I Spent WHAT?

getting ready to fly

$45 in a candy store, yes you read that right. I was buying fudge for a friend though, that is my story. This place has everything from lemon drops to a bunch of black licorice. The Sweet Palace is in the town Phillipsburg, MT the town itself is the cutest town I’ve been in since I was a kid. This was another early start day for us as we wanted to drive from Drummond to Anaconda MT as this was a suggested day drive in one of the books. At this time I am still holding out hope for animals Custer State Park spoiled me. On the way to Anaconda I see something sitting on the fence post it turned out to be a red-tailed hawk having breakfast. So I got a treat and was able to take the time to photograph it. He finally flew away and we headed to Phillipsburg.

911 cross

Well it was suggested I stop at the Palace so that was on the schedule. I first started out at the Police Museum. Inside was old time dispatch equipment, a cell taken from a jail that used to be a brig on a navel ship. Recycling at its best. Original court transcripts, cameras used in crime scene investigations. A cross that was made from 911 metal was an object that touched me.

the outside

After playing tacky tourist we were ready for second breakfast because we saw a sign that said homemade pasties. Of course we had to try. A pastie is like a small calzone filled with sausage and egg and covered in gravy. It is always good to eat where locals eat.

small town

With full bellys I decided to go shopping I’m glad I brought both my walker and my cooling vest I have used both this trip. Start at one end of town and walk down one side of the street and back up the other side of the street. The town’s shopping district was only 4 blocks. The stores featured local artists and made in the USA. I was able to pick up some interesting trinkets. I also checked out some t-shirt shops but picked up no t-shirts (I know shocking). On to the candy shop but not so fast, I had to stop in a sapphire shop called the Sapphire Gallery. This is where you can look for sapphires in gravel. We will see how successful we are at are October rally, I bought 3 bags of gravel. I spent a total of 4 hours in this town just exploring. I think I might have been in the candy store for at least an hour.

just a hole
close as he got
evil eyes

After getting a sugar rush we set off on a ghost town adventure. The first and only stop was the remnants of Kirkville. Here we found old buildings and some newer buildings not sure if there is any current mining going on. I did get a treat it involved a badger, the only badger I ever encountered was the University of Wisconsin football mascot. He was just hanging out in a rock enclave.

old and new

We encounter some old buildings that were worth a few landscape pictures.

old barn
old building

After exploring we went back into town and I decided to do the local museum, well worth the $5 admission. I got bold and even went down in the basement to explore some of the old relics on display.

We spent so much time exploring this area that we had to make another trip to the prison and auto museum the next day which was enjoyable in itself. I was able to get Roy’s scooter out that is a story on it own.

Wild Horses …….


not so much. I was holding out hope that maybe just maybe my Montana friend Stephanie was mistaken. She said that the ranchers are allowed to let their horse graze on state land. She also said that there are only two rogue herds and we were nowhere close. I was holding out hope though. Well, I finally was able to go through my pictures and the first dead give away was the horse trailer way in the back of one of the pictures. The second give away was the brand on the rump of the horses. That is what I get for having a lens that can see a gnat on the end of a hair. All in all I am glad they were not wild they sort of stayed put when I was fumbling with my camera.

snack time
the end

That trip found us headed to Lincoln Montana on a day where there was not much smoke in the air of course this occurred on one of our last days in Montana, but we got at least a day of clear skies. Starting out in the morning by finding a geocache which had a special coin in it from a special lady.


More on her in another post. We then headed over the Continental Divide where you found out we were divided and I don’t know where the record button is. We did see a few young elk before we got into the mountain and that was all for large wild animals. You can also say I walked a part of the Continental Divide trail when I got out to take a picture of the sign. My story and sticking to it.

cloudy day

There was also this random cloud I thought I would share.

cool art

A total surprise that popped up out of the wild is called Sculpture in the Wild.

This is right before Lincoln Montana. I did not walk the whole area but was able to get two pictures of the close in sculptures. I did see a cute chipmunk that I tried to capture playing on a log, I did get him just sitting there though.


It is interesting how the artists were able to capture nature in man made structures. Lincoln was a town where you blink twice you will miss it.

