Friday, August 29, 2014

Post Falls, Idaho

(Chuck) In Post Falls, Idaho we again found our traveling friends Betty and Duane. We had arranged to meet up at Cabela’s, which has been a good overnight stop for us. They seem to dedicate room for RV’s to spend the night and they no doubt are aware of the fact that we seem to spend money when we are there. It may be similar to some who P1230068P1230069regularly stay at Wal-Mart, however Cabela’s do not seem to have the cramped parking lots and they just more welcoming.

(Jan) Tubbs Hill is a popular hike in near-by Couer d’Alene. The four of us headed over there to do the 1 hour hike around the forested hill with pretty water views of Couer d’Alene Lake. It was a hot day and a hilly hike so we were happy to accomplish it and then go for a drive along the lake in the air-conditioned car! Next stop; Best Sandwich Shack.  This street stand had good reviews and the Philly Steak Sandwiches & fries were excellent. Several games of Pegs & Jokers finished off a fun day!

(Chuck)  We scheduled two events on the last day in Post Falls. First was a factory tour of the Buck Knife factory. I have owned Buck knives for nearly 45 years. The 110 Folding Hunter was on my belt for many decades. The 110 incorporated a simple lock back system which saved many a finger from certain stitches. It was durable for all uses and it was heavy enough for a hammer when needed. I found that I wore out several belt cases, but I could always find a new one to replace it. I have a 121 which I have considered to be one of the best all-around hunting knife made. My 119 is mostly for fun, but it has been used as the second blade for butchering pork. While in Alaska last summer I purchased a Buck Silver Creek Fillet knife. It is a very durable 6 ½ inch titanium coated blade with excellent flexibility; very useful while processing salmon.

The company is principally owned by the Buck family. Hoyt Buck made his first knives by hand in 1902. His son Al Buck provided the business with stability and growth. His son Chuck Buck is the Chairman. Chuck’s son CJ Buck is the President and CEO. This is a four generation business which is a very uncommon feat.P1230073

On our tour we learned about the special steel which each knife was constructed. We watched as the blanks are cut from the steel with a laser cutter. Each step of the manufacturing process is carefully taken by the 307 employees of the business. It is with great pride that the company produces in this plant every metal blade, screw, rivet and fixture of every Buck knife. Last year the plant produced over a million knives, this year they are on track for 1.4 million. The factory has been located in El Cajon, CA for many years. In 2005 the company moved to Post Falls, ID.

P1230078We took some photos after the tour and we were in our Jeep and prepared to leave as an assistant to Chuck Buck approached our car. She said that she had observed that we seemed to enjoy our tour and that Chuck Buck was in the lobby and would we like to meet him? Of course we had time for this and we went back in for photos and lively conversation. Chuck said that he makes a practice if signing the blade of knives when available and did we have anything for his signature? I had just bought two folding lock backs and Duane had a new folding fillet knife from the retail room. We were escorted to Chuck’s corner office and watched him sign our knives with a rotary pen. He entertained us with stories of sending complementary knives to Africa and receiving many letters of gratitude through missionaries. It was a remarkable time.

Each of my Buck knives and all Buck for generations have included a small sheet of paper which mentions the fact that the knife was made with great pride by the company, at the bottom of each sheet is this script. "For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son; that whoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John: 3:16.

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Farragut State Park   For our second event of the day we toured Farragut State Park which is about 30 miles North East of Post Falls, ID. Duane’s father took his boot camp here about 1942 when it was called Farragut Naval Training Station. It became the second largest Naval training center in the world with a population of 55,000. It was open for 30 months and 293,000 sailors trained here. At the Visitors Center photos are kept for each graduating class. We think we found the correct class photo with Duane’s father standing in the back row. We also journeyed to the particular camp site which he trained. It was nice to be a part of the event.

