(Chuck) The Black Hills area is a great place to have a gathering. It offers many places for people to explore. There is an ample supply of restaurants for those who need them. There are also the standard tourist attractions of Bear Country, The Cosmos Mystical Site, and Snakes Are Us. For others, there is ample time to find the shade and load test a lawn chair with friends. (Pictured at right are early arrivals Bill & Gisela, Duane, Jan & Chuck, Donna, Loretta & Rey and Don.)
We tend to look for things that do not require crowds and large admissions. One that we found was the George S. Mickelson Trail. This is a bicycle trail that runs 109 miles generally north south through the heart of the Black Hills. It follows an early rail road and is a very gentle slope which does not exceed 4 per cent grade. The trail was completed in 1998 and is constructed of packed gravel. It offers more than 100 converted railroad bridges and four tunnels. There are fifteen trailheads which provide parking areas, modern vault toilets, and picnic tables.
On Friday of last week, Jan and I rode a fifteen mile up and back section of the trail. It was a leisurely trip which allowed us to stop at many of the bridges and meadows and drink in the beauty of the area.
For a group ride we selected a section of the trail which offered a 17 mile downhill ride between the Dumont and Mystic Trailheads. It ended with a three quarter mile section of upgrade which served to remind us that bicycles still need pedals. This section of the trail took us through open meadows, along beautiful clear streams, and through many spruce and ponderosa pine forests. I think this trail will become a standard fare for us as we re-visit this area in the future. Pictured at right are Chuck & Jan, Diana, Dick & Beth, Becky & Lonnie, Steve and Jack & Sherrie.
(Jan) Saturday was a fabulous day for a couple of hikes in the Spearfish Canyon. Twenty-four Boomers pictured at left, ventured over to the Roughlock Falls and hiked the one miles trail along a pretty little stream. The falls were beautiful! After a picnic lunch in the shade at Latchstring Inn many of the group went on the shorter hike to another lovely area, Spearfish Falls. (For photos of the falls click on either hyperlink.)
Sunday was our day for a drive through Custer park with Bill and Gisela with a delicious Buffalo lunch at the Blue Bell Lodge. Bill Buffalo stew with his salmon dinner salad, Chuck had a pulled Buffalo Sandwich and Gisela and I had a Buffalo burger w/cheese and caramelized onions. All were very delicious! We saw lots of wildlife; buffalo, burrows, prairie dogs, pronghorn and deer. It was a wonderful day with wonderful friends.
Chuck and I have hosted a chili cook-off at Quartzsite for several years and since two of the more serious chili chefs are with us here at the Black Hills Rang, Chuck hosted a Chili Throwdown between Bill and Steve. Both guys were busy creating Wild Willie’s Texas Red and Steve’s Dime Chili on Tuesday as the rest of the group made side dishes and other pots of ‘non-competition’ chili. After the dishing up and tasting by all was done, Wild Willie’s Texas Red won the day.
Jan and Gisela dishing up the samples
And last but not least, Bill & Gisela, Betty & Duane and Chuck and I have been playing Pegs and Jokers. The score stands at 3 and 3 with the play-off game scheduled for today. It has been so much fun playing with these 2 couples again. Thanks for the laughs and the memories, guys.