We did see two sandhill cranes on our way to Helmville, Montana.

rare sight

Why did we go there just to say we went there. It has some weathered buildings so I was able to practice more of landscape and composition.

weather beaten

Back on the road we pulled over one more time to catch what we thought were pelicans, no pictures though because they were sitting right in the sun. I did get a few pictures of geese that were also in the pull out.


One of the high points of this drive was to get a picture from the overlook above Helena I am glad the smoke cleared out. This drive was a great way to end our time in Montana.

Augusta and Veggies

Not Georgia but the veggies are fresh. We decided to take a Sunday drive on Saturday. The travel magazine said visit a town with a western flair on your way stop and buy some chickens and vegetables from the Hutterite Colony, we stopped there on the way home. More on that later.

The drive over was uneventful as far as animals which is ok. We did see a prong horn and about a zillion cows, no big birds. I did however find out where dinosaur eggs come from, Egg Mountain Montana. In 1977 this is where two people who owned a rock shop found some juvenile dino bones. The funny thing with this drive is we stumbled upon the historical marker that mentions the eggs. This is all part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail. So many old bones hanging around to keep Roy company. The drive over actually had us driving on a high plateau I really felt I was on top of the world on the way home we were in the valley. Pulling into Augusta we drive through town and my first thought was cute small town.

Augusta is a town of about 500 people everyone knows everyone reminded me of Ely, NV. I had to use the rest room so what better place then a gas station. Turns out this was a combo old gas station/coffee shop/gift store. I was able to strike up a conversation with the young lady working there. I asked her what it was like living in a small town, she chuckled. They have a school that goes from k-12 and there are only 100 children attending it. She had 8 people in her graduating class. Now that is small. She also said that sometimes you run out of things to do. I told her that happens anywhere. I left after more locals started coming in and she needed to get to work. So I went exploring in the town stopped in an antique store and found a necklace made of an old spoon (this is going to make a great gift). A stop in the store next door put me in touch with an Army Linguist reason that meant something to me was when I was going to join the Army right out of high school that was what I was going to be. It was interesting to hear what might have been. I just am glad I got to serve in the Army sometime in my life. I find out that he wasn’t born and raised in Augusta so I asked why come here he said his wife was born and raised. You could tell how happy he was to have this store which was new and to live in a small town. He now works for the VA and turned me on to something I need to check out when I get home. We talked about why he did not re-enlist he was going to be deployed again and he wanted to be more at home understandable. The interesting thing is he is now in the National Guard as an officer in a chemical unit he chose that MOS because they have never deployed in recent history. Call it Kismet his unit of 13 people are deploying in September. We chuckled at the chance of that. One of his bright side comments was at least I will have my job waiting for me. It is amazing how friendly and down to earth people in this town are.

Lunch time we had a choice of 4 restaurants all bars/casinos so how do you make a choice you ask a local. On a side note; casinos are side rooms off a liquor store bar or restaurant. Each casino can have up to 20 machines and the maximum single payouts are $800. We settled on the Buckhorn which had to be a good place because the first thing I notice is they had a dart machine. The second thing I noticed was the smiling waitress. Roy noticed the gizzards and burrito on the menu. Sadly they were out of both so he settled for a burger. He did say that the burger was very good and hand pressed. I think he was ok without the gizzards. It was relaxing to be able to sit back and feel at home. The western feel to the town was also present at the Buckhorn because I think everyone had cowboy hats and boots on except for the on in rubber boots.

Heading home we took the low road and were able to barely make out the plateau we had driven on to get to Augusta. Yes we are fighting the smoke from wildfires. The sucky part of the smoke is it limits my photo ops because you can’t photograph what you can’t see. We head back towards Helena and stop at the Hutterite Colony to buy those veggies we saw on the way up. If you want to read an overview of Hutterite click here. I was expecting something similar to a road side fruit stand totally not the case. It is just that a colony you drive in and see that they have their own concrete plant, a hog processing plant, the chicken area and a green house. The reason we noticed all that is to get to the fresh veggies they take you around the whole complex. They did not have many veggies for sale some cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, and onions. I bought two onions and headed out. The onions were definitely fresh and homegrown and very good. It was interesting to see how the women were dressed and how shy they were dealing with me. I was surprised by the lack of veggies wrong season I guess to grab more veggies. I am glad I was able to get a glimpse into this colony.

