Custer State Park Working Adventure: Buffalo Roundup 2018

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We worked our first buffalo roundup at Custer State Park. I’ve never been that close to a cow in my life, let alone buffalo! It was fun and exhilarating to say the least, especially that moment when I found myself eye to eye with a buffalo calf who wasn’t happy about being corralled, pushed through gates, and separated from mamma for the time.

[I’m working on including some video into our blog. We have created a YouTube Channel (NoKaOiLog) and I’ll be including some links. It’s a learning curve with a slippery slope, hope no one falls in with me, lol.]

This is how they move the buffalo into the work area, where they get (depending on age), inoculations for brucellosis and other diseases, branding and tagging, pregnancy tests and sterility checks. Also decisions about whether they return to the herd or head out to auction.

In the Chute video

The Custer State Park Roundup is a multi-day event. It draws over 20k visitors, although this year the numbers were only around 16k, probably because of the rain and snow which came in early that morning. Roundup festivities also include an awesome arts festival from Thursday to Saturday, with talented vendors, good food, and plenty of entertainment.

The day of the roundup the entrance fee into the park is waved, so it’s the perfect day to get up early, watch the roundup, catch a little buffalo branding at the corrals and then head over to the arts festival to fill your truck up with lots of cool stuff to take home with you!

The other way to get in for free is to be a park volunteer. But before you get too excited about this option, we had to meet at 3:45 A.M. to caravan out to the roundup area and be in place at our assigned positions. Russ and I both had parking duties. It was still snowing when we arrived, brrr from the Florida girl! I went through two pair of boots and countless socks, because my first ones, even with waterproofing, didn’t hold up to the wet slosh. Fortunately, the sun came up, the clouds passed on, and the ground dried up … well, the mud didn’t dry up for a couple of days.

The snow melted away pretty quick down where we were parking cars, but it stuck around a bit longer in the higher elevations.

Snow in the hills. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Snow sure is pretty in photos, but I was cold. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Picturesque morning for Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

After all the cars were parked, we were free to find a great viewing location and wait for the Buffalo to come over the hills.

Fog and cold for the first glimpse of the buffalo. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

Here is a link to our YouTube video of the herd coming over the hills.

Buffalo coming over the hill video

Gathering into one large herd. Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup

This wasn’t exactly like Dances with Wolves, it was an orchestrated plan to get the buffalo to the corrals without stressing them out so bad that they hurt themselves or each other. So built into the round up are several resting/holding periods, which made for a great time to view the herd.

On the day of the roundup, they work a small portion of the herd so that those attending the roundup who wish to watch can see the how they bring the buffalo into the corrals for health checks and branding.  That many buffalo can’t be done in one day and this year there were three additional days set up (I believe it varies from year to year). We both worked one morning. Here are a couple of videos of our branding experience.

Russ branding

Jen branding #1

Jen branding #2

Branded. The 8 is for the year and the S is for Custer State Park

Blue ear tag, male heading to the auction

These gals made it back to the herd

We were amazed at how well the whole process was handled. We loved every minute of the hard work and long days (well I lie … I don’t like snow and wet feet, and Russ doesn’t like to get up that early), but it was worth it for the experience. We would highly recommend you add the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup to your bucket list.

Stay tuned, there’s a few more blogs from Custer State Park to share with you, thanks for following along with our adventure.

Custer State Park Working Adventure: Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming

We took a camping trip from our camping trip! We loaded up our tent and sleeping bags and headed to Wyoming to spend our days off at Bighorn National Forest. It was a chilly adventure, but that should be expected when getting above 9,000 feet (and it doesn’t help that we still have Florida blood in our veins, so chilly is interpretive).

On Saturday, the smoke in the area was quite thick and the haze had settled in. We hoped it wouldn’t last all weekend.

Once again, we were amazed at the beauty. We stayed at Sibley Lake Recreation area. The campground was full when we arrived on Saturday night, but the camp hosts were kind enough to allow us to camp in the picnic area for the first night. Then we move to site #4 the following morning. This was a very private site overlooking the lake on three sides. The tent/non electric area cost $17.00 per night.

First night in the picnic area.

After moving our camp, (we literally put the fully set up tent on top of the truck), we hiked around Lake Sibley on Sunday

Abby…it looked like a shed!

Our second camp site, with appropriately warm fire 🔥

Monday brought rain, so we explored the national forest by truck (and a little hoofing it when the rain let up).

The area was setting up for hunting season, we found lots of campers and trailers out in the woods and even this tent “village” that we understand was set up by guide companies, who bring hunters in and provide all they need. Well except for the game, I hope.

Hunting camp in Bighorn National Forest

Views from around the forest.

Plum Creek

Plum Creek

Our hiking crew

Things you find

What is it?

Ready to go

Haven’t seen one of those in a long time!

Oh deer, with ears only a mama could love. Mule Deer?

I can see for miles, and miles.

Mirror Image Butte.

