Tourist Review – Hot Springs SD

Our stay at Angostura gave us the opportunity to spend some time in Hot Springs visiting the local grocery store, the post office, one of the local barbers, the Pioneer Museum, the ACE hardware store, and at least three of the local restaurants more than once each during our stay.

We enjoyed visiting with the locals while we patronized their businesses and sought out opportunities to visit with other “travelers” along the way.

Fall River (also the name of the county) runs right down through downtown from north to south along the main drag. There are very few “new” buildings in town with most having been built in the early 1900’s and many including City Hall, the County Courthouse, the old Evans Hotel, the town school, the old hospital and a host of others were built in the late 1800’s.

These buildings are not only old, but beautiful as well for they are made of the brown-pink colored sandstone mined from one of the local quarries back in the day.

As always, click on any of the thumbnails below to see a larger picture.

Here below are some pictures of the inside of the former Hot Springs School (used until 1963). It is now the home of the Fall River Pioneer History Museum. It’s three stories of classrooms plus a fourth floor attic that they are currently working to rehab into an art studio and gallery for community use. This school is up on the hill overlooking the town and the students had to climb up a couple hundreds steps (I’m guessing) to make it to class.

And today we see Moms and Dads all over the country driving their kids down a hundred foot driveway to sit in temperature controlled comfort while waiting for a school bus to come and pick them up! Remember when our parents would say “Quit complaining, when I was your age we had to walk 5 miles uphill both ways to and from school!” We were led to believe that we had it lucky, but now these kids today got it lucky even more so!

There are a lot more buildings to marvel at in Hot Springs as well as some nice neighborhoods to drive through as well.

With regard to any of the springs in town, we did not take advantage of a visit personally. The Evans Plunge is the largest, oldest, and most popular boasting a 70′ x 200′ indoor hot mineral spring fed pool that is tempered by cool fresh water from the Fall River. Another newer spring and Spa called Moccasin Spring caters to those that desire spa type treatments in addition to their outdoor multi-level soaking pools.

The following paragraph is taken from https://hs-sd.org/history (history of Hot Springs web site)

The biggest development in baths was the Plunge, built by Fred Evans in 1891. The building was constructed of wood, iron, and glass, and covered a pool approximately seventy by two hundred feet. Various slides, diving boards, rafts, and other accessories were provided for the enjoyment of the guests. Evans Plunge is still operating at the same site. In 1893, our sandstone City Hall (still used today), and an impressive sandstone public school building (now the Fall River County Museum) were built. By the end of 1893 the population of Hot Springs was estimated at 3350, and the city had laid more than five miles of sidewalk and graded more than three miles of streets in the preceding three years.”

And what’s traveling across the country without experiencing the local “Mom’n Pop” diners and cafes? I mean “Ya Gotta Eat” right?

We ate breakfast or lunch at; Morning Sunshine Cafe, Upper Crust Diner, Winners Circle Bar and Casino (at the bowling alley), Taco John’s, and the (new) Chicago Street Cafe that’s inside WillieJax Antiques and Pawn Shop.

We enjoyed our stay at Angostura Recreation Area and our frequent visits into Hot Springs (only about 4 miles away) but it’s time to move on down the road and meet up with our friends David and Susan. We will be traveling tandem for about the next month as we make our way back to Arizona for the winter.

So long for now, thanks for riding along and please feel free to leave a comment down below. If you’re not already getting automatic email notification of our new posts, you can look over in the right margin (sidebar) and enter your email address. Then you’ll get a brief email anytime we post an update.

Be good, take care of each other and if you’re on the road … safe travels to you. See you next time.

Herb and Kathy

Campground Review – Angostura Lake Recreation Area SD

We knew that after Spearfish SD, we wanted to work our way down by Custer State Park. This was so we could meet up with our friends David and Sue once they finished their volunteer gig there on October 1st.

Our plan was to hook up with them and we’d mini-caravan together on our trip back to Rover’s Roost by November 1st. David and Sue are leaseholders there as well.

We had considered staying in Custer State Park, but we were reminded that during the time we would be there, the annual Buffalo Roundup would be taking place and the park would be mobbed with about 25,000 EXTRA visitors, all coming to see the excitement of the roundup.

If you’d like to see and learn more about the Buffalo Roundup, follow this link.

We really wanted to avoid the crowds and the noise of a busy state park, so we looked for another opportunity south of there since that’s the direction we’d all ultimately be heading.

