Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bears and Hiking (Spearfish, SD)

Howdy folks!   I imagine you're surprised to see another blog from us so quickly.  We feel the need to try to keep the blog up to date so we just wanted to briefly mention a few things we've done since posting a few days ago. My last post took us through the 9th of Aug and now I'm ready to continue with the 10th.  Tell me it's not your lucky day!

On the10th we went to Rapid City to do the Linex  thing on the new truck and shop the commissary. Additionally, we visited Bear Country USA. This is a drive through wildlife park that's well stocked with bears of course, and lots of other various wildlife. We visited Bear Country a couple weeks ago but didn't enjoy ourselves as much as we knew we could.  On the first visit Debbie forgot her camera.  Additionally, we were in the early days of our diet, had failed to eat adequately and we were ravenously hungry.  You know, we could have eaten a bear!  So we returned with great  success.  Debbie had a wonderful time with her camera.  Hopefully you'll agree!

Before we even arrived at the Bears, we had observed these guys:

Artic Wolf
Big Horn Sheep

Rocky Mountain Goat
And finally we spot the bears.  This one was coming right up the road to greet us.

Then there were bears just hanging around everywhere!

After completion of the drive-thru portion, you have the opportunity to park your vehicle and take a walk around "Babyland", where in addition to some very cute baby bear cubs,

we saw:
Red Fox



Then there was a separate enclosure for the grizzly bears.  They seemed to love performing for the crowd.

And "scaring" us!


 Oh yeah, of course there was this bear too.

Not sure of the price of Bear Country USA (we got in free with our VIP card) but I would say this was a most enjoyable attraction.  Not exactly like seeing these animals in the wild, but great for a close-up look without the bars.

After Bear Country we went on to the Crazy Horse sculpture. Respectfully, we're not all that impressed with Crazy Horse. I could imagine it will be spectacular when it's finished but that raises the great question.  Work began on the sculpture in 1948.  At the current pace, we don't believe the creation will be completed in the next 100 years. One of our fellow volunteers commented that  he'd been to the sculpture site 20 years ago and barely saw any difference on a recent visit. By choice, the project receives no public funding but there's LOTS of activity related to generating revenue via gift shops (plural), restaurants and crafters. Additionally, the entrance fee is $27 a car load. One of the crafters selling jewelry cornered Debbie and just wouldn't let her get away. This is tough to imagine because Debbie is great at telling salespeople "no", but the young lady was mighty persistent!  It was challenging but Debbie eventually got away.  Phew!  So given the above, it strikes us as a "wanna be" attraction.  We may be in the minority, but that's our humble review.  Of course some said Mt Rushmore couldn't be done so what do we know?  Here's a picture of what the carving looks like now and what the planned finished product will look like.

Yesterday Debbie and I had a date.  Debbie started her day with her 5.5 mile walk with the girls.  We then drove about 45 minutes into Wyoming to do a hike in another area of the Black Hills National Forest.   Actually we hiked two trails, Cook Lake and Cliff Swallow Trails.  Combined, they totaled 6 miles.  Debbie was excited because the sign describing the Cliff Swallow hike mentioned the possibility of seeing beavers.

As some of you may know, Debbie has never seen a beaver in the wild and is kind of fixated on making that happen. Well, it's still a goal.  No beavers.   The hike was comparatively easy with nice scenery and a mild elevation change.  The weather was superb with temps in the low 70's, BLUE skies and a gentle breeze. We had a wonderfully pleasant time.  We moved at a leisurely pace, took plenty of pictures, and just enjoyed each others company.

But who is the real CHAMP!? Do the math! Debbie totaled 11.5 miles yesterday. The first portion in the morning at an aerobic pace and the second in the afternoon hiking. She's MOTIVATED! I'm pleased and proud!

Loved the great Wyoming scenery to and from the hike also.

My goal was to get "us" up to date.  I believe I have.  We "work" the next few days.  Talk to you soon.



  1. Absolutely beautiful pictures!! Debbie should try it as a profession!! Hope you guys are not working too hard!!

  2. We just love reading your blog and Debbie, your pictures are wonderful! Wish we had gone to Bear Country now! The truck looks wonderful! Can't imagine it being any bigger or better than the last one! We really, really miss you guys! So proud of your diet success too...of course, you have always looked great! I need to get motivated again...we're finding you can live on hamburgers, fries, and junk food! Love and miss you bunches!