Friday, July 3, 2020

Socially speaking.....

7:55 am - Friday - July 3rd - Keystone, SD - 61° F, 78% humidity, wind - CALM.....clear, blue skies today with a forecast high of 87° F.

After a couple of days of a lot of social interaction it was time for a day with almost none.  We spent a lot of  time reading, recharging our internal batteries, and watching some PGA golf, and that pretty much sums up our Thursday.  The temp reached the high 80's for a while, but then a front moved in, we got some rain, and it almost seemed like night time it was so dark.  By the time I went to work at 5 pm it was clear again, but much cooler.....and that is the wonder of Keystone weather....wait a few minutes and it will change.

As I have relayed previously I am trading about 30 hours of work over two weeks for our site here in downtown Keystone running the new bar they have installed.  There is some question as to whether people will take advantage of being able to order from a limited menu of local brews ($4 each), and 3 specialty drinks (Margarita on ice, flavored Vodka on ice, flavored Vodka with lemonade on ice.....$8 each), but that is the experiment for which I am donating my labor.

I worked from 5 pm Thursday until just after 9:30 pm when Linda and Janice closed the store.  I did not sell anything at the bar, although I tried, so I helped with restocking the cooler (beer, water, Gatorade, Monster, Red Bull, etc.), emptied the gas pump trash cans, added window cleaner to the wells, and even dry and wet mopped the entire floor in the store.  For July 2nd it seemed pretty calm most of the night, but we had a few busy streaks.

By 9:35 pm I was walking home, and saw that the heads on Mt. Rushmore were illuminated, so I attempted to get a picture with my phone camera.....


....this is the best I could do.....at any rate, it did look pretty cool.  Friday, July 3rd, President Trump will be arriving, and there will be fireworks.  According to the locals it should be a zoo most of the day.  Mt. Rushmore will be closed to the general public all day Friday.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

George S. Mickelson.......

7:23 am - Thursday - July 2nd - Keystone, SD - 64° F, 81% humidity, wind 8 mph out of the south by southwest......clear, blue skies today with a forecast high of 84° F.  The view this morning.......↴


The forecast high for Wednesday was 80° F with clear skies.....perfect riding weather.  Rich and Marnie had suggested a few days ago that we ride part of the 110 mile Rails to Trails George S. Mickelson Trail (named in honor of George S. Mickelson who was the 28th Governor of South Dakota) on Wednesday.  We left around 9:30 am to drive the 10 miles northwest to Hill City where there is trailhead access to the trail.  Unlike many Rails to Trails bike paths we have ridden over the years this one is a toll bike path.....cost per person, per day to ride the path is $4, or you can buy an annual pass for $15/person....we paid the $4......


....as proof you have paid you must carry on your person the receipt.  We began our ride a little after 10 am.  The direction we rode (northwest) had us climbing a gradual grade (2-4%) for around 8 miles, but with the eBikes we were all riding it was easy peasy......


.....in less than an hour we crossed numerous trestles, and rode through one tunnel when we came to the longest of all the trestles at the 8.6 mile mark.......


 
Our second 'foot usie'





.....Rich and Marnie both have full suspension Haibikes, just as I do.....it was their purchase of their Haibikes early in the summer of 2019 while we were sojourning at RORVR* that inspired me to buy mine.  We decided to ride on another 1.4 miles to hit the 10 mile mark before turning around to ride back to Hill City.....

Just before the turn around at the 10 mile mark.....elevation 5,509'

.....we began our ride at an elevation of 5,159' in Hill City, and reached the highest point at 5,509' when we hit 10 miles.  The return ride was mostly downhill, and we had hoped it would be with the wind at our backs since we had been riding into the wind for the first 10 miles, but was not to be....we had mostly a headwind all the way back to Hill City....how is that possible?  At any rate, as we pulled into the trailhead parking lot our odometers hit 20 miles.....in all we rode for 1 hour and 44 minutes to cover the 20 miles, and it was about 12:15 pm, so just over 2 hours of total elapsed time......

20 miles exactly, and 1,147 caloric units consumed

......after reinstalling our bikes on our K├ťAT bike rack we headed for home arriving at the Newell just before 1 pm....we were expecting company around 2 pm, so we quickly took showers, and had barely sat down to relax for a few minutes when Joe and Jody arrived about 30 minutes early.....good thing we did not dilly dally around too long when we got home.....lol.  It all worked out well....we sat in the Newell talking for about an hour before driving down to Cruizer's Pizza for a late lunch.  We both got so engrossed in our discussion that we both forgot to memorialize our time with them in the form of an 'usie'.  We know Joe and Jody from our college days, and have seen them at several college reunions over the years.  They are in the midst of a 3 week trip in their 5th wheel, and are staying up in Rapid City at the local KOA while they visit Mt. Rushmore.  As is always the case we talked nonstop from the time they arrived just after 1:30 pm until we bid our adieus around 4 pm.....their next stop is Glacier National Park where they will spend a week before returning to their home in Missouri....until next time safe travels Joe and Jody!

