Pictures don’t do it justice

Over the years I occasionally have seen bumper stickers for “WALL DRUG America’s favorite roadside attraction” or “Where the Heck is WALL DRUG”on the bumpers of vehicles. Traveling through Nebraska and South Dakota the landscape is dotted with WALL DRUG billboards offering free ice water and coffee for 5 cents. Well, curiosity got to us so off to Wall, South Dakota we go as it was also on the way to the Bad Lands.

 

The place is quite an attraction! Yep, you can get free ice water along with Black Hills gold, leather goods, a cow pie frisbee, see a dinosaur, pet a Buffalo, go to chapel, and get a home style meal.A one stop kinda place! 

     

We waited out a rain storm, people watching before we hopped back on the Harley to head east to the Bad Lands all the while watching the looming sky filling with black clouds on both the north and south of us. We had sunshine above us …all was good!

  
The pictures taken don’t even touch a bit of the beauty that we could see as far as our eyes could see. AMAZING views all around us.

The Bad Lands is full of colorful rock formation of all different color shapes and sizes that are formed over time from wind and erosion.  

       

With our eye on the sky and our weather app on my phone we were able to dodge the rain. There was lightening in the sky to the north that had this passenger a wee bitnervous. As I said you can see forever out here and am not the best when it comes to knowing HOW many miles away the weather was and thankfully it didn’t find us.

We saw Prairie Dogs and  Mountain Goats

Thankfully no RATTLESNAKES  

 

On our way back west to the Mobile Condo we stopped by the Minuteman Missile Museum. 

 

My hero served our country working in many different jobs supporting the Minuteman Missile mission until the missiles were deactivated in 1994. He retired from the USAF in 1995. It was so cool to see him share his knowledge of the mission with the volunteer that was on staff. He actually was able to inform the volunteer some interesting facts that will help him explain the mission to other visitors in the future. 

   

It was such an honor to be able to see a museum dedicated to a huge part of his life and the part he played in history to keep our country safe. Thank you for you service honey!

 

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Sturgis or Bust

  
Ever since we got our Harley we have been asked “Have you been to Sturgis?” I have to say after seeing it on T.V. in a ” Reality” show, it was not on my list of things to do. I have claustrophobia when it comes to large groups of people and from what I saw on T.V. Sturgis, at least while the bike week is happening was not going to be a place for me to be. 

This year will be the 75th anniversary of the event. It is said that there will be over a million bikes here for the event! Pretty big stuff for a town that had approximately 7000 people who live there. They make TONS of money on tourism that week which makes it all worth it. 

  
We took the ride there to see what the buzz was all about and found a sleepy little town. Main Street is full of little shops where you can get a bite to eat, a beer, tattoo or a T-shirt. We opted for a T-shirt commemorating the 75th anniversary even though we will be MILES away when the “circus” comes to town.http://www.sturgismotorcyclerally.com/rally-info/welcome/  

Next stop 

 

Picturesque town with lots of history. Originally the town was given to the Lakota Indians.Named for all the deadwood found in the gulch. In 1874 Colonel Custer discovered Black Hills Gold. Quickly Deadwood became a wild and lawless community. Gambling, brothels, opium and Black hills gold. Wild Bill Hickcock was murdered here and  Calamity Jane is buried here.

Deadwood was the first small community in the U.S. to seek legal gambling revenues as a way of maintaining local historic .Gambling was legalized in Deadwood in 1989. The town has plenty of opportunities to partake.

Our journey back to the Mobile Condo through the Black Hills was beautiful. Stopping for a rest along side a babbling brook and to smell the dandelions 😉

 

Television…..stay tuned

Our Mobile Condo was built in 2007. It has beautiful cabinetry through out with a built in that surrounds the television. The television in the “living room” started to give us fits shortly after we started our Nomadic life. Rutro!
I may be showing my age, but those of us raised in the 60’s and 70’s may remember what it was like to turn on the T.V. and wait patiently until the picture came in. Well, fast forward to 2014-15 and this doesn’t happen  much ……unless its our T.V. in the Mobile Condo! I felt like I was living in the Twilight Zone!

