Monday, May 30, 2011

5/30/2011 Memorial Day 2011

"And I'm proud to be an American, Where at least I know I'm free And I won't forget the men who died, Who gave that right to me....." - Lee Greenwood

memorial day animated clipart

On this Memorial Day, take a minute to remember our fallen heroes who lost their lives in defending our freedoms. Give thanks to the men and woman in our Military, both past and present, and keep the many injured that we don't hear about in your prayers.

I Am the Flag of the

Of America

I am the flag of the United States of America.
My name is Old Glory.
I fly atop the world's tallest buildings.

I stand watch in America's halls of justice.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.

I stand guard with power in the world.

Look up and see me.

I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.
When I am flown with my fellow banners,
My head is a little higher,
My colors a little truer.
I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped - I am saluted.
I am loved - I am revered.
I am respected - and I am feared.
I have fought in every battle of every war for more then 200 years. I was flown at
Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome and the beaches of Normandy.
Guam, Okinawa, Korea and KheSan, Saigon, Vietnam know me.
I'm presently in the mountains of Afganistan and the hot and dusty deserts of Iraq and wherever freedom is needed.

I led my troops, I was dirty, battleworn and tired,

But my soldiers cheered me and I was proud.
I have been burned, torn and trampled on the
streets of countries I have helped set free.
It does not hurt for I am invincible.

I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled in the streets of my country.
And when it's done by those Whom I've served in battle - it hurts.
But I shall overcome - for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.

When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield,
When I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier,

Or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent

at the grave of their fallen son or daughter,

I am proud.

As you enjoy good times today with family and friends, please, take a moment to remember why you have the day off today, why you are gathered for a barbecue. Please remember the meaning of this day and send up a prayer for those have served and given the ultimate.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

5/27/2011 Today We Went To…..cont’d.


We explored an area today that 75 million years ago was a shallow sea. Today, it is the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The Lakota Indians gave this land the name “mako sica which translated means “land bad”. Today the 244,000 acres are known as Badlands National Park.

Since we were so close to the park from Wall and patches of blue sky were peeking through we figured it was a good time to get our first visit in.

It’s a beautiful national park! I don’t think anyone could come here and spend even just a few hours and not be affected in some way by the sheer beauty of it.

The rock formations, which form a 90 mile wall, are stunning.


Beaten for years and years by wind and water this land of canyons, and pyramids and gullies and razor sharp ridges has actually become very beautiful.


Freeman Tilden, a conservation writer, describes it best. He wrote, “peaks and valleys of delicately banded colors – colors that shift in the sunshine,…..and a thousand tints that color charts do not show”. As we drove through the park the sun and clouds played those colors to the maximum for us. Pale pink changed to deep mauve, the lightest of yellow changed to the richest gold and barely tan transformed to dark chocolate right before our eyes. It all depended on where you stood and what the sun and clouds were doing. I would imagine if you sat in one place from sun up to sun set it would be like living in your own personal kaleidoscope.



Some areas looked like castles.



Frank Lloyd Wright said about this area….”I’ve been about the world a lot, pretty much over our own country, but I was totally unprepared for that revelation called the Dakota Bad Lands….What I saw gave me an indescribable sense of mysterious elsewhere – a distant architecture, ethereal. . . .an endless supernatural world more spiritual than earth but created out of it.” When you stand on one of the lookouts and you gaze out the spires and mounds and green valleys and the puffy white clouds on a blue background you feel what he meant. Those words come to life for you. It’s like looking through a keyhole at a world of which you are not part but you want to be because of a sense of peace, and beauty and you can’t help but marvel at God’s creation.



Badlands National Park is also a paleontologist’s idea of heaven on earth. This park is home to the world’s largest fossil beds of animals from the Oligocene Epoch of the Age of Mammals. This area is chock full of skeletons of saber toothed cats, three toed horses, ancient camels and large rhino-like creatures. Even today bones are being found by park officials.

As we drove through the park we noticed that the formations went from sharp and jagged to a more round, “softer” formation.




We thoroughly enjoyed our time in Badlands National Park and I’m hoping we get back there for a sunset, I’ve heard they are spectacular.,m +++++++++++++++

On our way out of the park we came up on a traffic jam. All the cars were pulled over to the side of the road and we soon found out why.



All too soon it our time here had come to an end for this trip. It was just as well as it was starting to drizzle.


We decided to go back to Wall for dinner and we had a delicious meal here at the Red Rock Restaurant. If you are ever in Wall, South Dakota we highly recommend this place.


Friday, May 27, 2011

5/27/2011 Today We Went To….


Up until the last month of 1931, Wall, South Dakota, was known as the geographical center of nowhere. In other words, out in the boonies.

