Monday, September 30, 2013

Buffalo Roundup

Sept. 16-30, 2013 Wheels West RV Park, Custer, SD
7th Cavalry Cafe - Custer, SD
Our rating 4 out of 5
This casual restaurant is right on sight of the Wheels West RV Park.  Under 10 tables.

The wait time for the meal can be a little longer than expected. I believe that is because there is only one cook and he is the the owner of the park.
My waitress made me feel quite uncomfortable. Basically took my order (because she had to) and didn't see her again until time for the check. When Scott went another time, he had the owner's wife as a waitress and she was much, MUCH nicer.
Chicken Fried Steak: I have only had this two times, so cannot not really judge. The meat was tender and the coating was crispy if lacking a little pizazz with some spices.

Dakota Browns

Dakota Browns: This is a breakfast menu item. A casserole consisting of hash browns, sausage (or ham), onions, scrambled eggs all mixed together and smothered in cheese. Yum! Fills a whole dinner plate.
Coffee: The coffee was pretty good. I was able to drink it black as I prefer.
Pancakes: Huge dinner plate sized and pretty good.
Great place for breakfast.

Purple Pie Place -Custer, SD
Our rating 4 out of 5

Stopped here for the lunch special, Chicken Pot Pie for $6.00.

If you are a crust/carbo lover like I am, you'll really enjoy this double crusted chicken pot pie. It is served in a large mug type bowl. With the thick crust on the bottom and top, the meal is as much crust as chicken stew filling. A real comfort meal. Yum!
Bumbleberry? Pie: This is a mixture of berries, apples, peaches, etc. Great filling, but I feel the crust could be flakier and needs some salt added.
Coconut Cream Pie: Perfect!
Scott went into town on his own the other day. He stopped at a couple of rock shops. Rose quartz and mica are in abundance. From the rock and mineral shops around, I suppose there are lots of other beautiful rocks available.
Scott knows that I am going to attempt wire wrapping the stones we've picked up along the way. I can then show them off as a beautiful and unique piece of jewelry. So Scott picked up a couple of cool looking polished rocks for me.
Aren't they cool looking? Thank you Scott. I love you too.

Mt. Rushmore Nat'l Monument - Keystone, SD $15. per car (not covered by Nat'l Parks Pass)
My rating 3 out of 5

There is so much build up for Mt. Rushmore that by the time we sort of saw it, eh. As we were riding up the road to parking, we did pull over and could see Pres. Washington amid plain rocks.  That was pretty cool. But when we actually got to the front of the monument, I thought, "Is that it? It's smaller than I thought." Of course, we probably should have gone to Mt. Rushmore BEFORE Crazy Horse. Crazy Horse is huge and it's just one head.
We brought the dogs and when we arrived to the pay parking lot run by a private company, we were told the dogs couldn't go up to the monument, but there are designated areas for the dogs. We pay our $15.00 parking fee. We head over to the information board and are stopped by security. The dogs can't go there. Huh? We're just walking to the info board 50' ahead. Nope. So basically, the dogs are allowed in the parking lot. I am totalled pissed!!!!!!! Even Scott was angry. He was so angry he didn't even bother walking to the monument. So much for Mt. Rushmore.

Crazy Horse Memorial - Crazy Horse, SD $10.00 per person
My rating 3 out of 5
Crazy Horse Volksmarch $3.00 per person
Scott's rating 5 out of 5
Fairly dog friendly. Dogs are allowed over most of the ground and inside some buildings. If there are hardwood floors the dogs need to be carried.
This is a privately run organization. No government funds are used for this. Although at one time the sculptor was offered a lot of money to turn it over to the National Park Service. The sculptor wanted to keep his work pure, meaning not forced to work to the governments idea for this memorial. This was a memorial for the American Indians.
He is a hero not only because of his skill in battle, but also because of his character and his loyalty to his people. He is remembered for how he cared for the elderly, the ill, the widowed and the children. His dedication to his personal vision caused him to devote his life to serving his people and to preserving their valued culture.
Crazy Horse died young, his life tragically cut short. His spirit, however, remains as a role model of selfless dedication and service to others. Today, his values and his story serve as an inspiration for people of all races.
“My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, also.” — Henry Standing Bear, 1939

The 20 minute movie is well worth seeing. The memorial itself is pretty impressive, but the only way to get closer is by a van ride for $6.00. So they really try to suck as much money out of you as possible. But again, this project is only possible through donations. There is another way to get up close and that is to participate on the Volksmarch.