When we got back to Helena we were back in the smoke bowl. It seems every year we are battling smoke or fire at sometime to put a crimp in our plans. I am ok with that because you just adjust and change plans. I do like these short side trips we have been taking hopefully we can do a few ghost towns before we leave. We do have a train/trolley ride that takes us around the capitol/historic Helena.

Not My Kind of Excitement

Imagine sitting in your trailer listening to the jets over head and the lawn mowers mowing outside then you here smack, thud. Well, Roy and I did not have to imagine it. This is exactly what happened to us. We are staying at Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, South Dakota and this week the big boys are playing so maybe I might catch one or two on camera. Last night all we saw were the afterburn from the engines as they took off. (That is a story for another day.) Back to the excitement at hand.

I will say I do not remember ever seeing safety glass shatter and spider web like this, so it did its job. This is one time I am glad I overslept, we were to be headed up to Deadwood and wanted an early start. I just could not get moving so I got Roy up saying sorry I just couldn’t get going. So, I’m in my pjs drinking coffee and figuring out when we want to go or if we want to go, when the rock struck the window on the slide side of the trailer where we have two windows. Guess what, decision made home we stayed.


The funny in a weird way thing is not more than a minute before this happened, I was getting warm and decided to turn on the air, so all the windows had to be closed. If the window was open the whole thing could have ended up on the ground in a million pieces, or it could have come through the screen. I spring into oh my do I need to get dressed before I run out there, put on shoes, or just go. I decided to just go. I can’t run so I am waddling trying not to fall down, I have to catch him and get his attention. After a few hand gestures on my part he turned off the mower and took out his earplugs. His comment to me was I couldn’t have done it I am over here, but I will call my manager. I grabbed my phone and snapped a few pictures and waited.

chips do fall

The manager came and was very apologetic, which was nice. There was no question what happened and that they would get a glass place to fix it while we were here. That sounded great, until you checked all the boxes. She comes back and says they could replace it except due to ‘COVID’ they can’t get the glass so it would be about 3 weeks, they will make it right. So we thought if we could get Lance (trailer manufacturer) to overnight the glass would that work. Yes, someone could install it. We call Lance come to find out you can not just replace the glass you have to do both windows frame and all. Only problem they have none in stock and it is a 3 to 6 week wait. So that would not work either.

The result of all this is we now have a window that has sticky stuff over it to keep all the pieces together and an appointment to get it replaced in September. I do have to say this is one time I am glad my body said you are not getting up. If everything went as planned we would have been gone and wondered what had happened. In the end no one was hurt and all is well.

Taped in place
Inside looking out

There are Always a Few

People who cross your path out of the blue. That is what has happened again this trip, in fact just the morning we were leaving Custer State Park we had an encounter. Originally we had planned to drag our black and gray tanks which were full up to Rapid City and dump them there as we had full hook-ups. Well we have had a few plans that have changed or been rearranged this trip, all part of going with the flow. We decided to go to the dumpsite in the park which turned out to be a good thing.

It gives me hope that people can still be friendly and happy even after the year we have all had. Long story short we get to the hardly used dumpsite and a R-Pod pulled in behind us they were honest that they were newbies. So after they got turned around to use the second dumpsite, Roy was able to lend a hand to help them out. This is of course after we find out he is rich oh wait his name was Rich. You know how easily we get confused. It was nice to be able to share some information with people who were searching for answers.

I already gave a shout out to Micah I mean Rust and his piece of mica. They sent me a video of ladybugs swarming on a rock and on Rust. I would have screamed like a girl, his giggles were contagious.

We also encountered Nancy a waitress who works at Blue Bell Lodge she seemed so happy and relaxed the first night she waited on us. It was funny we made an instant connection, her attitude was what clicked for us. We did not eat there every night but when we did she was the bomb! The night before we left she came over to visit with us and I was able to share some of my pictures with her. We talked about how peaceful and how much this place feels like a bubble. It sure did I can’t believe we got to experience that feeling for almost a month.