I use a number of apps and web sites when looking for a place to camp. We have found that there are some nice city or county parks in little towns off the main interstates. We also like state parks and Army Corp of Engineers campgrounds as they are less “commercial” like RV parks and more like campgrounds were meant to be.

This time, I used allstays.com to search an area south of Rapid City somewhere between Rapid and the Nebraska state line. I found Angostura Lake (resevoir) Recreation Area.

We’re now completing 2 weeks here at the park and we’ll be here a couple more days, leaving for Nebraska on Friday.

The park has four campgrounds within it’s boundaries and we just lucked out that we were able to get one of the Camp Host sites with full hookups because it’s the end of the busy season and the hosts have left for the year. All of the other sites have electric only so you have to go to the dump station to empty your waste tanks and take on fresh water.

We’re in the Cheyenne Campground at the top of the hill overlooking the lake. I guess if it was mid-summer we might have preferred one of the other campgrounds down by the lake but then we’d be putting up with more crowded conditions too.

The fact that it’s fall and we are up and away from the lake has afforded us the luxury of having an otherwise vacant campground around us most days.

Here are some pictures of the Cheyenne Campground in Angostura Recreation Area

If we’re sitting outside and see someone walking by we’ll always wave and say hello and sometimes they’ll come on over for a short chat. Sometimes we’ll meet other campers as we take our daily walks and we’ll strike up a conversation. Sometimes the folks we meet and talk with are full-timers like us and often-times they are Weekend Warriors or on an extended vacation from their Sticks-N-Bricks home.

New friends Clark and Anita that camped next to us at Angostura for a few days (their great Oliver trailer in the background)

Today, we had something unusual and unexpected happen. It was about 8:30 am or so and Kathy and I were sitting here having our morning coffee and watching the news on TV. A knock on the door. Who would be knocking on our door?

As Kathy went to the door to open it she looked out the window and remarked “I know this lady”.

Kathy opened the door and the lady apologized for knocking so early, but explained that they were leaving the campground and heading to Cody Wyoming but she just HAD to come over and say hello before they left.

Turns out that the folks that pulled in to the site next to us last night were actually from Ohio. Not just Ohio, but the same county where we used to live. Further, she (Janet) used to do Kathy’s mother’s hair when Lois lived in the local nursing home!

Not only that, but Janet and Homer’s daughter (Staci) and her son (Sammy) were traveling with them and I had sold Staci her home in Cardington back when I was a Realtor in Morrow County. What a hoot!

Janet, grandson Sammy, daughter Staci, and Homer all from Cardington Ohio

We had a nice conversation (although short because they were anxious to get on the road) with them and wished them well on their trip over to Yellowstone and eventually down to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

As we’ve said before … this mobile lifestyle has afforded us the opportunity to see so many places and things that we would never see if we still had our Sticks-N-Bricks home. But far more meaningful to us has been all the people we’ve had the opportunity to meet along the way. Some of these folks are “passing through” like Janet and her family so our visits are short. But there are others who we get to spend more time with through our Workamping and volunteering gigs, so more meaningful relationships develop in those situations. We are so thankful to be able to be exposed to these situations and to meet so many wonderful people. Who knows how long this lifestyle will continue for us? But in the meantime, we’ll make the most of it.

Thanks again for riding along – we look forward to connecting with you again in our next post when I’ll share with you a little about the City of Hot Springs South Dakota.

Herb and Kathy

Just a Little Burp With The Car (and the computer)

While we were in Montana we took the opportunity to drive over to the far west end of Fort Peck Reservoir to see if we could spot (and or hear) the male elk bugling. This is the time of year for mating and Ranger Sue told us there was a pretty big herd over that way. The lake is 135 miles long and we were camping at the far east end while the elk herd was spotted at the far west end.

Lake has 1500 miles of shoreline and is over 135 miles from east to west

During our ride, the exhaust system on the car blew out and it was LOUD! I think we scared all the elk into hiding.

I knew there was no place near Fort Peck to get it fixed and that it would be best until we made it down to Rapid City next week. We would be towing it more than driving it over the next few days so we were good with that plan.

I looked online and found Chad and Exhaust Pros in Rapid City. He had loads of good reviews.

We pulled the coach in his drive (towing the car) and Chad came right out, crawled under the car, and assured me it was an easy fix.

He told me to unhook the car, he’d pull it into the hoist, and he’d have us out of there in an hour.

Turns out it was a flexible coupling that connects the manifold to the exhaust pipe that failed and Chad quickly cut out the old one and welded in the new one.

