Sunday, August 20, 2017

Journey Museum Learning Center & Custer SP at Dusk

Today was a busy day. I wove a bit more on my band in the morning, and later Bob and I went to the Journey Museum to learn more about the area. This museum features exhibits on local geology, dinosaurs, and Native Americans. I found the Indian exhibit very interesting.

This brave is wearing a fine exmple of a finger woven sash.

There were many examples of beautiful beadwork. Glass beads were introduced to the Great Plains during the 1700s by European traders. These beads were crafted in Italian and Czech glass workshops, and were used by Indian women alongside porcupine quills and animal teeth to decorate clothing.

This shield, Ca. 1870, is made of rawhide covered with painted muslin. It was made and used by Fool Bull, a Sioux warrior who carried it in the battle against Custer.

This evening, Bob and I returned to Custer State Park to see if dusk was a better time to glimpse animals. The waning day cast a golden light across the landscape.

We saw several pronghorn...

...a flock of wild turkeys...

...and more buffalo. We caught a glimpse of the burro herd in the distance, and saw quite a few deer (white tailed and mule deer,) but no elk. But we were alright with that because it was just so pretty with the sun setting.

I told Bob that this park is my happy place. Well, in the summer, anyway. I'm not so sure what winter would be like here. Pretty harsh, I'm thinking.

Tomorrow is our last full day in this area, and we intend to spend it avoiding all the eclipse hoopla. On Tuesday we head farther north to a campground outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Abstract Shawl Finished

I started a crocheted shawl a couple of weeks ago, and finished it yesterday. The pattern is from this web page and it is a very simple design.
I used almost two full skeins of Sweet Roll yarn (in the colorway "Peanut Butter Swirl") that I had picked up in Joann Fabrics for the clearance price of $2.99 each. I do so love a bargain. This shawl will be perfect for tossing over my shoulders when the air conditioner blows on me as I sit reading or crafting in my chair.

Having finished that project, I decided not to lose momentum and to start weaving a band. I chose my Seidel Card Loom and a 13 pattern thread heddle from Stoorstalka and started warping. This band is using Áhkko wool yarn from Stoorstalka. I love weaving with this yarn, and the pattern has just enough complexity to keep me from getting bored with it.
I often weave bands like this without any particular use in mind, but this one would make an excellent strap for a Christmas purse or tote, so that is my plan for it. Unless I change my mind, of course.

I have taken a bit of a Sabbatical from weaving lately and it feels good to get back into it.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Custer State Park

To be honest, we didn't really expect much from this park. We left the motorhome at 7:15 am and it took us about 75 minutes to get to the park. The best time (we were told) to see animals was either dawn or dusk, and we had missed dawn, so we figured we had also missed our chance to see animals.

Not so! We saw hundreds of bison, two groups of burros, deer, prairie dogs, and pronghorns.

Bison have always fascinated me. As a teenager, I used to visit my high school French teacher's bison farm, not far from our home. Germaine St. Maurice and her husband, Arthur J. St. Maurice owned Willow Brook Farm in Southborough, Massachusetts and raised buffalo. As a French teacher, Mme. St. Maurice was strict but fair, and I can still remember her standing in the doorway to French class. Each student who walked in front of her to enter the room had to say "excusez moi" or else was dragged back by the collar until they excused themselves. A good leason to learn.

But I digress into my memories, and you, dear blog reader, are probably more interested in my travels today. So I will show you some more photos, n'est pas?

I'm not sure if you can see, but the entire herd of bison is off in the distance in this shot. In 1840, as many as 60 million bison roamed the plains from Canada to northern Texas. By 1886 there were fewer than 100 free-roaming buffalo. In 1914 the Philip family sold 36 bison to Custer State Park from their private herd of 900 animals. In the 1940s that herd of 36 had increased to 2,500 bison and the animals were over-grazing the park lands. The park began culling the herd and numbers are now strong and sustainable at eight hundred fifty to fourteen hundred fifty bison. As numbers increase, animals are sold at auction. It is estimated that there are now 200,000 bison in all of North America, about 1300 of which reside in Custer State Park.

There is also a herd of wild burros in the park that are not native to the Black Hills but are descendents from the herd that once hauled visitors to the top of Black Elk Peak. The burros were released into the park when the rides were discontinued and have become a popular visitor attraction.

They were quite friendly and bold, looking for carrots that many visitors bring (despite rules forbidding visitors from feeding the animals.)

As we moved on, we saw that the scenery in the park was breathtaking and varied from one area to the next.

We couldn't get enough of this place. In fact, Bob and I plan to return one evening in hopes of catching a glimpse of some elk, mountain goats, or maybe even a mountain lion. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Badlands National Park

I have literally been dreaming about this place for more than three years, before I even knew that it existed. In fact, it wasn't until I stumbled across photos that I realized that I had dreamed of an actual place on Earth.

