This will be a short blog. Last blog I talked about travelers and work campers and vacationers, but this one is about the locals. Today we took the girls to the Keystone Community Center where the local community members and the fire department put together a picnic for the foreign workers and other seasonal workers. It was just their way of welcoming us to the community and for us to get a chance to meet some of the locals. There was the usual food and games and socializing that goes on at any normal picnic with an international flair. The older attendees talked and got to know each other while the younger ones did the same and made plans to go to the local volley ball field to have some fun.
It was a nice turn out and a great way for the local community to show how much they appreciate all that the seasonal workers do for the local economy.
Well it has been a busy two days so I am keeping this short and getting some rest here in our home in Keystone South Dakota because...
If you have been following our travels at all you know that we have been to some wonderful places and seen some amazing things. Mary posts photos on Facebook all the time but the pictures do no justice to what we are seeing. As much as we enjoy all these places and sights, the thing that makes the biggest impression is the people we meet. When we stay in one place for a while, like we are here in Keystone, we get to meet and make friends with some of the locals. That gives us a better perspective of the area we have chosen as our temporary home. We find those hidden gems that a tourist just doesn't have the time to find on a one or two week vacation. I like to call us born-again locals. By the time we leave we have become part of the community and take with us memories of not just places but people that will stay with us for a lifetime.
We also meet a lot of travelers in our adopted home towns. Some are on vacation and others are here, like us, for an extended period of time. Vacationers are always amazed at the concept of work camping and with few exceptions are envious. I always tell them that we love it but the lifestyle is not for everyone. Then there are work campers like us who live the gypsy life. The work camping community is large and diverse, so as work campers we share our experiences with each other. This is a big part of the network of work camping opportunities. We also make lifetime friends with many of our fellow work campers. To this day we keep in touch and get together when the logistics of our travels allows.
And then there are other extended stay workers. Most of our work camping jobs are seasonal so a large part of the work force is made up of young people looking to make some money and have a life experience that they can keep and maybe use in the future. Here in Keystone we have a group of international student from several different Asian countries. We work side by side with them and as much as they are learning about life in the United States we are learning about their lives in their respective home countries. Mary and I have semi-adopted a group of these girls and have taken them on some outings and are planning on doing so throughout the summer. As you can see we have already taken them to Mt Rushmore. We have also taken them shopping at the local stores for their daily necessities. They know the value of a dollar and want to go to Rapid City and shop at Walmart and The Dollar Tree. Smart girls! We will plan that trip after their next pay day.
Well I am going to sign off for now. We work later this afternoon and need to get ready. So good bye from the two of us and our new friends here in our home in Keystone South Dakota because......
It has been two weeks since my last blog, but as they say, time flies when you are having fun. The jobs we have here in Keystone are very new to me and it is taking me a little longer to get comfortable with the routine. Mary has worked similar positions and is adapting much quicker. I am at work right now, so the fact that I have some time to blog must be an indication that I am getting the hang of the job. Our bosses Randy and Robinn have been awesome. Patient and awesome. In spite of several screw ups they seem to be pleased with our work.
Since we have been here we have had a few opportunities to do some sight seeing. One day we drove into the city of Custer and then into Custer State Park. We only did a small portion of the park. We wanted to drive the Needles Highway and see Sylvan Lake. Needles highway was quite the driving experience. It was well paved but very narrow. Driving a dually wheeled pick-up just made the road seem narrower. The scenery was beautiful and then there were the tunnels! The first tunnel was one lane and two way. Everyone was courteous and alternated turns passing through. The second tunnel was the same but a group of car buffs decided it was their tunnel and at least a dozen cars crept through not letting anyone pass in the other direction. Mary and another passenger from our side got out and stopped traffic so the line of cars that had formed on our side could pass through. We weren't in a hurry but there is still no need to be rude!
Thinking that would be the worst experience of the day we pressed on. The third tunnel called Needles Eye had me sweating bullets! The fenders on the truck barely cleared the sides. It was so close that I had to swerve back and forth to avoid the rock formations jutting out from the walls.
