Grandchildren Visit!

Garrett Blake PaigeThis post is all about the adventures and fun we had when 3 of our grandchildren came to visit us.  Blake (15), Garrett (13) and Paige (10) flew from California to Rapid City, South Dakota to camp with us for 2 weeks.  We spent the first action-packed week in the beautiful 71,000 acre Custer State Park.  Our campsite at Legion Lake was the perfect central location for our daily excursions.

Hiking around Legion Lake

Hiking around Legion Lake

Custer is home to a herd of 1500 free roaming bison.  We drove the Wildlife Loop and saw herds of bison, as well as deer, elk, feral burros, and prairie dogs.

Buffalo Herd

The feral burros were willing to pose for pictures.

The feral burros were willing to pose for pictures.

One morning Garrett stepped outside and found a bison grazing right next to our motorhome!

Bison in campground!

Bison in campground!

Our good friends, Mark and Darlene, were here for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  The Rally attracts over 500,000 bikers each year!  It is a week-long event and has a reputation for being quite the party.  Mark and Darlene and some of their friends rode their motorcycles from Sturgis to Custer for a day of sight-seeing and stopped by to visit us.  The kids had fun posing for pictures on Mark’s motorcycle.  And we had fun seeing our friends again, after meeting them in Sturgis for lunch at the Loud American and drinks in The Dungeon before the kids arrived.

Mark, Darlene, Linda, Mike

Mark, Darlene, Linda, Mike

We wanted the kids to have bragging rights to say that they had been to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but we were a little nervous about what they would be seeing.  After visiting Mark and Darlene in Sturgis before the grandkids arrived, we felt pretty comfortable that they wouldn’t be scarred for life.  It’s more like a really noisy costume party.

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally

About 20 miles from Sturgis is the old west town of Deadwood.  In 1874, the discovery of gold triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush and gave rise to the lawless town of Deadwood with a reputation for gambling and prostitution.

Saloon #10 where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed during the poker game.

Saloon #10 where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed during a poker game.

Of course, a visit to Mt. Rushmore was mandatory!  I won’t post any of the gazillion pictures we took of those 4 famous faces because you already know what it looks like.  What you may not have seen is the Rushmore Tramway Chairlift, which we took to the top for lunch at a rustic outdoor cafe.  I rode the Chairlift down, while Mike and all the kids chose to take the Alpine Slide.  I took pictures from my aerial post as they zoomed down the hill below me, each in a little sled on a double track.

Alpine Slide and Tramway Chairlift at Rushmore

Alpine Slide and Tramway Chairlift at Rushmore

Then, to really get the adrenalin pumping, the kids harnessed up for a zipline through the fresh mountain air.  Mike and I attempted to photograph them with our zoom lens, which actually loses the perspective of how high up they were.  In any case, they sure loved it!

Garrett goes hands free!

Garrett goes hands free!

Paige was kicking and spinning!

Paige was kicking and spinning!

We attended the Grand Magic Show in Custer one evening, and attended a play in the small Black Hills Theatre the next evening.  It was a comedic version of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and had us all laughing out loud.  We let Blake select our hike the next day from a brochure describing all of our options.  He chose a “Difficult” rated hike near Sylvan Lake which lived up to its rating!  While we were all dying, Blake kept saying “I love this! I love hiking!”

Blake put Lucy in his backpack for the parts of the hike that required two hands.

Blake put Lucy in his backpack for the parts of the hike that required two hands.

We definitely got wet on this hike.

We definitely got wet on this hike.

We survived the hike and were still smiling!

We survived the hike and were still smiling!

So the next day, we did another hike.  Mike and I had hiked to the top of Harney Peak before the kids had arrived.  At 7242 feet, it is the highest peak east of the Rocky Mountains and west of the Pyrenees Mountains in Europe.  Blake wanted to do it.  We all set out for a long day of hiking, but 3/4 of the way up, the thunder and lightening and rain started.  We all voted to turn around without going all the way to the top.  The rain didn’t last long, so the hike was still wonderful and the views fabulous.

Harney Peak Hike

Harney Peak Hike

The View From Harney Peak

The View From Harney Peak

Another excursion we enjoyed was touring the Jewel Cave National Monument which has the 3rd longest cave in the world.  The weather has been so warm, that I had to convince the kids to take sweatshirts on this tour.  The cave temperature is 49 degrees and the tour lasted 1 1/2 hours!

It was cool in Jewel Cave

It was cool in Jewel Cave

Jewel Cave

Our campsite at Legion Lake was a great location and central for our excursions and scenic drives.