In December of 1931 Ted and Dorothy Hustead bought a drug store that was for sale and stocked it with a $3000.00 legacy left to Ted by his father. They were determined to give this store five years to get up off the ground. The town with a population of 326 wasn’t a bustling metropolis by anyone’s standards and customers were few and far between. Ted did feel needed when he filled prescriptions for a sick child or a farmer who was under the weather. They had made good friends in the small town and were comfortable in their small parish.

One hot summer day in their fifth year Dorothy told Ted that she was going to put their two children down for naps and would take one with them since she certainly wasn’t needed in the store. A short while later she returned and when Ted asked her if it was too hot to sleep she answered that she couldn’t sleep because of noise from the highway that wasn’t far away. From this sleepless afternoon came an idea that literally put Wall Drug on the map. Dorothy explained to Ted that since automobiles had proved to be more than just a passing fad and that people were in fact traveling, that they must be hot and need refreshment while on their journey. They decided to give away free ice water. An empire was born.

Ted and a local high school boy painted the phrases that Dorothy thought up and planted them along the highway in Burma Shave style. Before Ted and the boy had returned from completing this task the effects were being felt already. Dorothy was swamped in the store with people stopping for their free ice water and buying other things while they were there. They were thanked profusely for being this oasis in the dry, hot prairie.

Today these same type of signs, some are billboards now, still stand. Coming east or west no one passes through without being well aware of Wall Drug. They have over 500 miles of billboards on Interstate 90, stretching from Minnesota to Billings, Montana.

Some signs tell Honeymooners that they get free coffee…..


…….others let Veterans know that the java is free for them too.


Priests, hunters, police officers and several others get free coffee too.

I don’t know what we really expected Wall to look like today but to say that we were surprised would be an understatement.

Today the population is still under a thousand and while the building of homes has certainly enlarged the town and small businesses have moved in, Wall Drug is still the mainstay for employment as one third of the town are employees. We saw a grain mill, a few restaurants, a small hardware store, a barber shop and few other small businesses before we got to Main Street. There are also a good amount of motels. In fact, if every resident in town took a room there would still be over 400 available.

This is Main Street today, all two blocks of it.


This is Wall Drug back in the Dustbowl Days of the 1930’s.

Picture courtesy of Wall Drug website.

Today, it looks like this.


The store is now 76,000 square feet of tourist trap! I don’t know where I got the idea that it was one big store, think Woolworth’s back in the day with the lunch counter and all, but it is in fact dozens of little stores all under one roof. Every kind of shop that you would imagine in a tourist trap. Your typical T-shirt shop, a western clothing store, a western art gallery, several eating establishments, trinket stores in which I found dozens and dozens of things with names one them and not one with Snookie on it! Some things just never change.



I was surprised to see this.


The plaque above the seat says:

Dedicated to the priests and ministers who have served on the Wall of the Badlands since 1909.

The Travelers Chapel….


At one end of the building’s main hallway are products of probably a local taxidermist. These are animals of this area.


Statues are place throughout the various hallways for picture taking opportunities. Some standing and some sitting on benches.


Although the shingle was still hanging, the drug store was closed.


There was small outside with a display of potions from days gone by.


I walked into one eating establishment that had a card game going on in the corner.


Some of the establishments didn’t appear to be open as yet because the season isn’t really here yet in South Dakota. I would say thee was probably several hundred people here today which is nothing compared to the height of the season will bring. On a typical summer day 20,000 will walk through Wall Drug. I’m glad we were here today.

Wall Drug has become such a tourist attraction that it has expanded to include the Back Yard.

The Back Yard consists of some outdoor entertainment areas as well as some more stores.

One section that drew the crowd was the area where water spurts up from the ground and the kids try to run and not get wet,,,at least on a chilly day like today. There were a few kids dodging the random spurts of water shooting up from the ground but none of them seem to having a grand ol’ time like this particular kid.


There’s also a giant JACKALOPE to have your picture taken while sitting on it. Lots of kids had there pictures taken and more than a few adults too. I asked Bob to get up there but he refused.

File:Wall drug jackalope.jpg

Another big attraction is the T-Rex. He awakens every twelve minutes to feed.


He roars, he snorts, he shakes his head from side to side, smoke bellows and red lights flash. And he’s hungry!



He seems to be ready to lunge and lets out one loud RRROARRR and you see the kids on the run!

Outside there is also a kid sized replica of the Mount Rushmore. I’m sure many a class picture has been taken like this one below.

(Picture courtesy of Wall Drug website)

Today there weren’t any class trips but I did get one picture of a little girl. I wonder how many times this pose has been taken?


So there it is….Wall Drug. I hope I’ve given you a pretty good idea of what it’s like and I hope you enjoyed the trip.

This wasn’t the end our day but I’m going to cut it into two posts or I’ll never get it loaded!

