From Wyoming to Wisconsin

Shortly  after we finished our last day of work at Luton’s Teton Cabins, we finished our packing, hitched up and headed to the Wind River Casino in Riverton, Wyoming, about a 2 hour drive.  The casino allows RV’s to overnight for free in their parking lot. (I like free!)  The main reason for our fast departure was to get over the Togwotee  Pas during the afternoon.  At 9600 feet, it is not unusual for it to have snow or fog early in the morning, so we wanted to get ahead of the weather.  We drove through snow in May, and we did not want to repeat that on our way out.

On our last day, we received another $10 in tip money, so we decided to use that as our “play money” at the casino.  I enjoy playing the video poker machines, and put the $10 in a machine, and happily cashed out $200.16 after getting 4 aces!  It was a nice casino, and the only one we have been to that does not serve alcohol (which was probably why it was so quiet in the casino!).

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Unfortunately, we had a dead battery after just a few hours of being parked.  We had put the refrigerator on propane, and that is all we were running.  We think the cooling fans must draw a lot of power, because we also ended up with a high temperature alarm on the refrigerator.  We were hitched up and our front hydraulic levelers were down, so we couldn’t detactch to jump start our battery. We decided to call Coach Net (the RV roadside assistance that we subscribe too) and waited for them to send a service technician.  After a 90 minute wait, the technician arrived and jump-started our battery, and we were on our way.  This was all free (remember, I like free!) under their service.  We highly recommend that anyone with an RV, get an appropriate roadside assistance program.  We use Coach Net, but have also heard good things about the Good Sam’s Roadside Assistance as well.

Once we were back on the road, we headed to Custer, South Dakota for two nights.  Dan was able to reset the error code on the Norcold refrigerator, using a magnet on the back side of the refrigerator.  A service technician showed him this trick when we had this error code once before.

We stopped in Custer to visit with our friends and former co-workers at Crazy Horse Memorial.   We met Rudee and Margaret for dinner on Saturday night, and spent a very enjoyable 2 hours getting caught up on their lives.  Rudee’s husband Phil, had to work late, so he was not able to join us.  We missed seeing several other couples, who had already departed for the season.  Hopefully we can catch up with them in Florida!

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Dan Jonell Rudee & Margaret

On Sunday, we got up early to do the 10K Volksmarch at Crazy Horse.  This was my second time doing this very popular hike, and Dan’s first time.  It is the only time that you can walk to the top of the mountain carving.  This is a bucket list item for many people, and it is definitely worth it.  It was a beautiful day, and they had over 4400 people doing the hike.  Admission to Crazy Horse is waived if you bring in three cans of food for the local food pantry, and the cost of the hike itself is just $3.00.  There are port-a-potties, snacks for sale and water refill stations along the route.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all hikes had this along the way?!

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On the way down, we ran into Adam, one of the son’s of Korczak Ziolkowski, the original sculptor of Crazy Horse.  He was guarding “the armpit” as he put it.  We were impressed by the progress since our last visit in 2013.

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Both Phil and Rudee were working that day, so we met them later at the restaurant for dinner.  We also saw Monique, one of Korczak’s daughters, and talked briefly with her about the progress over the last 3 years.  It was a wonderful visit, and it was great to see many of our friends and co-workers that were still there.  Monday morning we hitched up and continued on our trip back to Wisconsin.

We stopped for the night in Blue Earth, MN.  The town has a nice fairground with a campground.  And the cost for one night?  Free!  (are you detecting a theme here?).  Blue Earth is a nice small town, that is home to a famous roadside attraction.  The Jolly Green Giant Statue!  The town is home to the Green Giant/Seneca Company.  The statue is 47.5 feet, and sits on an 8 foot base.  His feet are 6 feet in length, which equates to a shoe size of 78!

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Ho, Ho, Ho….Green Giant!

I am not sure why they put the viewing platform right under his legs, but we will leave the comment at that!!

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But Blue Earth has a few other pieces of history.  In 1917, a local man applied for a patent for his “Chocolate Dream Bar”, which was a square of ice cream, dipped in chocolate, wrapped in foil and frozen.  Two men from Iowa, however, also had similar patents filed and everything ended up in litigation.  After several years, the MN man sold his company to the two other men.  One of the men changed the name of the bar to the “Eskimo Pie”, and the other man, Russell Stover, used his proceeds to start his own candy company. Seems both men from Iowa did very well!

Blue Earth is also the mid-point of America’s longest highway, I-90.  When the interstate was completed, the East and West portions were joined together at Blue Earth.  At one point, the road was paved in gold, to commemorate the occasion.  These little towns hold a lot of our history!

