Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Red Rocks Amphitheater

I have never attended a concert here but it is definitely on my life list of things to do. The acoustics are supposedly superb - the only noises we heard when we were there were the breathing of all the super skinny-fit types using the seating as a stair climbing workout. Goldfish and I - although decidedly not super skinny-fit - did pretty well on the stairs considering the altitude, a tribute to all our hiking and dog walks on the island. I could spend a week there taking pictures of the play of light and shadow on those gorgeous rock formations . . . .

Casa Bonita - Denver, Colorado

If you have kids, you have to stop by and eat at Casa Bonita if you're in Denver. The food isn't anything special but the cliff divers and other performers make for a great atmosphere! We were there at 3 in the afternoon and almost had the place to ourselves.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mammoth Site, Hot Springs, South Dakota

We loved Hot Springs - the top photo shows the decor on the roof of the Blue Bison, a cafe that served buffalo chili that Goldfish has voted her favorite restaurant meal of the whole vacation. Just a couple doors down was the Wild Burro bookstore where we talked at length with the owner about what it was like to have a small community book store - a dream Goldfish and I have for when we retire from the island. It was a true eye-opener - her clerk makes as much as she does, and the key to the whole arrangement is her attorney husband bringing home the bacon. She did have a great life though - she hosted book signings, had a book club that met in local restaurants, and got to be surrounded by books all day!

At the Mammoth Site, an ancient sink hole contains the remains of at least 150 wooly mammoths, with lots more to discover in the future. A land developer was leveling a hill in preparation for building a subdivision when he scraped across an elephant tusk with a bulldozer. He made the good decision to sell the land to the state for what he paid so it could all be preserved and they erected a building over the entire sinkhole creating a unique display that is a must see - the picture on the bottom shows the original mammoth skull exposed by the bulldozer.

Wind Cave National Park

It's really hard to capture a cave experience in pictures - it's better to just relax and look around. The top photo shows the original entrance where Wind Cave was first accessed - let me tell you, there is not enough lubricant in the free world to get me through that hole. What I've noticed as a cave tourist over the past 30 years is the increased sensitivity to preservation of the fragile cave environment for future generations to explore.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Crazy Horse Monument

The son labors on, working on his father's vision. I'm not sure if this massive undertaking will ever be completed, and there are serious doubts about the viability of the extended arm, but you have to admire the persistence and the visitor's center is quite a structure in its own right . . .

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

I haven't been to Mount Rushmore in quite a few years and I was amazed by all the work they had done at the entrance. As you can see, the carvings are actually quite small . . . . and our heads are quite large . . . . :o)

Deadwood, South Dakota

Goldfish had seen the HBO series based on the town; I enjoyed the "Wild West" architecture and walking through the Mt. Moriah cemetary - more commonly called Boot Hill. We were stunned by the short life spans and the high infant mortality; there were whole sections of the graveyard devoted to infants and children.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sturgis, South Dakota

What does Sturgis have to offer in the off-season? How about dirt cheap motel rooms - our Super 8 room was 40 bucks and we got a goodie bag easily worth half that on our pillow and a complementary continental breakfast the next morning . . . . my only disappointment was that Sturgis Coffee didn't have a t-shirt in my size . . . .

Enchanted Highway, North Dakota

We took a little detour on our way south to Colorado, heading down the Enchanted Highway. The 7 or 8 enormous metal sculptures scattered along the 30-odd miles of the highway were pretty amazing but the true show stoppers were all the pheasant along the road and in the corn fields. I tried countless times to get a decent photo of a male pheasant but whenever I slowed the vehicle they ran or flew away . . . . eventually I gave up in frustration and later got my revenge when I bought some pheasant meat jerky . . . . .

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Valley City, North Dakota

Checking In

Cheers, just checking in from the road. We've made it as far as North Dakota, staying with my son the Snow Angel King for a couple days. We hit Craters of the Moon, Yellowstone, Little Big Horn and Devils Tower on the way over and plan on seeing the Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore on the way down to Colorado. What a beautiful country we live in! Lots of pictures but I will probably wait until I get back to Dutch harbor before I start posting them so I can maximize my vacation time. Hope everyone is well - we did catch the second episode of DC from a motel room on the road and we're looking forward to next week and the Time Bandit delivery to see more footage from our home 'cause we do miss the island. . . . . . . Steve & Goldfish

Friday, April 25, 2008

Valley City, North Dakota

We had an superb vacation, the best I've ever had, and the number one attraction in my book was - of course - my son's place where Goldfish met the grand daughter for the first time. The top photo has a story behind it; I was helping Aubrey up the stairs to the slide and then lifting her into the tube, while Trevor was catching her at the bottom. Each time she would stand up, turn around, and hold her hands up saying "Grandpa! Grandpa!", offering to catch me. Now THAT is faith . . . .

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Devil's Tower

Devil's Tower was amazing! We got there just after 5 PM, the Visitor's Center was closed and again - we were the only people there. There was a light snow falling and a mist was wafting slowly over the top of the tower. Goldfish and I walked around the base and the combination of the solitude, the snow, the trees, the rock - it was magical. One of my favorite stops on the roadtrip . . . . the second photo shows prayer flags tied to trees near the base by members of the local tribe.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

I didn't know much more than the basics about Little Bighorn but we both left this National Monument with a lot to think about - and a book or two from the gift shop to fill in the gaps. This was well worth the stop, and it really drove home how attitudes have shifted. The overcast sky and no other visitors set the mood for our quiet reflection.