Hello to all from the Rovers!! It has been a long time since I have sent out a blog. When we last wrote we were headed into the mountains above Hill City, South Dakota to boondock for a few weeks. Of course, with boon docking there is no cell or internet, no hook ups either! I am now sitting at the public library about 25 miles from our campground trying to write but the sounds outside are very distracting. It is the 79th Sturgis Bike Rally and our little town of Hill City is extremely full of bikes of all makes and models.
All the towns in the surrounding area, Deadwood, Custer, Lead, Hill City and Sturgis close the main streets to cars, it becomes bikes only. The vendors are here with their big white tents selling everything from Tee shirts, leather vests, pants and jackets. You can try on all kinds of helmets, some with a mohawk, or steel spikes or like mine with zaworski crystals.
The big motorcycle companies are trying every gimmick to sell their bikes. The bars are all in full swing with many popular singers performing Toby Keith, Keith Urban and many more. There are tattoo artists up and down all the streets trying to drum up business.
Sturgis turns into party city this time every year. Residents of Sturgis open their homes and yards to the bikers, the fields and campgrounds are filled with tents and rigs of all kinds.
Well, a lot has happened since our last blog, I should also say we are still here in the Black Hills and loving it. Our buggy has gotten plenty of use with over 1,000 miles. This area is an off roaders paradise! The forest service trail map shows all the off road trails through out the Black Hills.
Friends Barb and Jim who are building a Barndominium here in Custer decided to come camp with us for a few days. They brought their jeep with them so we could scout around in the hills together. We were looking for the Ice Cave that we had heard about.
We carry a yellow highlighter and mark all the trails we have ridden. There are numerous caves through out the Black Hills that we keep trying to find using GPS, as they are not marked on the map.
We have seen so much wildlife, 7 bull Elk and a herd of about 200 females, numerous deer, bucks with velvet still on their antlers, and mommas with their babies, a plethora of small brown furry Marmots that are so fast there is no way to capture them in a picture.
Chipmunks scurry across the road in front of the truck, roaming buffalo most loosing their winter coats, birds of all kinds but mostly rather large robins, 2 beautiful red fox playing in the stream, and three fox crossing the road. Eagles soaring over the lake or high over the mountain.
Even a bird that we are not sure what it is, maybe a grouse? While on the buggy we have even seen a fuzzy looking baby mountain lion, not sure where momma was…but didn’t stick around to find out. A couple of our campers have seen the mountain lions not to far from the campground. We know there are coyotes around but thank goodness none have come into our campground. Cows are also free roaming thru the mountains and meadows as well as along the roads.
There are all kinds of trees, birch, aspen mixed with all different types of pines and lots of spruce. There are big trees, little trees, dead trees and burnt trees. Some of the mountains show signs of past fires, the trees are still standing but without branches or leaves or pine needles. There has also been the bore beetle attacking the bark of the trees and have turned them brown and now are barely hanging on.
While riding through the hills we find many meadows of lush green grass surrounded by trees of all kinds. The meadows are often filled with grazing cows. With all the rain we have experienced this year there are wildflowers throughout the meadows, covering the hills, and popping up through the downed trees. There are so many varieties of flowers that I have never seen, I tried to take pictures of every kind. I think Guy was getting tired of looking at the flowers and picture taking.
Our campground is on a stream which empties into Deerfield Lake. Guy has been fishing on both and caught dinner a couple of times.
There are 3 campgrounds situated on the hills surrounding the lake. Custer Peak campground is on Deerfield Lake, which is great for anyone wanting to fish. There are 3 boat launch areas, day/picnic areas, as well as a swimming area. The boat speed limit is 5 miles an hr., which makes it nice for the kayakers. We have been told there is a bald eagle with a nest but not sure about babies.
There have not been many days this summer with out hail, thunder, lightening and rain. The nights are nice and cool usually in the range of 50-55..the days have been cool and never above 75-80. We had purchased a canopy to go over our outside table, had it tied down with pegs in the ground. A big storm came up the canyon with winds so fierce that the canopy did not make it thru the night!!! Trees were down, the road was blocked, it took Guy and I about 2 hrs to cut and remove them.