Signs of fall.

Signs of fall.

Monday’s rain didn’t let up. And we watched the temperatures drop all afternoon. When we stopped to chat with the camp hosts, they let us know they were expecting temps in the mid to high 20’s that night. So we did the only thing that seemed appropriate to Floridians…we fled!

Which actually turned out to be a good thing for other reasons. We went back to Custer via Greybull and we found this guy having a little dinner snack. He was kind enough to pose for us. Wow! what a blessing to see a moose in person.

The views on the way to Greybull are estounding, even in cloudy weather.

Shell Falls, Wyoming

Canyon views.

I think we should move here…it would be nice to take them up to 85!

Shell, Wyoming

She just broke 20K, I think she needs a name!

Clouds and rain = cold Floridians

Views, Views, Views!

The last of the day’s light as we cross back through Wyoming. We will come back this way again, it was simply spectacular.

Wyoming sunset.

Thanks for sharing this week’s adventure with us. Sure hope each of you have a wonderful Labor Day, and have a much needed adventure of your own. Keep in touch…we love to hear from you.

Custer State Park Working Adventure: Being Tourists with Friends and Family

We love when family and friends come to visit us on our adventures. It not only helps with our homesickness but also gives us a great excuse to become tourists, or travel guides, as the case may be.

Lee and Lynda came through the Black Hills on the way home from their trip out west. We made a whirlwind day of adventure looking for buffalo and wildlife, and checking into Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. There was lunch at the Purple Pie somewhere in between too.


Crazy Horse with Lee and Lynda

State Flags at Mt. Rushmore

Lee and Lynda at Mt. Rushmore

Lee, Lynda, Jennifer and Russ. Mt. Rushmore

Our drive took us through Wind Cave National Park, where we saw buffalo and prairie dogs.

Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Buffalo in Wind Cave National Park


Prairie Dog. Wind Cave National Park


Prairie dogs. Wind Cave National Park

Our animal sightings in Custer State Park included pronghorn deer, donkeys and water buffalo (haha, just kidding…it was really buffalo in water)!

I haven’t heard his name yet, but the small herd of burros has an addition. Custer State Park


Triplet pronghorns. Custer State Park


Water Buffalo. Custer State Park

The following week, our son Josiah took a few days in between tour dates to come and visit us. This mamma can never spend enough times with her babies and we had a great time doing a little sight-seeing and some hiking.

Hey…I didn’t get a copy of the pic you took…

It’s what he does.


These two! What are they into now?


Over there. Where?


The only time we gets pics together (with both our heads in the shot) is when Josiah is in town.


Exploring Wind Cave National Park


The truck straddling French Creek in Wind Cave National Park.

We had bison at the Bugglin’ Buffalo.

Did the touristy stuff at Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore. (I have no pictorial proof of Crazy Horse for some reason!)

Hi George. Mt. Rushmore


These two! If you’ve ever wondered why I have gray hair…its definitely one of these two.


My boys.


Mt. Rushmore National Monument

I made him go hiking. Told him he had to get off the electronics and get fresh air. Just kidding…but grateful to have kids who love the same things we do.

We hiked to Little Devil’s Tower in Custer State Park. The views are spectacular and the hike isn’t half bad either.








He actually doesn’t care for being this high up. Thanks for hanging out with us!




What’s for lunch mom? Still PB&J son.

Best cell service in town. Hi Sami…we missed having you!

Only one of the three of us wanted to swim after our hike. Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park is beautiful, but it’s too cold for this Floridian.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park.

The cool breeze coming off the lake is nice too! Sylvan Lake

And just like that the friends and family left us to our adventure. Everyone is welcome to join us, we miss you all! Thanks for sharing our adventure with us.

Custer State Park the Working Adventure: Life Around Camp

We are beyond happy with our decision to come all the way to Custer State Park in South Dakota! This place is awesome…and the work we are trading for our campsite isn’t too bad either.

We signed up as volunteers at Custer State Park. Russ has been assigned to the Ground Maintenance team and is doing more than he was originally told he would be doing. And has a work truck…and…HE GETS TO CUT GRASS TOO! Yes, he is that excited.

I survived my first week of visitor center training (there are four of them here), it was like standing in front of a fire hydrant. But I’ve already met people from all over the world, and it helps me get my two thousand plus words a day out!

One of four visitor centers, Badger Hole is by far my favorite places. Badger Clark was the first Poet Laureate of South Dakota and wrote the Cowboy Prayer. Custer State Park

We arrived later in the day on June 29th. Setting up was going uneventful when several of our neighbors started talking about an in-coming storm. Several moved their vehicles across the road under the trees. The sky darkened up. Hail was mentioned, and just as we buttoned up the last few things…it let loose. Welcome to South Dakota, home of the bi-weekly hail storm.

But the hail can be overlooked when the view is in your backyard. Here’s just a few of our initial greeters.

