Archive | June 2019

Circus Trip 2018: 1880 Town

Day 13, Saturday, July 28, 2018

South Dakota is a bit monotonous once you get east of the Badlands.  I apologize to those of you who think eastern South Dakota is incredible, if there are any of you out there.  For me, I found it to be a long and boring drive.

It must be that the guy who founded 1880 Town thought that this stretch of the South Dakota prairie needed some livening up too; he started collecting historic buildings and moving them to this patch of land in the middle of nowhere – otherwise known as Murdo.  (Again, I must apologize to those of you who live in Murdo and don’t think it is in the middle of nowhere.  I think you are wrong, but I’m willing to be proven otherwise.)  Actually, the real story is pretty interesting.  A film was shot near Murdo in the 1970s, that was set in the 1880s; the filmmakers constructed a movie set with a main street made from historic buildings and wooden sidewalks.  After the shooting ending, they gave the set to Richard Hullinger, and 1880 Town was born.

1880 Town now has over 30 historic buildings, ranging in time period from the 1880s to the 1920s, and which include a church, school, printing office, a couple of hotels, a barn, a general store and numerous other businesses that once lined the main streets of small prairie towns.  He has them packed to the hilt with memorabilia from days gone by.  And Dances with Wolves.  Yep you got that right.  Dances with Wolves was filmed near here, and 1880 Town is now home to a gigantic collection of movie memorabilia, including set props, costumes and signed photos of the actors who starred in the film.  Everything from war drums, Costner’s sod house, Civil War operating tables and even the “dead” Cisco (Kevin Costner’s horse), is on display here. It was fascinating, if not a bit dusty.

Sod House from Dances with Wolves

 

Dances with Wolves – “dead” Cisco prop

I enjoyed wandering from building to building, checking out the artifacts, and posing inside the Wells Fargo Stagecoach.  The site is big enough that it takes a couple hours to check it out, and there are a few shops inside the buildings that serve snacks, sodas and ice cream.  You can see what a prostitute’s room would have looked like, check out the frontier jail, or experience what it was like to do your learning in a one-room schoolhouse.  This town has everything you would have been able to find in a prairie town in the late 1800s.  There is even a 14 sided barn!

 

 

 

There is a spot where you can get sodas and ice cream, and one of the hotels has a show periodically.  There are also wagon rides around the town, and you can ring the bells at the church and the school!  I bet kids really love that.

 

 

The display is a bit tired and dusty though – with a fair number of dead flies and mouse droppings in the windows and corners – the buildings need a good cleaning and a bit of maintenance.  That was a little surprising, since with the $12 admission and the number of people that were there, it seems like they could have afforded to spruce the place up a bit.  Perhaps most unusual was the gift shop, which was a mix of your typical souvenir items in an antique store with antique and vintage items.  It was fun to browse and see what they had, but nothing suited my fancy that day.

I stayed that night at Al’s Oasis campground, in Oacoma, South Dakota.  I had wanted to get a bit further on, to Mitchell, SD, but did you know that the time-zone changes in the middle of eastern South Dakota?  Yeah, me neither…  The tent area at Al’s Oasis was an open field, with water spigots marked non-potable (huh?).  It wasn’t too far to go get water though, and the grass was nice, if not totally exposed to all the RV campers nearby.  I talked to my parents on the phone that evening, and just relaxed a bit.  The main gripe I had with this campground was that the sound from the freeway carried right into my ears, and was loud and constant all night long.  I didn’t sleep well, and was crabby as a result.   Not all road trip experiences are good ones!

 

Gardeners of our Souls

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust

Last weekend I spent the weekend camping with friends old and new in Westport, a small town along the Washington coast.

We walked on the beach, climbed to the top of the lighthouse, drank beer and wine, grilled food, listened to a local guitarist, and let our cares fly away on the wind.  The weather was mostly cold, and a little bit rainy, and the summer solstice sunset did not make an appearance.

I am blessed.

Circus Trip 2018: Badlands National Park

Day 13, Saturday, July 28, 2018

It was Saturday morning!  Although let’s be real – the days of the week didn’t have much significance for me on this trip, and beyond writing down what day it was in my journal, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to days or dates last summer.

I woke up, tore down my tent and took a shower.  Then I decided to try out the breakfast at Wall Drug – a western institution!  Wall Drug has been around since 1931 – I blogged about my visit in 2016 with my mom.  I had two eggs, toast, ham, and a maple frosted donut for breakfast.  YUM!

My breakfast at Wall Drug – coffee is 5 cents!

After breakfast, I headed back into Badlands National Park.

I drove down the Sage Rim Road again and found a few wild bison, and several domestic ones, as well as the prairie dog town!  I love prairie dogs!  It had been a couple of years since I had seen any, and they are still amazingly cute.  I didn’t see any more Bighorn Sheep, but I was ok with that since I had seen several the evening before.

I drove through the park from west to east, stopping at a few viewpoints along the way and checking out the scenery.  It was much cooler than my visit a few years before – in the low 70s instead of 97 degrees!  I hadn’t planned on spending a lot of time there on this visit though, so I kept it to a relatively brief drive through.  Just enough time for a lot of selfies!

