Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Day in Mitchell, South Dakota

We had a "to-do" list, so we got up and around kind of early this morning. Especially since my body clock is still on Mountain Time!

After our coffee and dog walking, I took on a new job - Jim's barber. Since I groom the dogs, he thinks I should be able to cut his hair too. A few days ago, we bought a clipper set for him. This morning was his "appointment" with me, so we headed out for the clipper initiation. I'm happy to report he has a fresh haircut and people haven't been looking at him strangely today, so I guess I'll keep the barber job. I'm actually thinking of trying to cut my own hair, as I think I can do as good a job as some of the people I've paid to do it over the past year and a half!
Following Jim's haircut, we got to work on the front of the Castle with our Dri-Wash. We scrubbed bugs off yesterday, but wanted to polish it today. We noticed that the little bug bodies didn't stick quite as badly as before we used the Dri-Wash, so we're still happy with it. While we were out there, a neighbor lady came by and said I'm giving her a bad name with her husband. Seems he noticed me cutting Jim's hair, and then he saw me out polishing the motor home. He was wondering how come his wife wasn't that handy!
I completed my morning chores by cleaning up the kitchen, making the bed and straightening up the place. Time for some relaxation! We took a drive out to Lake Mitchell:

A van load of kids arrived shortly after we did, so we left the beach to them and went on down the road to Cabela's. There wasn't much there that we really needed or wanted, and we decided a lunch at Ruby Tuesday's would be good. We both had salads and shrimp.

The pool looked just too inviting so we had a swim this afternoon. After we saw the memorabilia from the movie, "Dances with Wolves" yesterday, we both wanted to see the movie again. We watched that after our swim. I thought that was a fitting way to spend our last afternoon in South Dakota, since it was filmed, in part, in this state. Like Jim said, it's one of the saddest movies we've seen!

And that's been our day. We're traveling to Welcome, Minnesota, tomorrow for 2 nights.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Across the Wide Missouri - Mitchell, South Dakota

I tried to get a picture of the Missouri River as we crossed just past Oacoma, South Dakota today. It's a very wide river at that point. This is the best I could do, stitching 3 photos together:

We also crossed back into Central Daylight Time today, so I'm an hour behind myself. We left Wall at 8:20 (MDT) and arrived in Mitchell about 12:30 (CDT). We traveled about 220 miles and got 8.6 mpg. We stopped for fuel in Oacoma and paid $4.549 per gallon. There's a station across from the rv park we're staying in here in Mitchell that has diesel for $4.479 per gallon.

We are staying at R&R RV, a Passport America park in Mitchell, South Dakota. It's not a bad park with free wifi, cable tv and a pool. We're parked on a concrete pad and have plenty of grassy space. We only have one neighbor because we're at the end of a row. Our neighbors have a 2008 Alfa which they bought in Tucson at the same time we were buying the Castle. Once again, I am a happy camper that we decided against the Alfa, which was on our short list! John and Sue are also our neighbors on Rainbow Drive.

Once we got set up and washed the bugs off the front of the Castle, it was time to go explore. The main reason to stop in Mitchell is the Corn Palace. Well, there was a secondary reason, a doll museum, but that has closed, and the building is for sale. Bummer.

Before the Corn Palace visit we stopped in a bar & grill called Jackpot Gamblin' for a bite to eat. On one wall, shown below, are several props and pictures from the movie "Dances with Wolves".

On another wall is a picture of Mt. Rushmore, which is labeled as the first Kodak ad.

On to the Corn Palace. The murals are changed every year in the summer. Different plant materials are used, depending on harvest times. Right now there is quite a bit of wheat, but when the corn comes in, it will replace a lot of the wheat.

The 2008 theme for the murals is "Everyday Heros". The picture below is for our brother in law, Bob, who is a retired firefighter.

This is for Speedy, (Somewhere in Time) for being such a good sport about Beetle Bloomers!

