlands, which are much farther north in South Dakota. Keith and I agreed that we could have spent much more time in the area, and we wish we could return. That's not to be, though, since we are packing up to head out of Nebraska, back into South Dakota, and then on to Montana for our summer job.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Nebraska cattle & other interesting stuff

We had quite a treat last night when we looked out our window and saw these creatures looking in at us! This is a small part of a very large herd, and they had never come this close before. It was almost dark, so the photo isn't too clear. I took it from inside the 5th wheel and when I ventured outside for a closer view they all thundered loudly away. Guess they aren't that used to people! There is a heavy frost on the ground, prior to more snow falling.

I love old "ghost" farms. This one is on the road to Rushville NE. Makes me wonder about the family who lived here and what happened to cause them to abandon the place.

I couldn't resist this ranch sign near Chadron NE. It says "Half-Ass Ranch"! I wonder what they raise there! (Click on the photo to enlarge.)

Are there dinosaurs in Nebraska? Or is this a giant mosquito?