We are currently in Wisconsin, at a surprisingly busy State Fair Park Campground.  I will have a post soon (I promise it won’t take a month!) on what we are currently up to.  Note:  it does not involve Amazon this year!

Quote for the Day:  “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” – Auguste Rodin

 

 

 

 

Getting ready to go

With just 3 more days left at Crazy Horse, we have been busy packing up our stuff, checking the roof for debris, putting Makena’s kennel back in the truck (she was very excited to see this) and inflating the tires.  Saturday (9/6) we had a huge crowd at work for the night blast to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Crazy Horse and the birth of Korczak, the sculpture of Crazy Horse Memorial.

Wednesday morning we will be leaving for Wisconsin, and if all goes well, we should arrive Thursday night at “Camp Meyer”, which is Makena’s favorite
“campground” (Dan’s sister and brother-in-law, Linda and Doug).  We will be parked there for 2 weeks, and then head down to Campbellsville, Kentucky, for another season at Amazon.  We have a start date of September 30.

We will not be online for a few days, as we will be returning the Wilson 3G cellular booster that Phil and Rudee have so graciously allowed us to use this summer.  Without it, we would not have had any cellular telephone service or internet at all.   We will be looking into purchasing a booster, but have been waiting as the 4G boosters are just coming on to the market.

I still have several more blog posts to do, and will try to get all caught up with South Dakota stuff before we leave for Kentucky.

Quote for the day:  “A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”  – George A. Moore

A foggy visit with friends

My friend Angie and her co-worker Brenda took an extended weekend to drive from Wisconsin to the Black Hills to see Mt. Rushmore, and participate in the 10K Crazy Horse Volksmarch. This was a ‘bucket list’ item for Brenda. They arrived on Friday, June 6, about the same time the fog rolled in for the weekend!

We headed off to “see” Mount Rushmore National Park, in Keystone. Admission to the park is free, but there is an $11.00 fee for a parking pass, which is good for the entire year. Dan and I plan on returning to the park, and I will have a more detailed blog on Mount Rushmore at a later date.

When we arrived it was misty and a thick blanket of fog covered up the Black Hills. The entrance to the park takes you through the Avenue of Flags, which has a flag for every state, in alphabetical order. On a clear day, you can see the Presidents in the background.

Avenue of the Flags

Avenue of the Flags

 

The viewing deck provided this lovely view!

 

where are they?

where are they?

The fog in the Black Hills comes and goes, so we decided to check out the small museum and watch a short film on the making of Mount Rushmore, while waiting to see if the fog would lighten up.

cell phones off, please

cell phones off, please

 

And as luck would have it, the fog lifted enough to see George, Tom, Teddie and Abe!

 

hi guys

hi guys

After that, we went back to Hill City and had a nice dinner at the famous Alpine Inn, which offers two choices for dinner: a 6 ounce bacon wrapped tenderloin or a 9 ounce one.

On Saturday, Brenda, Angie and I met up at Crazy Horse to participate in the annual Volksmarch, which is held annually the first full weekend of June. Crazy Horse also hosts another Volksmarch in late September, during the annual Buffalo round-up at Custer State Park. The Black Hills Volkssport Association organizes the event. The walk is a 10K (6.2 miles) that goes through the woods around Crazy Horse, up to the top of the arm, and then back down with the finish line at the Visitors Center.

 

let the fun begin

let the fun begin

The terrain in some spots was a bit challenging, but even with the fog, the scenery was nice.

 

rocky terrain

rocky terrain

many hills to climb

many hills to climb

let's go girls

let’s go girls

The AT&T cellular “tree” was mixed in to the woods. (Now if Verizon would just put a branch on this, we could get service out here!)

AT&T's tree

AT&T’s tree

 

After an hour of walking, we got our first glimpse of the mountain.

 

first glimpse

first glimpse

A short while later, we were making it around to the back of the mountain.

 

around the corner

around the corner

The top is finally near!

 

almost there

almost there

Congratulations Angie and Brenda!! Another check mark on the bucket list!! And the fog cleared for a few minutes at the top…..

 

congrats Angie & Brenda

congrats Angie & Brenda

 

….but soon returned!

 

the fog is back

the fog is back

We began our descent to the bottom, going past the tunnel under the arm.

 

tunnel under the arm

tunnel under the arm

And on to the finish line!!

 

10K complete!!

10K complete!!

If you are interested in seeing more photos of the view from the top of Crazy Horse, please check out our prior blog post from our orientation day when we took a van ride to the top (click here).

After we finished, I headed back to the camper, as Dan and I had to work from 2pm to close, and Angie and Brenda continued exploring the Black Hills. It was a short, but very enjoyable visit with Angie and Brenda. By late Sunday afternoon, the fog finally lifted, but they had already began the drive back to Wisconsin.