The corn theme is everywhere, even on the floor!

After checking out more of the town, we headed back home for a quiet evening. It's been a good travel day. We'll be here one more day before moving on.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wall, South Dakota

We pried ourselves away from Custer this morning around 9:30, after saying our "See-ya's" to the people we've met while there. There definitely is something special about the Black Hills, and Custer, especially. I know we'll be going back there.

We took our time getting ready to leave, and everything went smoothly. It took about 2 hours to go the 95 miles to Wall, South Dakota, where we're spending one night at the Sleepy Hollow RV Park, about a block from the famous Wall Drug Store. We wanted to visit one more time. We also didn't want to make the drive from Custer to Mitchell, SD in one day, so this was a good place to stop for the night.

We decided to drive through Custer State Park on our way out of the area. That was quite an adventure, taking a 40' motor home over the twisty-turny road that goes through the park! We made it just fine, and actually got over 12 mpg for part of the trip.

We were in Wall and set up shortly after 11:30.

Here's Jim, visiting with some of his favorite "critters" at Wall Drug:

This picture is for Jenny - is this the cowboy you meant?

Wall Drugtakes up about a square block. All this from the idea to give free ice water to travelers!

Now here's a unique and fun way to RV:

Tomorrow we'll have a little longer travel day, around 220 miles to Mitchell, where we'll be for 2 nights.

We're back on the road!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Last Day in Custer

The month is almost gone, and so are we. We arrived in Custer on July 2, planning to stay 2 weeks. But the allure of the Black Hills, the cool dry air (well, except for the evening showers) , and the friendliness of the people have kept us here an extra 2 weeks. That's ok with us, we truly love it here. If you're ever in the area, we can recommend the Broken Arrow Campground without hesitation. I know we'll be back at some point.

We tried to take a drive yesterday and made it about half of what we'd planned. But for the first time in I can't remember when, the twisty -turny road got to me and I started feeling a little queasy. I remember road trips when I was a child - I got so car sick I always got to ride in the front seat with Mom and Dad. Anyway, we came on back home and I was feeling much better in short order.

Jim's been having intermittent trouble with his computer. I've been telling him we should take it to Best Buy and have them look at it, but he kept putting it off - well, yesterday the dang thing refused to do anything. We could turn it on and almost as soon as it loaded Windows, it would freeze up. I called the Best Buy up in Rapid City. They said to bring it in, so off we went.

The good news is that when they ran a quick scan, it didn't show any virus. The bad news is now they have to run diagnostics, and it will be several days before they know what's wrong. We explained that we're leaving the area, but still, it will be several days. So we made arrangements to have them ship it to us on the road once it's fixed. That means we will have to play nice and share our one computer for awhile. Seems there's a lot of computer troubles going around these days!

We also needed a new backup disk as it's been a few weeks since we backed up, so we ordered that. It was ready today, so back up to Rapid City we went. We got the disk, and did a little bit of last minute shopping to prepare for the next few days on the road.

Visiting with our neighbors 2 sites down today, we realized we had already "met" through the RV-Dreams website. That was a delightful surprise, they are SoCalToolGuy (Ray) and Barb. Ray explained that he's had to cut back on his blog reading and forums as he was starting to spend too much time on the computer. I know the feeling! We exchanged cards anyway, so if you get around to reading this, we sure enjoyed visiting with you two and hope to see you down the road!

We have met more great people here - Lee Ann and Larry, Pat and Mike, Doyle and Fiona, Jim and Donnalyn, Lou and Dick, Susan and Reve, and of course the owners of Broken Arrow, Geri and Larry. We got to visit with Ginger and Jesse, as well as spending time with Karon and her DH while they were here. Once again, I have to say one of the very best aspects of this lifestyle is meeting new people who share the love of the road.

We've seen beautiful scenery, wildlife, Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse, Mammoth bones and more. Jim got to catch of couple of fish, we have our Pressure Pro working great, and now can "wash" the rig without water. I think we're pretty well set.

Tomorrow we'll drive as far as Wall, where we'll spend one night before heading off to Mitchell, South Dakota to see the Corn Palace and spend a couple of nights. We'll be staying 2 nights at most stops until Brussels, WI. We'll stay 3 nights there before getting to Iron Mountain, Michigan. We'll be there for 6 nights and then move on to Macinaw City, Michigan, where we'll spend 11 nights. We'll move a little south to Manistee, Michigan, where we'll be until after Labor Day. Then we'll make our way to Red Bay, Alabama and the Tiffin factory. At least, that's the plan!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fun in Custer

I'm starting this entry with last night. We were visiting with some of our RV-Dreams friends in the chat room during the evening. I kept noticing that the sky was turning a deeper and deeper shade of orange. Finally I popped out of the chat room to take some pictures. This was not even as dark orange as it became a little later, but by then it was a little too dark to take pictures without a tripod. Of course, the rain and a little bit of hail came soon enough. But what a sky!

This next picture is for Speedy (Joe), one of our friends we've met through the RV-Dreams community. As the story goes, when he was overseas in the military, he got up one morning and put on his pants, only to discover a beetle had taken up residence in them. So this is Speedy, trying to outrun the beetle! Lost his pants along the way, I guess!

Ok, on to today! I got the place cleaned up a bit, although we're still a little disorganized after our trip to Rapid City yesterday. I also walked this morning. After last night's rain, it was a cool, crisp morning, just right for a good walk.

Jim ventured into town, and when he got back, he declared that no one was visiting Crazy Horse or Mt. Rushmore today because they were all in downtown Custer for the Gold Discovery Days celebrations. When he got back, he wanted to try a recipe for barbeque in the crockpot, so he worked on that. I made a salad to take to the gathering this evening.

About 4:00, we got our drinks and headed up to the pavilion. Soon, several more couples arrived and we had a fine happy hour and barbeque. There were about 18 or 20 people attending this evening. Everyone brought their own meat to grill and a dish to share. And, there were some delicious sharing dishes! Green salads, jello salads, pasta salads, broccoli salad. Then there were the desserts. I think it should be a tradition in every campground to have a potluck gathering every week! We got to know several new folks and hope we get to see them again down the road.

We visited and laughed and had a great time before the serious business of grilling and eating got underway. When we first went to the pavilion the sky was nearly clear. But, as we visited, the clouds started gathering. Just as we were enjoying dessert, the wind whipped up and the gathering was scattered.

Here are Doyle and Fiona, fulltimers who recently sold their house in Oklahoma.

Lee Ann and Larry were able to join us this evening. We had a great time comparing notes, hope we get to spend more time with these great people.

Lou and Dick are regulars here in Custer too, and are good friends of Lee Ann and Larry:

Here's Jim and another Jim tending to the grilling:

Just seconds before I snapped this picture, Pat McFall was teasing Jim with a long, slender green leaf, asking if it reminded him of the snake he saw the other day.

We've had a great day!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Busy Day

Up early! Pack up the Castle for travel. Get on the road. No, we didn't head out to move today. This was the day we needed to go to Mid States Campers to have the troublesome solenoid replaced so the slides will work properly. We found out that next week, when we're heading out of the Black Hills area, it will be impossible to get service, due to the Sturgis rally. So we needed to get up to Rapid City today. We were at the dealer's by 9:00 and finished by 9:40. I think that may be a record for efficient, fast, service! We were treated very well, no hassle at all.

Once we were free to go, Jim took the dogs and the Castle and headed back to Broken Arrow Campground to settle back in, while I made a pilgrimage to Walmart. It's the first time since we were in North Platte, Nebraska that I've set foot in a Walmart. Another record? Possibly!

My list included getting the oil changed on the car, a haircut for me, and my prescription renewed. Oh, yes, there were a few grocery items as well. By the time all of that was accomplished, I felt like I'd been in Walmart most of the day!