For the past year we would need to turn on the T.V. WAY before there was a program scheduled we wanted to see. Once the T.V. “Warmed Up” the picture was amazing😜. This warm up routine worked for months, then it began to take a bit more effort to get a picture….imagine Fonzi on the Happy Days banging on the juke box! Yep, we would turn on the T.V. then my handsome chauffer would methodically pound on the T.V. and VIOLA beautiful picture!

You may be thinking…go to the store and purchase a new one, but this is not as easy as it seems. The beautiful cabinet that holds a T.V. that was built in 2007 no longer fits T.V.s that are being sold now . The new units are WIDER than our opening….So the search began. Everyone who knows my handsome chauffer knows that he enjoys the “hunt” for a deal.

He began the hunt for the perfect size television to fit our cabinet via internet. After a year search…Low and behold he located one on eBay that would fit our needs. After securing the “deal” the T.V. was going to be shipped to Kansas. We got to add a day or two to our stay there to wait for shipment before heading out for our Northwest Adventure.

Yay…it arrived! He began the painstaking task of removing our old one. It was not the easiest process, especially if you have back trouble. Lots of twisting ,a few back bends and the old one was out leaving our windshield intact…PHEW!

Let the installation begin…RUTRO the T.V. is 1/8″ too wide and will not fit!! Grrrrrrr!

God wink…As My Hero was trying to figure what to do. It “just so happened” that a Custom Cabinet Maker  “happened” to stop by to help out our friend who we were staying with  on another project. JACKPOT!  He kindly advised My Hero what needed to be done and then quickly went back to his home to gather the tools needed to get the job done. Thank you God!

So the whittling begins. Wood shavings flying everywhere and in a matter of an hour the T.V. fits like a glove! We plug in all the needed wires, turn it on and POOF  there is a picture immediately……but wait, why is there a small blue dot in the middle of the black screen? Long story short, looks like we were sold a defective T.V. DOUBLE GRRRrrrrr

My Hero contacts the vendor on ebay and explains that he has sold us a defective piece of goods. The vendor then blames it on the shipment and will not take ownership of the problem …..around and around we go.

My hero doesn’t take this laying down. He calls the manufacturer and describes what we are noticing. My hero sends pictures via email to them of our problem area. They confirm it is a pixal problem. The T.V. IS indeed defective. Now he has evidence to prove to the eBay vendor and get resolution to the problem. Before the conversation ends with the maufacturer  he is told that THEY will happily replace it for us even though we purchased off of eBay.

WOW, talk about customer sevice right? They will send us a new T.V. , in fact a BETTER newer model T.V. (much sharper image) BUT the new T.V.s are TOO BIG! The size we need is no longer being made. Back to square one!

After lots of calls back and forth. The manufactuer located a “refurbished” unit that WILL fit our cabinet and they will give us a 1 year warranty. Just give them an address and they will send it to us. Hahahahaha….

My Hero goes on to explain that we are Nomads and do not have an address that they can send the T.V. to currently. We are traveling and will need to get back to them when we find out IF at our next location we will be able to receive shipments.

I can only imagine the look of confusion on that person’s face on the other end of the telephone line! People just don’t understand how we cannot have an address. So goes the lives of Nomads…….Stay tuned!

Reveille 

I have never been a morning person… just ask my family they DO NOT POKE THE BEAR😉! I am slow to wake up and definitely do not have conversation until I have had my first cup of coffee. Staying on a military base has many advantages, but from my perspective, the playing of Reveille🎺📢 in the morning waking me from my slumber is not. On the plus side I have been known to sleep the morning away so Revielle has helped me get moving earlier and there is a lot of ground to cover in this beautiful area of the USA!

Crazy Horse was another stop on our ride through the Black Hills 

 

This model is 1/34th the size of monument on the mountain 3/4 mile away in the distance. The first blast to start the monument was June 3, 1948. Like Mount Rushmore most of the work is done with dynamite.

Sculptor Korczak Ziolkiwski was 40 years old when he began this amazing process. He made a staircase that had 750 steps up. He made that trip up and down daily while being kept company with the Mountain Goats. It makes my knees hurt thinking about it and to think he was 40 years old when he STARTED..Whoa! He, his wife and 10 children worked together. Korczak passed away in 1982. His family continues the work. A strong believer in the free enterprise system, he felt Crazy Horse should be built by the interested public and not on the taxpayer. The work continues through his 7 children and the Crazy Horse Memorial a Nonprofit organization. 