Volksmarch means "people's walk" in German. It started as a non-competitive fitness walk. In the US, it can be for fitness or just to take a nice walk with a goal. The Crazy Horse Volksmarch is usually only held in June, but a 2nd date was organized and we happened to be here for that. Scott was really excited to get up close and personal with Crazy Horse. This is a 6.2 mile round trip hike. I again couldn't do this because of my ankle still not up to uneven hikes.
This volksmarch in September was the best time to do this. There are usually huge crowds participating, but since this is off season and not the usual time, there was a very manageable group of people participating. The weather was great, about 75° with a breeze and at times high gusts that cooled you off.
Nice walk

Scott meets Crazy Horse
So, if you are ever near Crazy Horse when the Volksmarch is taking place, definitely take part if you are able. And a Memorial entrance fee, only a $3.00 participation fee.

Custer State Park - Custer, SD $15.00 per car, good for up to 1 week
Really nice park on the scale of a National Park. This park covers a huge area. You can go from passing by the Needles, which are huge pointy rock formations, to down in the valley of rolling hills and buffalo roaming, to the back up above the valley riding hairpin turns and cliffs. There are also 3 or 4 beautiful lakes to hike around.
Driving through this park was like driving through a Safari Park! You've got to be very aware of your surroundings while driving. You never know what you may meet up with.
We've officially seen wild, roaming free Buffalo, and right outside our car door!
Butt shot

Very friendly Burros
And traffic was also help up by goats that I didn't get a chance to photograph.
Buffalo Roundup - Custer State Park
The last weekend of September.
Park fee waived for the Roundup.
My rating 5 out of 5
I can't help but rate this a perfect score simply because of the uniqueness of this event. When are you going to be able to see 1000 Buffalo being herded together.
The parking opened at 6:15am, but I was told by a local that there was no need to get there that early. The roundup starts at 9:00am. So I headed out at 6:30am. By the time I got to the area of the backup, it was 7:00am.
Slow moving
They didn't round up all the Buffalo

By the time I got to the parking area it was 9:03am. Yep, 2 hours of creeping along. But we saw beautiful land and animals near here and there.

Also, because it was so slow moving, I multi-tasked. I popped in an audio book to listen to and I pulled out my shamrocks I'm crocheting.

The Buffalo were quite a distance away, and the photos will not look impressive, but oh boy! The anticipation and then to see the horses and cowboys and vehicles directing all these Buffalo coming over the mounds. Wow, wow, wow!

Here they come!
Closer together

I thought I was becoming disenchanted with some of the "must see/bucket list" sights. But Custer State Park and the Buffalo Roundup gave me faith again in the wonders of the USA.
*Update 10/1/13:
Sue from Beluga's Excellent Adventure was wondering the purpose of the Buffalo Roundup and was concerned it was just for slaughter. I can't believe I did not mention this in my post about my Roundup experience.
While at the wonderful Custer Visitor's Center, I asked Fred, the host what the Roundup was for? I asked if it was just a thing to do to bring tourists in. Oh no, not all all. Letting the tourists view was an afterthought. This year was the 48th year for the Roundup. The purpose is to help maintain healthy herds of Buffalo. Custer State Park grasslands can only handle so many Buffalo. If the herd grows too large, there is not enough grasses for the Buffalo to eat and survive the winter. About 1300 head are rounded up annually.
They are first all checked for health. Old and sickly ones are separated for auction for meat, hides, etc. This is actually more humane than letting them stay with the herd. These old and sickly would most likely not survive the winter and suffer a slow death. The Buffalo that can be used for meat are auctioned, then slaughtered and butchered by the State FREE of charge! Of course you need a huge commercial freezer to keep the meat. The State keeps the hide and head. Some of these parts are sold to the local American Indians and others are prepared for sale to the public to raise funds for the State Park.
The healthy ones are branded and blood is taken. The blood is checked for disease, and lineage. Yes, the State cares about not having too much inbreeding which can cause weakness in the herd. So the blood lines they want to separate are auctioned off to private breeders who are looking for specific blood lines (just like reputable dog breeders).
By the time the sorting is complete, the Park should have under 1000 head to release back into the Park. By Spring when Mama's have given birth, the herd is back up to approximately 1300 again and so the cycle begins again.
The day after the Roundup, we took a ride to the corrals, where the sorting has taken place. We pulled over to the side of the road and Devin popped up, "Hmmm, what's that odd odor?" The photo below is our truck parked (it was a windy day), and Devin's first whiff of Buffalo.
Devin gets a whiff of Buffalo
 Corralled Buffalo. See the fencing in the back right for segregation?
Look at that backbone! I thought the poor thing was starving, but I think that is just the way Buffalo are built.
You've got to check out the great video Jenni from Dare You 2 Move put together. I searched YouTube for video of the Roundup, but Jenni's is the best one by far. I suppose it's not as exciting if you weren't there, but this video captures the excitement of first seeing the Buffalo come into sight, the funny parts of a roque Buffalo breaking off on it's own...oh, no you don't, come back here. Hee Haw!
Kitchen garbage can makeover by Scott.
Disclaimer: This was not our idea. We saw it somewhere, be it on a blog, or forum or just surfing.