That’s a big boy. Buffalo in the campsite. Custer State Park


Little man, you still have fuzz on those antlers. Custer State Park


Little Buck. Custer State Park


“I’m sure there will be something good if I get closer.” Custer State Park

This is the view looking down into our camping area.

Home sweet home for the summer and fall!


Our fire pit has a view up the hill. Custer State Park


We have many birds, this little American Goldfinch stopped by to rest on a rock in the yard. Custer State Park

Just behind our camp site and up the hill, is one of the many hiking trails in Custer. Lover’s Leap is a 3 mile loop and if you don’t confuse the trail marking “ahem, Jennifer” its a fun trail which crosses over the creek about a dozen times and has a scenic view of the park and beyond, from the peak.

Early morning dew. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Dragonfly. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Dragonfly fun. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Taking a break from the cold creek. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park

There was a fire in the park last December, about half the park was effected. But, everything is greener and making a come back.

Remnants of 2017 December fire. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Fire damage. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Everything is coming back strong. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Ruger is new to hiking. Not sure if he knew he was stepping in mud or not, but he sunk down pretty deep and needed a creek clean up. #muddydog. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


You can lead a dog to water… Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Almost a dozen creek crossings. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


A little trail break. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


The view from the top. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


view from the top. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Afternoon storm approaching. Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park


Lover’s Leap Trail, Custer State Park

There is more to come from our Custer State Park, can’t wait to share all the baby animals we’ve seen so far. Thanks for sharing our adventure with us.

Georgia 2017_04_01 to 2017_05_31: The Fun People

Fun wouldn’t be the same without all the great friends we have made along the way. Our time in North Georgia was filled with friends and family…what a blessing!

Rick and Jennifer came up to their cabin in Blairsville, the second week in April, and we had a great time with them.

They came over to Cleveland to check out our camp site, and then we took a ride, to Helen, along with some of our Paradise neighbors, Bruce and Teri, and Brian and Lynn. We had a great lunch at the Old Bavarian Inn. I look forward to their Reuben sandwiches any time I can get one.

Reuben Sandwich, Old Bavarian Inn, Helen, Georgia

However, this was not the highlight of our afternoon. It seem that a certain someone forgot the key FOB for his motorcycle. It is possible to start your bike if the key FOB is nearby (say hanging on the hook in the camper) and then one is able to drive far away from their key FOB. It only becomes apparent that one has made such a mistake, when, upon shutting down the bike, they cannot start it up again.

There is another way to start the bike, if a security code has been set up. Everyone was hungry, so over lunch, a security code was searched for in the owners manual, phone calls were made, and Iphones diligently searched. To no Avail.

NASA we have a problem.

I’m not going to name any names, but dessert on this ride was humble pie.

Humble Pie for dessert.

The guys went to retrieve the key FOB, while the ladies did some shopping in Helen.

Feeling a little Jerky?

Fortunately, Helen isn’t that far from Paradise Valley R.V. Resort, so once the key FOB was retreived, we still had time for a great afternoon of riding.

Sunday afternoon ride through the mountains of North Georgia.

Hanging with Rick and Jennifer means relaxing on the porch, enjoying the beautiful mountain view.

Best seats in North Georgia. Rick and Jennifer’s porch

Great riding.

Out riding with Rick and Jennifer.

A picnic lunch at Brasstown Bald.

Hey…we have cell phone service! Can we make it all the way to the top? In these motorcycle boots???

Getting silly after all those curvy roads.

Out for more riding with Rick and Jennifer. Hay, what’s the hold-up?

Rick and Jennifer’s cabin is not only comfy, but it has a beautiful view!

Finally got to see their dogwood tree bloom.

Relaxing sunsets.

Sunset at the cabin.

We also finally finished up the curtains for the man-cave, had many wonderful meals, and Spades! Alas, our week went too quickly…time to retire you two…hurry it up already!

Right after our week with Rick and Jennifer, we headed over to Charlotte, to spend Easter weekend with my brother, his wife and family. We had a great weekend, which included fabulous food, great games, and some hiking to work off the calories. I’m going to group their return visit to us, over Memorial day Weekend, right here. It is so wonderful to get to have more time for family! Time with Bert, and Soher is always full of love and fun.

Easter weekend with Bert and Soher, in Charlotte.

We focused on seeing a few water falls, while Bert and Soher came to visit us. Anna Ruby Falls, Vogel State Park, and Helton Creek Falls, as well as…lots of good food.

Anna Ruby Falls, with Bert and Soher.

Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher. Hofers Bakery and Cafe for dinner and some take home desserts.

I have to go back…they are closed! Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher.

Relaxing after dinner in Helen, Georgia. Bert and Russ. FUDGE!

Too many Jerky signs in this town! Helen, Georgia, with Bert and Soher.

At trip anywhere near Blairsville, has to include food at Jim’s Smokin Que.

Lunch at Jim’s Smokin Que, with Bert and Soher.

Then onto Vogel State Park and Helton Creek Falls.

