Monday, September 11, 2017

'17/#22 Motivation Needed

It's been a while since I have blogged and I have no good excuses. Too busy? Too tired? Too little to write about? No, just too lazy. We have been busy and working hard but we also have been having a lot of fun. In the past few weeks we have traveled in and around the Keystone area seeing some of the local attractions.

A couple of weeks ago we went to Hot Springs to check out the Mammoth Site. There is an ongoing excavation of a prehistoric sink hole that contains the skeletons of wooly and Columbian mammoths. To date they have uncovered over 20 skeletons and have been able to remove some of them for further examination. It is a little hard to imagine these giant creatures roaming North America in the land where buffalo used to roam. Seeing the tusks still attached to the skulls and surrounded by what appears to be complete skeletons after more than 25 centuries was .... well it was awesome! It was well worth the trip and I have been recomending it to the tourists visiting the area.

Last week we finally found our way up to Deadwood. Yes that Deadwood. The one of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and others that came to this spot in the Black Hills looking for gold. The bus tour through the city and out to the "Boot Hill" cemetery was informative as well as entertaining. We spent several hours just roaming around looking at some of the notable places restored and maintained for history. There are a lot more casinos in town since the last time we were here 10 years ago. Legalized gambling was needed to fund the preservation of the town and the money is being put to good use.

Now to the motivation for me sitting down to blog at this time. Anyone who follows us knows we are from Florida and have family and friends there. And anyone not living under a rock knows of Hurricane Irma. The past few days have been filled with worry and concern for everyone we know and the rest of Florida. Being 2000 miles away and not being able to do anything is frustrating. I am happy to report that we have heard from just about everyone that they have survived Irma and are dealing mostly with debris and power outages. No homes lost, no injuries, and no doubt that everyone will bounce back in time.

Again, my motivation comes from the frustration of not being able to help. I do want everyone to know we have been and still are thinking of you and hope for a quick return to normalcy. We are sorry we can't be there to help but our positive thoughts are with you. Maybe this blog will make you smile a little thinking about us and you will feel better for a moment. That is all I can do for now and hope is enough. Keep smiling as you clean up after Irma (that bitch) and know we are with you in spirit if not in body.

Wishing you all the best from our home in Keystone SD because...

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

'17/#21 It's Tourist Season...Not Tourist Hunting Season

The next round of insanity has begun here in South Dakota. Welcome to the Sturgis Bike Rally. The motorcycles are here! Every hotel within an hour of Sturgis is filling up and we are no exception. Tens of thousands of bikers are on the roads, in the restaurants, and at all the usual tourist stops for the next 10 days.
For the most part they are nice respectable users of what the area has to offer but as with any time a large group congregates in one place a few will ruin it for the rest. Speeding tail-gating and general rudeness on the road by those few has the locals wishing bikers gone. The local police forces are having a field day by enforcing the law to the letter, again a byproduct of a large group meeting in one area. Bottom line is we are and will be busy the next week or so.

Last week on our days off we went into Custer State Park and a couple of our international girls tagged along. It was a nice relaxing day and we all had a good time. We enjoyed the scenery and got to see buffalo, deer, prong horn deer and prairie dogs. We also got up close and personal with the wild burros.
We enjoy taking the girls out to see some of the sights and they are so appreciative. This is supposed to be a social experience for them as well as a working opportunity and we feel like we are contributing.

Sturgis is 10 days long and the rumble from the motorcycles is continuous background noise. As long as they don't start trouble we will deal with it and look forward to some peace and quiet when they are gone. For now it is rumble, rumble, rumble here in our home here in Keystone SD because.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Monday, July 24, 2017

'17/#20 Still Here At Mt Rushmore

I can't believe how long it has been since my last blog. Work has kept us busy now that we are in full swing vacation season. The hotels we are working at have been sold out or nearly so every night for the past 3 weeks. 4th of July must have been the kick-off for the insanity season. We are seeing a new side to the hotel business. I will say that I won't workcamp at a hotel again.

On the flip side we have seen some amazing things in this part of South Dakota. A couple of weeks ago we went up to Spearfish Canyon. It was a scenic drive along the Spearfish Creek surrounded by shear rock walls. We visited an old fish hatchery in Spearfish which gave us a look at how the lakes of the west were stocked for sport fisherman. It was an amazing day and we still marvel at the terrain and how diffeent it is from where we spent most of our lives.

This is why we live this RV lifestyle. There will be more to see and do and I will try to blog more often. So for now I am signing off here from our home in South Dakota because.....

Hom is where we park it,
Frank and mary

Sunday, June 18, 2017

'17/#19 It's All About The People Part II

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...

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Saturday, June 17, 2017

'17/#18 It's All About The People

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......

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Saturday, June 10, 2017

'17/#17 Busy, Busy, Busy

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....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary

Friday, May 26, 2017

'17/#16 Feels Like Home

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.....

Home is where we park it,
Frank and Mary