Sunday, September 30, 2007

3:19 pm Sunday, September 30, 2007

Apparently my blog has become a weekly series. I always hope to put fingers to keyboard (formerly known as putting pen to paper) more often and enjoy other blogs written daily, but for me (at least for now), that dedication seems beyond my capabilities.

From September 10 through 14, 2007 we chose this stop in Rapid City, SD because of the wonderful attractions located nearby and the fact that my maternal great grandmother who passed away 75 years ago spent three years of her life (1890-1893) not far away in Lead (City), under very stressful conditions. This history imparts strong family ties for me and whenever I am in the area I cannot help but feel closer to her. I will post a few pictures of modern day Lead and Deadwood.

Our visit to Crazy Horse Mountain was as wonderful this time as the last. Here are a some new shots to show you what it looks like today.

Crazy Horse Memorial, the world's largest sculpture, now in progress, is located in the Black Hills of South Dakota on US Highway 16/385 just 17 miles southwest of Mount Rushmore. The work was begun in 1948 by sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski at the request of Native Americans. Korczak died in 1982. His wife Ruth and their family continue the project working with the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation

Phil checks out the beautifully embellished teepee inside the museum.

Inside the Crazy Horse museum. The exhibits continue to be superb although not much has changed since we visited in 2005. However, this fantasy buffalo was a new edition.

"My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too." These are the words Chief Henry Standing Bear wrote to sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski in 1939 urging him to visit the Black Hills and carve a mountain sculpture honoring American Indians. Fifty-five years after Ziolkowski began carving Crazy Horse Memorial, his family continues the dream and work progresses on the world's largest mountain sculpture. When finished, Crazy Horse will stand 641 feet long and 563 feet high

This statement will be engraved on the finished sculpture.

Photo-op on the viewing deck in the doorway of a replica of America's first traveling homes. Penny the Pace has a bit more room inside ... but not much!

Entrance to Lead (pronounced as leed). Founded in 1876 as a company town by the Homestake Gold Mining Company. The Homestake was the largest, deepest (8240 feet) and most productive gold mine in the Western Hemisphere. It closed in 2001 and has been selected as the site of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory, a proposed NSF facility for low-background experiments on neutrinos, dark matter, and other nuclear physics topics, as well as biology and mine engineering studies.

This plaque is the only information available.

West Lead Cemetery, obviously abandoned and left to ruin. It is a shameful thing to neglect the final resting place of so many citizens of this town.

One of the nicer homes on a very steep, dead-end street in Lead.

My maternal great grandmother, Mary Matilda Cox Criswell (aka "Mimmy") on her wedding day, June 26, 1873 in Eureka, KS.

Her husband, Alexander M. Criswell died from pneumonia in Lead (City), SD December 3, 1890.

He was 42 years old and they had been married 17 years. They were wintering over in Lead on their way west to Idaho from Nebraska.

Mimmy baked bread and took in laundry to support herself and her children until she married her second husband, Irwin G. Alger a year later in November 1891.

Entering the city of Deadwood, founded in 1876 after the discovery of gold. The influx of civilians with "gold fever" into the Black Hills which were/are sacred to the Native Americans set in motion the events leading up to the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Historic Main street in Deadwood, SD. The town was named for the dead trees found in the narrow canyon (Deadwood Gulch) nearby.

Lawrence County Courthouse, Deadwood, SD.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

10:50 am Sunday, September 23, 2007

Aaaaah, another week has slipped by me and now, today is our final day in Denver, CO. My last posting brought you to our stopover in Sundance, WY—a quickie to visit a buffalo jump and Devil’s Tower—both worth seeing. So far, the weather we have experienced has been iffy; some really hot days but a lot more windy, overcast and cool ones. We are “Happy Campers” as long as it doesn’t blow too hard (as it did last Monday when we decided to sit tight in Scottsbluff, NE and wait it out for one more day which was a good decision).