Vogel State Park, with Bert and Soher.

Vogel State Park, with Bert and Soher.

Helton Creek Falls, with Bert and Soher.

View from Richard Russell Scenic Highway, with Bert and Soher.

We spent a great day with John and Janet. Of course it started out with a quick lunch at Jim’s, but we took the adventure to Paradise Hill Vineyard, for a bottle of wine and great music on their patio. Then back to our campsite for dinner, which unfortunately did not include a camp fire because of the rain!

John and Janet, at Paradise Hills Vineyard, Blairseville, Georgia.

It’s nice having some retired friends around! Gary and Debbie, whom we met in Marathon a few years ago, when they were sailing Aldeberon, have moved along to Hiawassee, Georgia. They build an adorable little retirement house and we enjoyed our visits. We really enjoyed the building project, because the “pay” was completed with fantastic gourmet meals prepared by Chef Debbie!

Russ and Gary built steps and a deck to connect the driveway to the beautiful front porch.

Completed front porch access deck.

We all know that all work and no play…is just not fun, so we made sure we had lots of time to go out and explore, a few fire-side nights by the creek and plenty of hiking outings were fun for all.

Hiking Brasstown Bald with Gary and Debbie.

Hiking Amicalola Falls, with Gary and Debbie.

Hiking Smithgall Woods State Park, with Gary and Debbie.

We made fast friends with Bruce and Teri. It seems we have lots in common, their winter home is close to our place in Umatilla. They love motorcycle riding. They just love life!

Shortly after they arrived from their winter home in the Villages, they began making preparations for the newest addition to their Paradise homestead. Their caboose arrived with much fanfare and activity. Finally by the end of the day, I spotted them relaxing in their chairs, admiring the caboose!

The Caboose arrives, Bruce and Teri’s new RV! (look how cute they are sitting their at the end of the day)

Out for a beautiful ride.

Riding the mountains in North Georgia, with Bruce and Terri.

These two love-birds do this at the end of every ride!

Love this…they do this at the end of all their rides. Sooo cute!

We are always excited when we get to spend time with our family. Especially our California gang, who don’t get back to this coast as often as I want them too. Fortunately for us, Ray’s younger sister graduated from UF (Go Gators, Yeah Maggie!) We became part of the two week loop they did from Orlando, to South Florida, to Gainseville, to Georgia and then South Carolina! Wow, I’m tired for them.

Nanny is ready for two little grands!

Ready for the Grands!

Good morning Nanny. Is PopPop awake yet?

Monta and Gabby visit Nanny and PopPop.

Out for our first Hike, at Dukes Creek Falls, located on Richard Russell Scenic Highway.

Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby at Dukes Creek Falls

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

PopPop has hiking buddies. Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

Hiking Dukes Creek Falls, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby

There is never a dull moment with this guy!

Nanny, I stacked the shoes by the door like you asked.

Extra shoes make Nanny’s heart happy.

Time for bed! Deep sigh, Nanny is tired!

Sleeping in Nanny and PopPops camper with Thomas is the best.

Day two, more hiking, at Smithgall Woods State Park, with fun in the creek!

Hiking Smithgall Woods State Park with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

Having fun in the creek, under the covered bridge at Smithgall Woods State Park, with Jennette, Ray, Monta and Gabby.

We made the best of a couple of rainy days. Babyland was a big hit, with an afternoon trip to Dahlonega. The Cleveland library had lots of games that were PhD approved by Dr. Daddy! I’m not sure I ever truly appreciated an inside playground this much! Thank you Chick-fil-A.

A rainy day was meant to be spent at Babyland and holding newborn Cabbage Patch Dolls.

Babyland, taking care of the Cabbage Patch Babies. I think she will fit, I can make her fit!

An afternoon trip to Dahlonega, with a stop at the Cottage Vineyard and Winery.

Lunch at Zaxby’s ana an afternoon in Dahlonega. PopPop, stick to the story line!

Rainy days and Libraries with PhD approved games, and Chick-fil-A! Thanks for the indoor playground!

Then just like that it was time for them to leave!

Time for Nanny to cry!

PopPop says don’t worry, I won’t let her cry for long!

No crying aloud!

We loved our Georgia Mountain spring visit. Of course we have moved along and there are more adventures to come.

Thanks for following along with us.

What We do, When We’re Doing Nothing: November 2016 to March 2017

Collier-Seminole State Park

I’m not sure how to attest for this missing period of time on our blog…so I’m just going to fill it in as best I can.  We finished our Short, Short Trailer trip and returned home in mid November. We had nothing to do, except unpack and relax around the house. If you know us…you’re already laughing uncontrollably.

We returned on November 13th and headed back out the door on November 18th, to meet up with our Florida kids and grand-kids, at Collier-Seminole State Park in Naples Florida. This was a very nice, small park. Great for the kids to ride around on their bikes. We had campfires every night and ate our way through a few bags of marshmallows in the evenings and pancakes in the morning.