(Jan) That afternoon we drove through the the center of Washington state to The Elks Club at Yakima.  This lovely spot on the edge of the golf course will be our home for a couple of days. Betty & Duane did some touring as we stayed in to clean, do bookwork and get ready for our family time in Seattle area.  We did take time for Pegs & Jokers and Bocci Ball in the evenings.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bakken Oil Field–Glacier National Park

P8110073(Chuck)  We left TR National Park and took highway 2 across North Dakota and Montana. The first part of the trip led us through the Bakken Oil Field. There is a genuine oil boom in place here. Drill rigs dot the landscape and well pumps are P8110082hard at work bringing the oil to the surface. These new pumps seem to be larger than other pumps that we have seen in Oklahoma and other oil fields. Several are operating next to each other.

Here is a photo of four working in place with a huge tank farm to hold the production. This activity is a good thing for our nation because it will help to reduce the dependence on foreign oil. Our past strategy of politicizing foreign oil production has led to disaster in the MidEast. We need to develop this production and improve our resources of renewable energy. Ethanol, Solar, Wind Tide and other energy sources need to be expanded and exploited.

We spent two days in Glacier National Park. Our last visit was several years ago. We then stayed on the West side. This year we stayed in East Glacier, MT at the Y Lazy R Camp Ground, FHU, $25 per night, (48.43945 -113.21650) 4800’.  It seemed to be the most economical place to stay in the area. We found it in Escapees Days End. Days End is a IMG_20140814_201212_076resource upon which we regularly depend. On this visit to Glacier we discovered the large beautiful Park Hotels. Within a mile of our campground is the Glacier Park Lodge, It was constructed by the Great Northern Railway in 1913. At this time the large railroads were involved in tourist activities. They found that people were eager to explore the newly developed West. Railroads could provide the transportation and lodging and they found the tourist trade was a lucrative business. The supports for this lodge are 60 fir and cedar columns that are 36 to 42 inches in diameter and 40 feet long. They are estimated to be 500 P8130102to 800 years old. They were transported and erected with the bark in place. It provides a beautiful interior look to the lodge.  Today there are 161 guest rooms which can hold over 500 people.

P8140114(Jan) The scenery in Glacier Park is awesome. We were able to explore the Two Medicines and Many Glaciers areas as well as driving the Going to the Sun Road. The 53 mile long Going to the Sun Road crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Construction began in 1921 and finished in 1932 and is considered a Civil Engineering Landmark. Even though the weather was a little cloudy and rainy the road, the mountain valleys, lakes & waterfalls were breathtaking.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

P8080018(Chuck)  We left the Black Hills and traveled North to North Dakota. Our destination was Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the town of Medora. Our friends have told us of this area in the past and it sounded like a good area to visit.  As it turned out, not only a good place, it is a must do.

P8080014TR National Park is actually two separate units that are connected by the Little Missouri River.  This river accumulates a tremendous amount of silt as it passes through the badlands of Western North Dakota. It can only be described as Too thin to plow and Too thick to drink.

Teddy Roosevelt was one of the early residents of the area. He arrived for adventure and bison hunting in 1883. He learned to love the area and established a ranch to raise cattle. His association here helped him to establish a firm policy of conservation which to this day we are all the beneficiaries. When Roosevelt became president he established the US Forest Service, he proclaimed 18 national monuments, established five national parks and 51 wildlife refuges.P8090038

Medora was founded in 1883 by the French nobleman Marquis de Mores. He named the city after his wife Medora von Hoffman. He built a 26 room hunting lodge which is now a state historic site. He amassed thirteen sections of land for his ranch operations. The Marquis considered himself an entrepreneur of the highest magnitude and built a large packing plant to slaughter cattle and ship the meat East in refrigerated rail cars. All of his business interests in Medora seemed to fail in the span of three years and it is estimated he spent over a million dollars in his Dakota ventures. We toured the lodge and found it and the adjoining museum to be a informative addition to the history of the area.

