Monday, September 21, 2015

Back Custer

We have been here in Custer for a little over three weeks, and have enjoyed every minute.  The weather has been good, with only a couple of light showers overnight.  Custer’s Gulch RV Park and Campground will be our home until the end of September.  We have stayed here for the past four years, so it seems like home!  The dogs are happy when we put on their packs and head out on familiar trails.

Custer has an easy familiarity.  On almost every corner are bison, painted in a number of styles by local artists.  We took a walk downtown several days ago.  Kota and Colt stayed at home to nap, but Rue was up for an adventure...until she saw the bison.  

To Rue, they looked a lot like very big cows!  Even when I tried to show her that they were just statues, she still wasn't convinced.  Sheep are one thing, this was something entirely different!

Making us feel even more at home are good friends from last year who are also in Custer.  We arrived just in time to spend a couple of days visiting with Pat and Mike McFall and Mark and Dale Bruss.  By September 1, Pat and Mike were on their way to their winter home in Arizona, and the Brusses were headed to Indiana for some work on their fifth wheel.  We miss them but were glad to have a short visit before they left.

In camp with us have been Rick and Linda Lorenz.  They were our neighbors last year, and this year are work camping here.  Here are the four of us having a beer in Deadwood.  

We just said goodbye to Jay and Anita Hanawalt, also friends from last year, who will spend some time in Montana before moving on to the Timber Valley Escapees RV Park in Sutherlin, Oregon.  They joined us and Rick and Linda for lunch at Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant in Spearfish.

Then the six of us drove down to Lead, SD, to visit the Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center.  The visitor center is perched on the rim of the 1000-foot-deep Open Cut, where the Homestake Gold Mine once operated.

The gold mining operation closed in 2003, and in 2006 the Homestake Company donated the property to South Dakota for use as an underground laboratory.  The space deep underground where gold was previously mined provides the ideal environment for sensitive physics experiments to be performed, shielded from cosmic radiation.  Though underground tours are not available, the visitor center provides information about some of the experiments currently ongoing, including research into the origin of matter, the nature of dark matter and the properties of neutrinos.  We enjoyed our visit, even if we don’t have a clue as to what dark matter and neutrinos are.  We do know they are significant, though, and are very glad that the former Homestake Mine has been repurposed!

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