Archive for August, 2013


August 26, 2013

South Dakota welcomes you!


The Black Hills … Mount Rushmore … The Needles Highway … Deadwood … Sturgis … Hill City … Wall Drug…

How could I not blog about our visit with the Langerman’s who live in Hermosa, South Dakota? Hermosa is about 20 miles south of Rapid City. Here is a photo of a map of the area I took with my i-Phone. You can see how close Hermosa (center right of map) is to Mount Rushmore (center of map).


We had visited the Mount Rushmore National Memorial on a previous visit here. This time we decided to drive through the Black Hills around Mount Rushmore – into Custer State Park, on the Needles Highway, through the tunnels … Do you want to join us on our tour around Mount Rushmore through the Black Hills ?

We pass through Keystone driving parallel to this 1880 vintage steam- powered train


owned and operated by the Black Hills Central Railroad.

Click on this site to learn more about the train:

Buy a ticket and board the train for a 2-hour and 15-minute round trip ride through the Black Hills between Hill City and Keystone!

Or … (as we did) drive yourself to Hill City so you have time to lunch at at the Alpine Inn


on a hearty helping of fine authentic German food.

From Hill City we wind south on Highway 87 – on the ‘Needles Highway’… through the first of several tunnels carved through the rock.


We’re at Sylvan Lake now – you can take the short hike around the lake through interesting rock formations and stop at the lodge to eat, drink, or crash a wedding (option 3 for us, since they had closed off the patio because of a wedding).

We did manage to stake out a table …

The Langerman's - Mike, David and Kristen

The Langerman’s – Mike, David and Kristen

And a good time was had by all.

Back on the Needles Highway now



Past Cathedral Spires



Through another tunnel.


We’re headed up Iron Mountain Road now, toward Mount Rushmore.


Hey, are we looking at Mount Rushmore through the clearing?


I zoom my camera.


It is Mount Rushmore! Awesome!

Look. Tunnel ahead!


We’re passing through now.


Whoa! We open out to a view of Mount Rushmore!


What an engineering feat. Did they build the tunnels first, or the monument first, to achieve this awesomely contrived special view of Mount Rushmore as you exit the tunnel? It couldn’t have just magically turned out this way, however, they didn’t exactly have the option of moving mountains to achieve the effect, either.

We’re getting closer to the Memorial now


Wow! It’s really coming into view!


We’re staying in the lane for ‘thru traffic’…


Three of the the Presidents in plain view now!


It’s very surprising how well you can see the Memorial just driving past. But then it is carved into the top of a mountain.


Can you name the Presidents?

‘George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abe Lincoln’

Click on this link for your ‘real-life’ virtual tour of Mount Rushmore![group_1]-[Var_1]-S-[mount%20rushmore%20monument]&xts=510259&gclid=CJe-n6KNnLkCFeV7Qgod2EwAdg


Awwww. The Memorial is behind us now. Wait a minute! I know how to deal with this! (Remember the Tetons?)



We round a curve and glean one last view out David’s window.


Headed back now


Are you sure this isn’t August and we’re in Sturgis???

Back at the Langerman’s house now.

We are greeted by a pot of blooming iris that were handed down to Kristen over the generations from her great-grandmother.


In the Langerman’s kitchen now – gazing out at the view over their back patio from their kitchen window.

Thomas Kinkade would love this

Thomas Kinkade would love this

Juxtaposed against the magnet on their fridge.


In this setting? I’ll say.

Hot Springs, South Dakota

August 23, 2013

So … we’re in the center of Hot Springs, South Dakota, walking around to stretch our legs, turn a corner ….

right into a Close Encounter, all right –


with 161 steps!

“You’re kidding, right? Are we really ascending those stairs?” I ask David.

“Yep. Why not? We have some time to kill. I wonder what’s up there.”

Up, up, up, we go. 77 stairs later


we’re halfway up. We drop onto a bench to rest and then ascend the next 84 stairs to the top. Whew!


Great view! Hilly, dreamy, lightheaded Hot Springs.

Further up on top we discover a massive three-story brick building. Impeccably preserved.


It was a grade school established in 1893.


and is now the Pioneer Museum.


The Principal’s office


now houses a 1900 state-of-the-art kitchen.


Complete with a wood-burning stove and wooden ice box.

Every classroom contains a different early 1900’s exhibit


illuminated by daylight streaming through stately magnificent windows. (I might have ended up at Harvard if I had started my education at this Elementary school.)

We’re in the center hall on the second floor now.

Every 1900’s woman needs a spinning wheel


or two.

Save your old clothing and every scrap of fabric to braid into your living room rug.

Every home needs a big ol’ piano, too, don’t you think?


You know, in the least, as a piece of handsome furniture handy for displaying family photos. If you do play, you might consider the piano rule we have at our house, which is, not to spend more time dusting the piano than you (I) actually spend playing the piano. Just a thought. A piano this size might require some pretty heavy dusting, is all I’m sayin’…

Here we have a crazy quilt


The visual for ‘Inside a woman’s brain’ in 1903?

An outer building houses 2 school bells.