Although I love the Badlands, I had so many more places to see on my trip!

 

 

Circus Trip 2018: Badlands Evening

Day 12, Friday, July 27, 2018

After my visit to Ellsworth Air Force Base, I continued on my way to Wall, South Dakota and got a space at the Sleepy Hollow campground.  It was $15 plus tax for a tent site, one of the cheapest campgrounds on my trip.  I set up my tent, took a nap and then went to Badlands National Park nearby to see if I could find any wildlife.

Tenting it in Mellow Yellow

I wasn’t planning to stay that long at Badlands, as there was a thunderstorm in the distance – and I would be spending more time there the next day. It was interesting to see the storm approaching on the horizon – that light!

I drove slowly down the Sage Rim Road, where I found Bighorn Sheep!  They are so cute! And those babies!  I loved just watching them amble by.

It was too dark for good photos, so I made my back towards camp and stumbled upon one of my favorite photos of my entire road trip.  The recent rain had soaked the road, making it shine like chrome.  The road, the sky, and my car hood made for a spectacular but unexpected subject.  I still love this photo!

Back at camp, I had left-over sausage and rice, along with a Huckleberry lager.  And I did laundry.  Because not every evening on a road trip can have over-the-top excitement…  It was a great day!

My Huckleberry Lager – this was a pretty good beer!

 

Miss You Dad – Happy Father’s Day

I hope you are having a good time in Heaven, Dad.

I do think it was you who tickled my feet the other night when I was asleep – you always did like tickling my feet.

I miss those bike rides we used to go on when I was a kid; miles long rides out to the lake or wherever, starting when I was so small that I sat in that seat mounted on the back of your bike.  Then later when I had my own 10-speed, the one you bought from the Police auction.  I remember the day you took the training wheels off my bike at the park, then let go of the back when I wasn’t paying attention.  I rode on my own until I realized you weren’t back there anymore, and then crashed into that parked car.  Oops.  Even as an adult, we sometimes went for a bike ride at Grandma’s house, even though there wasn’t much to bike to in the middle of small town Michigan.

I miss sitting at the dinner table and talking about investments, current events, or what was going on at work.  I’m grateful that I lived close enough that dinners were possible on a random Tuesday night.  I miss teasing you about the way you said, “onion,” or the fact that you liked your steak super-dead…

I was thinking the other day about that summer that we laid all those bricks for your patio.  That was a lot of work, but the dinners afterwards were good, and I always enjoyed talking with you.

I have always been grateful that you taught me to be really good with money.  I hope I get to retire early like you did; that’s my plan anyway.  Work only as long as I have to, then take off and see more of the world.  I always loved hearing about the trips you took with my mom, and the emails you would send to the family about your adventures.

I wish you would have taught me more about fixing stuff around the house.  I miss those days when you would come over to help me prune my fruit trees; I’ve never been tall enough to reach those higher branches very well.

I miss watching you sit with your sisters on trips to Michigan, talking about growing up on the farm.  I hate that I will never again see you laugh so hard that you cry – I always loved that.  No one could make you laugh like your sisters could.  I loved seeing you happy.

I’m still kind of mad at you for leaving us with no warning, Dad.  I’m so grateful that you didn’t suffer from some long illness, but I’m still so sad that we never had a chance to say goodbye.  I saw you at least every few weeks, but I still feel like I should have been around more.  I guess that’s what happens after someone is gone – we second guess everything we did or didn’t do.  That part sucks.  It is still difficult to comprehend that I’ll never get to talk to you again, or help with a project, or just sit and watch the news with you.  I’ll never get to sit around the fire pit and have smores with you again, or sit next to you on a plane on a family trip to Michigan.

I love you and miss you something fierce, Dad.  Happy Father’s Day.

Book Review: Man with Wings

I read the audio-book version of Man with Wings, by Joseph Cottler recently on my commute.  It was written in 1942, although the audio-book is more recent; published in 2008.

I have long been interested in Leonardo DaVinci, but I have never really known that much about him.  He was truly a Renaissance man, with his talent as an artist, and engineer, a designer, and an inventor.  He had so many talents at his fingertips.  The Mona Lisa is the masterpiece he is most known for, but that was such a tiny fragment of his artistic talent and the work that he completed during his life.

This biography goes through the life of DaVinci, from his childhood and time as an apprentice, to his adulthood performing works of art and engineering.  It discussed his tendency to get lost in the discovery process, and frustrate his patrons by working too slowly.  Often, instead of painting or sculpting, he spent his time watching birds fly, dissecting human and animal bodies, studying gravity and the flow of water, and studying other aspects of the natural world.

I would have preferred this book to be more like a traditional biography, rather than what it is – essentially a historical novel with a cast of characters.  It was even more challenging because the audio-book version that I listened to was narrated like a play, with overly dramatic voices and accents.  It got annoying… I still learned more about DaVinci than I knew before, but the way it was presented was distracting…  I guess I will have to find another DaVinci  book I can relate to more, and that presents more information about the body of work he completed in his lifetime.

The verdict – at least if you are planning on the audiobook version, I would find something else on DaVinci…