What impressed me about Exhaust Pros is that exhaust work is the ONLY work they do. Unlike the national chains that advertise “Exhaust/Brakes/Alignment” and may or may not have the right part for your vehicle, Chad carries all the commonly needed exhaust parts and BENDS HIS OWN PIPE, he doesn’t have to order a bunch of different pipes for a myriad of car models. Bending his own pipe means that he can effect a repair much more quickly not having to rely on Napa or AutoZone or another supplier to bring him the needed pipe.

(Video) Chad welding in the new coupling

He got the car down off the hoist and started it up. The noise was a LOT BETTER, but still there was a problem. Back down on the ground to take a look, Chad found that both of the mufflers are rusted and have very small pinhole leaks in them. It was up to me whether to just go ahead and drive it or have more work done.

We decided to go ahead and have two new mufflers installed but that would have to be done another day as it would take him more time to get it done and he’d need to get back to serving his customers who have appointments set up.

We reached out to our friends David and Sue who are working at Custer State Park. We were planning on getting together with them anyway to discuss our travel plans back to Rover’s Roost in Arizona. The four of us will travel together once they are done with their Custer gig October 1st.

It turned out that they had Thursday off work so we set a date for them to pick us up at the muffler shop on Thursday and we’d have lunch together and talk about our travel plans while the repair is being completed. I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER! (Thank you David and Sue!)

We got back to the shop in time to pick up the car and Kathy and I made a bee-line for Best Buy where I had to buy a new computer as my 15 year-old Dell laptop finally gave up the ghost.

We got the computer and we back on the road to Hot Springs before 3:30

Next blog post – Hot Springs South Dakota and Angostura Recreation Area (and see who we bumped into there!)

Thanks for riding along and we welcome your comments below. See you next time!

Herb & Kathy

Montana and South to Medora and Beyond

After Spearfish South Dakota and then our trip up to Fort Peck Montana to visit Ranger Scott and Ranger Sue, we came back down U.S. 85 into Medora North Dakota for a night. We had been to Teddy Roosevelt National Park a couple years ago, so we didn’t take the time to drive through the park and all we did was walk to dinner from the campground and then did a little sightseeing as we walked through town on our way back to the campground.

Kathy’s Strawberry Jalepino Margarita
Food prices seem high out here ($14 for a burger?)
Our after dinner walk in downtown Medora ND
More downtown Medora

The next day we continued on down 85 for another nights stay in Spearfish on our way to Hot Springs. Besides, we needed to check in at the Spearfish post office to see if our General Delivery package had arrived yet.

This time instead of staying at a campground, we decided to take advantage of our Harvest Hosts membership once again. We reached out to McGuigan Farm Experience on the HH web site and they accepted our request to stay within just a couple hours.

Our host Nancy greeted us at the drive and welcomed us with a big smile and a little conversation. She showed us where we could park. It was a nice big hard packed grassy field that allowed us to pull straight in with our toad attached and was large enough we could just circle around in the morning to leave without ever having to unhook the toad.

We had the place to ourselves

After we got settled in, Nancy took us on a tour of the farm. Although it’s been in Mike’s family for generations and had been a working dairy farm for the vast majority of that time, they now rely on income from grain production and leasing out some of the land. They have recently started the McGuigan Farm Experience project to offer both school groups and the general public alike the opportunity to visit a real farm with real animals so that folks might learn about what a farmer really does and where that food on the table comes from.

Nancy excused herself and left us to relax the rest of the evening and relaxing it was! It was SO dark and SO quiet! We had a wonderful nights sleep with the windows wide open and enjoyed a gentle breeze rolling over the hayfields that lulled us to sleep.

As we prepared to depart in the morning, I noticed some water on the hardpack under the fresh water tank compartment. Further inspection revealed that now the FRESH water tank fill hose had a small leak. I figured it wasn’t hard to fix, (tighten a hose clamp), but this old body just doesn’t want to twist, turn, and stretch like this project would require.

Thankfully, we were at Spearfish which is just down the road from Belle Fourche which is the home of my new best (RV repairman) friend Jim and Progress RV.

We didn’t even call ahead. We left the farm and drove on up the ten minutes to see Jim in hopes he would drop whatever he was doing and come on over and take care of us. And he did just that!

Next stop … Hot Springs South Dakota. But first – the car goes in the shop for some unexpected repairs. More on that in my next post.

Thanks for riding along. You can leave any comments below.

