And the road goes on forever...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Beautiful Fall Drive

Rested and finished with errands and tasks, Marc and I set off Sunday morning for a jaunt into the mountains above us. We had no specific route although I did want to see much-touted Sylvan Lake and the Needles Highway. We stopped frequently to pull over for pictures and had forgotten that along parts of the narrow, winding highway (Iron Mountain Highway) it was possible to catch glimpses of the four famous presidential faces of Rushmore.

At the Norbeck Overlook we took in vast views leading off to the eastern plains, far above Rapid City. A little later, at a much lower elevation we enter Custer State Park and the possibility of seeing buffalo. We travel for quite some distance with rolling golden hills and oak trees sporting their muted fall color when Marc suddenly swerves to avoid a cow pie in the road. Right around the corner, there are our buffalo!

Upon finding that it will cost us $15 (a ridiculous amount!) to make the Needles Highway drive to Sylvan Lake we stumble upon another lake and find it suitable instead for our picnic. Maybe someday I’ll be able to drive that Needles Highway but not today!

The final portion of our loop drive takes us past the never to be finished in our lifetime Crazy Horse Memorial. Since it too, costs money to enter, we snap photos from a distance. A quick pass through Hill City where Marc wanders taking photos of the 1880 train and depot, and then we head for home after a very nice outing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Art Alley

We came across it by happenstance but it has an interesting history as a free-for-all art gallery since the mid-2000's by whoever wants to contribute. It occupies an alley block between 6th and 7th Street in downtown just behind the Alex Johnson Hotel. Real art on canvas is hung here, as well as the latest graffiti attempts by all comers in a ploy by the city to keep the rest of the town clean. Feeling expressive? Go for it!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Old Rig, Old Me; I’ve Lost My Verve

Like the leaves falling from the trees with each gust of wind around here, I seem to be losing my energy and stamina. It’s just about all tapped out. Is Yuma close in our future yet?

While never terribly enamored with this job, lately I am growing to loathe certain aspects of it. The dog problem is really out of hand at times and having come so close on several occasions to being attacked and/or bitten leads me to the point of paranoia entering fenced yards where I can’t tell what’s around back with the meter. My body has likely hit the wall, as my achy feet and day and night leg cramping not so benignly tell me. I don’t even have much interest in going out into our new environment to explore; a first for me. There’s just no extra energy to do so. When a job takes so much of your effort and energy that there is nothing left for your family, for yourself, for any fun, is it a job to endure?

Thankfully, we will need to head for Yuma at some point in the not-too-distant future for Marc’s major undertaking of replacing and repairing all our trailer axles. His quick week-long fix last year merely prolonged the agony and expense, as we’ve churned through tires to beat the band. We’ve worn the old girl out and she needs some TLC to keep going and serving as the Duske abode. Marc has always joked that we’ll pull this thing until the wheels fall off and we’re just about to that point, proving that at some point when you insist on overloading an RV there is a price to be paid. The next axles will be so stout; they should last for the rest of her lifetime. For yes folks, for us it’s a lifetime commitment with the old girl. We’ve never regretted purchasing one of the best RV’s made at the time this was manufactured, which sports a sturdy steel box frame unlike any of the popular models today. But like many manufacturers, Travel Supreme underpowered the axles from the get-go. And let’s face it: how many RVers actually own their original rigs for thirteen years and put them through the arduous use and climates ours has had to endure? She’s grimy, weather-beaten, losing her decals, and long ago her luster, but she’s still home. And a comfortable one at that.

I did get into downtown Rapid City during the beautiful day yesterday and took a stroll around and through the many fascinating antique malls. Old turquoise jewelry is huge here.