Marco Island sunset with the family

Russ and RJ

Family photo time, Collier-Seminole State Park


It’s hard to get a good picture off this gang!

No wonder these people are a bunch of cut-ups! Apples and trees, they don’t fall very far.

Marco Island Sunset

We had a great few hours hanging out with Tommy and Alecia, as they headed South through Jensen Beach on Saol Nua. It’s amazing how many great friends we have made along this adventure!

Tommy and Alecia and the family, making their way back to Boot Key Harbor

We had a big crowd for Thanksgiving! Josiah and Sami came from Dallas to be with us, it was a great day to be thankful for family and friends.

Thanksgiving 2016

Josiah, Sami, Jennifer and Russ

Every year close to Thanksgiving, its gonna be Josiah’s birthday. This year we celebrated a day early, while the whole gang was here. Julie made a delicious cake, and Josiah’s still able to blow out all the candles, whoohoo!

Josiah’s 27th birthday…no helping with the candles, kids!

We always make time to go for a ride!

There’s always time for a ride with Rick and Jennifer

We have been blessed with so many friends since we began this adventure. Jack and Cheryl, from Zig Zag, came to visit! Yes…I promise Cheryl was there, too…she always manages to elude my camera!!! Eureka and Nyah had a good ole reunion, Pepe was being a cat.

Jack, Cheryl and Eureka came for a visit

While Josiah was in the area, we were able to spend a few more days with him up at our place in the Ocala Forest. Here’s a change up…dinner by Josiah, photography by Mom!

Dinner by Josiah

On December 5th we headed out to Indiantown to the DuPuis Wildlife Management Area. This is a free campground, although you need to go on-line and register in advance. There are no hook-ups for water or electric (we brought a generator.) They do have a dump station on site. And speaking of sites, there were no designated spots, just pull into an area and put out the table cloth. But, that also means, that after you are all set up, someone can set up too close, which is what happened to us. It was nice this time of year, no bugs, and we didn’t need any a/c.

DuPuis Wildlife Management Area, Indiantown, FL

My brother, his wife and my sister came to town, and we celebrated an early birthday dinner for my Mom. Mmmm, Captain Jack’s buried treasure. I miss Ale House! Can Mom have another birthday soon?

Early Birthday dinner for Jennifer’s Mom.

Austin and Kiera invited us to their school parties.

Parties at School

We are relaxing, right? We really need to make sure our new camper is working, so, on December 18th, we headed out to the St. Lucie Locks campground, and though it was close to home, we had a great time. We had a few visitors, a couple of hikes, a couple of bicycle rides, and a great time just watching the boats go through the locks. Russ had the whole place lit up with a ton of Christmas lights, too. This was a great campground, difficult to get a reservation, because there are only ten or so sites. We will come again.

St. Lucie Locks, Stuart, FL

St. Lucie Locks

St. Lucie Locks

Before we knew it, it was time for Christmas festivities to begin. Kiera and Chloe, twirled their way through the Stuart Christmas Parade.

Our little Twirlers marched in the Stuart Christmas Parade

Christmas in our world is always spread out over a week or two. First up, another visit from Josiah! I think he just came to see Nyah and Pepe, lol!

Josiah and Nyah. Nyah loved her lion mane, and proudly pranced around.

Christmas Eve and Christmas day with the family.

Christmas Eve, Christmas day, family fun

When Missy comes to visit, that means presents from Miss Nancy for everyone!

Opening our Christmas presents

Russ’ high school buddy, Dan and Pam, came to hang out after Christmas with us.


Dan and Pam, lights at the Mansion on Hutchinson

And just in case you think we couldn’t possibly squeeze any more into the schedule, all my cousins came to Jacksonville, and I had not seen them in many years. So I ran up to visit my Aunt and Uncle, and all the cousins! I was home by New Years Eve!

Hanging out with my cousins!

And that was a wrap on 2016! Do you think we squeezed enough in? It was a great year, and we would do it all again. This adventure is absolutely awesome!

Welcome 2017. What can we find to do this year? Let’s start with a camping trip to Gainseville and Chiefland, Florida. We spent January 4-8 at Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, just South of Gainesville. It was a great campground, filled with beautiful oak hammocks, and a short walk to Lake Walburg. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t cooperate with us. A cold-front moved in, we had rain and a too cold for South-Florida people kinda days. But, we didn’t have a wet tent to deal with!!!

Paynes Prairie Preserve, Gainseville, FL

We moved on January 8th to Manatee Springs State Park. The weather cleared up and we had a fabulous time hiking, kayaking, and eating some really great BBQ at Anderson’s Outfitters located right in the park on the spring.

Russ trying out his Christmas gift from Josiah and Sami. Hiking trails abound. Manatee Springs State Park.