Herb & Kathy

KC to Spearfish and beyond (Installment 4)

After Kansas City, we worked our way north and spent our first night’s stopover at a great little city park in Elk Point, South Dakota. $15/nite for 50 amp electric and water. There’s a dump station, but we didn’t need it.

The park has multiple ball diamonds, multiple picnic shelters, plenty of scattered picnic tables, and loads of playground equipment.

Read the plaque below and you’ll learn about how this site was actually a stopover for Lewis & Clark.

Historical Marker at Elk Point City Park
Kathy enjoying the playground at Elk Point

After Elk Point, we moved on and arrived at Spearfish South Dakota where we enjoyed meeting up with friends Matt and Sherry, Jim and Brenda, and Paul and Chris (who we spent a couple days with in Mason City Iowa) and they stopped by on their way to Rapid City. The next day David and Susan came on up from Custer State Park where they were volunteering to join us all for the day.

Spearfish, as you might recall is the town where some of us volunteered at DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery a couple years ago. It was good to see the recently re-painted fish car!

It was great to spend the evening around the campfire at Volunteer Village again

While at Spearfish, I noticed a small leak under the coach. It was coming from the “wet bay”, where the waste tanks (and the drain pipe) are located. Further inspection showed that the 3″ pipe coming out of the black tank had a very small leak at one of the fittings. I could see (once I got down on my hands and knees) that this joint had been repaired before by the previous owner.

We were fortunate in that a RV repair shop was just up the road in Belle Fourche (pronounced “Bell Foosh”). I called them, explained our plight that we were full-time RV’ers and were planning to head out tomorrow to Fort Peck Montana for a few days. They had us bring it right on in.

Jim the owner came on out and looked over the situation, assured us he had the necessary fittings and could get us back on the road in a couple hours. He did a great job, I was right by his side and we had some great conversation while he was doing the repair. It ended up he took out all the old, and provided new fittings and a new elbow and we were out of there and back to Spearfish before noon that day.

After about a week, we traveled north back up to Fort Peck Montana and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers campground we had volunteered at in 2019. We wanted to check in on the two rangers we had worked for while we were there.

On the way, we stopped for an overnight stay at Miles City Montana. We were going to stay at the local Elks Lodge, but it was in a noisy downtown district right along a truck route and we were fortunate to stumble across the local county fairgrounds. We had a very quiet and restful evening parked alongside the ag building.

The next morning we found a great little coffee shop downtown where we got our morning boost (and a little something sweet too!)

After our morning boost we visited the Range Riders Museum right across the street from the fairgrounds. I have never been in a museum with such a wide range of collections. It was great to talk to the ladies up front and find out a little about the “Range Riders”. These were ranchers and cowboys who worked their livestock on the open range (no fences).

The museum was founded in the 1930’s and still operates with mostly volunteers. Although I took tons of pictures while visiting, I now find they have a great web site with a lot of great information about the museum. I invite you to take a few minutes and explore the Range Riders Museum to learn about a lost way of life in western America.

If you’d like to see my photos, you can follow this link to my Google Photos album of the museum.

From Miles City we made it the rest of the way up to Fort Peck for a couple days. Check out the picture below that shows the final result of one of the volunteers who made the little camper lending library.

It was good to visit with both Ranger Scott and Ranger Sue again. Since the Interpretive Center is a federal building, masks are required. Scott is in charge of the campground and Sue is responsible for the Interpretive Center. To see more of our time at Fort Peck back in 2019 you can follow this link.

There’s more … but I’ll save that for another time. Thanks for riding along, hope I didn’t bore you too much. I know I can get a little wordy and I’ll work on the next post to cut out some of the details.

Thanks again.

Herb & Kathy (currently at Angostura Recreation Area – Hot Springs SD)

Bless the Simple Things

We took a walk this morning from the campground over to the city park and back around through the hatchery.

Had fun feeding the fish like so many thousands of others have done this summer.

Couldn’t help but catch a short video of this little fairy enjoying life and her time with Mommy & Daddy at the hatchery.

It’s been really great to volunteer here this year and meet all the folks from all over the country (and some other countries too!). They all marvel at what a beautiful facility it is here and the fact that it’s a FREE attraction makes it that much better!

Some families .. local and otherwise come back time and time again .. especially if they’re lucky enough to have little ones. Both the kids and the adults get such a kick out of feeding the fish and the ducks.