P8090044IMG_20140807_194231_717Medora is host to a western style musical which is dedicated to the memory of the Roosevelt legacy. It is performed in a 2,900 seat amphitheater and boasts a 94 show season. Variations of this show has been run since 1958. We attended the musical and it was indeed a great experience. In conjunction to the performance, there is a Pitch Fork Fondue meal which features Rib Eye steaks on pitchforks cooked in oil. We opted for the second item on the menu which was an assortment of chicken, barbequed ribs and slices of roast Buffalo. We did enjoy the meal and the accompanying western music.P8090042

There is a great 36 mile Scenic Loop Drive in the South Unit. If you enjoy Buffalo, this is a great chance to enjoy them on their own terms. Also there is a large herd of wild horses and an abundance of prairie dogs.P8090031

The campground on the South Unit is a typical 1960’s camp area which is built for small rigs. They have abandoned any thought of trimming the brush back from the sites and driveways. Fortunately there are four sites for larger rigs near the entrance. We found them to be good accommodations for our stay. As usual we had a couple for neighbors which we shared traveling stories and talked about life on the road. We sat on chairs till long after dark.

P8080026 - CopySoon we moved to the North Unit for two more days. It is less popular as it is 15 miles from the closest town. A one way Scenic Drive of 14 miles takes you through the badlands and up to the plateau area. On the way there is a herd of 11 Longhorn Cattle and a modest herd of Buffalo. We were fortunate to view a herd of over 25 Mountain Sheep at the Oxbow Overlook at the end of the Drive. We had recently invested in a quality set of binoculars and it has paid off well. The campground on the North Unit is better maintained and will accommodate most all rigs. Both campgrounds are $5 with theP8100052 Senior Pass which is a bargain.

We have hiked several trails on both Units and on this trail we seem to share with somebody with big feet. We did not encounter him on the trail which was a good thing.

We had a very good time at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and we will plan another visit on another year.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Motorcycles Everywhere!

IMG_20140805_144331_518(Jan) Our last week at Hart Ranch coincided with the Sturgis Motorcycle rally. It seemed like everywhere we went there were motorcycles and more motorcycles. Even lots of Bikers here at Hart Ranch. Look at the logo on the trailer at right. Isn’t that a cool graphic? Looked quite nice with the Newmar Essex pulling it.

IMG_20140801_125819_530Last Saturday we headed north to see what it was all about. First stop – the Black Hills Harley Dealer at Exit 55. The place was crowded with bikers, live music, food vendors, separate big parking lots for bikes & vehicles and loads of merchandise. Lots of Motorcycle Vendors, Clothing and of course new and used Harleys. Chuck had a 1966 Harley Sportster XLCH back in the day.  We did find a 1982 for sale. Hmmmm…….

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How about this customized Buffalo bike at left?

The motorcycle parking lot is on the right.

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P8020061Next stop – Sturgis! Things were hopping all over town on Saturday. There was a traffic jam trying to get into town and we had to park about 6 blocks from Main Street to get to ‘ground zero.’ Here’s what P8020062Main street looks like with Motorcycle Parking only for four full blocks. Leather, Sturgis T Shirts, Jeans, Tank tops, Bikinis and Motorcycle gear were the uniform of the day. We couldn’t resist taking a ‘selfie’ with the ‘Welcome to Sturgis’ sign in the background. There were people & bikes everywhere with music spilling our from the bars. Great place for people watching!

P8060011On the roads – there are lots and lots of bikes. One at a time or bunches of 20, 30 orP8060016 more. (Click on the photos to enlarge.) Also note the Billboard on the left advertising the entertainment at the Buffalo Chip. It must have been quite a week with Alice Cooper, ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Florida Georgia Line, Train, Motley Crue, Cheap Trick and the ZacP8060048 Brown Band plus others entertaining there. In Sturgis there were tenters renting spaces in people’s yards all over town. Campgrounds were full. Meadows were turned into spots for RVs and tenters alike. IMG_20140801_123841_850On the left you’ll see a Law Tigers Van. These guys and their signs were all over. Convenient if you got into trouble or had a motorcycle accident.