 

Quote for the day: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Green

A little history of Crazy Horse Memorial

Kachina

Kachina

As promised in my last blog, I would provide some history on Crazy Horse Memorial, where we will be working this summer.   Korczak Ziolkowski was born in Boston, and resided in Connecticut. In 1939 he came out to the Black Hills to work as an assistant to Gutzon Borglum, who was in charge of carving Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Korczak was fired from the job, and the letter from Borglum is on display at Crazy Horse Memorial.

Korczak went back home and worked on a sculpture, Paderewski: Study of an Immortal, which won first prize for sculpture at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Lakota Chief Henry Standing Bear invited Korczak to carve Crazy Horse Memorial, and wrote “My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, also.” Korczak did meet with the Chiefs in 1940, and began studying Crazy Horse and the Native American culture.

There is a photo of Korczak meeting with Chief Standing Bear in the museum.

Korczak and the Chief

Korczak and the Chief

From 1943 – 1945, Korczak volunteered for service in WWII, and accepted the Indians invitation after the war ended. He used his own money to purchase the land in the Black Hills and he starts building a log home on the property in 1947. He had several volunteers helping, among them Ruth Ross, who came from his home state of Connecticut.

June 3, 1948 the first blast occurred on the mountain. Korczak promised the memorial would be a non-profit project, and he would never take a salary or government funding. This is a photograph of what the mountain looked like in 1948.

1948 before 1st blast

1948 before 1st blast

And some photos over the years:

By 1982, the tunnel is visible, the top of the mountain was blasted off for the arm, and the right side of the mountain was blasted off, as they are beginning to go down the mountain to block out the head of the horse.

1982

1982

By 1993, work had switched to focus on the head of Crazy Horse, which is partially completed.  The tunnel under the arm now goes through to the other side.

1993

1993

By 2005, the face was complete, and a substantial portion of the right side of the mountain has been removed, as they continue going deeper to carve out the head.

2005

2005

This is a photo how it looks today:

May 15, 2014 view

May 15, 2014 view

Korczak worked alone on the mountain for several years, and suffered multiple injuries and several heart attacks over the years. He married Ruth in 1950, and they had 10 children. Korczak passed away in 1982 at the age of 74. His wife took charge of all activities at the memorial. In 1987 the focus shifted from carving the horse’s head, to the face of Crazy Horse, at the direction of Ruth.

In 1998, the face was completed, in time for the 50th anniversary of the first blast on the mountain. Due to some substantial donations in recent years, work has accelerated and continues on the head of the horse and the hand of the outstretched arm. They have been blasting down the mountain, and are around 340 feet down, to block out the head. It may, at times, look like nothing is being done, but there are photos in the visitor’s area that show the progress over the years, and it is quite dramatic. Since the memorial is carved in the round (3-dimensional), some of the work is not visible from the viewing deck, as it is on the back side of the mountain.

There is so much history involved in the memorial, and I simply cannot do justice to the story in this short blog. Both of us have talked to many visitors over the last several days of work that were amazed at the story behind the memorial, how big the place is, and how difficult a task it is to blast and carve out a mountain into Crazy Horse. If you want to learn more, please visit their website at Crazyhorsememorial.org

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO?

When you arrive at the memorial, we recommend you visit the excellent movie playing in the theatres that documents the history of the memorial. Then you can browse through The Indian Museum of North America and look at many Native American exhibits. There are two gift shops, one displaying items all hand crafted by Native American Indians, and the other with your standard souvenirs. The memorial has made a special effort to try to purchase items made in the United States, whenever possible.

museum

museum

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Here are two of our co-workers, hard at work in the gift shop!

 

Ruth and Rudee

Ruth and Rudee

lot's of t-shirts

lot’s of t-shirts

The original 1:34th scale model made by Korczak is on display on the large viewing deck, and is a popular spot for photos.

1/34th scale model

1/34th scale model

There is a covered porch area that has a scale model of what the entire complex will look like in the future, along with a large bin of rocks that have come from the mountain blasting’s. The rocks are free (donations accepted), and reminded me of Lucy’s rock collection in the movie “The Long, Long Trailer.” You can then enter into part of the original log home of the Ziolkowski’s, which has many antique items on display. There is also a two-story Native American Educational and Cultural Center and Korczak’s artist studio.

Mrs. Ziolkowski is a huge sports fan, and has many sports memorabilia on display, including a size 24 shoe from Shaquille O’Neal.  They also made a tracing of the shoe on the ground, and I put my foot in the outline for comparison.

