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.

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We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Volunteering at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF)

UPDATE: It’s October 30th, 2018.  We left Albuquerque on Oct 9th, attended the RV Nomads Rally in Wellington, TX followed by the Texas Country Air(stream) Rally in Brownwood, TX then to Lake Colorado City State Park (TX) and now we are at Bottomless Lake State Park at Roswell, NM for a couple nights.  We are on our way to our winter home at Rover’s Roost RV Park (Casa Grande, AZ)

We just crossed the two year mark as full-time RV’ers. We’ve sold our Sticks n Bricks house in Ohio and lived virtually rent-free by Workamping our way around the country.

As Workampers, we stay at RV parks, campgrounds, and other places for free in exchange for (generally) about 12-20 hours per week working at the park or campground.

Very often parks and campgrounds want to bring on Workampers for the entire season .. usually 5 or 6 month stints.

We started the full-time RV lifestyle to see the country and soon realized that if we only move twice a year … or go back to the same place twice … then we’ll be about 130 years old by the time we see all the places we want to go!

As a result, we’ve been looking for shorter term gigs. That’s how we came to volunteer at Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF). We met our new good friends Matt and Sherry last winter at the Escapees RV Club “Rainbows End” park in Livingston, TX while we were all Workamping there.

Matt & Sherry Hylbom “Get Out The Map”

Matt and Sherry shared with us their experiences the previous fall working at the AIBF and it sounded exciting to us, so we reached out to the contact they gave us and here we are!

We arrived a full 3 weeks before the start of Fiesta, and we spent that time; chalking boundaries of all the 1600 RV parking spaces, stringing flag lines around the perimeter lines of each of the 40 or so parking areas, setting up the volunteer break tent with tables, chairs, fridge and freezer, and getting the check-in booth all ready to greet and register the soon- to-be arriving RV’ers.

Early on, before the show begins … stormy weather can be seen obscuring the Sandia Mountains – See the rainbow just over the bed of the pickup?

Of the 1600 spaces, about 400 had water and 30 amp electric. Electricians ran all the electric, but volunteers ran all the water lines

As one of the 1100 Navigators (Volunteers), we both got these snappy jackets!

Most of the south lot is dirt, some gravel and even some old asphalt. Dusty week for sure with all those rigs coming and going!

And then the fun begins!

Kathy worked 6 hour shifts at the check-in booth as RV’s pulled in to the lot (room for 1600 rigs). There are 3 windows at the booth so she worked with two other ladies each shift. They checked in the arrivals and gave them their parking passes and each rig also received a “goody bag” with some small gifts and lots of printed information about the event and the grounds.

The Check-In booth where Kathy and the other ladies worked


My primary responsibility was to stand at the head of the line and greet RV’ers pulling up, ask them to check-in at the booth, and then once they had their parking credentials, point them in the direction of a “parker” driving a golf cart who would then take them to their spot.

Pix published in the Albuquerque Journal


Our work day started at 7:30 am when we all met in the volunteer tent and had a short meeting about what size crowd we could expect that day.  Since everyone had reservations, we knew what groups were coming in and which ones were leaving on any given day.

Although some stayed for the entire 10 day event, many came just for one or the other of the weekends.

Rigs would be lined up in the drive from the night before and we parked all day until closing at 7:00 pm.  Any arrivals after that time dry camped in the entrance drive until the next morning.

Although we worked a LOT of hours during the 10 day Fiesta, we did have an opportunity (3 times) to take the shuttle bus across Alameda Avenue to the launch field to see the balloons.  We went once in the morning to see the daily “Mass Ascension” and twice in the evening to see the “Glowdeo”.  It was also great to be able to see the balloons land right in our RV parking lot occasionally!

Here’s a slide show of some of the pictures I took.  If you want to see ALL of the pictures, then go ahead and follow this link to a Google Photo Album I put together.

All in all, it was a great event and a once in a lifetime experience.  Kathy and I spent just about a month from mid-September to mid-October and although we worked long hours many days, it was great making new friends, seeing new sights, tasting new/different foods, and being part of the AIBF experience.

They always need volunteers (Navigators) and if you think you would like to volunteer and in turn receive; free RV site, free utilities, free food, tickets to all events, and a really nice jacket … then early in the year, go to this link.  Don’t be discouraged if the web site still shows last years info, just wait a few weeks and try again.  In 2018 the volunteer web application didn’t start until May.

There you can fill out the application.  They need about 1100 volunteers to make this event work.  Some volunteers are golf cart shuttle drivers, some are guest info folks, some work on the launch field, and a host of other volunteer positions are available.  If you have an RV and you know you want to be a “parker” then indicate that on the application.  They need and should have about 35-50 volunteer parkers.

Although we had a great time, we won’t be going back.  Kathy and I made the decision to live the full-time RV lifestyle so that we could “see the country” and we’re working toward that goal.  If we go back to the same place twice, it’s just gonna take that much longer to see all that there is to see … and there’s a LOT out there!

Thanks for reading.  C’mon along by subscribing to this blog (www.herbnkathyrv.com) or subscribe to our You Tube channel herbnkathyrv and visit us on Facebook.com/herbnkathyrv.  We look forward to seeing you down the road.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Tinkertown? What the heck is that?

Writing this on Nov 19, 2018

While we worked at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (AIBF) in the fall of 2018, we were able to take some time to see some of the local sights.

We took a drive up to Sandia Crest (that we could see from where our coach was parked).

The view looking east to Sandia Peak from our initial parking area at AIBF. This is a shot just before sunset casting the “Watermelon Glow” on the mountain range

The drive along the winding curvy road along the edge of the mountain to the peak (crest) at 10,760 feet came to a dead end where there was ample parking area, a coffee and gift shop, and a forest of cell and radio towers.

