Thursday, October 26, 2023


 I completely forgot to write about some visitors we had last weekend (now two weekends ago). Good thing I have the pictures in my phone to remind me of what we did in a given week!

My niece Alana and husband Ryan came over for a puppy play date! They of course brought Sophie, their little Frenchie, but they also have a new addition to their family. Loki, their black lab. 

Zoey, Sophie and Loki ran and ran and ran. That is until Loki found herself stuck in the fence. She stood here almost a full minute before her puppy brain figured out how to get out of this makeshift prison. Dakota on the other hand, just watched Loki and shook her head, trying to ignore all the chaos going on around her.

We had a great afternoon, and as a bonus, the Vikings actually won a game!

Zoey has even gotten used to the turkeys visiting and does not try to attack them anymore. 

On the project front, Barb and I have been working on putting walls up in the loft. This is the "before" picture. I figured I better put up some kind of barrier before one of us falls over the edge. 

So, off we went to Menards to pick up some 2x4's and OSB. 

A couple days later, we have more wall space and a barrier to keep us safe and sound. 

I still need to install handrails on the stairs. Some people are just not comfortable going up and down them without handrails. Case in point; here is Alana coming down the stairs. I think they call this the Boot Scoot'in Boogie!

Next up on this project will be to install board and batten siding. It will cover the gap between those two sections of OSB. I used my scrap pieces to do this side of the wall knowing that gap would eventually be covered. 

What other projects have we been up to? I helped Kevin at one of his jobs for a couple of days prepping and pouring concrete. This is a garage addition. 

Weather permitting, we have two more pours at this same location next week for an outdoor kitchen on the other side of the garage. 

Barb, on the other hand, was on a mission to clean windows. When she asked me to bring in the 16' ladder, I knew she was serious! When I asked her why she did not just fly up there on her broom, she said it was in for its pre-Halloween servicing. 

When she was done and back down on solid ground, she said "That's the last time I do that!"

The other thing I have been waiting to show you are my trail cam pictures. Well, a couple of them are our neighbors as he is sharing with me what he is seeing as well. Lots of turkeys, lots of does and small bucks, a couple nice bucks, elk and even a mountain lion to get me motivated to get out hunting!

In preparation for the deer season, Barb and I have been busy getting a couple of stands set up. I bought two ladder stands; they are a little safer than the tree stands I have been using. I figure at 60, maybe it is time I start being a little safer. 
In this week's installment of Find the Frenchie, I bring you a picture of our love seat. Zoey is in this picture somewhere. Can you see her? 
Even if I zoom in, I have a hard time seeing her, but the ears give her away. If you did not spot her, you can scroll to the end of the post to see exactly here she is. 

The weather this week has been beautiful. That was until today when the bottom fell out of the temps.
Brrr, she's a bit chilly out there! The perfect weather to get out there and do some hunting! But first, here is the hidden Frenchie.....

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Being Tourists in The Black Hills

 Why is it the closer you live to something the less likely you are to visit it? This seems to have been the case most of our life. We lived on a Class A musky lake, but we rarely fished it. We lived within an hour of one of the country's best state fairs, but rarely went. And now, we live within an hour of many of the country's best attractions, but we never go. 

Well, we set out of change some of that this week when we became tourists at the towns of Deadwood and Lead. One of the reasons we avoid these towns is that they are so crowded during the summer months that is just no fun to go, but in mid-October, it is quite pleasant. There are still people, but dozens, not hundreds. 

We started in historic Main Street in Deadwood. 

As you can see, it was pretty quiet. It had been years since we have been to historic Main Street and not much has changed. Mostly bars, restaurants, casinos and tourist type shops selling T-shirts and trinkets. We were looking for a good place for lunch and just could not find anything that looked good. We ended up at Guadalajara's Mexican restaurant inside Cadillac Jacks casino. Both our meals were very good!

On our way out Barb asked for a dollar, I handed her a 5-dollar bill and she said "I just want a dollar" so, I took that back and handed her a dollar bill. She has this thing where she walks around the casino until she finds a machine that "speaks to her". She stopped in front of a penny machine named Piggly Wiggly, inserted her dollar, pushed the button. It beeped and the display went through a series of screens before it finally stopped. These things are so complicated that you never know if you win. Then the credits started going up, finally ending on 1,940. She won $19.40 on a .60 bet!

From there we went to the Days of '76 Museum. I thought it was about the timeframe of 1876 when Deadwood was founded but it was mostly about the history of the Day's of '76 rodeo and parade that takes place every year. The also had a huge display of historical guns and wagons. It was interesting but not quite what I thought it was. 