Kayaking at Manatee Springs State Park

Lunch at Anderson’s Outfitters, Manatee Springs State Park

Campground hosts, Manatee Springs State Park

Around Chiefland, Manatee Springs State Park

Love camping in the winter and a great campfire, Manatee Springs State Park

We had a great dinner with Ashton and Nina, on s/v Soul Mate, while they were held up waiting for a weather window to head out for the Bahamas. Have I mentioned how much fun we have been having with all these boating people we have made friends with. Wish we could have gone to the Bahamas with you!

Ashton and Nina, just one pic with the peacock!

And our sad day, the one we were dreading, where Nyah walked over the rainbow bridge to the special place that our fur-babies go. She was the best pup ever and our hearts are broken! Miss you girl, you are the best!

Miss Nyah 1-31-12 to 1-23-1017

Miss Nyah 1-31-12 to 1-23-1017

Miss Nyah 1-31-12 to 1-23-1017

Miss Nyah 1-31-12 to 1-23-1017

Miss Nyah 1-31-12 to 1-23-1017

We tried to stay home…but… So we spent a few days at our place in the Ocala National forest. More hiking and fires and a few more tears!

Hiking a section of the Florida Trail in the Ocala National Forest

Fire! Ocala National Forest

Birding, Ocala National Forest

Our place in the Forest, is just a nice ride to St. Augustine…and no trip to St. Augustine would be complete without O’Steen’s and visiting friends who happen to be in town.


We found Mike and Lori working. What’s wrong with these people! It was great to make them stop and have a drink and catch up since we last saw them back at Boot Key Harbor.

Mike an Lori, from Cheshire

And just when we think we can take a break…the bottom needs a little attention. We headed out to the inlet with Ike and John, to give the boats a little TLC.

Hey look! We still have a boat.

Now that the sailboat bottom is all cleaned up, we decided to…wait for it…take a camping trip to the Keys! Fun, fun, fun hanging out and catching up with everyone, and the weather was perfect!

Was this site, one, two or three? Camping in the Keys, Long Key State Park

We had to move two times during our stay to make it work, but it was worth it!

Kayaking in Boot Key Harbor with Cyndi and Molly, from Island Finz

Scrapple for breakfast at the Wooden Spoon. Oh, yea…he don’t like scrapple, he got pancakes!

Crane Point and Russ’ birthday with Steve and Cyndi…and Molly too.

Burdidne’s for dinner and Music of Cory and Ty. Roland and Lita, Tommy and Alecia and gang, and Steve and Cyndi.

Pepe misses being on the boat!

We slowed down for March. We have another adventure for April and May, so we need to pack and get it all together. But not until we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with a weekend trip to the Ocala National Forest, with my sister and her girl, Roxie!

Birthday Weekend for my Dad

Around the house while we were packing, our bird of paradise bloomed and Missy came to visit for a few days.

Bird of paradise, Missy and Pepe Le Pew

We did a looong day up to Daytona Bike Week…I think there’s a reason they call it a bike week and not a bike day! It’s a lot to squeeze into one day, but we did it! It was much easier with the Krispy Creme donuts on the ride home, Thanks Jennifer for the great snack idea!!!

2017 Daytona Bike Week, with Rick and Jennifer

A Couple of family birthday dinners, and we are ready to gas up the truck and head out of here.

Early birthday dinners with the family

Hey, thanks for hanging in there for my catch-up blog. You know we love you and are glad you can follow along with our crazy adventures! Stay tuned…more to come!

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Calaveras Big Trees State Park 2016_10_07


We are blessed to re-visit the awesome Calaveras Big Tree State Park, in California. We spent a couple of days here, many years ago, on our way to Yosemite National Park. This time, it was even more relaxing, and with the motorcycle, we were able to explore CA 4, which was an exciting ride.

We ran, full speed, from the cold in Carson City, Nevada, and didn’t look back! I hope we can go back again someday, but with a warmer rig or warmer weather! We were advised not to take Ebbetts Pass (CA 4) to Calaveras with our van and trailer rig, so we set the GPS for Placerville, CA and headed in from there.

This proved to be a nice drive, a semi-freeway, mingled with two and four lane roads.

We went through Lake Tahoe, never spotting a welcome to California sign!

Welcome to California!

Lake Tahoe, CA

Interesting bridges along the route

We arrived at Calaveras and set up camp. TWICE! Between picking a site and then paying, we did not realizing the first site was reserved…oh well, we ended up with a great site all the same.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Arnold, CA

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA. Still jacket and hat weather, but no signs of snow!

Motorcycle Ride! We finally were able to get back on the bike, and took  a ride back towards Lake Tahoe, on the the road we didn’t want to tow the trailer on. It was perfect temps for a ride and this is absolutely a bucket list place for riding. The road does go down to almost one lane, for a good portion, and I have never been on a 24% grade road before! No smoking brakes for us!

CA 4 – Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway – Alpine State Highway (depending on which map you choose to look at)

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, California

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, California

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, California

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, California

We took a short lunch break and checked out this National Forest Campground.