Farewell Ratkins

Sept. 16-30, 2013 Wheels West RV Park, Custer, SD
Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you are two steps ahead.
Fannie Flagg
Quite a while since I've posted. So let's play catch up.
Today is not only National Coffee Day, but it's also the 50 year anniversary of the debut of the TV show My Favorite Martian! I had an e-newsletter from Reminisce Magazine and the anniversary was mentioned. I loved that show! Of course Bill Bixby wasn't bad to look at either.
I am definitely old, although not a senior citizen, but still...I remember 20 years ago when I first had my house, I subscribed to Birds & Blooms which is a sister publication of Reminisce Magazine. They would send me a complimentary copy of Reminisce every once in awhile. I just couldn't relate back then. They covered things "before my time". Well now, Reminisce covers things that are from my youth. Yep, that's a sign I'm old. That's ok. I'm happy to get to this stage in life. Life is a journey and old age is hopefully part of that journey.
My sprained ankle is much better. Still a slight bruising, but am able to walk on flat surfaces without any problems. I still can't walk down steps like a normal person. Still not up for hiking, unless it is a nice smooth surface.

I'm not sure where the time has gone. I think I am just enjoying retirement. I am now definitely ok with doing "nothing". It's ok for me to have a whole day of "me time".
The internet here at Wheels West is pretty fast, so I've been enjoying looking at lots of crafting videos and picking up some cool techniques.
Time flies while surfing the internet. And then of course there is the never ending data keeping for A&B English Setter rescue. No complaints there. It's good that I'm busy with the volunteer work. That means there are people wanting to adopt English Setters in need of a home.
So between my hours of surfing and a couple of hours doing volunteer data keeping, I've pretty much had it with the computer and just haven't felt like blogging.

Here is one of the reasons I volunteer for dog rescue. Jake came into our rescue just skin and bones. His blood work was terrible. We didn't know if he had real health problems or if these health problems were all because of malnutrition. It takes many volunteers to save these dogs. Here is a sampling of some of the volunteers and what they do.
June V. is our "Intake Coordinator" who is bombarded daily with requests for help to save dogs. The alternative many times is they will be killed if not brought into a rescue organization. To deal with that heartache and stress daily, knowing that if she doesn't act quick enough and find other volunteers to help, a sweet dog will be killed is a heavy burden.
Andrea H. is our "Foster Coordinator" who matches up volunteers who are willing to take in dogs in need.
Foster Home volunteers are as important as financial donations. We need people willing to open up their homes to dogs of unknown origin and behavior, other than what is told to us by the shelter.  The photo of Jake is an example of what one of our wonderful foster homes did. She took in this sickly dog that needed not only love, but help to rehabilitate physically. This was a slow road that took dedication in action and emotions.
There are plenty of other volunteers to make a rescue work. People to help fundraise and spread the word of dogs in need. The treasurer who has to somehow balance the the money and how many dogs we can help...or not because lack of donations. Of course there's me to keep the files on applications, there's a couple of volunteers to maintain our website and petfinder. There are volunteers to process the applications, call references, conduct visits to make sure the adopters are as stated on the application.  There are volunteers who help transport dogs from shelters to foster homes and from foster homes to adoptive homes all across the country. And volunteers to coordinate all those volunteer drivers and routes.
Our rescue is all one is paid or even given compensation gifts. We do this for the love of dogs.

The day we left Bozeman, MT (way back 11 days ago), in the pouring rain, I made sure to pick a bunch of apples from our driveway host's apple trees. I don't know what kind of apples they are, but they remind me of granny smith, even though I know that's not what they are. They're crisp and tart, but still sweet.
So what do I do with all these apples?? It would be easy to just make some applesauce, but now that the weather is cooler, I can start baking. No worries about heating up the RV too much. So again, I scan the internet looking at recipes. During my working days, that would be a time waster, but now it is all a part of "me time" and my reward of 32 years working at the same job.