Thanks for stopping by!

*RORVR = Ramona Oaks RV Resort

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Custer's last stand......

7:15 am - Wednesday - July 1st - Keystone, SD - 47° F, 69% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the west by southwest....clear, blue, cold skies this morning with a forecast high today of 80° F.

What to do on a Tuesday in Keystone, SD?  How about a drive with Rich and Marnie down to Custer State Park?  Sounds good, let's do it!  Marnie and Rich have Monday through Wednesday off each week, and they do a lot of exploring on their three off days.  They have a South Dakota State Parks annual pass, so they suggested we drive with them in their Dodge PU south from Keystone to check out some potential boondocking sites, and visit Custer State Park along the way.  It was a cloudy, drizzly day so as a concession I wore a long sleeve shirt, and my Keen hiking shoes, but stuck with the shorts....you've got to draw the line somewhere, right?

We headed out of town on US-16A around 9 am as previously arranged, and were soon caught up in conversation about the area, and all there is to see.  We left the main road a few miles past Crazy Horse Memorial to take a dirt road to check out some possible boondocking sites after we leave Keystone.....the combination of roads we took totaled about 10 miles, and the sites we looked at were about 2 miles from where the dirt road (North Pole Road) hits US-16 once again....if we use either of these spots we would enter North Pole Road off US-16 for just a 2 mile drive uphill.  Both sites had lots of potential....I wish I had taken pictures, but it was drizzling at the time, and I didn't want to get out of the truck.

Soon we were back on US-16 headed for Custer State Park....we made a quick stop at the Gordon Stockade Historical site where an expedition of gold hunters setup this stockade in order to explore the area for gold....this was in violation of a treaty with the local Native American Indian tribes, and soon the US Army found them, and removed them.  The stockade has been restored as far as the exterior fencing, and some of the interior cabins have been restored with others left in their natural decaying state......




The decaying cabins

One of the restored cabins - picture courtesy of the internet

....then it was on to Custer State Park, and the wildlife loop within the park.....you have to see some buffalo whenever you get the chance.......



 Look at the big bull in the middle of the picture!


.....Custer State Park was also the site of a Civilian Conservation Corp camp during the depression years, and for 7 years civilians would work for wages to make improvements in the park, build roads, buildings, etc.  Custer State Park is very beautiful, and picturesque and certainly deserves a visit the next time you are in South Dakota!

By the time we finished our driving tour of the park we were getting hungry, and decided to head back to Keystone for lunch at BrGr-61....where they serve burgers (of course) and offer 61 different toppings.  I ordered their Bison Burger with bacon, cheddar cheese, mayo, mustard, lettuce, and tomatoes and TLE their Portabelo Mushroom burger....we split an order of onion rings........this place is a solid 4 stars based on the food alone.....



.....normally, and this is the attraction of BrGr-61, you would build you own burger adding the toppings you want from a buffet line of toppings, but due to the pandemic rules, they dress the burger for you with the toppings you specify......


.....we were home a little after 1:30 pm, and relaxing soon thereafter.  Around 3 pm I went outside to take some more higher altitude pictures with the drone as well as my first drone video.....



My first drone video!

Bringing her in for a landing

.....while we were still full from lunch and had no desire for dinner we did decide around 6 pm to walk down to Benky's for a scoop of ice cream.....it takes about 10 minutes to make the walk, but the ice cream, and outdoor dining are definitely well worth the walk......




 Benky's is right across the street from Cruizer's Pizza

.....and that was our Tuesday....thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

My first drone pix!

7:07 am - Tuesday - June 30th - Keystone, SD - 60° F, 83% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the north.....feels closer to 10 mph....heavy overcast skies today with a forecast high of 70° F.....the view this morning......↴


Monday was the 3rd and final day of our three day heatwave here in Keystone, South Dakota, so we had no plans to do any touristy things....just stay home, and stay cool.  Whilst it was still the cool of the morning TLE got busy using her new Cowboy Disc Wok to cook breakfast......scrambled eggs, sausage and hash browns.....did they ever come out tasty.....

 

.....I can see where this new outdoor kitchen appliance will result in more outdoor meals this summer....thanks to Claude Banker for introducing us to this new style of outdoor cooking!  Of course, after breakfast there was the requisite cleaning of the wok to keep it properly cured for future use.....