When we left Sundance, we traveled east on another short hop (97 miles) to Rapid City, SD. We stayed in a very nice (although a bit off the beaten path) Coast to Coast park named Hart Ranch. Our little Lone Ranger was indispensable because even running to town for a bite to eat was a 20-mile round trip and the little fellow gets pretty good gas mileage. With our reasonable C to C rates ($10/night inc. cable TV) and Penny the Pace’s gas guzzling behind (bless her little pea-pickin’ heart) parked for a week it was actually a nice break for the budget.

You might remember we spent one week in Rapid City back in June of 2005 while traveling with our friends, Gloria and Les and Ardella and Don. When we realized how close we were while at Buffalo, we decided to go back and spend some time in the vicinity again. Back in 1990, Phil and I were in the area while on our “genealogy jaunt” to Iowa so this was our third visit and it did not disappoint. South Dakota has a treasure in this part of the state and there is no doubt it was just as awe-inspiring as I remembered from former trips.

Please excuse the blue hue to some of these photos. Somehow, we bumped a setting that we did not catch until we viewed the pictures taken when we arrived home. Obviously, the learning curve on our new camera continues to taunt the operators.

America's "Shrine of Democracy."
"A monument's dimensions should be determined by the importance to civilization of the events commemorated. We are not here trying to carve an epic, portray a moonlight scene, or write a sonnet; neither are we dealing with mystery or tragedy, but rather the constructive and dramatic moments or crises in our amazing history." Gutzon Borglum

Did You Know? Mount Rushmore is named after a New York City Attorney? Charles E. Rushmore was sent out to this area in 1884 to check legal titles on properties. On his way back to Pine Camp he asked Bill Challis the name of this mountain. Bill replied, "Never had a name but from now on we'll call it Rushmore."

Here we are again! I feel so grateful to be able to revisit this wonderful tribute to our nation.

Welcome back Joy and Phil!

Phil caught a quick picture of this splendid example of a White Tail buck. Look at his rack!

One lone bull beside the road munching away. They are oblivious to traffic and/or gawking tourists. Such magnificent animals. We are so happy they have been saved from extinction.

The yearly round-up of buffalo (aka bison) is not due to start until October so we are not quite sure what this bunch of cowboys/girls along with a park ranger were doing except moving the herd away from the road. Bummer!

The buffalo herd moving away from the road.

Head 'em up and move 'em out!

Most of the cowboys appeared to be civilians ... volunteers maybe? What fun!

Traffic slow down while the resident donkeys beg for treats.

Isn't this the sweetest face?

Prairie Dogs and Pronghorn antelope. Both common sights in the park.

Monday, September 17, 2007

12:50 pm Monday, September 17, 2007

Our next stop after we left Buffalo was Sundance, WY for two nights. It was a short travel day but we wanted to do some sightseeing on the way to Rapid City, SD. The buffalo jump was very interesting. I had anticipated a high cliff with a huge bowl at the bottom so it was a surprise when we drove up to this very small area.

Pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys and white tail deer were so plentiful on our travels that Phil nearly drove off the road many times as the sightings were around every corner. But we really got excited when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye across a large expanse of prairie. We turned around and drove back and using the binoculars, we found it was a large red fox jumping from prairie dog, rabbit or ground squirrel hole to hole (we have no idea which one) looking for his dinner. We watched him for 15 minutes and he was still working hard without success.

The next day the weather was not cooperating when we drove to Devil’s Tower but when we arrived the clouds lifted and cleared enough to get a pretty good picture. This monolith is a formidable piece of rock but the wind, rain and cold made closer examination too uncomfortable so we drove away with the lament, “I guess we will just have to come back!”

This white tailed doe and her adorable, spotted twin fawns were very curious about us. They are a common sight both in and out of towns in Wyoming and Montana.

This is one of the ridges known as a buffalo jump. Once they had horses, the Native American's would stampede a portion of the huge buffalo herds crossing the prairie over the edge of this hole where they would fall to their death. Other warriors would surround the bottom and move in to kill the animals that did not die from the fall. Almost every bit of the buffalo was used by the indians but the 20 layers of bones found to date indicate this site was used for many years. The "dig" is locked up with a heavy metal door after Labor Day so we didn't get to see the actually excavation site.