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There is also the Laughing Waters restaurant and snack bar, which has an extensive menu, including gluten-free and vegetarian selections. In the summer, they have various Native American artists perform concerts and dances on the viewing deck. And thanks to a generous donation from the Ray and Joan Kroc Foundation, (founder of McDonalds), they have a very popular nightly laser light show on the mountain. We are looking forward to seeing that when it starts up at the end of this month.

Quote for the day: “When the legends die, the dreams end. When the dreams end, there is no more greatness.” – Korczak Ziolkowski

 

Orientation day at Crazy Horse

Wednesday, May 14 was “back to work” day!! We were both excited to start our new adventure for the summer, and it will be nice to have money coming “in”, instead of always going “out”. The first day is just orientation, filling out tax forms (only Federal since South Dakota has no state income tax), along with going over the basic rules that you have with any job.

Dan’s mom always took a ‘first day of school’ photo, so I thought I should get a ‘first day of work’ photo to continue the tradition!

Back to work!

Back to work!

 

We watched an excellent film on the history of Crazy Horse in one of the 2 theatre’s in the Visitor’s Center of the Memorial. If you ever come to Crazy Horse, we highly recommend viewing the movie as the first thing to do in the complex. It goes over the history of the Memorial, and has interviews with the sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski (pronounced ‘jewel-cuf-ski’), who passed away in 1982, as well as his wife Ruth.

Then we took a tour of the many buildings in the complex, and then headed back to our meeting room for more orientation. We had an excellent complimentary lunch in the Laughing Waters Restaurant, followed by the highlight of the day, a van tour to the top of the monument.

I plan on a separate post about the history of Crazy Horse, as well as what is all available to see and do on-site. There simply is too much to cover in one post.

A FEW FACTS ABOUT THE MONUMENT

The first blast on the mountain was June 3, 1948, with 10 tons removed. When completed, the memorial will be 563 feet high, and 641 feet long in the round. The face of Crazy Horse is 87 feet, 6 inches. In perspective, the heads on Mt. Rushmore are 60 feet tall.

Korczak refused to take any money from the state and federal government. This policy remains in effect today, and the family has turned down several grants from the government. He did not want the memorial to remain unfinished, like Mt. Rushmore, after they accepted money from the government. The original plan for Mt. Rushmore were for more complete profiles, at a height of 285 feet. Another difference between the two, is Mt. Rushmore was carved on a mountain and Crazy Horse is blasting a mountain into a monument.

The memorial is supported entirely through admission fees, gift shop sales and private donations.

THE RIDE TO THE TOP

Our orientation group was able to take a van tour to the top of the memorial. For the general public, there are two ways you can get to the top. Twice a year, they have a Volksmarch, where the public is invited to walk to the top for a small donation of $3.00.   It is 6.2 miles (10K) round trip. The other way to the top is with a private van tour, which costs $120.00, with $100.00 going as a tax-deductible donation to the non-profit foundation.

The roads are all crushed gravel, made from the rock blasted off the mountain. There is a ‘graveyard’ of old equipment, that they use for parts to repair current machinery.

The graveyard

The graveyard

There are deer and mountain goats that live up in the hills around the memorial. We saw some deer, along with this little critter. It is called a Marmot, which is similar to a woodchuck. The animals don’t seem to be bothered by the regular blasts.

Marmot

Marmot

They are working on the hand, and the nose of the horse. This view of the outline of the hand is not visible to the general public, as it is on the back side of the monument.

working on the hand

working on the hand

This picture is directly on top of the hand, and shows the red lines where they will be blasting out for the hand.

markings for future blast

markings for future blast

The face of Crazy Horse.

standing on arm

standing on arm

We had to wear hard hats, as they were working below.

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This is an old shark tank which was donated to the memorial. When they are blasting on top, the workers will stay inside this to avoid getting struck by flying debris.

sharks?!

sharks?!

The view from the top….spectacular!

view from the top

view from the top

To put the size of the memorial in perspective, this is the view from our campground…

 

view from our campground

view from our campground

And this is the view of our campground from the top of Crazy Horse.

 

CG from Crazy Horse

CG from Crazy Horse

This is the view of the visitors complex.

Visitors Complex

Visitors Complex

 

The rock formation below is where Korczak is buried, as well as his daughter Ann, who passed away in 2011.

burial site

burial site

 

We did make time at the end of the day to stop back into the restaurant to sample Kuchen, the state dessert of South Dakota, as well as some Indian Flat Bread. Both were delicious.

SD State Dessert!

SD State Dessert!

Indian Flat Bread

Indian Flat Bread

Dan commented that it was the best 1st day orientation that he has been a part of!

Quote for the Day:  “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius