Sunday, October 4, 2015

Custer, Continued

Our remaining time at Custer’s Gulch went by in a flash.  We enjoyed having Neal and Lana Caterson, our next-door-neighbors from last year, once more camped next to us.  Since we parted last summer, the Catersons and their four pomeranians, Pepper, Polar, Happy and Penny (we call them the pom-poms) have become full-timers.  It was fun getting re-acquainted with them and hearing about their adventures.

When we first arrived in Custer, I was having problems with metatarsus in my left foot.  This limited some of our hiking activities until I was able to get an appointment with a physical therapist here at the local clinic.  She recommended a metatarsal pad and a special orthotic to redistribute my weight.  Since I started treatment, I’m having much less pain, and we are now back to our regular exercise routine.  

Hikes through the forest behind camp, up a couple of logging roads, and back to the opposite side of the park, a distance of about four miles, were a regular activity.  Most days we startled whitetail deer, like this doe and fawn, that went racing away, white flags waving.  

The dogs sometimes wore their packs; sometimes they didn't.  They were usually very good about staying on the trail, even when tempted by deer or critters.  They are allowed to make short forays into the grass on either side of the road, so long as they stay within 10-15 feet if the trail. 

Kota is very good at detecting mice as they run along their trails through the grass.  A few days ago she proudly returned to the trail bearing a small prize.

She carried it back to camp and kept careful watch over it for a couple of hours.  Fortunately, she forgot about it at supper time and I was able to chunk it into the woods.

Then, on Tuesday she made a short detour into the tall grass and emerged with an even more special prize, a rabbit!  Kota was very proud!  Again she carried it back home, and John had to exert a bit of effort to get her to give it up.  We didn’t think a limp bunny would be received well by our neighbors, so we left it in the woods.

One morning, the dogs and I took a hike into the forest and up among the tall granite boulders overlooking the RV park.  The scenery was spectacular, and we had a great time.

There have been other highlights of our stay here.  We saw part of the wagon train that was re-tracing the route of one of the trails that came through this area in the early days.  We only saw the wagons as they pulled out of Custer, but were told that the trail ride takes several days.

Another special event was the annual Studebaker Automobile Show.  With our friends, Rick and Linda, we had a beer and listened to music downtown, as well as admired the beautifully-restored autos with names from the past.

My favorite was this baby-blue 1961 model…can’t believe it was manufactured the year I graduated from high school.  

With friends Lee Ann and Larry, we took in an open mike night at the local Naked Winery.

We met several new friends, and were treated to music by Brad Exton Of Ramblin Ranger.  (Brad’s wife, Bonnie, the other half of Ramblin Ranger, unfortunately was ill and did not perform.)

Another local favorite, Frank Bragg, also played.  He is known as “the best flat-picker in the Back Hills” and we understand why!  The music was great, as well as the wine and the conversation.

As usual, we also saw our share of wildlife.  These bison in Custer State Park, were not only along the road within arm's length of our cars...

They were also in the pastures along the CSP Wildlife Loop.

There were also a few pronghorn antelope beside the road.  This buck was hurrying his ladies along stopping occasionally to mark his territory.

And our special treat was the sight of part of the Wind Cave National Park elk herd spotted along a ridge on our way back to camp from Hot Springs.

I have to mention...the reason we were in Hot Springs was our annual visit to the vet.  We have spent time at Fall River Veterinary Clinic almost every year we have been in Custer.  This year, it was to have the vet check out Rue's broken toenail.  We didn't want it to become infected, so we stopped in for a treatment and some antibiotics.

While on the road we miss Pastor Keith and our other friends at First Lakeview Church in Volente.  In Custer, however, we have another church home, Crossroads Church.  This year, in addition to regular Sunday services, we attended a pot luck lunch after church.  Pastor Duane (with guitar) is shown here with Gary Nelson, one of the parishioners and a talented craftsman who produces engraved rock sculptures.  Music is a big part of the worship service at Crossroads, and one of the reasons we enjoy our time there so much.

When we returned from the Crazy Horse Volksarch on September 27, I rested for a while, then went out to try to capture images of the much-anticipated super harvest blood moon.  No such luck.  The moon rose behind a cloud bank, and by the time it was visible, it was no longer red. 

Half an hour or so later when the eclipse finally began in our area, the clouds had again moved in, obscuring our view.  The wind came up as well, warning of a thunderstorm in the area.  As the wind shook my tripod, the clouds parted just for a moment or two, giving me a fuzzy shot of what we in the Custer area missed.  

And then there was the the Grace Coolidge area of Custer State Park, of course.

John and I made several trips there, with mostly good success.  Here John and Rue prepare to cross the of more than half a dozen such crossings up the canyon.

And here is my BIG FISH, all 21.5 inches of it!  Now that's a big trout! (added by jb)

And then, just  before we left Custer, Lana acted as photographer and took this great shot of John and me and the Bagley Pack.  Thanks, Lana!

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