Hey, this one has a rope! I should pull it! “R-R-R-I-I-I-N-N-N-G-G!” WHOA! Wish I hadn’t done that. People are exiting the main building – gawking at us. David is grimacing. Megan is holding her ears. What can I say? “School’s dismissed!”

What’s this thing? …


An iron lung!


An iron lung is an airtight metal tank that encloses all of the body except the head and forces the lungs to inhale and exhale through regulated changes in air pressure.

I had heard about iron lungs in association with polio as a young child but had never seen one until now, or even known anyone personally who had contracted polio. Although, the father of one of my second grade classmates wore braces on his legs because of muscle damage from polio. The polio virus also paralyzed muscle groups in the chest. The iron lung or ‘tank repirators’ kept people breathing artificially until they could breathe on their own, a feat that was not accomplished until 1927.

Read more about it in this link:

In the 1930’s an iron lung cost about $1500.00 – the average price of a home!

Well, time to put a wrap on this. We’re approaching our destination now – visiting our good friends, the Langerman’s, who live south of Rapid City.


Yeah, well, we have to find our way to that roof. You see it there, buried in the hillside.

Classic Cars, Coal Trains, and a ………

August 9, 2013

Part 3 of our road trip in June….

Let’s see … it’s the morning of June 14, 24 hours into our trip. (David wonders if I’m going to spend more time blogging about the trip than we actually spent on the trip.)

We hit Highway 25 from Casper, WY, destination:  Rapid City, South Dakota.

We pull off into a rest area and meet up with a mini classic car show


en route to a bigger car show in Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska.


“An early 60’s Corvette.”  (David is naming the models off to me – having come of age with these ‘classic’ era cars.)


“That’s a Ford Fairlane 500. Late fifties”


’57 maybe.  Look at that continental kit on the back!” David seems mezmerized.

“Oh, that thing built around the spare tire?” I ask.  I am pretty clueless with late fifties car terminology.

“Yep. And that fender skirt! What a beauty!”

(Hmmm …Fender skirt, eh?  Every woman should have one …)

We met a lot of coal trains –


This one is empty.


… headed back to Wyoming’s Powder River Basin to load up more coal to deliver to power plants mostly up and down America’s east coast. According to the BLM link here,
over 100 coal trains enter Wyoming empty and leave loaded and bound for all points daily. The largest U.S. coal mine, Black Thunder, lies within the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin.

Wyoming as a whole, accounts for 40% of all coal used in domestic electricity generation.


Moving on ….  we’re driving along and are curious enough about that welcoming sign to pull into Lost Springs and check it out:


Population … 



Looks more rigorous than that.


Well, there you have it.  A Post Office/Antique Store




a bar. All you need for a town, really.

Let’s see … one person to run the Post Office/Antique Store, one person to run the bar, and 2 regular patrons to keep them going?

Don’t overlook the bicentennial plaque on the entrance of town.


Lost Springs hails as the smallest Wyoming bicentennial town.  Hey, there’s apparently a spring one mile south, the Chicago and Northwest RR came through here in 1866, they built a Grade School and High School, and in 1911 they had a jail, town hall, newspaper, and bank.  The community developed around the Rosin Coal Mine (1909 – 1923) and in 1920 the official estimated census was 120.

Well, the current estimated census has almost doubled while we’re here.

Onward now … through rolling grasslands

Past another lonely house


To the next big town,  Lusk, where we stop for lunch.

We decide to visit the local museum on the main drag – The Stagecoach Museum


I just took a photo of the Stagecoach out in front of the museum – This link to the museum includes a photo of the museum

There is a Wyoming Standard (one room) School in back of the museum


Inside the museum they have a gasoline iron on display:


David’s mother, Marie, (who lived to 99) used a gasoline iron early in her marriage. I dunno. The thought of gasoline sloshing around while I press that flaming hot iron over a wrinkled garment scares the bageebies out of me. How would you keep from setting off an explosion, setting yourself, or your house on fire? I have a hard enough time avoiding burns (myself, garments, ironing board cover) with an electric iron.

And what have we here?


Why, it’s a party line. (Which David also recognized from childhood.) You know, where the phone rings and you pick it up and listen to someone else’s conversation. And they, yours. It’s a PARTY! (in 1950)

On the road again. Oh we must be approaching a town


Haha. Very funny. Let me guess. The tourist activity was the tornado that blew through here yesterday?

A ‘build the sign and the activities will come’ – kind of vision for the future?

We’re back in nothingness


as far as the eye can see.

We finally get to another town, Hot Springs. We have a little time to kill, and David parks on this quaint little street and suggests we get out and stretch our legs a little.

“Okay, honey.”


He rounds a corner with Megan close behind. I’m fiddling around, getting my flip-flops on, I grab my purse, get my phone camera ready in case we see anything of interest…

What the

Heck! It’s a … you hear that music? See those ‘la’ ‘day’ ‘di’ ‘du’ ‘doe’ notes flashing at us in colors? Playing faster… now…


“David, stop!” “Come back!” “NO-OOOO!” “You’re too close!”
to an Encounter of the Third Kind!

June 14, 2013. Hot Springs, South Dakota. 150 miles from Devil’s Tower. Think about it.