This Big Horn Sheep was there to greet us a couple of miles into the park, and he was completely unperturbed that cars were stopping to take his photograph. What a thrill to see one up close!

But the stunning scenery soon had us back on the road. We were driving along the Loop Road, which offered many places to pull off and see the sights.

In this photo you can see the splashes of yellow color from the Yellow Mounds Overlook.

I think I'm going to have to break down and get myself a selfie stick, since my arms are too short and all our selfies look the same. Sigh.

Bob and I were struck by the colors in the rock. They reminded us a little of the Painted Desert of Arizona, but the colors were a little softer. Very beautiful, nonetheless.

It was fascinating to see the light change as we drove along the loop.

We took our time, ate our lunch, and finally left for home, stopping at the famous Wall Drug on the way home. If you've ever driven along Rte. 90 you've seen the many signs advertizing this place. Meh. It was a bunch of themed gift shops and places to eat. It wasn't worth the stop and we continued on home with some fabulous memories of the Badlands.

Tomorrow--Custer State Park!

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Mt Rushmore

This morning Bob and I drove out to Mt Rushmore which was about a half hour from our campground. It was a lovely drive into the Black Hills through the town of Keystone...

...and soon we could see the famous sculpture off in the distance.

There was a line of cars to get into the parking area. Visiting the monument is free, but it costs $10 ($5 if you are 62 or older) for a parking pass that is good until the end of the year.

It was a short walk to the Visitors Center.

We took a selfie in front of the Avenue of Flags, with a flag for every state in the Union.

And here they are: Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln.

It was really very moving to see this magnificent sculpture in person. Here you can get an idea of scale, from a poster inside the Visitors Center.

I rather liked this photo of our reflection in the Visitors Center window, with Mt Rushmore behind us.

By the way, according to the National Park website, this is how Mt Rushmore got its name:

"Mount Rushmore is named after a New York City attorney. Charles E. Rushmore was sent out to this area in 1884 to check legal titles on properties. On his way back to Pine Camp he asked Bill Challis [a local resident and guide] the name of this mountain. Bill replied, "Never had a name but from now on we'll call it Rushmore." "

I still owed Bob a birthday meal, so after we left the monument we drove back to Rapid City and went to Kol, a very nice restaurant where we feasted on pizza (for Bob) and a mushroom/onion sandwich (for me.) Yum! Bob had a nice interaction with President William Howard Taft on the corner outside the restaurant.

Tomorrow we visit the Badlands!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rapid City, SD

We have arrived! Bob and I made the three hour trip from Presho, SD to Rapid City without incident and we are tucked up in our campsite for the next week or so. Along the way we saw the topography change.

We saw fields of sunflowers growing. Such a pretty sight. They reminded us of traveling through Bulgaria, years ago, where the hills and fields were covered with yellow sunflowers. It's something we'll never forget.

As we got closer to our destination we started to see rock formations that disappeared and reappeared along the plains.

This is our view from our campsite.

We are close to Custer State Park, Mt Rushmore, and Badlands National Park. But it will most likely be a couple of days before we start our sightseeing because the weather forecast is predicting heavy rain tomorrow. Ah well, at least we didn't have to drive the motorhome in it. And we really don't have any hard time frames here so we will stay until we have seen what we want to see. I'm sure there are museums around here, too.

So tomorrow most likely will be a day to run errands.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Happy Birthday to Bob!

Bob spent his birthday today driving us to South Dakota. Unfortunately, we are in a one-horse town for the night that has no restaurants, but he told me, "It's OK. I got to spend my birthday in SD, a place I've always wanted to visit!" We'll find a good restaurant when we get to Rapid City and go out to dinner there.

We left Adrian, MN this morning and crossed the Missouri River a little after noontime. What a pretty sight!

We are staying at a tiny campground off I-90 and have a lovely view out our windows.

Bob was talking with our neighbors earlier and found out that the big motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD ended this weekend, so we are hoping to see fewer tourists than if we had arrived a few days before. And hopefully less competition for campsites, since we don't have any reservations from here on. I'm sure we can find spaces, but we'll see!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Third Bologiversary

Today marks the third anniversary of the start of this blog. It's amazing how much fun it is to write, and I'm sorry I didn't start one years ago. Big thanks to my friend, April, for encouraging me to get one started in the first place!

We arrive in Adrian, MN yesterday, after going through a lot of beatiful farm area. Many of these farms have windmills as well as crops.