I don't really look forward to making a crust and I don't want to run into town to buy a premade crust. I want to use ingredients on hand. A nice apple crisp would be good. I have searched for good crumble topping but they are a pain to mix up. Hmmm. I'll try this one, Apple Crisp II from All Recipes.
Very easy recipe once you get past peeling the apples. It bakes up with a sweet, cinnamony syrup from the baked apples. And the topping is phenomenal! I have for years always had recipes that tell you to mix in softened butter and use a fork to mix until crumbly. What a PIA. This recipes states to melt the butter. So much easier to mix and the crisp topping was perfect. This is a keeper! Of course I had to run into town anyway. You can't have warm apple crisp without some vanilla ice cream on top!
And of course I used Reynolds non stick foil "Release". No need to grease and flour pan. Just line with this foil and nothing sticks.
Sigh...The time has come that I had to return the Ratkins. We were supposed to make the exchange about 3 weeks ago while in Yellowstone, but I convinced them that here in Custer would be more convenient and would also give me more time with Chino & Patches. But the dreaded day has come. The Keiter family of Dare You 2 Move were only about 5 miles away and they stopped by to reclaim their beloved pets.
Carrying the precious cargo
Even Scott had to hug good-by. Cool optical illusion with the tiger on his t-shirt.

Looks like the Ratkins were missed. They received lots of hugs and cooing. I think Mom missed them the most. I held Patches, the black & white on the right most days. She learned to relax on my shoulder and became quite my buddy.
The Keiter's are a great family of 5 living in an RV for a year to travel the USA, oh and Canada, which was the reason I pet sat for them. Papa Keiter is able to work while on the road and Mom Keiter home schools her kids. What a great way to learn history by visiting the places we usually only read about.
Even the Kiddo Keiter's are nice. They were well behaved and joined in the conversations without interrupting. Really nice family. I'm so glad we met and wish them the best in their future.
Of course, I Ratkin sat because I love animals and felt great being able to help this family out. See? It's always about me! I pet sat so I would feel good and because I could have the company of the Ratkins without the commitment of "forever". So even though I pet sat for totally selfish reasons, the Keiter's still felt that they needed to repay me i some way. Well, ok, if you insist, but it really was my pleasure!

Mom Keiter baked me a delicious pumpkin bread. Fresh baked that morning! I ate it for breakfast every morning until it was gone. Mmmm, mmmm, good! I was also given an Amazon gift certificate. I'll share that with Scott. Even though I was the caretaker of the sweet Ratkins, Scott was the understanding Husband who didn't complain and actually enjoyed their company also.
And the girls drew thank you notes for us. Hmmm, our fridge is wood. How am I supposed to hang the drawings on our fridge?

Drawing of our parrot (top) and our two dogs!

Drawing of our parrot (top) and our two dogs!

Chino and Patches

Thank you Keiter family for letting me borrow your sweet, sweet Ratkins!
So we are in Custer, SD now, just outside the center of town. This is a very touristy town, but yet still has a small town feel. Since our dogs are no longer trustworthy loose in the RV, we have to crate them. Plus, Lyla has developed a little separation anxiety. What's up with that? She's 9 years old and we've never had an issue, but now she tends to bark while we are gone. Not a pleasant experience for our neighbors. So we opt to either take the dogs with us or go to places separately. I went into town the day after we arrived (Friday, 9/20). What a pleasant day. I stopped by the Visitor's Center which is a block in from the main street. Fred, greeted me with a happy hello. This is a great visitor's center! Lots and lots and lots of free brochures and state maps. Fred was so personable without being pushy that I actually asked him some questions about the upcoming Buffalo Roundup. He was a wealth of information. Thank you Fred!

The town had fiberglass buffalo painted by local artists on display on the street corners. These will be auctioned off the weekend of the Buffalo Roundup. This art event is called Buffalo Stampede. The proceeds from the auction are given toward scholarships and local charities.
We have FINALLY seen real buffalo, but that will be another post.

While strolling through town, I stopped at the 1881 Courthouse Museum. $6.00 admission.
Interesting museum with many historical pieces for viewing. Each room is made into a different theme. There are 3 floors to see plus an outside display of printing pressing, stagecoaches and old Model T's. I think it is definitely worth the $6. fee.
Washing Machine

I've never seen a woman's side saddle until now.

Printing press
Still marathon crocheting the shamrock potholders. Bought another skein of white cotton yarn to make more.
I dyed my first skein of shamrock. They were easy to dye, but I think it's a little too dark of a green. My next batch will be lighter.
Before dye
Dye bath

Hanging to dry

From white to dark green (after)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I felt the narrator, Mel Foster was very bland and boring.
The storyline itself should be rated 4 stars, but the narrator really ruined it.
This was a mystery with a touch of comedy intertwined.

Our Travels