For ten bucks I found an old wrought iron ice cream stool missing the seat, which I will have Marc replace with wood and turn it into a plant stand. I figure it will look striking against my stucco privacy wall in Yuma, which I now can’t wait to return to. South Dakota is turning cold! Mountains can be wondrous, but I’m glad I don’t live in them anymore—cold and I just don’t agree with each other. The desert has her hold on me just as our old rig does.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Week in Pictures

I wish I could say that we’re living our lives la vita loca under the rainbow’s end. This job remains way too tough on our bodies, with us sliding into Friday barely able to walk and stay upright we hurt so much. Our maps have contained a lot of main line to walk which usually requires double the walking: chasing it out and then walking back for nothing. And somehow, the bad dogs, locked gates, and cyclone fenced yards just didn’t ring my chimes at all and I ended the week very disgusted with this job.

I did come across some nice territory in the past week or so though and also loved this inventive piece of yard art. I talked with the guy at length at how he had welded it himself and installed the solar lights so it lights up like a Christmas tree every evening. Just what a wine connoisseur needs, eh?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just a Relaxing Weekend

As is normal right after we do a big move, we face work each day exhausted before we start. We both missed a little time due to some rain and I had some health issues which cut short my day Friday and caused me to endure a quiet weekend. In actuality, it has felt good to just relax inside our cozy abode as we watch the dark skies, raindrops and wind pummel outside. Can you smell the fresh apple crumble baking in my oven? The one downside is that I didn’t get out to enjoy the fall colors and now they are quickly being driven to the ground.

I am surveying a large industrial/commercial section which has required long walks along the mains.

There is also a transmission line which shows up on my map and although I was able to do a tiny section of it, if required to do the entire thing, it will have to be mown first. I took these pictures along the section I did with some beautiful views.

The advantage of working in a smaller town like Rapid City is that our fuel bills have dropped drastically over our previous assignment as we’re within five miles of home. Marc has encountered a major disadvantage in his downtown assignment however—he has trouble finding free parking into which the Freightliner will fit.

Although it is due to get quite cooler this next week we’re hoping we get done with the rain this weekend so it doesn’t cut short our days. We don’t get paid when it rains. Our RV park has drastically cleared out and we are now one of only about six rigs left here. It’s proven to be as quiet as we thought and we have enjoyed the relaxed pace.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's Been a Long Time, South Dakota

Driving through the central section of I-90 in South Dakota is like being on a family road trip from the 1950’s. A vast array of billboards proclaim attractions that would probably have most kids begging and screaming at their folks to “Please, Dad, let’s stop!” It is kitsch on a level not seen in too many other areas or states—states like Oregon that have banned the building of any new billboards and only the ones grandfathered in now serve as eyesores on the scenery. Some get pretty inventive though, like the Firehouse Brewery, right here in Rapid City, which uses old fire trucks to catch your eye. Mile after endless mile of straight road across prairie and tourist trap after trap, a funny thing happens and I find I am actually reading just about every sign for my eye’s diversion for something worthwhile to see.

After dropping from the plateau near Cameron, we crossed the Missouri River the evening before and found another boondocking spot tucked out of the way behind a closed car dealership and saddle shop. It is very windy; something we didn’t really have very much of in Virginia and forgot about on the western plains.

Shortly before Rapid City’s Black Hills come into far view, we get a tantalizing glimpse of the Badlands. We spent a night in the national park there once in our truck camper and I remember our cat Skitter decided to walk up and sniff noses with a shaggy buffalo. We were kept inside the camper for awhile as the huge beasts huffed and snorted and grazed mere feet from us. That would be an area worth going back to.

After parking the rig at WalMart we take time to scout various campgrounds in the Saturn for our new temporary home. It doesn’t take long as many in the area are closing within the next few weeks. We settle into a small mom and pop place with cabins and towering cottonwoods, on a scenic lake right in town. It’s a quiet spot with no frills excepting free and fast WIFI and good cable TV channels but that’s just the way we like them since we’re not here to enjoy campground resort amenities and thus dislike having to pay for them. Rapid City seems bustling and there’s good shopping we note. One edge of town sits atop the hilly plains while the westerly section where we are, sports pines and an array of trees now changing color. It is quite a scenic area and I think we’ll be quite comfortable here on our assignment which starts in just a few hours.