Next time you find yourself in the Dakotas, make your way to the northern Black Hills and be sure to visit the cities of Deadwood and Lead. Then head north on Route 14a through beautiful Spearfish Canyon stopping along the way at Cheyenne Crossing, Roughlock Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Devils Bathtub, and then end your day trip at the wonderful little town of Spearfish. Here you can enjoy a picnic lunch at Spearfish City Park and then walk over the footbridge to visit DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. Although we will be off to some other destination yet unknown, we’ll be here with you in spirit. Have fun!

Our traveling friends Mike and Dawn regularly post You Tube videos and Dawn writes some of the most beautiful and thought provoking blog posts. I wanted to share with you one of her “Sunday Snapshots” posts that made me think back to my earlier days with my Dad.

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Bike Week at Sturgis

Well, here we are at Spearfish South Dakota nestled in the cradle of the northern Black Hills. The DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives actually sits in Ames Canyon at the south end of town right next to the beautiful Spearfish City Park and across the street from City Campground.

We’re continuing to enjoy our stay here and as the end of our time here nears, I thought I had better share with you some of our experiences here.

As I’ve said before, the friends we’ve made here and the relationships we’ve developed will stay with us as we continue our travels and we look forward to meeting up with these great folks again “on down the road”.

As non-bikers (motorcyclists) we weren’t really all that excited about visiting Sturgis during Bike Week. It’s only about 20 miles down the road, but the thought of fighting all the traffic (both road and foot) didn’t really get us enthused.

But … since we work at the hatchery 3 days on and 3 days off, what’s a person to do during the 3 off days? Matt and Sherry had been there last year, convinced us to go along with them, and after all … no grass to cut, no house to maintain, … so what the heck … go have some fun!

Estimated attendance was about 500,000 people over the 10 day time span of the rally with an economic impact to the area of over $800,000,000! (yea, that’s $800 MILLION!)

The pictures below show just SOME of the sights (and bikes) we saw along the way on Wednesday (mid-week) of the rally. There are other sights that we saw that would not be appropriate to share here on a public forum.

As always, if you click on any of the thumbnails below, you’ll be able to see a larger view of the image

Here’s a video of our campground during the rally. Although it was at full capacity with over 80 full hook-up sites and host to hundreds of tent campers scattered throughout the grounds, it was really a pretty calm environment for us – even during Bike Week. We’d hear the rumble of all the powerful bikes coming and going during the days, but at night it quieted back down.

Spearfish City Campground during Sturgis (79th annual) Bike Week

The park quieted right back down after Bike Week was over and we had the park nearly to ourselves again.

All in all, it was a great experience to be able to go to Sturgis during the rally and see all the beautiful bikes, eat some great food, and watch all the “different” people walking the curbs and sidewalks.

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

Is It The Places or The People ?

We are closing in on finishing up our 3rd year of living the full-time RV lifestyle.

The road has been a good one to us. Not that it’s been all fun, frolic, and laughs but it has brought us closer together – not only physically but emotionally as well.

Kathy and I just celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary with an Amtrak trip to Glacier National Park. During our lifetime together, a lot of that time was “alone” time. In one of my early career positions I was gone “on the road” nearly every weekday, sleeping in motels Sunday through Thursday nights somewhere in my multi-state territory.

Even when I was at home, my time was consumed with working on the “work” business from home involved in conference calls and drafting of sales proposal letters along with being active in the only real hobby I ever had … local ham radio clubs and events.

Me in my ham radio “shack” in the early ’80’s

Kathy had a handful of different jobs over the years (most importantly raising the kids and keeping the house together) with most of the time working in the school system so she could be off work and at home when the kids were at home. We were fortunate because with her job schedule we didn’t need to hire child care.

But now our lives are a polar opposite of that earlier time. We are together ALL THE TIME. We travel side by side, we share meals, we do the mundane tasks of grocery shopping, house cleaning and laundry together, and we sleep next to each other. I think we have both come to appreciate each other far more than earlier in our marriage. We’ve always had a lot of mutual love and respect for each other – rarely raising our voices to the other. But before … we had other things to occupy our time. If we felt the urge for some “space”, we could easily separate ourselves from the other. Now on the other hand – it’s not so easy. After all, we live in a 300 sf box with a little bit of green space around us.

Our three years together in our “Green Machine” Airstream motorhome has given us the luxury at this stage in our lives of … in a way … becoming one.

