Saturday, May 25, 2019

April Showers Bring May.....Snow?!?!?

The roller coaster that is the weather in South Dakota continues. What was 85 degrees last week turned into…..
Are you freaking kidding me? It is mid-May!!!!

Two days before the arrival of the snow we welcomed our next visitors. Guy and Sue have been fulltime RV'ing for the past 5 years and were passing through our area for the week. They recently took possession of their new rig and truck, luckily the driveway was dry when they arrived!
Welcome to the J-B!
Within the hour Guy was on the roof  helping with the underlayment.....

After that the wind and the rain started and we were forced onto other projects. As a reward to ourselves we headed into Custer to the Purple Pie Place, our first visit of 2019!

We also made the trek to the Elks Club in Rapid City where we met up with Steve and Debbie one last time.
Prime Rib at the Elks!
Sue had booked a flight out of Rapid City to Alabama where she was going to attend their grandson's high school graduation. She left just in time as it snowed the next day and the next day and the next day. 3 straight days it snowed..... Thankfully most of it melted upon contact but in the end about 6"s stuck to the ground.
I bet Guy and Sue were not expecting this when they came up from Utah!
Having lived most of his life in Southern California and Georgia, Guy is not a fan of the snow so we hid from the snow in the shed making sliding doors for said shed.
  I tell you, there is no quit in this "Guy", he kept working through the cold until I finally had to say, "enough" each day and we retired to our individual rigs.

The dogs even got out to enjoy the snow but Daisy required a little extra layering.
Once inside Daisy needed to be wrapped in a blanket to keep warm
Despite the cold and rain we managed to get a lot done on the house, we sheeted the front, sheeted the garage, got the fire block up inside the house and put up the wind block on the trusses outside the house.
Front side all sheeted!

Happy hours took place in the kitchen out of the wind
Lacy (in the middle) weighs 1/4 of Daisy!
 Saturday morning found the sun shining, minimal wind and not a cloud in the sky. By far the best day since Guy and Sue's arrival. Unfortunately it was their departure day as they are meeting a friend in Custer for 3-4 days before they head on to parts unknown.
Goodbye guys, come again!
We are waiting for 2-3 days with no rain and minimal wind before we get back up on the roof and tackle the rest of the house roof. Looking at the extended forecast it looks like we might have a chance next week!

The rancher we lease our pasture to move some of his cattle over the other day. Nice to see them roaming in front of the camper. The calves are super cute and other than having to open and close a couple of gates it is no big deal at all.
And the bluebirds have moved back into the neighborhood! They are busy fighting the swallows for the nesting boxes and one has even set up residence in the bathroom of the house, who knew we would not be the first to sleep in the new house!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

How Do You Do It?

That is a loaded question…. But it is the most frequently asked question by those new to or not in “the lifestyle” More specifically, the question is “How do you do it, how can you be with your spouse 24/7?”

Life on the road is so different than our prior lives. Work separated us 10-12 hours a day during the week. Barrel races and hunting/fishing trips separated us many of the weekends but going from that to rarely being apart came quite naturally for us. We never had a question that this might be an issue. It is really a common theme of nearly all of the couples we have met on the road. We have yet to run into a couple who do not seem like they are best friends and show any signs of issues in this area. I guess if this were an issue those individuals either never went on the road or did not last very long.

Oh, everyone needs their time alone, even us. That’s why I don’t go with Barb when she does the laundry, or the shopping. I will even go so far as give her alone time by sitting in a deer or duck blind. Selfless I know, but that’s just how much I care about Barb and giving her some space.

These past 6 weeks, when we started building the house have been the most stressful in the past 5 years. In fact we have had couples who have been living in their RV fulltime for years ask us "How do you do it? I could never build a house with my spouse!" Working together side-by-side on something new to both of us, something we are not totally confident with is just a little more than stressful. Truthfully, the first two weeks were rough but the past 4 have been almost argument free! If only she would realize that I am right all the time, we would not have a problem!

