Sunday, October 6, 2013

Trip Cut Short

Our intentions were to meet up with our camping buddies on Tuesday, September 17 at Grant River COE Campground in Potosi, WI, however that was not to be.

We parted ways with Jim and Sherry in Mitchell, SD and planned to take two days to get to Potosi, our planned stop was Welcome, MN.  All was going according to plan. We stopped at a Walmart to stock up on supplies to get us through Sunday and while there I picked up some different treats for the dogs.

After arriving at the campground in Welcome, I stripped the bed, gave the dogs treats and had just stepped out of the trailer with the bedding when I heard a horrible cry from inside.  When I got back in Harley was on top of Quark.  I  didn’t understand what was happening as they would often play in that manner. Then I saw that Quark’s eye was closed. 

As he wouldn’t let us get a look at the eye and it was late in the day we didn’t get him to a vet until the following morning.  As it turned out that probably would not have an affect on the end result.  The following morning after several attempt we found a local vet that could take us.  (Apparently Tuesday mornings are set aside for surgery in the vet world.)  This vet was 20 miles west in Jackson, MN so armed with our trusty GPS packed up the trailer and took off.  We made it to Jackson just fine however,  there was a street and drive of the same name and as luck would have it we went to the wrong one.  The vet kindly stayed on the phone and directed us back to his office. 

He put some numbing drops into his eye and examined it.  He said the injury was beyond his scope of expertise and that the best thing would be to get him to an animal opthamologist.  He suggested either Des Moines or Minneapolis.  We suggested UW Veterinary School so if he needed follow-up it was close to home.  The found us the phone number, he put some antibiotic drops in his eye and we took off. 

For almost eight hours 418 miles, our brave boy rode in his car seat without making a peep.  Once in Madison, we had to drag the trailer through campus.  It was not easy with all the one way streets, students-on bikes and mopeds and walking with earphones in their ears, not paying attention where they are going.  Then we were very close and couldn’t find it and had to call and be guided to the clinic.  (The GPS worked this time but when you are dragging a trailer, you want to make sure you are going the right way.) Finally we got to the trailer parking area. Yeah. 

After a brief wait the too us and a student took down all the info then we had to wait for the doctor but she was not the eye doctor.  They had to call the eye doctor then she looked a him.  She said the cornea was ulcerated and there was some infection.  Two options were presented to us 1) take him home and treat him ourselves hourly and bring him back on Wednesday. However, we would not be able to tell if the cornea deteriorated or not, or 2) leave him overnight and let them treat him hourly and monitor the eye.  We chose option 2 and went home.

The following morning we connected with the doctor and got the bad news that the ulcerated cornea progressed into a rupture and we could either spend thousands of dollars on surgery to repair the hole for an uncertain result or have the eye removed.  They said they could do it for $1,200 to $1,500 or if our vet felt comfortable doing it, we could have him do it for a third of the cost.  The called our vet and told him what was going on and he said he could do it but as it was almost noon on Wednesday and he had Wednesday afternoons off he would do it on Thursday morning.  We were given 12-days worth of antibiotics and two kinds of pain killers and took Quark home.

Quark had his surgery on Thursday and came come the same day.  Again he was very stoic. The worst thing for him seemed to be the darn cone.  We had to cut it down by 1.5” as he couldn’t reach the food or water bowls.  He would get snagged going down and coming up the two stairs on the deck.  Then he would go under the deck and we would hear the cone scraping either on the stones below or the underside of the deck.  We breathed a sigh of relief after he emerged without getting stuck.  We took the cone off the following Wednesday and his stitches were removed the Saturday after that.


Quarkie seems to be getting along okay, however, when he makes a quick left turn he sometimes bumps into things.  He has been running around both inside the house and out. He has gained weight, though, due to having peanut butter with his antibiotic twice a day, his pain pills crushed up into canned dog food and all the sympathy treats he has been getting.

It was a rough time.  A lot of tears.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Black Hills Trip Stats

Our trip began on August 28, 2013 at the Illinois Samboree in Henry, IL. Our trip concluded when we returned home after dropping Quark off at the UW Veterinary Clinic for treatment of an eye injury on September 17.