Jim was back and set up and relaxing before I left Rapid City for the hour's drive back. When I got back, we decided to go into Custer to see what the Gold Discovery Days celebration would offer. We attended the quilt show and voted for our favorite quilts. These pictures are especially for Janna, our friend who lives in Big Timber, Montana and is a quilter, Carol in Alabama, Pam in Delta, Colorado, and my sister, Ann, the family quilter:

This one is my favorite!
I realize the pictures do not do justice to the beautiful detail work on these quilts, but that's the way it goes, sometimes pictures can't capture the reality very well.

After viewing the quilts, we walked over to the park, where there is an arts and crafts fair. Along the edge of the park are these two sculptures created by Lloyd Kreitz and donated to the City of Custer by Lloyd and Webster Kreitz in 1998. The first one is entitled "George" and the plaque reads, in part,

"...On June 25, 1876, Custer and his troops rode towards and encampment of thousands of Indians, led by great warriors such as Crazy Horse, Gall and Sitting Bull.

Before Custer and his men could charge the encampment, they found themselves surrounded by Indians. In 20 minutes, maybe less, Custer and 225 soldiers died on a small hill overlooking a sparkling river called the Little Bighorn.

'George' and 'Chief' are examples of art addressing the past and present conflict between the White Man and Native American.

His wings, as well as those on 'Chief', represent the One True Spirit found in all living things, allowing for hope, forgiveness, peace, and joy."

The other is called "The Chief". Here's what it's plaque has to say:

"In the morning, when I walk barefoot upon it's soul, I can hear the very heart of the holy earth." Sitting Bull, 1875.

'Sitting Bull's great stature as a tribal leader stemmed in no small part from his gift for simple, almost poetic, eloquence. He was one of our best remembered Native Americans, a Souix spiritual leader, politician, great warrier and chief of the Hunkpapa band that fought Custer and Reno at the Little Bighorn. Throughout his lifetime, Sitting Buill bravely and eloquently refused to give up his people's land. On December 14, 1890, Sitting Bull was killed at his Grand River Camp.

There are symbolisms in this sculpture of great note. They are:

Mittens - represent the four winters Sitting Bull and his band spent in Canadian exile rather than giving in to the U.S. Congress and surrenduring to the reservations.

Red Hands - knowing that the Souix were facing a showdown with the U.S. Army. Sitting Bull asked for 'divine aid in battle' by sponsoring a sundance, the most solemn of Indian religious ceremonies, where medicine men painted his hands and feet red and then blue stripes on his chest and shoulders.

Red spots on arms - he also offered a special blood sacrifice to Waken Tanka (Great Spirit) of a 'scarlet blanket'. His adopted brother used a pointed steel awl to lift pencil sized pieces of flesh and then sliced them off with a sharp knife, 50 pieces from each arm, causing his arms to run red with blood, creating the 'scarlet blanket'. Witnesses said that during this ordeal, his face never changed, nor did he stop chanting.

Ghost Dance Shirt - Sitting Bull never actually wore a Ghost Dance shirt, but, white authorities believed that he and the Ghost Dancers were planning an uprising which led to his arrest and eventual death. The birds on this shirt represent 'messengers' that Sitting Bull, a great mystic, believed brought him guidance.

Wings - Chief Sitting Bull, like 'George', has wings. They are to remind us that both men, in spite of being enemies in their lifetime, are, many believe, of the One True Spirit that is found in all living things that allows for forgiveness and conciliation."

Well, that about sums it up.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Day of Research

Jim was the one who got up early this morning. He was ready to take the laundry into Custer by a little after 7 a.m. I puttered around the Castle, but didn't want to do any deep cleaning today, because of our repair journey to Rapid City tomorrow. We've been going to a local laundromat in Custer while we're here. The campground only has one washer and dryer, so we can't do our 4 or 5 loads all at once, as we like to. The local laundromat is the cleanest one we've (well, Jim has)been to, but it does stay busy, that's why Jim went early.