Next stop...Badlands National Park

Thursday, May 26, 2011

5/24-26/2011 Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It’s Back….

… work we go and the sun comes out and the rain dries up. Now its by no means beautiful weather but no water is falling from the sky and the sun peaks out intermittently. Of course the temps are in the low 60’s and because everything is so waterlogged its just cool and damp. Not the greatest combo in our book but we are thankful that water isn’t falling from the sky.

Business is starting to pick up somewhat. We’re averaging about eight campers a night right now. We’ve had several who are on their way to Alaska and we give them a list of must do, must go, must see places. Mostly they ask if the roads to and from are as bad as they’ve heard they are. All we can tell them is to go slow and pay attention to the cones and flags and then go even slower. Bob and I wish we were going again but we’re glad we’re not going THIS year. The fuel prices would just kill us! One couple said that they weren’t staying as long as they originally planned because they have to pay so much more for fuel, its cuts down on how much money there is for campgrounds and more expensive food. At this point, we’re just glad we went when we did.

The weatherman is using the number seventy in his extended forecast! I can’t wait till the temps hit 70! I really can’t wait to put my winter jacket away again.

We ordered steaks, (rib-eye and filet mignon) chicken breasts, burgers, hot dogs and twice baked potatoes from Omaha Steaks and they were delivered today. Frozen solid in dry ice in a nice foam cooler. As soon as it get a little nicer out we’ll break out the grill. Have any of you ordered from Omaha? What was your experience with them?

We get some really strange phone calls sometimes while manning the office. One from today sticks out in my mind. We don’t take reservations here it’s strictly first come first serve. Of course, like all rules there are exceptions like when a General calls and says he wants to make reservation. His, we take. We also make exceptions for members of the military who are changings places of duty from one base to another and they are passing through here. They need a place to stop and rest so they get priority and justly so. Of course at this point in time anybody and everybody gets a space. So today this guy calls and Bob answers the phone. I should make it known now that Bob doesn’t deal with well with people who are…..THICK. The guy wanted to make a reservation for July 30th and Bob explained that we don’t take reservations. He insisted that he made reservations last year but Bob assured him he had this Famcamp mixed up with another one. They went back and forth for several minutes. Finally the guy understands and accepts that there will be no reservations made this day. However, he wasn’t done. He wanted Bob to tell him if there would be an empty space on the 30th of July. Bob told him that he had no way of knowing that and that he should make reservations at one of the many campgrounds just in case we were full. If we had space available then he could cancel the reservations. The guy didn’t want to hear this. He asked over and over again if Bob thought there might be an opening. I think if he could have Bob would have reached through the phone grabbed the guy by the throat and get right in his face and tell him to read his lips! Let’s just say I answered the phone the rest of the day.

We’ve got three days off coming up and we’re supposed to have sunshine and high 60’s…keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, May 23, 2011

5/22-23/2011 it rained

I think the title says it all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

5/21/2011 Oh Yeah…S U N S H I N E !

When we woke this morning the house seemed brighter than usual. It sure didn’t take us long to figure out why.

IMG_8318Oh what a sight for sore eyes! Blue skies! A little on the cool side but that’s ok! Oh Yeah….S U N S H I N E !

We’re getting’ out of here!

We had some errands to run downtown so that’s where we headed first. When we got in the truck and drove away we smiled and waved to Gary and Shari the other camp host couple. Happy! Happy! Happy! Oh Yeah….S U N S H I N E !


We’re zippin’ in and out of stores downtown picking up things we needed and there was a bounce in our step that had been decidedly missing lately. Oh yeah….S U N S H I N E!

So we’re riding along a country road taking in all the gorgeous scenery, marveling at how green everything is, thrilled that the trees are starting to bud, chatting about this and that and all the things we’re going to see this summer. A definite change in our mood! Oh yeah….S U N S H I N E!

And then…..

In a matter of minutes, without us even noticing because we were so busy talking about plans for this summer, the clouds moved in. It was two in the afternoon but it looked more like dusk. And then the heavens opened and dumped so much rain on us that we had no choice but to turn around and head back to Ellsworth AFB. In a short amount of time the roads downtown were flooding and traffic slowed to a crawl.

We drove home silently. The spell had been broken. It was raining, AGAIN!

I can’t take this much more. I need sun!

Friday, May 20, 2011

5/20/2011 Our First Work Stint is Done

Well, the last three days sure have flown by. The FamCamp hasn’t been exactly busy, just a few coming in at the end of the day, some staying just overnight and others staying for a few days.

The biggest excitement around here is still the busted pipes in the men’s shower room. Not much progress made there as yet. Men come and look and leave. Never to be heard from again the rest of the day.

Today was pretty much overcast but in the afternoon the sun did pop through for a short time.



This by no way means we’re out of long pants and winter jackets.

What were we thinking????