  • Trip duration—21 days
  • Miles traveled with our truck —2725*
  • Gallons of gas used—253.7
  • Cost of gas—$897.86
  • Cheapest gas—$3.29
  • Most expensive gas—$3.89
  • Average price per gallon—$3.61
  • Average MPG—10.7
  • Camp fees—$383.57
  • Total expenses (gas, admissions, food, misc.)—$1895.01
  • Average expenses per day $90.24

*After we arrived at our destination and parked the RVs, we alternated days driving to points of interest.  I do not have the miles Jim and Sherry put on their car.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mitchell, SD

“The Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village is the only archaeological site in South Dakota that is open to the public. The Village is an active research center and is a National Historic Landmark. Visitors to the site can see the many artifacts that have been excavated during the annual digs and they can tour the dig site itself in the comfort of the Thomsen Center Archeodome.”

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The above two pictures are of the reconstruction of a Mandan longhouse.

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The archelogical dig is located in this archeodome.

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Tom and Jim at the Corn Palace.

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The following morning Jim and Sherry and Tom and I went our separate ways.  Jim and Sherry had to return home early due to family obligations.  Tom and I are continuing to Potosi, WI, to meet up with our camping group for our monthly meeting.

The Badlands

We departed Steel Wheel RV Park heading down, down, down to Deadwood and up, up, up to I-90 at Sturgis.  Never did go to Sturgis, oh well. Next stop Wall Drug about 82 miles east.

Wall is now a destination rather than a stop.  There is at least a three-block area will all types of shops and museums.  We ate at Wall Drug and Tom was the only one to try a buffalo burger.

Wall DS map

Map of the Wall Drug Complex

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Jim cozying up for a photo op.

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Inside Wall Drug

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Animatronic tyrannosaurus.

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In a weak moment we were talked into posing on this Jackalope

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Tom was not interested in this lovely lady.

Wounded Knee Museum

In December of 1890, American soldiers massacred 90 unarmed Lakota men and 200 women and children using something similar to a Hotchkiss gun much like a Gatling gun. If that was not appalling enough, the government handed out at least 20 Medals Of Honor to Soldiers.

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One of the many first-hand accounts of the massacre on display in the museum


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Sherry is afraid of snakes.  We thought it would be fun to have her pose by this sign.  Did not see any snakes at all.

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A herd of Bighorn Sheep

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Discovered this big guy close by the road.

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We went to the Ranch Store on Hwy 240 where you can feed the prairie dogs peanuts.  We all had a good time.

Prairie Homestead, Cactus Flats, SD

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Sometimes you do goofy on vacation.

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White prairie dogs at Prairie Homestead

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Inside a soddie

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I hope this guy has his Sears Roebuck Catalog

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Our Badlands campground

We called to make reservations and when we arrived 94 year-old, Jesse greeted us and ushered us to our sites.

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We are rock-hounding on designated forest service land.

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We each have a sack of rocks.

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Jim climbed up this mound to take a picture. It was actually pretty difficult to get town without taking a tumble.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Deadwood Area Day 3

We visited two museums today.  The first one was Deadwood’s Adams Museum.  In 1930, Pioneer businessman E.W. Adams founded the Adams Museum. This is a wonderful museum which houses a variety of local history including relics from the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok (below), Plains Indian life, the history of Deadwood floods and fires, Deadwood’s legends and outlaws and notorious businesses. Literally everything is labeled, making the self guided visit a pleasure. A suggested donation of $5 is optional but well worth it.

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Wild Bill Hickok’s grave with dignitaries including Buffalo Bill Cody 3rd from the left.

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a pencil sketch of Wild Bill Hickok.

Visited the High Plains Western Heritage Museum in Spearfish.  It was the brainchild of two ranchers who were fearful that when their generation passed the history of the area would be lost.  The museum exhibits represent the states of Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Western artifacts, Western art, cowboys, rodeo, cattle roundup, family life and various modes of transportation. The collection is large in both number of items and the size of some of the items.

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The museum actually had a photo of these cattle when alive.  They are interesting colors.

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This saddle was designed by Tom Selleck.

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This beautiful horse hair bridle was won in a poker game around 1900

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Cowboy Statue

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Native American Artifacts

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Chuck Wagon

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I remember the story of Comanche from when I was a kid.  He was the sole survivor of Custer’s command.