45 years and still “Livin’ & Lovin'”

When we started this lifestyle three years ago, we realized that in order to travel from place to place and enjoy the local life, we needed to have some assistance with the household budget. We sold our house, paid off what little remaining debt we had and decided we would live off our social security income and a small pension Kathy had from working at the school system. We decided we would keep the retirement nest egg (IRA’s, investments) alone for future use when (if) we get off the road. Oh sure, it’ll happen sometime. We will either run out of good health or run out of our love for the road, but by leaving our investments alone so they can continue to grow, at least we won’t HAVE to come off the road because we’ve run out of money.

Although I had no employer monthly pension income (I was self employed the last 20 years) we had purchased an annuity years ago that could now provide a supplement to our Social Security along with Kathy’s small pension.

Yes we could “make it” on those income sources alone, it was going to be tight. We’d have to always be scrutinizing the budget each month and we’d have little room if any for any emergency expense or extravagance.

Somewhere, somehow … we discovered Workamping/Hosting/Volunteering and the opportunities it can provide. These experiences have given us the opportunity to travel and have rent-free sites and utilities. In addition, these opportunities have given us something else that we never really expected … new and lasting friendships.

Workamping/Camp Hosting/Volunteering opportunities are generally long-term commitments. What I mean by that is that most often (but not always) your “employer” would like to have their “staff” on board for the season or even year-round.

Starting out, our first gig was 6 months long – the winter season in Arizona.

Kathy at the registration desk at Rancho Verde RV Park in Camp Verde, AZ

Although our owner/managers (George & Sigrid) were wonderful to us, treated us so well – like family … we ultimately decided when making arrangements for future opportunities we would look for more “short term” commitments. We’ve since been working one-month to 3-month gigs.

This way we can continue to travel around the country and have more new experiences and make more new and lasting friendships. If we worked for 6 months in each location, we’d be 130 years old and still not have completed our Bucket List!

Here’s a U.S. map showing where we’ve AT LEAST stayed overnight in the last three years. You can see we’ve still got a long way to go … we need to spend more time along both the east and west coasts.

Oh yeah, earlier I mentioned this part about friendships but then I got off track – excuse me. We have discovered that working (volunteering) as we travel allows us to meet, get to know, and build lasting relationships with lots of wonderful people from all over the country.

Right now as an example, we are acting as tour guides at DC Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish, South Dakota (Black Hills and Badlands area)

There are 10 couples here, all living in our rigs side-by-side in Volunteer Village at the Spearfish City Campground right across the street from the hatchery.

We work side-by-side, share most nights of the week around the campfire cooking smores and enjoying each other’s stories and even have monthly pot luck meals along with weekly free music festivals in the city park just a few hundred feet away.

One of our pot luck meals at Volunteer Village
Brooksie entertaining us with one of her stories while Matt prepares his Smore
Enjoying one of the weekly free “Canyon Accoustics” concerts
Sometimes it’s a smaller group out to share a meal together

When we have to say goodbye and hit the road again, we stay in touch with our new friends as we travel using both Facebook (groups) and a Facebook-like app made just for RV’ers called RVillage.com. Both of these are great resources to keep up with our buddies and see what their next adventure is and maybe where we might apply to work/volunteer in the future.

We’ve already had at least a dozen experiences over the last three years where we have volunteered with folks in say, Livingston Texas and met up with them again in Burlington Vermont or Ludington Michigan (or somewhere like that). Sometimes it’s planned, but more often it’s serendipitous!

But what about our family and “old” friends? Do we miss our kids and grandchildren? You bet! It would be great if we could do what we are doing AND fly back home to Ohio at least once or twice a year to spend time with the family. But, fact is we just can’t afford to that. Life is often about sacrifices (and opportunities!)

It really depends on where we are working and how long the commitment is and where the next commitment will be. We don’t plan our work locations based on traveling back home once or twice each year. We plan our work locations on where we have NOT been, what we might like to see, and how appealing the location and job description/compensation package is.

We were last in Ohio April of 2018 for a month and we will be back there summer of 2020 so we’ll have plenty of time to catch up. The photos below of the kids, grand-kids, in-laws and old neighbors might be a couple or a few years old, but they’re some of our favorites.

And of course, we post LOTS of info and pictures on Facebook, videos on You Tube and posts here on the blog for family and friends to see what we’re up to.

So yes, it’s great to travel the country and see all the great exciting new places, but we’ve found that the wonderful personal relationships we’ve developed with all our new friends as we travel and volunteer are the larger perk of the RV lifestyle that we embrace.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Workamping and volunteering experiences, just scroll on up to the top right hand side of this post and enter either “volunteer” or “workamp” in the search box and hit “enter”.