Okay ....

Ingenious donation receptacle.

Information sign at Devils Tower.

In 1906, President Teddy Roosevelt designated Devil's Tower as the nation's first national monument. It is actually the core of a volcano exposed after millions of years of erosion. It is one and a quarter miles around at the base and 865 feet high and the location of the award-winning, 1978 movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."

Mr. Red Fox working hard for his dinner!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

11:53 am Sunday, September 16, 2007

Well, I have been lax about posting again … and I apologize to my faithful readers. The older I get, the more time it takes me to do EVERYTHING and we have been filling our days with sightseeing and family business since leaving White Sulphur Springs in Montana. I will begin to catch you up with photos following this blog entry. I know I sound like a broken record but I will try to do better in the future!

Recently we spent nearly a week in Wyoming. We had been there before back in 1990 when Phil and I went speeding through heading home after a 16 day “genealogy jaunt” that took us back to Missouri. At that time, I did not know I had family in the state.

Most everyone knows that Buffalo, Wyoming is on the way to Yellowstone National Park. Our reasons for stopping were more personal since I have a COX cousin who lives there with her four children. I first met Althea over the telephone when she contacted me after finding my post on a genealogical bulletin board regarding our common progenitor's name, believing we were related. Both of us had been working on our common family history and “finding” each other was an exciting experience (genealogists will understand)! The COX Family Reunion in 1997 at South Lake Tahoe was our first ‘in person” meeting. Since Phil retired in 2004 I have been working on visiting Althea in Wyoming. That time finally came and it was wonderful to see her again and meet some of her family.

Penny the Pace crosses into Wyoming, her 42nd state in three years.

Penny meets the resident wild turkeys up front and personal at our campsite in Buffalo.

In 1999, the estimate of wild turkeys in South Dakota was 40,000. Another 10,000 was estimated in Wyoming. Phil and I are convinced we saw each and every one on our travels from Garryowen, MT to Buffalo and Sundance, WY.

Just a few of the hundreds of wild turkeys we saw everyday in our RV park and around the countryside. They were wary but bold and enjoyed the stale bread that Phil fed them each morning.

Our resident bunny at the campsite where we parked. What a little cutie!

Plaques on the front of the hotel.

The century old historic Occidental Hotel. The story goes that the present owner pulled down all the modernization attempts and discovered the unique walls coverings and ceilings intact. Then, the victorian style furniture was found in the basement where it had been stored for decades. A virtual time machine of goodies! Since this last restoration, the hotel has been a popular tourist stop in Buffalo, claiming that Butch Cassidy, Calamity Jane and Teddy Roosevelt were all guest in the early days.

This backbar is gorgeous and completely functional today.

The lobby looking pretty much like it did when the hotel first opened.

When it was new, this tricycle must have cost a pretty penny and brought much happiness to some fortunate youngster. Of course, it is probably worth ten times the original price tag today.

A spectacularly beautiful organ in pristine condition. Wow!

Beautiful example of the tin ceiling tiles.

This beautiful skylight is in the bar.

This is Nick, a young Buffalo resident that should be hired by the Chamber of Commerce as their sidewalk ambassador. He pointed out the trout swimming in the river running through town and gave Phil and I plus another tourist who joined the conversation--directions to his favorite place to eat lunch.

A tongue in cheek mural on the main street of Buffalo.

Excellent museum of Johnson County memorabilia. It includes the original 1500 piece collection of Jim Gatchell, a pharmacist and Buffalo founding father that has since grown to over 15,000 examples of historic significance.

Well worth the small entrance fee.

A log cabin moved to the museum property log by log and reconstructed and renovated for display. My thoughts were where did they put the kids? We know the pioneer families often had 10 or more and they rarely had any more space than this. Maybe there was a loft in the original cabin that the restorers chose not to reproduce or I suppose this could have been the honeymoon home ...

The cozy bedroom end of the cabin.