....on the drone front I have been practicing flying it every day, and have not crashed it once since the infamous pine tree incident.  I also finally figured out the camera system, and took my first pictures.....


......which is really the whole point of a drone, right?  You can see the Newell, and Beetle, as well as part of Rich and Marnie's yellow diesel Beetle in the upper right hand corner of the picture above.  Now that I'm getting the hang of this new contraption you'll see many more aerial shots from a much greater height......


....in the second picture you can see Mt. Rushmore in the background, and all of Rich and Marnie's VW Beetle.

On the reading front I finished another William J. Johnstone western entitled 'Riding Shotgun', which was very well written, and a real page turner, as 'they' say.  We turned on the A/C around 11 am......finally, and did not turn it off until 7 pm....it's been a long time since we've run the A/C three days in a row.....like last summer at RORVR.

Once again we had our early evening rain storm....no hail this time, but enough rain to give everything a good wash down once again.....in fact, with the daily rain the VW has never looked more clean, and to give it an extra touch Monday I took time to wipe off the rain from the hail storm Sunday night.  Fortunately, there is no apparent damage to anything from the golf ball size hail.  On a side note, if you go back to yesterday's blog, and 'right click' on the second hail picture, then choose 'open image in new tab' from the drop down menu you can then enlarge it and see how large that hail was.

Now that the heat has passed us by we hope to get out and do some more local exploring with Rich and Marnie Tuesday....stayed tuned!

Thanks for stopping by!

When you shop Amazon, please use our link (below) to access their website.......we will appreciate every purchase you make using our Amazon Affiliate linkand  remember, using our link will not add one penny to your purchase, plus we will receive a small commission which over the course of a year adds up to enough to by a tank of diesel for which we thank you very much!

Monday, June 29, 2020

What the hail?

7:21 am - Monday - June 29th - Keystone, SD - 56° F, 87% humidity, wind 3 mph out of the southeast......clear, blue skies today with a forecast high of 89° F. 

Sunday was to be a warm day....not quite 90° F, but it felt much warmer.  By 11 am we had the A/C in the bedroom running to cool, and dry the interior air of the Newell.  Around that time TLE went outside 'cure' her new Cowboy Disc Wok by first filling the wok with water, then bringing it almost to a boil, and then letting it simmer for about 10 minutes.  Once that was done she poured off the water, and then using a cloth rubbed the steel cooking side of the wok down with salt for a period of time, then filled the wok with water once again, let it simmer for another 10 minutes.  The final step involved pouring off the water once again, then slicing some animal lard into the wok, let it heat up to where it begins to smoke, then add more lard, let it heat up again until it begins to smoke, the turn it off and let it cool down.  Once it had cooled down she wiped it clean, and it was pronounced 'cured'.  Monday morning she will cook breakfast in it for the first time.

While she was so engaged I decided we needed to put up our sun shade, and end piece as we get sun on the lido deck all day long as we are facing almost due east.  By the time it was in place, and staked down it was closing in on noontime, and I was hot, and sweaty....time for a nap in the cool confines of the Newell......



....around 4 pm I walked over to the convenience store to help out Rich and Marnie by stocking the cooler, 'fronting' all the floor merchandise, checked the restrooms for cleanliness, emptied the outdoor trashcans (5 in all) in front of the store, and next to each gas pump.  It being a Sunday the foot traffic was not to great, but it was steady until I headed home around 6 pm.....another 'grueling' day here in Keystone, SD.....lol.  My arrangement with the store manage, Beth, is that I will donate about 15 hours each week we are here in exchange for our full hookup site....seems reasonable to me, and especially nice that I spend 90% of my time inside the air conditioned store, and about half that inside the very cold cooler restocking beer, and other beverages.

As I exited the store around 6 pm I noticed it had clouded over, and the temp had dropped significantly as the pictures below illustrate......





....within 90 minutes we saw flashes of lightning, then heard thunder, and then rain upon our roof, which turned into golf ball size hail (maybe slightly smaller than that, but not by much) which startled us as it slammed into the roof of the Newell.  I was especially concerned with the plastic cover for our Fantastic Fan......I thought it would explode at any time letting water into the kitchen, but it held fast, and we remained dry.  It seemed to go on forever, but probably only lasted less than 10 minutes.  It appears we suffered no damaged to our solar panels, or to our VW.  In over 8 years of traveling this is the first significant hail we have experienced....thankfully......

 The hail

If you 'right click' on this image and choose 'open image in new tab' 
from the drop down menu you can then enlarge it and get a 
better idea of how big the hail was

.....the storm passed quickly, and within another hour it had stopped raining, and the skies began to clear.  Once we get by the current mini heatwave we'll get out and do some more exploring.

Thanks for stopping by!