We planned out more of our journey and now have reservations at most of the places we want to stay until just past Labor Day. I still need to make 2 more reservations, hopefully I'll have time to finish that tomorrow. It's actually a lot of work and gets pretty tedious doing this campground research. We try to use several sources to be sure we're finding and comparing the available campgrounds. We use the state's online directories, Trailer Life (although their new online service isn't too fast), indivual park web sites,, and other people's blogs to help us decide. We also look at our planned route and try not to get too far away from that, due mainly to the high fuel costs. Another resource I use is Google Earth. I've actually found additional campgrounds that may not be well represented on the internet by scanning the area with Google Earth.

We visited with some of our neighbors, and I've walked the dogs a few times. I've also ironed a bunch of our clothes and watched a rainstorm pass.

Quite an exciting day!

These pictures are from a few days ago, when we walked at Stockade Lake. There's a deer in the lower right portion of the picture below:

Here's a close up of the deer. I think she's either very well-fed or may be pregnant!

We are heading out early tomorrow with the Castle to travel to Rapid City to have the solenoid replaced. This is supposed to fix our problem with the driver's side slides. Keeping our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Research Day

This has been the kind of day I used to dream about when I was still working. No specific plans, no pressing things that just had to get done today. Well, almost. I did need to call Buckhorn Lake RV Resort in Kerrville, Texas, to reserve our spot for the RV-Dreams "family reunion" we're planning for the first week or 2 of March. I got that done!

I also needed to talk to Gerri, one of the owners of Broken Arrow. We're planning another get -together Saturday evening, and we want to use the pavilion again. She wasn't busy, so she and I sat out on the porch at the office and just visited for about half an hour. That's one of the reasons I like it here so much. This campground isn't fancy, but the people who own it are pretty special folks. They both used to drive semi trucks in this area, hauling logs. They started this campground 2 years ago. They've done all the work themselves with their own equpment. They wanted a place that both "horse people" and "rv people" could have their own space, but with opportunities to interact. They are both very friendly and helpful, just regular folks. If they have time, they will "sit a spell" and visit with their customers out on the porch.

I took a few pictures of the campground and some of the wildflowers that grow naturally here.

This is the office building:

The entrance to the campground. The horse area is to the right, and the rv area is to the left:

A view from just outside the fence:

And, the flowers:

I walked the dogs about 5 times. I went into town to see about getting a haircut (not happening), and to pick up some coffee beans. If you want Starbucks coffee beans, a haircut, an oil change for your car, a brisket, or Mexican food, you won't find any of those in Custer. Plan on a drive to Rapid City! We've heard "We don't have that here" in answer to our requests for all of those items here!

The rest of the day has been spent on the computer and the phone, researching and making reservations. We haven't made reservations each time we've been on the road, but we thought it might be a good idea for our trip as far as Iron Mountain, Michigan. First, we're coming up on the Sturgis motorcycle rally, and we don't know what impact that will have on rv parks across I-90. Second, we don't know this part of the country, don't know how full things will be in early August. So, we found places for several nights across South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. We've found 3 Passport America parks that would take reservations and give the discount, so that was good. That saved us enough to stay at a little more expensive resort in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I hope that works out ok, because I had to pay in full for the 2 nights we'll stay.

Jim grilled some great pork chops, and I baked the potatoes and steamed the broccoli. Then I walked the dogs again. We've had severe weather warnings off and on all day. The clouds gather and it looks like it will storm, then the clouds dissipate and the sun is back. And that's how our day has been!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dogs and Snakes, or Be Careful What You Talk About

First, I apologize for not having any pictures today. I've been spending a lot of my spare time over the last few days organizing and backing up pictures, and frankly, I'm tired of looking at pictures this evening!