Unfortunately, the weather turned rainy on Tuesday and Wednesday. One group parked close to us at Hart Ranch said they found shelter at an underpass for half an hour with 50+ plus other bikers and then got hailed on further down the IMG_20140806_141017_958road. Yikes!

We were scheduled to leave Hart Ranch on Tuesday but decided to stay a couple of more days.  It gave us a chance to get our Generator serviced. It also allowed the rainy weather to head east before we headed north. Plus we got to spend a little time with Betty & Duane as they had just arrived back at the ranch from a trip. Walks, dinner and Pegs & Jokers games were on the Itinerary along with lots of laughter! Great times. Can’t believe we didn’t get a photo.

Betty & Duane arrived Thursday morning with a gift of Duane’s Travel Popcorn, Yum! and then we were on our way to Theodore National Park in North Dakota.  We’ll stay several days in the park and go see the Medora Musical.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sightseeing & Family Time

(Jan) One of the nice perks of our Hart Ranch membership is being able to have guests 4 nights each year while we are here at the resort.  Linda & Richard came to join us last Monday for a fun visit and Black Hills sightseeing. Dinner and IMG_20140729_115238_522catching up were first on the agenda followed by planning where to go and what to see.

Tuesday morning the four of us headed north to Sturgis.  Bike Week brings an estimated 1/2 million motorcycle enthusiasts to the Black Hills. The epicenter of the event is in Sturgis. We got there as things were being set up and all merchandisers were already in full gear. IMG_20140729_115453_121Time for us to do a little shopping and walking the streets. From there Hwy 14A follows Boulder Canyon towards Deadwood. Good Parking Karma found us a great spot for the Jeep and we were off to discover the sights & sounds on the Main Drag.  As in Sturgis, there were already many motor cycles parking on the Main street. Bars and cafes were doing a brisk business. Mustang Sally’s had outdoor seating so that was our choice for a good burger & people watching! We visited the original site of the Wild Bill Hickok shooting and the historic Bullock & Franklin Hotel Lobbies. From there Hwy 14A took us on a beautiful drive along scenic Spearfish Canyon with a stop at Bridal Veil Falls. We drove onto Spearfish for a visit to the Historic Booth Fish Hatchery. Chuck bought fish food for us & we had fun feeding trout P7300012of all sizes. Dinner and walking around the ranch finished the day.

Wednesday Chuck and I stayed at home as Linda & Richard visited Rushmore & Crazy Horse Monuments, Hill City & Keystone. We had already seen these sites so stayed home to do some travel planning with friends Betty & Duane and to have some decals applied to our Jeep.  Linda & Richard again joined us for dinner and a recap of both our day’s activitiesP7300041.

We met for breakfast at the Resorts Chuck Wagon Restaurant before going southwest to Custer State Park in search of buffalo on Thursday. And did we find buffalo! The herd was gathered near the airport and we were able to park and be right in the midst!  Fascinating!P7300042

A small herd of burrows hang out towards the southern end of the Wildlife Loop and there were big horn sheep near Legion Lake.

P7300044Stockade Lake’s east shore afforded us a beautiful shaded picnic spot along the water’s edge. Time for lunch, visiting and taking a couple of photos.

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We finished our tour in Custer going to the National Museum of Wood Carving which featured animated carvings by Dr. Harvey Niblack, an early animator for Walt Disney. A stroll down Main Street took us into several shops and past Custer’s painted buffaloes downtown.P7310055

 

For our final evening together Linda & Richard treated us to dinner at Firehouse Brewing Company. Linda & I got in line to get a table while Chuck & Richard parked the car. Good Karma all around as they found a great parking spot & we got a table in a less noisy back corner. We had drinks ordered by time the guys got there! The food was fabulous as were the beers we tried. The rest of the evening was spent visiting Art Alley, Main Street Square, Summer Nights Concert & activities and seeing more of the life sized President’s statues. Downtown Rapid City is very lively and very fun! 

All to soon our time together ended; Friday was travel day back to Kansas for them. We sure enjoyed the visit.

 
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