Speaking of couples who seem to tolerate each other just fine in 400 square feet. Steve and Deb McCormick stopped by this week for a few days. They were going to stay right on our property with us but recent rains left the driveway a mess. As it ended up the driveway dried up and they could have stayed here after all. Oh well, we had a good time regardless.
Their first full day here was Saturday which coincided with Kevin and friend Tom arriving from Wisconsin. The main reason for Kevin and Tom’s trip was to drop off a semi-trailer filled with windows and other goodies for his house. But as long as they were here they spent a day helping put up the remaining trusses over the garage. Thanks to Debbie for the pictures!
Kevin is driving the skidsteer while Barb guides the trusses with a rope
It was an absolutely miserable day for working outside let alone putting up trusses. Throughout the day we had rain, hail and 40+mph winds.
Hard to see but that is me perched on the left wall, Tom is in the middle and 
Steve is on the scaffolding

The finished product!
Kevin said that if he were home there was no way he would have set trusses in that kind of wind but we did not have a choice and were able to get it done. That is a huge milestone for us as it was one thing that Barb and I could have never done by ourselves.

After the work was all done the 6 of us sat in the rig, had dinner and medicated our weary bones with a variety of remedies that Steve brought over or were in our liquor cabinet. Early the next morning Kevin and Tom were on the road headed back to Wisconsin and Barb, Deb, Steve and I headed to our favorite fishing hole.

Since it was Mother’s Day Steve and I were the true gentlemen and let them catch the biggest fish.
Barb caught several nice ones
Not to be left our Deb landed this beauty!
We then treated them to the Hill City Brewery tour which consisted of The Firehouse, Sick N Twisted and The Miner Brewing Co.

Then it we headed back to our place where we had Chili Verde that Steve had put in the crock pot before we left.  That was followed by cocktails around the campfire. Their visit was short but we had a great time!

With all the trusses set we were ready to get started on the roofing! Not quite yet, I needed to cut the tails on each of the trusses, install sub-facia and put hurricane screws into each of the trusses. While I did that Barb planted 50 trees that she had ordered from the county extension office.  

Trees planted, trusses secured now we could start the roofing. But how to get the sheets of roofing 16' up in the air so we could get started? Thank goodness for Kevin's skidsteer. We put 6 sheets at a time on the basket and lifted it high enough where we could just slide them onto the roof. The first couple were a struggle. In fact Barb sent me for a time out so I could readjust my attitude but once we got our rhythm we were moving pretty fast and by the end of the day we had one half of the house section with roofing on it!
Whooped but smiling Barb admires her work!
The weather was brutal again but in the opposite direction. We have the craziest weather here! In the last week we have had rain, snow, hail and hot scorching sun. It just cannot make up its mind.
Plus we have more guests arriving this week so we will have some help as well as an excuse to set down the tools and play a little as well!

Friday, May 3, 2019

Barb Buys a Camper!

The month of March is said to be “In like a lion, out like a lamb” so what about April and May? April 30th brought us 5”s of fresh snow. We spent the day running errands in Rapid City then shoveled the house for a couple hours. I bet not many people can say that “We shoveled the house”. That’s what happens when you have no roof. May came in the same way with another 4”s except this snow was heavy and wet so we again spent a couple hours shoveling the house.
We got this much snow two days in a row!

Luckily the garage floor is still dirt and did not need shoveling!

View out the stairway window
Luckily the next day got up to 50 and almost all the snow melted and we were able to get back to work. I spent the day working on the trapezoid windows on the front gable end. Having never done one before it required several calls to Kevin as well as a Google search. By the end of the day, the traps were done!
Still need to frame in between the traps
But back to the title of this post. As you know, Barb has been looking for  a pick up camper to take on our next Alaska adventure (hopefully summer of 2020). She had come close to pulling the trigger a couple of times but something was just not right, usually the distance. Plus, she was looking for a particular model of Lance with a door on the side instead of the back. When she found one that was exactly what she wanted in Salt Lake City I knew I was in trouble. 

After numerous emails, phone calls, photos and a short negotiation Barb was packing up the truck and heading to Salt Lake City, just a short 10 hours down the road! So the next morning she set the alarm for 3:00am and headed down the road. My request for pictures of her adventure went pretty much unheard, she took 2, count them, 2 pictures on her nearly 20 hours on the road.