Legion Lake Campsite

Legion Lake Campsite

Blake has always loved taking pictures.  He carried my camera on our scenic drives.

Blake has always loved taking pictures. He carried my camera on our scenic drives.

We departed South Dakota and headed to Sandy Beach Campground at Guerney State Park near Cheyenne, Wyoming.  We had a large campsite on a lake, but the ground was covered in big stickers and red ant hills!   And the ‘sandy beach’ was a muddy marsh. Unfortunately, I had prepaid for 5 days (nonrefundable), but we left after only 1 night.  We made the most of our one night, and the kids had a wood chopping contest for our campfire.  Then we went inside, made popcorn and watched movies!

Campsite in Wyoming wasn't what we expected

Campsite in Wyoming wasn’t what we expected

We were fortunate to get a prime spot in Golden, Colorado on Clear Creek.  Clear Creek is great for whitewater tubing.  Several years ago, the city of Golden rearranged the rocks and boulders on the stream bed to make chutes for tubing and kayaking.  It has fast eddies, surf waves, and wave drops.  We bought a couple of cheap floaty tubes for the kids to use.  The water level is low so the rapids were fairly easy, but still, most of the people on the creek were in great big tubes with mesh centers.  The kids loved it anyway and had a blast.

Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado

Clear Creek in Golden, Colorado

Blake

Blake hangs on

And the water was COLD!

Garrett had to keep his butt UP to not hit the rocks on the bottom of the stream!

We spent an afternoon at the water park in Golden.  And enjoyed a concert in the park in the evening.  Golden is a really cute little town and seems very family oriented.  We loved our 4 days there.

Paige gets doused at the water park in Golden

Paige gets doused at the water park in Golden

The final day before returning to California, we moved over to Cherry Creek State Park.  Cherry Creek is a reservoir for boating and water sports, with a roped-off swim area.  The kids spent hours playing in the lake which guaranteed a good night’s sleep!

So much energy!

So much energy!

I left Mike and Lucy for a week, while I flew to California with the kids.  I was able to see my orthopedic surgeon to validate that my shoulder is healing properly.  It was fun to spend a week with my daughter and go for facials, hair appts, shopping, sports for the kids, etc.  The week flew by too quickly.

A week with daughter Kimberly went by too quickly

A week with daughter Kimberly went by too quickly!

Now I’m back in the Bear with my honey and making plans for our next month of destinations.  We’ve connected with some of our friends, but I’ll post about that next time.  This posting is long enough now!  Cheers!

The Ozarks and South Dakota

I’ve only got a minute, so I’ll post these pictures without much explanation.  I just needed to catch up since I haven’t posted in over a month!  My shoulder is healing, but the bruise remains.  I can’t believe there is still a big black blotch on my bicep after all this time.  I’ve probably been cheating a little on my healing process.  I mean, we’ve bicycled and hiked and I’ve basically been trying to do everything that I could do before I broke the bone.  I’ve got a follow up appointment with my own orthopedic surgeon in 2 weeks, so I’ll find out if I’ve really screwed it up.

We had a wonderful time in Branson with my sister and my aunt.  My aunt took us to a bunch of shows, we ate out at some yummy restaurants, and we hung out at the campground and talked, talked, talked.  So much fun!

Linda Valarie Nola

Claudette, Nola, Kay, Valarie, Linda, Mike at College of Ozarks McFarlains

Water fountains at the LandingTall Pines campsite

The shows were fun!

Cats PajamasClay Cooper showPresleys

Ozark Glazed Almonds

 

We also stayed at a campground that had its own entertainment on Friday nights.  Real down home stuff.

Ozark Mtn Jamboree

 

Still seeing horse and buggy on the roads.  Always fascinates me.

horse and carriage

 

After Missouri, we moved on up to South Dakota.  We spent a few days in Sioux Falls at the State Park, and then moved westward and stayed at an Indian reservation for a few days.

P1160171 Sioux Falls waterfallsskinny bridge on Mississippi RiverDutch oven demoP1160177 Sioux Falls Bike TrailP1160217 West Bend SP site 30Sioux Pow WowSioux Pow Wow 2Big Sioux campsite

 

We are in Custer State Park (near Mt. Rushmore).  It is so beautiful here!  The Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is taking place this week and thousands of motorcycles are EVERYWHERE!  Our 3 oldest grandchildren are arriving tomorrow and we are so excited!  My next update will cover all of that!  Cheers!