Thursday, July 16, 2009

Cherries, Hikes and Koreans

Tuesday we started getting ready for our departure on Wednesday. Despite Jacob’s offer of three free days of camping, which he upped to a week of free camping if we would stay, we’re moving on to Custer. This has been an absolutely fabulous week of camping and we’re going to miss everyone here.

Because I typed up the directions for the cabin cleaning staff for Jacob’s wife Judy, he told me to use the laundry at no charge. So this morning while I was doing that, Ted, Brenda and Rick all picked cherries for a cobbler. When the laundry was finished, Brenda and I washed and pitted the cherries. We had almost 10 cups. I made an 8 x 8 cobbler for the office and a 9 x 11 one for us. Brenda made some Dream Whip to go on top.

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When that was all finished, we rode back into the park to hike a couple trails. The first trail was “The Door” that leads to a break in the Badlands Wall for a spectacular view of the Badlands. The next trail “The Window” offers a natural window in the Badlands Wall with a view of an eroded canyon. Brenda and I took the third trail “Cliff Shelf” while Rick and Ted waited. I guess all their “horsing” around has tired them out. This is a moderate trail that climbs for 200 feet in elevation through a juniper forest perched along the Badlands Wall. The smell of the juniper trees was worth the climb.

We stopped at the Badlands Grocery in Interior on the way home because Ted wanted vanilla ice cream for his cobbler. He called back to the ranch to ask Jacob if he needed another case of beer for the second “Touring Across America” group that would be staying in the Lodge tonight. Ted had gone into town yesterday for a case for the first group and he figured it was worth a phone call.

We had dinner and the cobbler for dessert. It was such a hit that Ted and Rick got up from the dinner table and went to pick the rest of the cherries so I could make another one. After doing dishes I went to take their picture and three South Korean girls from the group came by to see what we were doing. They asked, in limited English, if they could taste a cherry and puckered up when they did. Ted told them to follow me and I would show them what we do with the cherries. I brought them back to the RV and gave them each some cobbler and ice cream. They loved it.

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We showed them our rig and Brenda’s motorhome. They said “ah, little house.” Ted took them to meet Jacob who is a big flirt. He wanted his picture taken with those girls so Ted came back for the camera. Then Jake told Ted to take the mule and drive the girls to the top of the rise above the valley and to see the horses in the pasture. Judy gave me a bag of carrots and we picked up some kids along the way. Of course I was the most popular person because I had the carrots so I was surrounded by the horses. I showed the kids how to feed them but they were still apprehensive. One gal asked Ted if she could get her picture taken on a horse. He had a lead with him so be put it on Buddy and told me to hold it while he made a step with his hands to boost her up. He told her to hold on to the mane and he walked her in a small circle. I think that will be the highlight of her trip!

We took off around 9 a.m. the next morning and stopped in Rapid City at Wal-Mart to replenish our pantry and freezer. Ted and I ate at McDonald’s before doing our shopping but Brenda and Rick shopped first and ate in their motorhome before we took off.

We passed a lot of touristy things on the way down to Custer. We are south of Crazy Horse and west of Mt. Rushmore at Custer's Gulch Campground. It has very long and spacious sites and we're happy with our selection.

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This morning we went to downtown Custer to look around and stopped at the American National Woodcarving Museum where we learned about Dr. H. Niblack of Denver, the original animator of Disneyland, who carved 30 scenes with figures that moved. Many other woodcarvers were represented also. After lunch we drove the Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park. We saw prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, bison and burros that are referred to as "panhandling jackasses." While one of them blocks traffic, his buddies conduct a car to car search looking for a handout. It is OK to feed them but not the other animals according to park info. The area reminds me of the mountains of North Carolina. After dinner we went back into town to a Bluegrass concert. Because the campground is so conveniently located we were able to come home for both lunch and dinner today.

We are taking a tour tomorrow that starts with a buffet breakfast, nine hour motorcoach tour with a stop for lunch on our own at Custer State Park Lodge and finishes with a chuckwagon dinner and cowboy show. Then there is time to drive to Mt. Rushmore for the evening lighting and fireworks show. It will be a full day but it gives the guys an opportunity to look without trying to drive too. It will also give us an idea of what we want to go back to investigate more thoroughly. We’re also going to take a train from Hill City to Keystone.

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