Not sure what mountain this is but I am guessing it is some slopes in Park City
She arrived at the dealership around 1:00pm and was packed up and headed home at 3:30pm. She drove until 11:00pm arriving at the Walmart in Casper, WY. The next morning she was home at 9:30am where she promptly..... started working on the house. That lasted about 3 hours when she went in to get a drink of water. 30 minutes later when she had not returned I went to check on her and found her and Daisy asleep on the recliner. Oh well.....

So now we are the proud owners of a 2007 Lance 1191. It is 11'-6" long, has a side door, satellite dish and a solar panel.

Here are a few pictures of the inside......
 The main reason for buying this camper is to take to Alaska next summer but also for short trips here and there. Don't ask us why but sometimes it will be nice to jump in the camper and make weekend or week long runs somewhere without dragging the big rig with us. Weird, I know......

Barb made on more purchase recently when she bought Daisy a bSeen LED light up collar. We should have bought one of these years ago as Daisy is a wanderer and we are always trying to keep track of her with a flashlight in the dark. Now we just follow the glow and know exactly where she is!
That's it for this week, next week visitors start arriving again!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

What do a Sheep a Duck and a Rooster Have in Common?

The year was 1783 and Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier were sitting around their house in Annonay, France watching paper ashes rise from their fire when they had an epiphany so they make a round balloon out of burlap, layers of paper and 1800 buttons and lite a fire under it filling it with hot air.

That balloon flew for 10 minutes reaching an altitude of over 5000’! The next time they flew the balloon they had to see if living creatures could survive in the air so they put…… you guessed it, a sheep, a duck and a rooster in a basket and sent them up in the air for 8 minutes. When they survived it was time to try a human subject. The king of France at the time, Louis XVI, suggested they use a prisoner as no one would care if it all went horribly wrong but a brave soul from the kings court stepped forward and volunteered instead. His name was Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier (this is where the term pilot came from) and the balloon was connected to a guideline on the ground.

He later did it again a month later with Marquis d’Arlandes untethered flying some 6 miles above Paris. Sadly Pilâtre de Rozier died two years later when his balloon exploded over the English Channel. Luckily the technology around hot air balloon safety has significantly improved since then!
Fast forward some 260 years later when Damien and Keely Mahony took over the operations at Black Hills Balloons. With over 40 years of flying experience between them they know about everything there is to know about hot air ballooning and as Damien likes to say, he has landed the balloon every time he went up.

This past Friday we got the opportunity to experience ballooning for our very first time! We had no idea what to expect. Rides start at sunrise to take advantage of the calmer winds and launch at various sites again depending on the wind. We arrived at their business in Custer at 5:45am where Damien met us with another family of 4. We jumped in their van and drove to the launch site where the crew was busy setting up the balloon.
Balloon all laid out ready to inflate
Once it was inflated one by one got into the basket and away we went! I won’t lie I was more than a little nervous as we lifted off but as soon as we got over the trees I relaxed and enjoyed the ride.
The terrain looks totally different from above the trees. Deer, cows and horses were looking up wondering what the heck was flying overhead!
Some deer running from the scary balloon!
Broken Arrow Campground in Custer
Crazy Horse in the distance
Looking straight down
As cool as these pictures are they just don't do it justice so I created this short video of our day.
Finding a landing spot is somewhat interesting. You are at the mercy of the winds and the landing spots. In our case we were headed over town, once we got to the other side landing spots are limited so Damien picked a spot right along the highway. He said he has launched from there but never set down. It was amazing how he was able to drop the balloon right where he wanted it!

Once on the ground the crew took over deflating the balloon and getting it on the trailer.
The basket itself weighs 900#'s
Damien meanwhile set up a table with cheese, crackers, muffins, champagne and orange juice. This too is a long-standing tradition among ballooners. You see, you cannot always control where you land and back in the day farmers were afraid of big round objects dropping from the sky and often attacked them with pitchforks. So the pilots started bringing champagne and offering it as a goodwill gesture to the farmers, a tradition that still carries on today.
It was an awesome day, filled with excitment, nerves and wonderment.

Since it was still somewhat early in the day we decided to swing through Custer State Park on our way home and see if we could find any of the baby buffalo that were being born and we hit the jackpot coming across a herd of cows and calves right along the road!

We also saw some other beautiful scenery on our drive.

I think we were back home by 9:00 and ready to work so if you are passing through the area definitely check out the ballooning over the hills, it is one you will never forget!