Then it was up to Boot Hill where Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane were buried. Now, this was interesting! Old cemeteries are interesting all by themselves but add the element of a couple of famous people and it gets even more interesting!!

They are buried side by side. Many people have left coins and trinkets at each of their grave sites. As interesting as these two sites were, there were other sites that were thought provoking. Like this one with a large monument. 

What was interesting about the site of this woman (Eugenie), is that the engraving highlighted who her husband was rather than who she was.  There were many sites like this.  I can already picture Barb's headstone; "Jim Nelson was a great man, who accomplished many things, here lies his wife, Barb".

Or this one of poor Alice (foreground), born in 1862, and who lost all her children at a young age. Baby Alvin, (back middle) who died as a baby, Alta, (back right) who died in 1908 at the age of 14 and Charles (back left), who died at the age of 18 in 1913. You can only imagine what poor Alice has been through and what she has seen in her life. Especially since she has no death date and is alive and well at the ripe old age of 161 years old!
It is interesting (and maybe a bit morbid?) to walk through cemeteries like this and wonder what these people's lives were like.

And no visit to Deadwood is complete without a stop at The Chubby Chipmunk. Their hand-dipped chocolates are to die for!
We also visited the town of Lead, just a few miles away. This town too is filled with history but more of a mining history. It is most well-known for the open pit, Homestake Mine. 
This gold mine operated for over 120 years before it closed in 2002. There is an even bigger open pit still in operation just a few miles away. 

We spent a night at a campground in Spearfish Canyon. The Rod & Gun Campground is operated by the US Forest Service.  We have tried to stay here in the past but our rig was always too big. Not this time with the truck and camper!

The scenery was beaufitul but what we should have brought was our flyrods, there were trout everywhere in the stream!
The leaves were past their peak but it was still beautiful in the canyon. 

We also made progress on our goal of ascending the 100 tallest peaks in the hills. Two were driving and right next to each other and two were hiking. Terry Peak and Deer Mountain are just outside of Lead. Terry Peak is most well known for its ski resort and at 7,064' is the 7th highest peak in the hills. You can drive right up to the top via a rough gravel road. averaging 6-8% grade on the road. 

Once you get to the top, there is a walkway up to a lookout area. The views are great but obscured by the towers at the top. Even Dakota climbed the stairs to see the view!
It is said that you can see all 100 peaks from this viewing area!

You pass Deer Peak on your way up to Terry. It too had a ski resort, but it has been sold and being developed into housing. Not nearly as picture-worthy. At 6,652', it is the 33rd high peak in the hills. 

The other two hikes were a little more adventurous. Peak 6701, the 29th highest. It is one of the most remote of the top 100 peaks and is in the middle of nowhere, the closest town being Rochford. Most of the snow from last Thursday's storm had melted, with only pockets of the white stuff remaining in the shaded areas. 
With no established trail, we had to bushwhack our way up to the peak. It was fairly open, so we were able to take the girls and weave our way though some deadfalls. 

It got thicker near the top. We did not have an exact location, so we picked this highest rock outcropping in the area and called it good. 

On the way down, I took this picture of Barb. That is her and the girls circled in the bottom left and the truck is circled in the middle right. 
Afterword we stopped for lunch in the infamous Moonshine Gulch bar in Rochford. It had been over 20 years since we had been there during one of our Sturgis adventures back in the day. Although not nearly as busy as it is during the rally, the atmosphere and the food was just as good. 

The next hike was a bite longer and a bit more strenuous. You would think Custer Peak would be outside the town of Custer, but instead, it is halfway between Hill City and Deadwood on Hwy 385.  This hike is best suited for a jeep or ATV/UTV but we took our truck and camper to the base of the hill, which was an adventure in itself. The views on the way out, however, were incredible!
Once we got to the base of the hill, we parked at the bottom, got the girls out, and walked up the very rough road switchback road to the top. You can see the fire tower above Barb as we walk up.
There is a fire tower at the top that gives you a 360° view of the surrounding hills. At 6,804' Custer Peak is the 22nd highest peak in the hills. 

This makes our 6th peak, only 94 to go!

We had received a text from our friend Chad saying that he would be stopping by our house on his way home from a Wyoming hunting trip so we headed home to find him, Cavin and Carmyn already there drinking our beer (Chad) out in the gazebo. 
Barb made an outstanding taco bar and the 5 of us hung around talking and watching a bit of football while Carmyn played with Zoey. They left about 3am the next morning to make the 12-hour trek back to their home in Wisconsin.  

And with that, we end this week's installment of Adventures with Jim and Barb. Stay tuned next week, as we have more adventures planned!