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Our Visit to Deadwood and Lead

Just want to let you know, it’s pronounced “Leed” not like pencil lead, but to “lead” a horse to water. The reason the town is called Lead is that there are quartz-like veins in the rock that “lead” the miner to the gold in the mines. Back in the day these were sometimes called Lodes .. as in “We hit the mother lode”.

We are so glad that we had the opportunity to visit and volunteer in the Black Hills of South Dakota. We have heard so much about the beauty that abounds in this area of the country and when we found out about the possibility of volunteering at D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives … well … we jumped at the chance!

A view of part of the hatchery grounds looking down from the trail

We are camped in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the Spearfish City Campground. The entire campground is set along side Spearfish Creek that starts up in Spearfish Canyon and travels down through the City of Spearfish and travels north to eventually become the Redwater River and then ultimately into Belle Fourche Resevoir.

Our site along with the 9 other couples in Volunteer Village at the city campground
A group of boys enjoying Spearfish Creek right in back of our RV sites

Since we work 3 half days on duty / 3 days off) as volunteers at the hatchery, we have plenty of time to see the sights. Add to that the fact that one of our additional benefits of working here is that we are given VIP passes from the Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association.

This card gives us the opportunity to visit 50+ area attractions for free or deep discounted pricing. The purpose is to familiarize us volunteers with everything that the Black Hills & Badlands area has to offer and be eager to share the information about the attractions with visitors to the hatchery as we serve as tour guides in the venues here.

The list of free and discounted attractions offered by BH & Badlands Tourism Assoc

One of the first places we just had to check out when we got here was the City of Deadwood, just about 20 miles south of Spearfish. We also visited the City of Lead.

As you can see by the map below, the downtown areas are only about 3.5 miles apart … it’s like one larger community now but back in the day there was quite the rivalry between the towns … so much so that when the wealthy W.E. Adams at age 71 married his second wife of only 28 years, the gossip and shame cast upon him by other upstanding citizens of the community was NOT the fact that he was marrying a MUCH younger woman, but that he was from Deadwood and she was from Lead!

(The following was taken from blackhillsknowledgenetwork.org) ” Lead was founded in April 1876 by brothers Fred and Moses Manuel who had ventured out from the booming gold town of Deadwood in search of gold. The brothers discovered a promising vein of ore near current-day Lead. Such veins were called leads. The brothers staked their claim, built a mill and in the spring of 1876 mined $5,000 worth of gold from what would eventually become Homestake Gold Mine. “

Kathy wanted a coffee, so we stopped in to this cute little former gas station in Deadwood that now serves as a coffee shop and a glass-blowing studio! Customers can buy the finished product, or make their own at the direction of the owner.

After the coffee stop, we moved on to the Homestake Mine / Sanford Lab Visitor Center just down the road in Lead where we were treated to a trolley tour of the town and the history of the gold mine and the impact it had on the town. The mine was closed in 1983, but is being used today as a research facility at over 5000′ below ground level (under the open pit portion). When the mine was in operation, it had over 350 miles of tunnels down as deep at 8500 feet!

A Google Maps shot of the open pit mine at Homestake (over 1.5 miles wide)

They dug the open pit as deep as they could and ultimately started digging and blasting tunnels down as deep as 8500′ below ground level!

This was a fascinating tour and you can find out more about the history of the Homestake Mine and it’s impact on the area around towns of Lead and Deadwood along with the current neutrino research work going on underground at the 5000′ level by following this link.

While in Deadwood we toured the historic Adams House, the Adams Museum, the Days of ’76 Museum, the Homestake Opera House, and the Silverado Casino.

We drove to the top of Mount Roosevelt located just northwest of Deadwood in the Black Hills National Forest where we parked and then took a trail and walked up about 3/4 mile to the site of the “Friendship Tower” that was built by Teddy Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. We just happened to be there on the 100th anniversary of the completion of the tower July 4, 1919.

Built in memory of Teddy Roosevelt by his friend Seth Bullock
Sherry, Matt, Kathy, and me at the overlook on Mt Roosevelt

After Mount Roosevelt we drove on up to Mount Moriah – the highest point in Deadwood and the home to Deadwood Cemetery. We drove up through the narrow old streets to the parking lot, paid our $2 entry fee and then continued to climb up through the grounds stopping to look at well worn stone monuments of those early pioneers we didn’t know and we saw the burial spot of some of the more famous Black Hills pioneers as well.