We have really enjoyed our time here and were not ready to leave. There is something about the Black Hills and the old towns that draw you in. When our 14 days were up and time to head to North Dakota and places beyond an opportunity popped up that we could not pass up. The camp hosts for Ditch Creek Campground, Kim and her mom Diane, decided that the job was more than they wanted to continue doing. They found another job in Wyoming and gave a few days notice.
Guy grilled them about the job and what it all entailed…then proceeded to go apply!!! Yes, we got the job.
We now are the Camp Hosts for 6 campgrounds for this summer. Our duties are pretty simple, collect money, mow, weedwack, empty fire pits, and of course the vault toilets. The company makes it pretty simple by supplying a van and trailer to tow all our supplies, as well as a riding lawnmower. All the campgrounds are with in a 100 mile radius, no reservations required, there is a fee tube at each to deposit campground fees. We personally collect the fees at Ditch Creek. The normal fee is $20.00 a night but with the national park pass it goes down to $10.00.
We have met some of the sweetest people while here. There are a few couples that we will meet up with again in Arizona in Jan and Feb.
Two couples, Dual and Terry, Rick and Nancy were traveling together and had also met while camping. While they were here Dual and Terry bought a side by side buggy, so of course, we all needed to check out how their buggy would do on the trails. For the week they were here we spent some great times together. Dual and Terry have decided they want to meet us in Quartzite in Jan.
Two other couples that travel together are brothers and their wives. Ralph and Denise live in Az while his brother and wife live in California. Ralph puts on a poker run in Az for side by sides and invited us to attend. Which we are planning to do, they also want to meet us in Wickenburg, Az this next year.
We have a 200 gal rubber water tank that we put in the back of our truck, we fill it at Dutchman campground and bring back to our rig. Bill and Sandy, are camp hosts at Dutchman which is about 6-8 miles from us. They just started full timing this year and have decided to be in Quartzite with us this year. The four of us took the steam train from Hill City to Keystone had some lunch, walked the town, and went to the Borglum museum. Borglum was the creator of Mt. Rushmore.
While we are very happy just staying here in the hills, we have ventured out!! There is so much to do in this area, Custer State Park to check out the buffalo, donkeys and goats, Mount Rushmore to see the Presidents, Crazy Horse and their muesums, driving thru Spearfish Canyon and hiking to a couple of water falls.
Riding the steam train from Hill City into Keystone. The area has many great and not so great restaurants, (some with entertainment) and wineries/breweries along the road to Rapid City. There is plenty for the kids to do as well, Bear Country, USA, Dinosaur Park, The Reptile Center, miniature golf and zip lining. There is something here for everyone which makes for a great fun filled vacation.
We have taken a few bike rides along the Mickelson Bike Trail. The bike trail follows the Edgemont Burlington Northern rail line which was abandoned in 1983. The trail extends over 100 miles from Edgemont and into Deadwood. One of our rides started in a little town of Rockford, we rode round trip almost 50 miles to the town of Lead.
One of our trips was into Spearfish Canyon which was an hour drive from where we are. Following along the road at the base of the canyon made us feel pretty small while looking up at the limestone bluffs, and following the river that runs through the canyon. There were three flowing waterfalls, one that we walked up a path to find, while another was just off the highway.
Our summer so far has truly been awesome, there have been challenges, frustration, lots of laughter, many varied and fun experiences, the best was meeting and making lots of awesome new friends. We both feel so Blessed to have spent our summer here in this wonderful area of the Black Hills. All that to say, that when we were asked to come back next year we jumped at the chance. Guy went to the office to discuss how he would like to add another campground and the picnic areas to our responsibilities. We will move to a different campground, Whitetail, where we will have full hook ups and some internet.
Our days are counting down as we leave here on Sept 4 and head for our 1 year maintenance work in Elkhart, Indiana, then on to a Luxe Owners Rally in Tennessee. We will then head back out west to Arizona for the winter. So until next time we wish you safe travels and a very Blessed week.