Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Kayaks, Bikes and Caves (Spearfish, SD)

About two weeks have passed since we last spoke but we're back.  Let's start with a picture of  the "Walking Warriors" (WW).  The ladies have remained enormously motivated!  Dependent upon who is available at 8am, some combination of the WW walks nearly everyday.  I can only speak for Debbie but I know that on some days she adds her walking tapes as well as additional walking on her own.  The other day she totaled 11 miles!  Let's hear a big cheer!  The ladies will miss each other as they go their separate ways beginning in a few weeks.  I'm pleased for Debbie so thank you for listening.

"Walking Warriors" (Left to Right: Gloria, Rena, Belinda, Debbie)

We recently had a wonderful kayaking outing.  This past winter while in Florida we bought an inflatable kayak.  We believe it's a good quality little boat.  It's rated to hold 650 pounds.  Shortly after we bought it I launched it on its maiden voyage in  the ocean.  The boat and I did well but we never used it again.  Too many alligators in Florida waters.  A  recent hike took us around a beautiful little lake.  So we joined our new friends Pat and Steve (they also have a kayak) for a boating event.  We got in and out of the boat without falling in (a major accomplishment) and enjoyed a fun filled afternoon paddling.  The truth is that most of the time we sat in the middle of the lake yakking and laughing with Steve and Pat.  Steve was even attempting to fish  among our  hilarity.  He did manage to haul in "some big ones."  We wrapped up the day with the four of us at the Bum Steer for dinner and then later a laughter filled game of "Hand and Foot".  Great food!  Great fun!!  Great friends!!!

Getting ready

Duane and Steve

Pat and Steve in their sit on top with foot pedals (no paddles..cool!)   

Notice who's paddling!

Pat's always smiling!

Steve catching the "big one"
Please recall that a few weeks ago my fellow volunteer friend Bill and I attempted a significant 32 mile cycling outing that ended after about 2 miles due to my flat tire.  Bummer.  Well we got back on the Mickelson Trail on Aug. 26 and completed the ride without incident.

The wonderfully pleasant weather was only surpassed by the great scenery! 

Debbie and Rena met us at our destination, Hill City.  We then enjoyed a unique dining event at the well-known Alpine Inn that included German cuisine.  My meal, as well as Bill and Rena's, included wienerschnitzel, red cabbage, sauerkraut, German potato salad and some sort of dumpling dish.  Debbie opted for a great looking salad. I'm just really surprised by how much I enjoyed this meal. Bon Appetite!

Two days later we headed south with Bill and Rena to Jewel Cave National Monument. The cave included an enormous interior with multiple rock formations.

You'll have to ask Bill about this "formation"

OK, the cave.  Probably too many photos, but we saw so many unique formations, it was difficult to pick and choose which photos to include.

Lots of wide open spaces in Jewel Cave 

From there we moved on to Wind Cave National Park.  This cave was far more compact than Jewel Cave..  This is the original natural opening to the cave, but fortunately not the way we entered!

The highlight was a terrifically unique display of "boxwork."


Both caves include a 100+ miles of tunnels.  Both tours included about half a mile and were about an hour and a quarter.  We got in free to both caves with our VIP cards.  Good deal!

From there we took a long leisurely drive along the Wildlife Loop Drive in the Custer State Park.  We had followed this route before but this day it was particularly outstanding.  We barely got started when we came upon a herd of a few hundred buffalo that were adjacent to the road. 

Stay away from the buffalo!!!!!!

But what if they won't stay away from you!!!

First time we've so many buffalo in one place.


We sat there for 45 minutes or more and had a blast.  We moved along and came to 6-8 burros.  They are well acquainted with visitors and instantly came right up to the car.  It was hilarious!!

Duane enticing the burros with a carrot.  Guess he forgot Bill was in between!

They came to check out Rena too!!

We continued our drive and enjoyed wild turkeys,

pronghorn antelope,

prairie dogs,

and some very cute barn swallows.

Really nice.  Eventually we left Custer State Park and headed home.  We drove through an area where there is a warning sign about bighorn sheep.  Sure enough.  Right there by the road was a trio of wild bighorn sheep.  Too great! 

Last stop was the Pizza Ranch.  Way off the diet but way enjoyable.   In total we traveled about 245 miles that day.  Bill did all the driving.  Thanks again Bill!!

We only have a couple  more weeks left at our volunteer job in beautiful Spearfish.  I'm sure we'll figure out a few more adventures to pursue before leaving though, so please stay tuned.

Till next time,




  1. Wow, what a ride with all those beautiful animals up so close. I'd love to do that!

    Great post, so many different interesting things for us to share with you.

  2. LOVE< LOVE< LOVE the area you in... Custer is one of our favorite parks to visit. You sure had the luck with the wildlife!!!
    Have fun & Travel safe

  3. I am still laughing about the burro pictures! Can't believe you saw Bighorn Sheep! We are still waiting to spot one!

    Love the blog...love the pictures...love and miss you guys!

  4. Loved all of the pictures!! And we have yet to see a big horn sheep. I am jealous!! Glad you had such a great time and thank you for sharing it. We love this part of the country and hope to return one day. It was so good to see you at the Escapade today. So sorry that we were not able to make it to the evening activities due to Charley's Elk indoctrination!! I will see if he can give me the 50,000 foot level description for our blog. Check it out in the next day or two....

    Safe travels!!