Silver Creek Campground, on Noble Creek. Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, California

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway passes through Stanislaus National Forest and Humbolt Toiyabe National Forest

Yes, that white stuff is snow, but I didn’t see any mosquitoes!

Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway, California

We spent Saturday evening around the campfire of B.J. and Karen, from Santa Barbara, CA. They just returned from a trip to Alaska, and shared their experiences and tips with us. Another item to add to the bucket list! Other Saturday sights were this blue jay and the meadow near the camp sites.

Blue Jay, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Meadow, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Sunday, we walked the North Grove, which is an easy paved 1.7 mile loop, close to the Park entrance. Then we rode the motorcycle across the Park, which is about ten mile (one way,) and a fantastic ride to the end of the park. The great views and quiet road, led us to the South Grove trail.  This is a five mile loop hike to the Agassiz Tree, the largest Sequoia in the park, through a few other rather tall trees. As we came out at the end, there was a small gathering of people, watching us come up from the trail. It seems the rustling in the bushes was a bear! Unfortunately, we didn’t get a pic, but, we didn’t have an up-close encounter at the creek, either!

North Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, California

North Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

North Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

North Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

North Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

North Grove, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail. The five mile hike, which we did in the late afternoon, was not overly difficult.

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Agassiz Tree. South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Does this tree make me look short? Agassiz Tree, South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Agassiz Tree. South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Agazzi Tree. South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

A nice sunset view of the creek.

Big Tree Creek, South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

We had a great visit at Calaveras, you need to rest up PopPop…we are off to visit the grands tomorrow!

Resting before next week with the grands! South Grove Trail, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Custer State Park and Black Hills, South Dakota 2016_09_22


Needles Eye Tunnel

Our adventure is always a work in progress. We have made it home, but I have a bit of catching up to do on our blog, because when you are very busy having fun…it’s difficult to keep up!

Hopefully over the next couple of weeks, I’ll have regular entries of all the exciting places and adventures we had on our Short, Short Trailer Trip. Stay tuned…we will made some unexpected turns along the way!


Custer State Park, Wildlife Loop Road

We left Badlands National Park and did a little provisioning in Rapid City on our way to Custer State Park, Custer, South Dakota.

I know I say this too often, but we loved this park and the surrounding area. We spent four days exploring and didn’t even make a dent in it. We have elevated this place to a high return priority for both of us.

Without reservations, we arrived on a Friday night. Which meant we had to move camp sites in order to stay several days. The park made no site assignments. You are required to use their on-line reservation system or call center, even on the day of arrival. Most places we have been, close their online reservation within a day or two of the current day.  It was a small hurdle to jump over in exchange for an excellent and beautiful facility.

The wildlife at and around the campsite included turkeys (too early for Thanksgiving,) deer, rabbits, and beautiful birds.


Stockade North (top left) Stockade South (bottom right)

We spent one night at the Stockade North campground on site #15. We relocated early Saturday morning to Stockade South campground site #16 for the remainder of our stay. It was a rainy night and morning, but fortunately it cleared and we were able to get on the motorcycle and go exploring.

The Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway is 70 miles of beautiful, mountainous, curvy, switchback, tunnel filled roads, through Custer State park, the Black Hills and to Mt. Rushmore. We only managed two sections of this byway, but these roads were made for motorcycling.


On our First day we rode the Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Road and Needles Highway. The Wildlife Loop is 18 miles through the East side of the park. We saw donkeys, goats, prairie dogs, and a couple of prong horn sheep. We had our fill of bison back at Badlands, so we didn’t feel too bad about missing them here. The rangers had already held the round-up and moved them to an area for vaccinating, and sorting in preparation of the coming quota hunt.

Needles Highway, was 14 miles of awesome, turns, tunnels and views.


Custer State Park Wildlife Loop Road


Custer State Park Wildlife Loop road


Custer State Park Wildlife Loop, Long horn sheep and horses

From the Wildlife Loop Road, we headed onto Needles Highway, with the most amazing tunnels!


Needles Highway


Iron Creek Tunnel


Iron Creek Tunnel


Needles Eye Tunnel


I want to do that tunnel again!!!


Needles Eye Tunnel, round two

We circled back through the small town of Custer and made it home before the rain moved in on us again.

Sunday we chose the Iron Mountain Road, which also had amazing tunnels, to take us to Mt. Rushmore, Hill City and Crazy Horse Monument.


CC Gideon Tunnel


CC Gideon Tunnel, spectacular view of Mt. Rushmore as you exit.

From Iron Mountain Road, we headed to Mt. Rushmore. It was a crazy busy day in the park on Sunday, so we opted for a few pics and to head on, and see what else we could find. We know we will be back to do the tour.


Views of Mt. Rushmore from Iron Mountain Road


Views of Mt. Rushmore from Peter Norbeck National Scenic Byway

Hill City is what we found next…and it was time for some lunch.


Bumpin Buffalo, Hill City, SD. Bison Burgers were fabulous!