Today I spent the entire day on a sewing project, cutting up some chambray, machine-quilting it, and sewing it into a purse that I call Lily's Bag. Lily was a sweet schnoodle who brought much joy to her human mom and dad, my sister Gail and her husband Mark. Lily passed away last year and has been greatly missed. I enjoyed weaving inkle bands and making Lily custom collars, and I had some of the band left that I wanted to use in a special project.

And here is the bag. Just the perfect size for a phone and a few essentials. I will think of Lily when I use it.

Friday, August 11, 2017

La Crosse, WI

We have had two delightful days at Pettibone RV Resort, parked right along the Mississippi River. Thursday weather reports were gloomy but the rain never materialized. Bob and I did a bit of exploring, and he was sweet to include a couple of quilt shops and a multi-dealer antique center (the largest in Wisconsin, so they say) on the list of our stops. I made out quite well, purchasing some fat quarters and a pattern to sew myself a new purse. In the antique shop I found a brass lion drawer pull that I'm determined to find a use for.

I also bought a used paperback copy of Louis L'Amour's book, "Last of the Breed," a book I had read years ago but wanted to re-read. And Bob enjoyed himself, too, although he didn't find anything that begged to be taken home.

We spent some time yesterday afternoon lounging by the river. The breeze was pleasant and must have been blowing in the right direction because we did not see a single mosquito, though we had been warned about them.

Later in the afternoon I discovered that we were very close to a natural food co-op so I drove over there to top off the pantry. What a nice store it was, too. I set up my little Zojirushi breadmaker so that we could wake up to fresh bread this morning. A French rye loaf, something different.

Today we are heading west and will stop in Adrian, MN for two nights.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

On the Banks of the Mississippi River

We left Iowa this morning for Wisconsin and rode over some very rough roads to get here, some of the worst we've seen. But the views were pleasant and the rolling hills gave way to higher ones, almost small mountains, that were green and very pretty.

Still, it was with a sigh of relief that Bob and I pulled into our campground for the next two nights. We are backed up to the Mississippi River, and even though we are getting some showers we can sit outside under a pavilion that is about ten feet from our door.

How sweet is that! Tomorrow we will relax a bit and may get out to look for Kristen's Wisconsin "You are Here" mug from Starbucks. Perhaps even check out an antique mall and see what treasures we can find.

Dubuque, IA

When last we were together, dear blog reader, Bob and I had left Lancaster, OH and were heading for Indiana. We had single night stops in Crawfordsville, IN and Knoxville, IL before turning north to Iowa.

We passed mile after mile of beautiful farmland set in green, rolling hills. The last leg of our trip to Dubuque was short, and we arrived safely at a small county park in Peosta, IA for a couple of nights.

It was wonderful seeing our niece, Lori, and her husband Brian, with their three adorable boys! On Monday afternoon they popped over to welcome us and we gave them a tour of our MH before walking over to the playground so the boys could run around. Bob, Auggie, and I followed them back to their home where we visited and got to know the boys. It has been years since we saw them last, and it was the first time we could really spend time with them. Such a joy! We had a yummy dinner with the whole family before heading back to rest up for a day of fun.

On Tuesday, Lori showed us around Dubuque. We rode up the hill on the Fenelon Place Elevator, the world's steepest and shortest scenic railway, which is 296 feet in length and affords magnificent views of Dubuque and the Mississippi River. This historic funicular was built in 1882 by Mr. J. K. Graves who lived on top of the bluffs but worked at the bank at the bottom. Since he liked to take a half hour for his noon-time meal at home and nap for another half hour, his one hour lunchtime allotted to him was too short for his tastes. For it took Mr. Graves a half hour to drive his horse and buggy round the bluffs to his home and another half hour to return to work. Faced with this dilemma, he built a one-car cable modeled after those he had seen in Europe.

It costs a mere $1.50 for each one-way trip on the Elevator.

Looking up to the Bluffs.

The view from the top.

We took a brief walk through the neighborhood before a certain 2-year old decided it was too much walking and we returned for another fun ride down and a trip to the ice cream shop at the bottom. Thus refreshed, the six of us drove over to the Riverwalk.

We took photos of this magnificent stern wheeler, the American Queen, docked at the edge of the Mississippi.

The Star Brewery offers a place to sample local beers and watch the barges go upriver.

The Shot Tower, constructed in 1856, was used to manufacture lead shot ammunition. The tower was purchased in 1860 by J. K. Graves (the man who built the funicular) who sold it in 1862. It was restored in 2010 and is one of only a few remaining shot towers in the United States, and the only one west of the Mississippi River.

Bob and I returned to our niece's home, had lunch, enjoyed a nice afternoon and dinner before heading home for the evening. What fun!

This morning I awoke to a pretty pink sky.

Bob and I continue our journey today north to Wisconsin for a couple of nights before turning west towards South Dakota.