Exiting the tunnel I finally breathed again and was grateful for the parking lot at Sylvan Lake. The lake was surrounded by sheer rock walls and was freezing, yet people were still kayaking and paddle boarding. We walked around a bit and relaxed after my tunnel ordeal and headed on back home.
That was enough for the day, after all we are here until October. So good bye until our next adventure from our home in South Dakota because....
It has been a week since we arrived here in Keystone and we are starting to settle in. We are getting to know our coworkers and the bosses and it is starting to feel like we belong. We are getting the hang of the job and the bosses seem happy with how we are taking to the routine. They also like that we are willing to be flexible about hours, days off, responsibilities. It's just the way we are and it always seems to pay us back later. A sure sign that Karma does exist.
We are also starting to check out the city of Keystone. Keystone exists only because of it's proximity to Mt Rushmore. The population here in the last census was 335. That means more than 20 times the city's population goes to see the presidents, just 2 miles away, on average every day. Talk about a town built on tourism. We walked the tourist part of town, just 2 blocks long, and only a block or so away from where we are working and staying. The shops have the usual made in China trinkets found in every other tourist town in America, just themed towards Mt Rushmore. Key chains, magnets, hats, t-shirts, etc, etc etc. Then there are the restaurants with burgers and pizza, plus a few with real sit down dining experiences. We haven't tried any yet but we will. It will come in handy when the guest at our hotels start asking for recommendations.
Our next day off I think we will drive around outside of Keystone to see what there is to see and also to share with those traveling through the area. Right now we are doing our laundry so I have to go back to the laundromat near our home in Keystone SD because.....
Well, we finally made it to Keystone South Dakota and are pretty much settled in. Checked out the local shopping, most of which is in Rapid City about 20 miles away. Laundry, restaurants, propane, and hardware stores are all in the same 15 to 20 mile distance from us. The people we will be working with all seem very nice and it looks like we are going to have an awesome summer.
The weather is still a bit chilly with overnight temps dropping into the low 30's and daytime temps not quite reaching 60 degrees. It has also been raining off and on making it feel even colder. It will warm up soon, but nothing like our friends in Florida are feeling. Once it starts to warm up the tourists will start arriving and we will become busy here in Keystone.
Keystone is the closest town to Mt Rushmore so the tourist will come. We are so close that we can see Mt Rushmore from our back door. If you look close at the far left side of the mountain you can see George, Tom, and part of Teddy. Since we are neighbors we are now on a first name basis(LOL). More pics later.
It is time to get ready for work so I will sign off for now from our home here in Keystone SD because.....
We have been traveling around the country for ten years now and feel confident handling our rig where ever we go. On the road we try to give the professional drivers the road. After all they are just trying to make a living. Our rig is the size of a small tractor-trailer so we often use truck stops to fuel our truck. When we do we try to get out of the way as soon as possible so as not to get in the way of the truckers.
After all that, I have to relate an incident that has happened a few times. While waiting out a storm at a truck stop I parked way back in the truck parking area. It took me two or three tries to get it exactly where I wanted it. Once settled in we watched a couple of truckers parking near us. After watching these professionals take five or six tries to park their rigs I started to feel real good about my driving abilities. Like I said this has happened a few times at different truck stops and every time it boosts my confidence just a little bit more.
Well we are settling down for the night in our home in Hermosa SD because......
I do not have as big an internet presence as many others but I am there to keep in touch while we are on the road. I do have this blog and am considered a "lurker" on facebook but that is not where I am going. What I want to talk about is the others out there keeping an eye on us as we travel. There was some severe weather we were passing through the past few days and we monitor several weather apps to keep our travels safe. During those weather events we were getting numerous phone calls, texts, emails, and other electronic messages from friends all around the country. It feels good to have friends who care.
Anyway, we survived all the weather and stopped for an overnight stay in a casino parking lot in Iowa. It got quite a bit colder during the night and it was still drizzling when we woke up. After a quick breakfast and a second cup of coffee we hit the road. By trying to out run some of the weather the day before we were able to make good time and had made it farther down the road than we planned. This will make the rest of our trip two short days. It's always nice to get to our destination early in the day to give us time to get settled in.
Well we are settling down for the night in our home here in Plankinton South Dakota because.....