Hill City Harley Davidson didn’t wait for us! Closed for the Season. What’s up with that????

We were just going to drive by Crazy Horse too, but the weather was looking a bit grey and we decided to stroll around and check it out. Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski was asked by Henry Standing Bear to carve a memorial honoring North American Indians. Work began on the mountain in 1947 and is continued today by Ziolkowski’s children. The museum has excellent chronology of the work to date and models of what the final carving will look like. The museum is also filled with Indian art and historical information, which we found interesting. Although this was definitely a worthwhile visit, there seems to be a bit of controversy on the internet, with various opinion on the authenticity of the depiction. There is always two sides to the story.


Crazy Horse, a work in progress


Indian art at Crazy Horse Memorial Museum


Crazy Horse Memorial, a work in progress

We enjoyed our time in Custer, South Dakota and we only had one other necessary stop to make, as long as we were this close…Sturgis!

Absolutely quiet, compared to what August was like, for this very small town. I’m not sure I could even imagine this place packed out with almost 450,000 attendees for 2016! Maybe one day we will get to see it in person, but for now, being able to cruise through town and browse the HD shop and be on our way to Yellowstone…with no traffic jams…was good enough for us.


Sturgis, South Dakota

We snapped a few pics along the way, just in case we need a truck, camper, or ATV…we can remember which ones we liked best!


Thanks for sharing our adventure with us. Next stop is Yellowstone, we hope you can join us.

Short, Short Trailer, Long, Long Trip: Badlands National Park 2016_09_19


We made it to South Dakota!!! Where we purchased our National Park Annual Pass, as we entered Badlands National Park. This is where we wanted to be, and wow, what a change for this Florida girl. Mountains, valleys, hills, rocks, dried up rivers…I should have paid more attention in Geology 101. All of this is beautiful and as unlike Florida as you can get (if you don’t count snow!)


And it is soooooo BIG.

My camera will not do justice to the bigness of this place.





We set up camp for our first two nights down at the Sage Creek Campground. We had been advised that riding the motorcycle from this campground would not be an issue. Then we turned onto this!


We weren’t sure the van and trailer would make it to the campground on this washboard road, and we were more than sure taking the bike out of here was not an options. We decided to stay at least one or two nights and then move to another campground inside the park, when we were finished hiking and were ready to ride the bike. We loosely set up camp, because there are no designated campsites in Sage Creek Campground, just find a spot and set up. The pic on the left is our second campground, the right is Sage Creek.


Sage Creek Campground on right. Cedar Creek Campground (left)

Russ and Nyah climbed to the top to watch the sunset.


Bright and early in the morning, the locals came out. Nyah wanted to play with the buffalo, but we wouldn’t let her.


Buffalo over by the out-house…I want to play with one!

Goofing around and resting up, from our long drive north.img_3800


Be careful how high you stack your cairn, or it might not last!


Puppy love

We needed ice, so we took a ride on the “back road” to Wall. Wall is quite a small town, way out in the middle of nowhere.  I can’t actually remember exactly where I saw my first Wall Drug sign, because I didn’t pay any attention to it, or the one after that or after that! But eventually it clicked, and I realized that an advertising blitz was on. I had to bust out google to figure it out. In 1931 Ted and Dorothy Hustead needed more business for their small town drug store. They came up with the idea of reaching out to the travelers on the local roads who were out visiting the Badlands and other natural wonders. Tourist who were hot and thirsty. They made road signs to attract them into town by offering free ice-water. And it worked, then and now! Read their story here.


Being silly at Wall Drugs, Wall, SD

While down in the valley, we hiked around Sage Creek. Which actually had some water in it. Very muddy water.


Sage Creek, Badlands N.P.


We hiked around the rim of Sage Creek.



The landscape was beautiful and my hiking buddies made for a few good shots too.



A few flowers remained into the fall.


Tree balance.


Sprinkles of fall.

Badlands was full of Buffalo. Not only did they invade the campground in the morning, we found this one on our hike. Yikes, did that big boy just stand up when we came over the berm? Yes! Oh, please stay over there…we will pass quickly. They are much larger when you are not in a car.




Stay, nice buffalo, stay…

I wonder what the entrance fee is? Do they do annual passes or pay daily?


We also saw big horn sheep.


These prairy dogs where fun to watch. I’m pretty sure their numbers were right up there with the buffalo.


After two days down by Sage Creek we moved up to Cedar Creek Campground. Sage Creek was free camping, with no facilities, only pit toilets. Cedar Creek Campground had water and pay showers along with “real” flushing toilets, but no electricity. The main reason we wanted this campground was the paved roads, so we could get the motorcycle out, and go riding through the park. The weather was perfect for riding.





We are well underway into our Short, Short Trailer adventure. I’m trying to get all the pics and adventures posted, but I am so busy having fun, I can’t keep up! Thanks for following along with us, there’s more to come. Up next Sturges and points on our way out of South Dakota.