- Observation: Bathing suits are ridiculous. We’d just finished a hike in Custer and ended up at a pretty little lake, but I didn’t have my bathing suit. Just think — if we lived in a world where it was normal to swim without clothes, life would be so much simpler.. Since that was NOT an option, I poured water all over myself, which felt great until we went out to lunch in an air conditioned restaurant.
We are in Casper, Wyoming in an RV park that is basically a large parking lot, but it’s right on the North Platte River, and I’ve already managed to do three loads of wash and tomorrow we’ll stock up on food. The woman at the desk told me that they’ve been booked for the eclipse for a year and they are getting 50 calls a day from people trying to make reservations.
As for the title of this post — I realize in the metaphysical sense there are no goals, but we haven’t reached enlightenment yet and we really are attached to the idea of seeing the solar eclipse (on my birthday, in case you forgot).
The concern about the eclipse for us — and 12 million other people — is the weather. Ideally, we would watch the weather predictions, and if the Tetons are predicted to be cloudy we’d drive somewhere else. We’re in Casper because Terry has planned a route from Casper to the Tetons to check out road conditions. However, I am skeptical that we’ll be able to go anywhere on eclipse day because I think the roads will be clogged.
So I’m visualizing clear clear skies on August 21. I’d appreciate it if you would too.
Now I’d like to talk about photography.
I have one small camera that is set on automatic. Terry is the real photographer and of course he has a Sony on his belt at all times, and a Nikon with a zillion attachments and a tripod and then there is his smart phone and a video camera and he takes wonderful photos. The challenge is getting him to put them on the computer in a timely fashion. After I posted the Badlands pictures Terry commented that he never downloaded the Nikon photos. And that is why we are about to go back to the Badlands (pictorially speaking).
Above is a better version of one that was in the previous post. The rest are new
Okay, so now everyone should have a real feel for the South Dakota Badlands through our eyes and we can move on.
. . . . (the next day July 21) The big excitement last night was a huge wind storm. I came out of the shower house and was just a couple hundred feet from the trailer but I almost couldn’t make it back — felt like I was being blown away — and dust was swirling all around me. At the same time Terry was dealing with the awning, which was filling up like the sail on a boat and threatening to blow away. He managed to stow it and when he checked this morning it was okay. We were surprised to see that our propane tank cover blew off. Terry says the wind would have had to get through from underneath the trailer in order to blow it off.
. . . . . We’re going to jump back to our exploration of Custer State Park — From Wolf Camp we were able to explore Custer and visit the Crazy Horse Memorial. We also were able to go on a cave tour at Wind Cave National Park. About that I will just tell you that one of my children has still not quite forgiven me for the time we were at the Liberty Science Center in NJ and I wouldn’t let him go through the touch tunnel because I knew it would make me claustrophobic and I was afraid to let him go without me. BIG MISTAKE.
Above is the boxwork on the cave walls and ceiling.
This is the closest I can come to a picture that might give you an inkling of what it was like to be in the close quarters of this cave.
Anyway, that’s how I feel about tight spaces, but I was determined to survive the cave tour — and I actually enjoyed a lot of it. I’m doing something called Mussar and — long story short — the day we were on the cave tour I was practicing compassion, which came in very handy when the three year old on the tour started to scream. As we walked through the narrow cave tunnel and had to duck down to avoid bumping our heads and there was no way out until the end of the tour, and the poor little kid kept crying, I truly felt compassion for him and his mother — and for me.
At the end of the tour came a claustrophobe’s worst nightmare — one of the elevators to the top wasn’t working and there were a LOT OF PEOPLE from earlier tours waiting to get out. Terry muttered something about “infrastructure” and — I couldn’t help myself — I responded,
“Trump’s gonna fix that. He promised.”
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We took the Cathedral Spires hike at Custer in the heat of the day. The needles are like a Rorschach Test. See what you can see.
Terry took this picture of the flowers and it was only later that we realized that he’d also taken a picture of what is called the “figure of the robed man.”
During the Depression, the CCC did a lot of work at Custer. However, there were not steps like this everywhere. Several times it was rock scramble time.
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- On this hike near Center Lake at Custer we saw several people jauntily strolling across these streams, but all eight times it was a challenge for me (I won’t speak for Terry).
The one lane tunnels made driving at Custer interesting, particularly because people (like us) tended to park on either side to explore the needles.
Driving along the wildlife loop in Custer we saw a pack of burros poking into people’s parked cars and being fed. We didn’t stop — and this picture is from the internet — but I later googled and found out that the “begging burros” are descended from pack animals used during the gold rush days. Now they’re sort of wild, but they literally beg and get annoying if people don’t feed them. Usually the rangers say not to feed wild animals but in the case of the begging burros, they look the other way. Good thing we saw them because we didn’t see any other wildlife that day.
Wild Bergamot. When we were climbing the Cathedral Spires Trail during (of course) the heat of the day I felt really draggy. Seeing the flowers was like having a friend say– you’re doing great. I looked at them and Terry photographed them.
The Crazy Horse Monument seen from the visitor center. That’s as close as we got.
“The government made us many promises and they kept only one. They said they would take our land — and they did.” Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Lakota.
We’ve never felt a strong urge to visit Mount Rushmore, but one of Terry’s friends (an actual friend) suggested on Facebook that we go to the Crazy Horse monument — a work in progress. Crazy Horse unified the tribes and beat Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He was stabbed in the back by a U.S. soldier during truce talks.
The elders of the North American Native American tribes wanted a sculpture of Crazy Horse to appear at Rushmore — but guess what — the U.S. said “No.”
We didn’t know what to expect when we got there and were a little overwhelmed by the huge complex of exhibits. We couldn’t go up to the sculpture because it is being worked on (and we opted not to go on the bus ride that skirts the bottom). Instead we watched the film that depicted the life’s work of sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski who began work on the monument in 1948 (my birth year :)), and took a guided tour of the exhibit halls.
Eventually the monument will show Crazy Horse astride his horse, pointing to “the lands where my dead lie buried.”
When Ziolkowski died, his wife and several of his 10 children continued on. The work is supported strictly by donations and has evolved to include not only the cultural exhibits but an education center that will eventually be a college for Native American young people.
We were sad to leave the Black Hills. There’s so much we didn’t see. Goddess Willing — we will return. BUT TOMORROW we are going to Thermopolis, Wyoming, where there are natural hot springs AND our GRANDCHILDREN will be waiting for us.