Monday, July 08, 2013

Summer in the Black Hills

It’s been a while since the last blog, but we’ve been engaged in our volunteer job, exploring the area, and just enjoying the summer.  It’s been an amazing spring and early summer, warm but not too hot, and with enough rain to keep everything a vibrant green, but not enough to curtail our activities.   During our last visit here two years ago, we were anxious to experience the Black Hills and visited many of the attractions.  This time around, we’re content to avoid the crowds and explore the back roads.  We’ve always enjoyed driving the seldom-traveled dirt roads in the mountains, and here on the western edge of the Black Hills there’s ample opportunity to go “off-road”.
Bridal Veil FallsOn our way into the hills, we passed Bridal Veil Falls.  If you “google” the name, you’ll find that almost every state has one, although Yosemite’s National Park is probably the most famous.  Our South Dakota version is not quite so grand, but still makes for a worthwhile stop.
Once off the highway, the valley vistas become a combination of green, green meadows and red sandstone rock:
Black Hills Backroads3
Black Hills Backroads2
Black Hills Backroads4
Climbing to the top of a pass, we were able to see miles across the hills and down to a distant valley:
Black Hills Vista
Coming up over a rise, we surprised these two elk, obviously brought up by their mother to look both ways before crossing the road:
Elk Road Guards
A bit later we spied this Yellow-bellied Marmot peeking out of his fallen-lumber hideaway:
Marmot on Guard
At the end of our drive on the back roads, we approached the main highway into Hill City with the Crazy Horse Monument in the distance:
Crazy Horse
Once again, we’re one of ten couples volunteering in our “village” with our own trout-shaped fireplace and common area.  We’ve found that being here can be a health hazard – weight gain due to pot luck dinners every two weeks.  Each couple furnishes one or two of their specialties, and Brenda of course provides a made-from-scratch cheesecake, which disappears quickly.  As you can see, it’s rightfully the men who jump in line first:
Pot Luck
This area of the country frequently experiences strong thunderstorms, and although we’re sheltered by being in a small canyon, we can occasionally get a bit of hail.  During a recent thunderstorm, it sounded like bowling balls bouncing off the roof of the motor home.  Once it stopped, I went outside and picked up one of these; fortunately there were only a few:
May Hailstone
We’ll be here another month, so check back – who knows what we’ll see?