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Sunday, June 28, 2020

It's not intuitive....AT ALL!

7:45 am - Sunday - June 28th - Keystone, SD - 73° F, 30% humidity, wind 5 mph out of the northwest.....partly cloudy today with a forecast high of 85° F.  On this day in 2016 we were at Incline Village sitting under a cabana on the shores of Lake Tahoe enjoying the day with our friends........↴

One of our favorite memories

.....we were in the middle of our third consecutive summer working at Tahoe Valley Campground.....little did we know that this would be the last full summer at TVC, and Lake Tahoe.

Our Jello plan was to drive back to Rapid City, SD to do some minor shopping, and for me to get a haircut.....my last haircut was in Durango, CO back on May 17th.....Rich and Marnie recommended we visit 'Great Clips' next to the Sam's Club in Rapid City.  Before that could happen, though I was determined to finally install a new pair of windshield wipers on the Newell.  

It's been 3, or 4 years since they were last replaced, and when we drove in the rain a couple of times recently I noticed they were 'skipping', and making a lot of noise.  I always carry one, or two spare pairs, so I retrieved one of them Saturday morning around 10 am and began the replacement.  I've changed the wipers several times over the 12+ years we have owned the Newell, but each time seems like the first time.  Why is this task not very intuitive?  I recently changed the wipers on the Beetle, which were two years old and doing the same thing the Newell wipers were doing.  It took me the better part of 30 minutes to figure out how to install the new Bosch wipers.  Each Newell wiper is attached to the swing arm by a single screw and nylock nut......a nylock nut looks like this, only in this case it is very small....


.......not remembering how I had done this task 4 years ago, I removed the screw and nylock nut, but soon, but not quickly, realized I did not have to remove the blade assembly from the swing arm, so after removing and replacing the old blade, I attempted to refasten the blade to the swing arm with the screw and nut......of course I dropped the very small nylock nut, and spent about 15 minutes looking for it in the gravel upon which the coach sits right now....no luck.  I thought, well, I've got hundreds of nuts, and was sure I could find a replacement.  I spent another 20 minutes trying to find a nut of any variety that would fit the existing screw, but could not.  Then I looked for another screw of the right size, but could not find one that fit the hole in the swing arm.  So, now I'm thinking I'm going to have to take the screw into Rapid City and find a new nylock nut at a local hardware store, thus stalling my efforts to finish the job.  By this time it was after 11:15 am, and I was still stuck on reattaching the first wiper....doh!  The Hockwald way strikes again!  I decided to try one more time to find the missing nylock nut.  I got a towel, folded it a couple of times, placed it on the gravel, and then knelt on the towel to search once again.....guess what, I my eyes almost immediately focused upon.....the nylock nut sitting right where it fell....thank you Jesus!  Once I found the missing nut, the rest of the job went quickly, and I finished installing the second wiper in just a few minutes.  Of course, you know, now that I have replaced the wipers it will not rain again while we are driving the Newell this summer.....you know I'm right.

After a quick shower we were off driving the 20 miles back to Rapid City arriving there just after 12 pm.  I checked in at the Great Clips desk, and was sitting in the chair getting a haircut (with face mask, as required) minutes later.  Our next stop was a local Walmart where TLE bought some lard which she will use to season our new Cowboy Disc Wok, and I acquired a micro memory card for the drone.  Next up was to find a place to have lunch.  Our initial choice, Hay Camp Brewing, turned out to only serve beer, no food....not going to drink beer on an empty stomach.  We had passed an interesting looking Mexican restaurant on the way to Hay Camp Brewing called 'Que Pasa' - Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar, so we headed back two blocks, found a parking spot in the very busy, and crowded downtown area about a block from the restaurant.....



 
.....Yelp only gives them 3.5 stars on 328 reviews, but we would be at a solid 4 stars....based on the reviews I read people either LOVE this place, or totally HATE it....yes, all caps HATE....crazy.  I initially judge any Mexican place by the quality of their chips and salsa.....Que Pasa's are great!  I ordered their Fish Tacos (picture above), and TLE their Quesadilla dish....we both loved our choices, and ended up taking home about 1/2 of the very generous proportions to be enjoyed again at a later date.

On the way back to the car we passed by this little water park where about 30 kids where enjoying splashing around in the water, and fountains......



.....we were home just before 3 pm.  While the high Saturday was around 87°, it felt hotter....thank goodness we left the A/C running whilst we were gone to Rapid City enabling us to return to a cool Newell interior.  I took nap, and read a while, then watched the Traveler's PGA event.

We didn't turn off the A/C until almost 8 pm when it finally dropped below 80° F.....we were in bed a little after 10 pm....another day in the books!

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