Monday, July 10, 2017

It has been a warmer summer here so far!  Last few weeks have been in the high 80's to mid 90's,  Sure we get those temps every summer but the heat is hanging on a bit too long! In fact some of our swimming beaches in the other campgrounds have been closed due to the water quality for swimming.  They keep a close eye on everything!  Luckily the nights cool down to the 60's.  We do get a rain shower every week if not a bit more, but due to the low humidity in this area, it dries out fast.  So we are in a high fire alert.   The park has been very busy and the motorcycle rally has not even started yet.  All 9 campgrounds have been filling up every night since the middle of June.  Craziness!

We have been spending our days off roaming the park, going out to eat, and checking out some of the area sights with our coworkers and friends here at the park. 
 We road the 1880 train from Hill  City to Keystone.  Fun to hear the old steam engine chugging as it climbs the hills...I think I can....I think I can.....We ran into a couple from Blue Earth standing in line.  Never know!

Every year we visit the Mammoth Site.  There is always something new being uncovered.  At one time this was a spring where the Mammoth would come to drink the water or eat the grasses that grew along the edge.  The mammoth would get into the spring but never get back out.  For that reason the Mammoth Site is one of the best in the world for Mammoth remains.  On the day we were there they were busy wrapping uncovered bones in a plaster cast so they could remove the bones.  Why...tests have revealed that there is a large skeleton underneath.

We ran across this family of Burrowing Owls on our way back from Hot Springs and the Mammoth Site. .  I count 6 chicks!
Of course we had to go back the next day to get a better picture.  We did not see all the chicks that time but Mom and Dad posed pretty nice for us. 

 Note he had the grasshopper in his mouth...then he gave it to her.  She was busy watching the chicks, so he was bringing home supper!
 They almost look mad!  How dare we disturb them....The Burrowing Owl lives in old Prairie Dog holes.  They are a very small owl.
 Crazy Horse monument is another area attraction that we have to check out every year.  Progress is slow but we can see quite a change in the area where his arm will be outstretched.
On display are the beads the Dutch traded the Indians for Manhatten Island.  To me the American Indian artifact display is as impressive as the carving of Crazy Horse.  The weekend we went there were local artists selling there handy work.

Of course there is plenty to do right at our campsite.    The other day we had 3 big horn ewes romping around on the hill behind the camper.  We got an over the shoulder look......

Over on the cabin beside us is a nesting Cordilleran flycatcher.  We have been watching her nest to see the fledglings.  Nothing so far....

A large buffalo herd has been hanging out in one area of the park.  So of course we have to keep checking them out.  We have seen a couple of the large bulls easily walk over the cattle guards.  But today we saw Mama and her baby jump over the cattle guard.  Al says that is a 8-10 foot cattle guard they cleared, with very little effort. 
Mom shows baby how to do it...then wee!

Last Friday we toured the Journey Museum in Rapid City plus a few other stops of course....Tonight we are going out to eat at a place called Fort Hays which is near the reptile gardens.  A group of about 12 or so campground hosts and attendants are going together.  Should be a great time.  As volunteers we get great discounts to all the area attractions.  In years past we had been to almost all the places before and never really used our discount card too much.  This year we plan to revisit as many areas as we have time and maybe a few we have never stopped at.  So 'til next time....take care!

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