Today was dog day. Both dogs got bathed. Mr. BoJangles got a hair cut and nail trim, and Princess Jasmine got her nails trimmed. They are both looking smart and feeling good.

I've been wanting Mexican food for awhile, but there aren't many restaurants in this part of the country that specialize in Mexican cuisine. I'd noticed a little place over in Hill City the last time we came through there, so Jim invited me to try it. The first clue things weren't going to go well was the cashier/waitress was so busy talking that she barely noticed us come in. Instead of greeting and/or seating us, she handed us menus as we walked in, without a word. We asked if we should just seat ourselves and she nodded.

It was awhile before she came by. I noticed on the menu that the chips and salsa were priced at $6.95. When I asked if this was a special appetizer and did regular chips and salsa come with our meals, nope, that's what you pay for chips and salsa. Not only that, but they didn't have sweetner for my iced tea, only sugar. So Jim drank both iced teas and I ordered a diet coke. The food was fairly tasty, however, I doubt we'll be going back to Rico's.

On the way back home, we decided to stop and visit the McFalls. They're getting a large pole barn built to garage their pick up and boat. We talked for awhile, and during the conversation, Mike mentioned a tourist attraction near Rapid City, the Reptile Gardens. I relayed that Jim declined to visit, since he's not a big fan of reptiles. We talked for several minutes about snakes and such. Eventually, we went outside to take a look at the progress on their barn. As we were walking around, all of a sudden, Jim jumped about 3 feet in the air! I thought he might have turned his ankle again, but - you guessed it - he saw a snake! It was a small green garden snake, but nevertheless, it gave him quite a startle! Pat said they'd never seen any snakes around here, until today. So, be careful what you talk about!

We headed home at that point, leaving the garden snake to the McFalls. I worked on pictures for awhile and then went back to travel planning. Really, we are going to be back on the road again soon!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wall Drug and The Badlands

Time for a road trip! I get itchy to be moving, even when we're sitting still, or maybe that's especially when we're sitting still. It's beautiful here in the Black Hills, and I was still ready to see some different scenery. This morning, we managed to hurry through our waking-up routine, and got on the road about 8 am.

We were headed northeast of Custer about 90 or so miles, to Wall, South Dakota where the famous drug store is, and to drive the loop through The Badlands. We took the dogs with us, as we didn't want to have to rush back.

The route we took was 16A east through Custer State Park. It was a beautiful, clear morning and the drive through the state park was a very nice way to start our journey. Near the east border of the park we started seeing the buffalo. There were at least 150 or more, many of them right on the road, crossing back and forth. Jasmine and Mr. BJ had a blast watching all the "Big Dog Buffalo". That phrase comes from Mr. BJ's early years of traveling when he sat on my lap, and every animal we saw along the way was a "Big Dog...." cow, horse, dog, or whatever. This was a new one for them!

We arrived in Wall about 10 and found the town already packed with people visiting Wall Drug. This icon started in 1931 when the Husteds purchased the pharmacy. For the first few years, their business was barely hanging on. One night, Mrs. Husted got an idea to give travelers free ice water. She prevailed upon her husband, Ted, to make a series of signs to place along the highway, inviting people to stop for free ice water. The idea took off, people stopped for water, and now the place covers about a square block. The business is still in the family and now carries all manner of merchandise, from jewelry to art to t-shirts and trinkets. Yes, you can still get free ice water!

Something else you can get at Wall Drug is fresh, homemade donuts. We got on the subject of donuts last night in the rv-dreams chat room. I mentioned how I loved the donuts we used to get at the top of Pikes Peak. So, of course, my little craving antenna was up this morning, searching out a plain, fresh, homemade donut. Yes, said donuts were found. We even brought some home for tomorrow's breakfast.

On to The Badlands. I'm not sure what I expected, but this was beyond whatever that might have been. Jim described it as "prehistoric", I guess if I had to use one word to describe it, I'd say it's "otherworldly". We drove the loop from Wall which took us about 30 miles around and back to I-90.

We saw an incredible variety of colors and shapes. It was a pretty incredible journey!

On the way back, we stopped at a little restaurant in Wall and had hamburgers before coming back home. It was a great day trip, and now it's good to be back home!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

A Short Drive, A Short Walk

We got up relaxed this morning, knowing that we'll be here for another week. Since it was a beautiful, sunny morning, we decided to go to Stockade Lake for a walk.
And, this isn't even the prettiest place around here!

I took a break from walking to see if the mystery birds were on the island nests:

Yes, they were! We could see them fairly clearly this morning.
Jim gets the credit for this picture of the blue herons nesting at Stockade Lake. One is standing on the nest, and there is another in the branches:

Another photo Jim took, this is a dandelion gone to seed:

We finished our walk, admiring the incredible beauty of the morning.

Not quite ready to go back home, we took a short drive to see if Sylvan Lake was as crowded this morning. It sure was! I think there were even more people there this morning. Rather than fight the crowd to walk there, we decided to head back to the Castle.

I've spent a lot of time this afternoon working on my pictures. Jim is very organized about his, but I tend to download them to a folder and then think I'll get to them "soon" to weed through them, organize, resize and backup. Well, "soon" doesn't come around very often, and now I have about a year and a half to go through. I'm deleting some, resizing them all, and uploading them to Picasa. Today's entry is the first one I've tried putting pictures in directly from Picasa. I hope it works, as it will be easier to use this way.

I fixed a pan of goulash, made a simple salad, and we had a great meal that included a peach cobbler that Jim made. I froze the leftovers for another day. It's been a nice, laid-back day, just the way we like it!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Gathering

Yesterday, some of our friends gathered in Howard, Colorado at the Pleasant Valley RV Park. Two of the couples we met at the RV-Dreams Rally in Branson last month, and the other two couples we've met several (or more!) times before. I guess we were a little jealous and had to plan our own gathering here in South Dakota.

Actually, the gathering here has been in the works for a couple of days now. Pat & Mike McFall, Doyle and Fiona, Reve and Susan, Jutta & Doug, and the owners of Broken Arrow Campground, Gerri and Larry, all gathered this evening for a pot luck dinner here at the campground. Another couple was supposed to be here, but I heard they've been having fun in Ouray, Colorado and have delayed their arrival here until early next week. Pat and Mike have a lot about 3 miles or so down the road from here, Reve and Susan are staying at a nearby campground, and the rest of the folks are here at Broken Arrow.

We were in the midst of Happy Hour, just getting our various meats on the grill, when Lee Ann and Larry pulled up to say hello. I just found their journal, thanks to Jenny, and had already corresponded with Lee Ann. It was great to meet them. They were on the way to another function, so they couldn't stay. But we hope to get together with them before we leave here. They are also staying at a nearby campground.

We had a fabulous dinner with all the side dishes that everyone brought. The campground has a pavilion for anyone to use, and we made good use of it. We enjoyed beans (my recipe), grilled potatoes, pasta salad, 7-layer salad, veggies, fruit salad, deviled eggs, and a Mississippi mud cake. Each couple brought their own meat to grill. Wow, we won't need to eat for awhile!

This is Gerri, one of the owners of Broken Arrow:

Susan is getting her place settings out:

Larry, the other campground owner, and Jim are supervising:

Reve, Pat, and Fiona enjoying happy hour:

Mike with Lee Ann and Larry, visiting:

As we visited with Reve and Susan, we realized we were in nearly the same places at the same time last winter. They were at Lake Cachuma just after we were, and they were at Desert Trails RV Park in Tucson at the same time we were next door at Doc Justin's Diamond J. Small world!

We paid for another week here, now our anticipated departure date is July 29. Plans made in jello, meeting new friends, keeping in touch with people all over the country who are also either anticipating getting on the road or are already traveling. It really doesn't get much better than this.