 

The current work on the mountain is focusing on the horse’s head and finishing work on the hand 

 

So impressive! A must see if you are ever in the area.

We headed down the road taking in the sites of Custer State Park. Gorgeous winding roads. 

As we excited the park heading back towards our Mobile Condo we came upon some more presidents …Ron, George W.  and JFK!

       

Another full day under our belt. More fun to come!

Guardian of the North

  

Home sweet home for the next few weeks. Ellsworth AFB…Guardian of the North. 

Mark joined the USAF in 1979 planning on a 4 year term and hoping to get a career that would take him to any coast after being raised in the Midwest. He also dreamed of receiving training that he could use in the Civilian sector when his 4 years were over. His plan was aircraft maintenance …Uncle Sam had other plans…Missle Maintenance! 

He was stationed for his entire career at Whiteman AFB, MO. smack dab in the middle of the country no where near any coast until he retired in 1995. 

Lots of great things happened at Whiteman AFB. We were blessed with both of our children, made friends for life and actually ” grew up” there.

One of the many great benefits we still are privileged to have after serving our country is to take advantage of staying at Military Fam Camps. They are always nice. We can take advantage of all the amenities on base such as, Commisary etc.. So here we are at Ellsworth AFB a former Minuteman Missle base, now the home of the B1 Bomber. 

The first night here we got in around dinner time. We decided to get a bite of dinner at the “Chow Hall” as we were starved. Walking in and seeing all the young Airmen was surreal. How did we get so old AND these are “babies” who VOLUNTEER to serve our great nation and protect our freedom we often take for granted. My heart hurt for their Moms. I put myself in that position and cannot even imagine how hard it is for them. 

When Mark enlisted way back when we were not fighting a war. Unemployment was high and jobs were tough to come by in Illinois. He joined to get a paycheck and learn a skill. The military kept training for the possibility of using force and things were status quo for most of his career …..that was until 1990 and Desert Storm. Things changed!

Today , jobs are still scarce , but kids today join knowing we are fighting a war. WOW such bravery and selflessness is so humbling. I pray  daily for their protection and when you meet them while having a simple meal puts it in a new perspective. They are so young and doing  so much for each and everyone of us as U.S. Citizens. Please take the time to thank them along with our Veterans when ever you get the chance.

Ellsworth AFB is just outside of Rapid City, S.D. Which is surrounded by great things to see. Traveling in the Mobile Condo gives us a bird’s eye view through the 4’x8′ windshield, but nothing compares to taking in the majesty of the scenery here than on our Harley.  

   

Next stop Mt Rushmore! 

  
 

WHOA!!! What a place. It’s a place that needs to be seen to truly appreciate. To think it took only 14 years to do (they say if weather wasn’t a factor they could have done it between 6-8 years) 90% of it was done using dynamite the other 10% was completed by men hanging in a swing like apparatus using drills! 

The workers were all young guys that were Miners previously hence they used the same skills. The men were not impressed that they were working on what would become a National Monument, they just considered it a job! Below is a picture of what they were paid for whatever job they did  

 
Hard to believe there were only a few injuries and NO fatalities! No OSHA requirements either😉. 

The monument was not completed as it was originally designed.  Below is the model they were using to create the monument. 

   

They stopped work on the monument in October 1941 as World War II was requiring the financial resources that were being used to complete the work. So it remains “unfinished” and still breath taking. So glad we stopped by. 

 

Next stop Crazy Horse!  

Nebraska ….the good life

  

Traveling through the state of Nebraska from south to northwest was very reminiscent of traveling through Kansas except for the change in altitude. Lots if open green space dotted with cattle. We could see forever.

  
My handsome chauffeur took the “scenic route” instead of the Interstate. We were grateful for a Southeast wind as it pushed us along. He didn’t have to fight the wind as the day before along with the draft from 16 wheelers, because the scenic route is much less traveled.

  
As we climbed our first BIG hill all I could think of as our Mobile Condo made the trek was “I think I can…I think I can”. Our over all weight is 45,000 pounds which includes towing our truck with our Harley in the bed of it. Whew its a LOAD but she made it!
  