Kathy and I at the peak, over our shoulders is the AIBF field below to the west

Cell towers, broadcast station antennas and government radio station antennas at the peak adjacent to the parking area

The Crest House – now home to a cafe, coffee bar, and gift shop

Just so happened to be a sports car rally at the peak the day we were there

Now the trip to the peak and the view from the top was great … ooh I forgot to mention … we were there with our new good friends from Wild Rose, Wisconsin … Bill and Jackie.  We really enjoyed their company and their friendship while in ABQ and we look forward to seeing them again yet this winter in Arizona – perhaps while we are in Quartzite for the “Big Tent” RV Show.

Bill & Jackie from Wild Rose, Wisconsin

On our way back down from the peak, we were told by others that we just had to stop and check out Tinkertown.  And are we glad we did.  You can drive right by it if you’re not careful.  There’s one small hand painted sign along the road side “Tinkertown 500′ ahead” and if you’re not really looking for it, you’ll zip on by.

Tinkertown is one of those places that some like to call “eclectic with a touch of whimsy” – I think it’s really eclectic with a boatload of whimsy.

So what is Tinkertown?  Well, this clip from their web site says it best;

“It took Ross Ward over 40 years to carve, collect, and lovingly construct what is now Tinkertown Museum. His miniature wood-carved figures were first part of a traveling exhibit, driven to county fairs and carnivals in the 1960s and ’70s. Today over 50,000 glass bottles form rambling walls that surround a 22-room museum. Wagon wheels, old fashioned store fronts, and wacky western memorabilia make Tinkertown’s exterior as much as a museum as the wonders within.

Inside, the magic of animation takes over. The inhabitants of a raucous little western town animate to hilarious life. Under the big top, diminutive circus performers challenge tigers and defy gravity while the Fat Lady fans herself and a polar bear teeters and totters.

Throughout, eccentric collections of Americana (wedding cake couples, antique tools, bullet pencils and much, much more) fill Tinkertown’s winding hallways. Otto the one-man-band and Esmerelda, the Fortune Teller, need only a quarter to play a tune or predict your future. Through a doorway and across a ramp waits a big-sized surprise: a 35′ antique wooden sailboat that braved a 10 year voyage around the world.”

Here are some pictures that I took as we traveled through the “museum” constantly fascinated by not only the craftsmanship of Ross Ward, but the imagination he must’ve had to come up with all this.  Absolutely amazing.  Read on.

As always, you can click on any of the individual pictures to see a larger image. And be sure to click on the images of the sailboat the “Theodora R” and the map on the wall of the 10,000 mile voyage – fascinating.




























































To learn more about this fascinating museum and the fascinating man who had the vision and the talent, visit their web site at http://tinkertown.com/

Just one more example of all the interesting places to see in this great country of ours.

Thanks for riding along .. until later .. take care of yourselves

herbnkathy – Currently wintering at Rover’s Roost RV Park in Casa Grande, AZ



We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy

Deming, NM to Casa Grande, AZ

A cool night in Deming, (we left the windows open) and enjoyed breakfast in our home and hit the road for Rover’s Roost at Casa Grande, AZ the next morning.  Here’s a few pix.  Actually, the pix of the pool is here at Shangri-La RV Resort in Yuma, AZ where Kathy and I are spending the night and we took a dip in the pool a little earlier – how refreshing!

When we were at Dream Catcher RV Park (doing laundry) we met Henry and Shirley and struck up a conversation.  Turns out, we had both been at TRA-Park in Pecos, TX the night before, and as we talked we discovered we were both going to be heading to Rover’s Roost in Casa Grande, AZ the next day as well.

Of course, we had more opportunity to talk over the next couple of days and learned that Henry has been full-timing (RV’ing that is) for 20 years now, initially with his first wife who passed on in 2003, and now with his 2nd wife Shirley since they got married.  (We got a kick out of the fact that Shirley had been his brother’s wife before the brother died!)

Over that twenty year period, they have been strictly volunteering.  They have been connected with a group called Campers On Mission and they volunteer their time and talents all over the country.  Sometimes they might work for a few days to a few weeks.  Only recently have they found a plot of land in east Texas where they are able to have a regular “home base” with a park model home, but when they get the urge to move on, they climb in the pick-up and hook up the travel trailer and out they go.  They’re on a 7 week trip right now visiting family all over the country.

I’m sorry I didn’t think to take pictures of them that I could share with you.  One of Shirley’s passions is to make sleeping mats literally out of plastic grocery bags!  She makes these mats (crochet) out of all colors of bags and they measure 3’x6′.  She then turns them in to their church and they are sent overseas to orphanages that use them for the children to sleep on.  I know it doesn’t sound very comfortable, but the finished product is about 3/4″ thick and will afford a child a lot more comfort than lying or sitting on a hard dirt floor.

Henry also crochets, but he showed us these cute little stocking caps he makes and then donates to hospital children’s nurseries around the country.  He figures he’s donated about 1000 or so of these over the years to hospitals around the country as they’ve traveled.

What a wonderful, giving and unselfish couple they are, if only we could all be as generous and humble as they are.  We meet the nicest people as we travel.

We’d really appreciate it if you would do us the favor of helping us continue to publish this RV / Travel / Workamping blog. Do you purchase any products from Amazon? If you do, it would be great if you’d use the link in the sidebar or one of the links below to get to Amazon … after that you can change your search. By making your Amazon purchases from our site, we will receive from Amazon a small percentage of your purchase and it doesn’t cost you any more. We’d really appreciate your help. Thank you, Herb & Kathy
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