Entrance to the Deadwood Cemetery on Mt. Moriah (Kathy, Sherry & Matt up ahead)
Looking over one of the hills of burial plots in the cemetery
Plaques memorializing Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane
The Burial Site and Grave Monument of Wild Bill Hickok
Calamity Jane’s Burial Site & Monument

Continuing our walk up the streets of the cemetery to the top, we then turned off to a trail that took us up another 750 feet to the burial site of Roosevelt’s good friend Seth Bullock. Seth wanted to be buried at this spot so that he could look across the valley to the Friendship Tower on the top of Mount Roosevelt. You can read all about Seth Bullock, his influence on Deadwood and the Black Hills along with his close friendship with Teddy Roosevelt by reading this Wikipedia article.

Our 750′ climb up from the top of the cemetery to Seth Bullocks burial site
Seth Bullock’s Grave Site
A lot of folks leave stones as a sign of remembrance and respect

There’s still much more to see and do in the Deadwood / Lead area and you can find out more by following this link.

We’re having a wonderful time volunteering here in the Black Hills at DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery and we have a lot more to share with you. We’ll continue to send along updates as we visit new and interesting places in the area.

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you can easily do so by scrolling up to the top of any page and entering your email address in the block on the right side.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel (herbnkathyrv) on You Tube.

If you’re curious (at any time) to know where we are at that moment then click the button at the top right of this page labeled “See Where We Are Now“.

We’d love to hear from you. If you scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, you can send us a note. Again, thanks for riding along. ’til next time – safe travels.

Volunteering at D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery

Really? We don’t fish … we don’t cook or even eat ENOUGH fish (according to the health experts) and we don’t really have any desire to handle fish or even SMELL fish! Why on earth would we consider working at a fish hatchery as one of our Workamping / Volunteering gigs?

Our good friends Phil and Cheryl volunteered here in 2016 and other good friends Matt and Sherry volunteered here in 2018 and they ALL highly recommended that we get on the list to volunteer here. Matt and Sherry were coming back again this year (’19) and so we submitted our application and resume’ back in August of 2018 and were accepted as volunteers.

D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives is not your normal production fish hatchery. There are 90 national U.S. Fish & Wildlife fish hatcheries throughout the nation along with many other state-managed hatcheries that are still in full-time operation.

This hatchery was an active production facility from it’s completion of construction in 1899 until 1983. At that time it was closed as a major production facility and turned into the national hatchery education site and archives.

Volunteering here has given both Kathy and I a new appreciation for serving as “tour guides” doing interpretive work. We were both a little nervous about this new role in our lives as volunteers. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know that most of our volunteer experiences have been working in private or public RV parks or campgrounds as hosts, cleaning crew, or office duties. Although all of these positions have involved working with the public and have given us the opportunity to meet and talk with a lot of new people, we’ve not been put in the position of “tour guide” doing interpretive work.

Would we be able to learn the script? Would we be able to smile all day? Would we be able to be on our feet for four and a half hours at a time? We were not concerned about the camp site, the area, or the management. We were confident that would all be great … thanks to our friends who’d worked here before.

We have to say that as of this writing … we’ve only been here about 3 weeks now … it’s been a wonderful experience and we’re quite comfortable with doing the interpretive work (tour guides) and we’re really enjoying our interactions with the other volunteers and being able to see the many sights that the Black Hills of South Dakota have to offer.

There are basically four different venues here where the volunteers are scheduled to work. Our venue assignments are rotated each shift. Spouses work the same shifts. We work 3 half-days on duty, then 3 full days off duty.

We might work in; the Museum, the Fish Car, the Booth House, or the Gift Shop.

The original hatchery building, constructed in 1899

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

Fish Car #3 and the Ice House

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The Booth House – where hatchery Superintendents and their families lived

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image

The “Pond Shop” gift shop overlooking pond #1
Inside the gift shop we sell hatchery merchandise and LOTS of fish food!
The “Pond Gift Shop” and restrooms with Pond #1 at the left

There are 10 RV sites in “Volunteer Village” which is a separate area of the beautiful Spearfish City Campground that is dedicated to use by volunteers at D.C. Booth Hatchery. We are supplied the Full Hookup site, 45 channel cable, free wi-fi and a community fire pit area where we often gather each night for a campfire with smores and stories. Sometimes we have pot luck meals there too!

Our sites back up to Spearfish Creek and a walking trail
Boys having fun floating down Spearfish Creek right behind our rigs

Remember, you can click on any of the thumbnails below to see an enlarged image