Texas is not the only place flooding. The scenic route is a 2 lane highway that followed along the Platte River. Lots of water and flooded fields. Thankfully we didn’t come upon water crossing the roadway, but there was evidence it had been. 

There are plenty of things to keep in mind when we prepare to move. Most of them are second nature now like making sure all cabinets are closed tight, things stowed off of the counters so nothing goes flying and breaks, but we forgot to let air out of our Sleep Number bed. Yep, going up in altitude not only causes bottles to expand our bed did too! Thank goodness it didn’t POP… that would have been NO BUENO! Note to self…deflate bed when traveling.

Our last stop was in Alliance, Nebraska. We had traveled for 5 hours or so and my handsome chauffeur was ready to relax. We did not have any reservations. I got out my trusty phone and used a trusted app we used before to seek lodging for our Mobile Condo and it’s weary driver. As we were driving through the town we saw a HUGE Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad terminal. It is a huge employer for this small blue collar community. Never thinking how many trains would be going through AND how loud their whistles were at ALL hours of the night! So much for the restful night.

As the trains kept me awake I used the time to  research and found that Carhenge was 3 miles from our RV park. Out in the middle of no where!

   
 

Carhenge is a replica of Stonehenge, England’s ancient alignment of stones that chart the phases of the sun and the moon. Created from Vintage automobiles, the dimensions of Carhenge replicate Stonehenge. The cars are primarily from 1950’s and 1960’s. They are planted trunk down and rise 15 to 17 feet wide; the same size as the standing stones of Stonehenge. All 38 of the major stones at Stonehenge are cleverly represented at Carhenge. So cool!

See you later Nebraska…..Next stop Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota !

It’s all about communication 

It took me a LOOOooong time to become a member of the Smart Phone Society. It was quite the process as many of you know 😉. Now I cannot imagine living without it. This technology is crucial to our Nomadic lifestyle. We are able to FaceTime with our family, get the latest picture or video of our growing Grandson, plan our trip, get step by step directions, make reservations and research fun facts on our travels. The list is endless and I am an admitted Addict to this device I lived without for all these years!

Mark and I took great pains deciding which carriers were best for us. We purposely chose to have 2 different carriers, as in our previous travels we found that many times one of us would not have service. All bases covered we thought. 

Most of the plans these days give unlimited text and talk but limits are set on data. I love to gab and text. I am clueless when it comes to knowing exactly what 5Gb means or provides me. To me that sounds like a whole bunch.

We found out the hard way that roaming is not only for the Buffalo on the range! All of our Apps were using roaming features while we were driving. RUTRO! Mark got a text telling him he has depleted his data quota for the rest of the month (they will gladly add more data for a fee). Yikes, this is how we get and use Internet. No worries, we still have data on my plan, BUT I don’t have Hot Spot capability, AND no service while driving across Nebraska! “Oooooh No Mr. Bill” …. We could not use Google Maps, use our campground app to find the phone number to check reservations etc….. Talk about feeling “trapped” 😄😄😄. We are SOoo dependent on technology. 

I often thank God that He decided to have me live on this century. I CANNOT imagine going across this beautiful vast country in a covered wagon or on horseback. Being so dependent on data and suddenly without out it was my version of traveling in a Covered Wagon!

Oh wait we have a map! So I put on my Navigator’s cap and help my handsome chauffeur out. Who needs Siri and Google maps??? Quickly found out that my map reading skills need honing. We missed a turn and headed east instead of west for a bit. Thankfully we are not on  trip ….it’s a JOURNEY! We have nothing but time! 

Our traveling Gaurdian Angel knew that we needed help. Just like when you are looking for something and keep going to the same spot thinking it will magically appear (aka insanity), my handsome chauffeur takes my phone and tries the app that we need to contact our new home for the week. VIOLA the app pops up even though my phone clearly shows we have no data! He makes his call, hangs up. We try it again immediately and NO SERVICE AVAILABLE pops up! Whoa!! We are in awe and so thankful for this “God Wink”. There ARE angels among us!😇😇😇

We made it safely to Ellsworth AFB. S.D. without any further assists from technology. Thankful they provide free WiFi (even though it’s spotty). Whew technology….We will make it!

Sidebar….I was able to get data and service after I turned off my phone to reboot it. Who knew it was that simple? May need that little trick in the future!