Friday, June 24, 2011

Bear Butte, Crow Peak, Horse Sanctuary and a Haircut (Spearfish, SD)

OK now, lets get together and catch up a little.  First a little fun fact for those of you who are monitoring Duane and Debbie's spellbinding travels (please note sarcasm).  We have now been on the road ONE YEAR.  In the full timing world we're still wet behind the ears but we feel like we're beginning to iron out the wrinkles.  Our itinerary for future destinations is enormous so we're hopeful the bubble doesn't burst and we can continue this lifestyle for years.  Lets count those blessings!  Now on with the blog.

 I hope you can tell from our last post that we do LOVE this area.  After our outing to Devil's Tower we "worked" for three days, which means 5 hours a day.  That still leaves plenty of time to enjoy life even on a "work" day.   On Thursday we tackled one of the local mountains.  We hiked Bear Butte mountain with Bill and Rena. 

Bear Butte from the ground

Bill and Rena
Bear Butte is a historical location of sacred significance to the local Native American Indians.  The trail to the top is endlessly adorned with prayer cloths left by Indians visiting the mountain for spiritual experiences.

When we first learned of this location Debbie preferred to call it "butt".  I pointed out that the correct pronunciation is butte, like flute.   But, because we are mature adults, the name for us remains Bare Butt. We mean no disrespect, we're just foolish.  So the hike begins.

Beginning of the trail up the mountain
It was a beautifully clear day,

 but quite cool and dramatically windy.

The hike is 2 miles to the top (as well as down  ha ha) with an elevation gain of 1253 feet.  The hike is not fall to your death dangerous but it is necessary to pay attention.

Precarious footing in some spots
A fall would hurt.  The entire trek took maybe 3 and a half hours.  We stopped often.  We must chat,

 take pictures,

admire the wild flowers,

spot a Mountain Blue Bird,

and take more pictures.  This picture of the four of us is compliments of Bill and his flexible little tripod.

Bill getting set up

The four of us
After we returned to the bottom we drove across the road to the quaint little campground and lake that is part of the state park.  No hook ups but it would be a unique location for a day or two of dry camping.  We then went home and I guess we chilled the rest of the day.

Debbie and I have been good about rarely going out to eat.  But Friday we decided to have a date.  We went to a steak house that received rave reviews.  While we waited for our meal I asked Debbie date questions like "what's your sign?" and "do you come here often?"  You know, clever stuff!  Our meals arrived, sparing Debbie any more of my nonsense, and in a nut shell my meal was awful!  My prime rib was at least a third or more fat.  I'm there for red meat!  I don't think I've ever sent back food but I had to bring this to our waitress's attention.  She was quite understanding and cut the cost of my meal in half.  Fair enough.  We then move to downtown Spearfish.  They're having Downtown Friday Nights.  This includes a few food vendors and a band on a stage.  Spearfish is having this event every Friday night during the Summer.  It's not a grand event, but I'm sure it's a nice opportunity for locals to gather.  Another example of the character of this great little town!

Three more days of work then Debbie got a haircut.  Debbie has had short hair for most of the 23 years we've been together.  But during this past year she's been growing it out......with varied success depending on your point of view.  I guess the jury is no longer undecided, Debbie's back to short hair.

Wednesday I hiked (solo) Crow Peak Trail in the Black Hills National Forest.  The trail head is located just outside of Spearfish.  The round trip hike was 7.4 miles with an elevation gain of  1560 feet.  I didn't take a camera so you'll have to put up with my babble for a minute.  This hike was also not fall to your death dangerous  but the grade was a relentless climb.  The views, may I say breathtaking?  The terrain is enormously open, rugged and worth every step.  The wild flowers were in full bloom.  In a couple isolated areas there were a zillion, bright yellow, miniature sun flower like flowers that were mighty impressive.  Anyway, a great hike.  Love the sense of satisfaction.

Yesterday Debbie and I took a road trip.  We headed south through a portion of Custer State Park with a stop at Wind Cave National Park.  We didn't tour the cave but we'll go back.  We couldn't resist taking a few more pictures of the bison that we passed along our route. I don't know if calling a bison "cute" is an  appropriate description but you'll have to admit this baby bison is just so......cute!

 Our plan was then to move on to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.

Well, we suffered a case of  "believe the GPS no matter what."  As we first left the paved road onto gravel we encountered a sign saying, "No Thru Traffic, Road Closed".  Certainly that didn't apply to us.  We persisted until we came to a sign saying Road Closed, No Road Maintenance, ENTER AT YOUR ON RISK.

Of course we continued.  It was a mighty pretty drive even when the "road" deteriorated to nothing more than a heavily rutted tractor path.

But you know what, the road WAS closed and it DID NOT permit thru traffic.  We finally stopped, or were stopped by the muddy bank of a river.  I believe it was the Cheyenne River.

We had traveled this "off the beaten path" route for 10 - 15 miles (we're slow learners)  So, because we had already displayed our impressive intelligence, we turned around.  We back tracked entirely and eventually found our way to the Horse Sanctuary.

The fare for a 2 hour bus tour of the Wild Horse Sanctuary is normally $50 a head ... ouch!  But we rode for free compliments of our VIP card, compliments of the Fish Hatchery.  We really enjoyed this unique outing.  Again, the terrain was a bright star,

but this time it had to take a back seat to the horses.

I wouldn't say we're big horse people but you couldn't help but be impressed.  We're glad we finally found our way.

We had been gone all day and  upon our return, the boys were airborne!

We work the next few days but I'll be back.  I know, you're breathless.