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Barrel Cradle

Yesterday we found a place called Philly Ted’s Cheesesteak for lunch in Spearfish and had to go again today.  Went to the Silverado in Deadwood for buffet supper.  Nothing to write home about.  Oops, I guess I am doing that.  We were told to park in the Wells Fargo Bank parking lot, take a ticket then have it validated.  Well there were no instructions at the parking lot. I wish I would have thought to get a picture of the sophisticated fee collection system.  Tom went back to the lot after the doorman told him about the ticket/validation.  He looked all over for a “ticket booth.”  Tom went all the way around the bank and when I didn’t see him coming back, I went to find him. When I didn’t come back Sherry came after me.

There was no booth, just a metal box about 2’ x 2’ with slots in it and Post-it Notes stuck under each slot.  We would still be there trying to figure it out if a local hadn’t showed up to give us the low-down.  You take a Post-it note, it is cut about 3/4 the way up, each side as the same number.  You then shove your $5 into the slot which is about 1/4 x 1 1/4,” then you take a special tool that is hanging on a chain to shove the money into the slot. Then you tear the Post-it apart and put one part on the dash of your vehicle and take the other into the Silverado for validation.  What we got for our $5 were four strips of coupons, one of which was for $1 off the buffet and with ID we got a Senior Players Card loaded with $5 each.  Sherry didn’t bring her ID so she couldn’t get one.  Well after dinner we played our cards and Tom won $1.25, Sherry won $2.50 and I won 8.25. So when all was said and done we came out $11 ahead.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deadwood Area Day 2

Our first stop this morning was Lead (pronounced leed, which is a mining term) and the Homestake Mine only to find that tours were cancelled due to repairs on something or another.  We did get to view a video and the open pit mine behind the visitor’s center.  The mine operated for 126 years, closing in 2002, due to falling gold prices. There is still gold in the mine but operating costs surpassed income generated by the gold produced.  Homestake Mine provided a good living for the workers, company sponsored health care and many other benefits for the town.

The open cut portion of the mine is 1,200 feet, however the underground portion extends to more than 8,000 feet.  A system of shafts and drifts that extend under the town. 

Demolition of buildings and cleanup of the site is expected to take several more years.  Part of the mine is currently houses the Sanford Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the 4,000 foot level.  Pumps are constantly removing water below that level as the water table is near the surface.

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We went down the road a couple of miles to the Black Hills Mining Museum.  This is another wonderful museum.  The well-informed tour guide takes you down to basement level to a simulation of the Homestake Mine.  The tour takes you from the earliest years to the close of the mine, describing mining methods through the years.  The museum was made possible by the Homestake Mine Co.

There is a nice museum above ground, with mining and local history.

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1904 Homestake Mine Employees

We next took an excursion over the border into Wyoming to see the Vore Buffalo Jump.  As with many of the places and things we wanted to see it was closed after Labor Day but they did leave the gate open so you could take a self-guided tour.

The site was discovered in the 1970s during the construction of I-90.  This is where buffalo were driven into a sinkhole by Native Peoples and butchered for meat, hide, bones, sinew, etc.

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This is a photo of a sign depicting the buffalo falling into the pit.

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Here is a view from the bottom of the pit.  University students intern here during the summer months.  The building protects the dig site.

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The large teepee on the left appears to be a visitor center.  It is not made of canvas rather wood covered by roofing membrane to resemble a teepee.  The teepee on the right covers a “sandbox with arrow points you can dig with the trowels provided and keep for $1.  I’m sure these are modern versions of artifacts not the real thing.

We took Hwy 14A, the 19 mile Spearfish Canyon Scenic Byway, back to Deadwood.  Spearfish Creek parallels the road and there are pullouts that allow you to access the creek or the waterfalls along the way.  The cold water comes from springs.  Spearfish Creek disappears to the north in Spearfish.  Some water is diverted for domestic use and the remainder finds its way into sinkholes created from dissolving gypsum in the ground.2013 Sep 11_Lead-Vore Buff Jump-Spearfish Canyon_0790

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Fly fisherman fishing for trout.


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It was quite a hike to Spearfish Falls across a bridge and over rugged terrain.  On the way back I was huffing and puffing so loud that I didn’t know there was a man behind me until he scuffed his foot in the gravel.  I nearly jumped out of my skin. He apologized for frightening me.  I told him that I couldn’t hear him over my heavy breathing.

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Roughlock Falls is handicap accessible with a paved path and very nice viewing platforms.

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There are several picnic tables like this at Roughlock Falls.  The top and seats are 4” thick.  There are similar chunky benches there also.