The funniest one for me though was an example of small world I hobbled up from our campsite to take pictures I needed to get out of the road because a truck was coming, so I popped into a campsite to be out of the way. It happened to be their campsite. So what would a chatty Cathy do. Yup chat. First thing I always ask is where are you from. They say Wisconsin. I say where they say Stevens Point. I say Fond du Lac. They inform me that they know Fond du Lac well, in fact that is where their last three trucks came from. Lenz auto as a matter of fact, small world I went to school with Donna Lenz. (school memories came flooding back). We chatted for a little while and never did know each others name. Just a strange connection.

Being back in civilization is a small shock to the system. I do think I will be able to catch up on pictures and add some of the videos I’ve taken this past month.

I am enjoying meeting people as much as I am taking pictures this summer

SNAKE … eek

A snake

Yes, I did see one and it was semi close. On this outing there were animals that we had rarely seen or been able to capture with the camera. I need to mention it was another rainy day. We drove around it after I got a picture of course. (I try never to let a photo-op pass me by). Roy asked if I wanted to get out for a close-up or a selfie. My response was um, no I have a zoom for that plus my selfies need practice. Seriously, though if anyone can identify the snake I would be happy. This is one of those instances when you hear we have snakes in the park so be careful where you step, my thought was sure. My thought is I guess I will be careful when I step out of the car especially around the prairie dogs because that is where they hang out.

They do exist

I had never thought about it before, but where do adult turkeys come from? Before you answer I bet you never thought about it either. Yes, they come from baby turkeys. The other day when we were driving around we saw an adult turkey with chicks but were not able to capture them on camera. (Dash cam doesn’t count in this case.) So I now have pictures after they crossed the road and dash cam of them crossing the road. So you see they do exist in the wild. We would have never captured these if it wasn’t for a detour to the Needles Highway in search of mountain goats.

the view
Hole in the wall
Just a hole

I think the fact I caught the mountain goat was a one in a million shot. I am hoping on making it a two in a million shot. So the answer is no we did not see the goat. It was raining and windy at the needle eye. I did however get a few landscape pictures on the way back to camp. The sky opened to show a tad bit of blue and some detail on the needles. We also stopped at a place called ‘hole in the wall’ It was just that a hole in the wall of a rock face. So this detour led us to the turkey chicks. (not to be confused with the Dixie Chicks).

Now what brought us to even thinking about a detour and mountain goats was our trip around wildlife loop on a rainy day which was pretty much a bust. We got to the visitor’s center and saw traffic on a dirt road that buffalo usually are hiding, so off we go. The only thing we were lucky enough to see was a prong horn grazing by the side of the road. U-turn back to the visitor center, we spot a food truck check it out. We both had a buffalo brat and were treated to a buffalo sighting right in front of the car. (This is a case of dash cam counting because I have photos). Side note I talked to a family who was out here enjoying leave with their active military father. They were also lucky to catch a glimpse of the buffalo. From here we started to head back to the campsite but not before seeing the snake.  Once back at camp we decided it was not time to head in so that is where the detour came in. Mixed throughout the day we spotted deer and I was able to get a few of these also.

putting it in perspective

As of July 3rd 2021 Roy has put on 1,300 miles just driving around and no more then 30 miles outside of Custer State Park. We’ve also gone through 3 tanks of gas.

Mount Rushmore revisited

I think I have seen this carving from a bunch of angles this trip. (I have pictures) It has given me an appreciation for how large and small in perspective this sculpture is. I say this because one picture I zoom in and the Presidents take up a large portion of the photo. In real life if you focus on just the sculpture it is large. Think for a moment and let your eye pull out and see the whole mountain.

Just so small
So large

I saw the size difference when I took the first picture of Mount Rushmore from a pull out on the way to the Mount. If you zoom in you say wow that is big to be able to see it from here. As you see from the zoom out you see it only covers a small piece of the mountain. I read facts like the faces are 60 feet high that is ten six foot tall men stacked one on top of the other. The noses are 20 feet long. That is very large in the scheme of things. Here is a good look at the profile of Washington. At this particular pullout point Washington is all you see.

Strong profile

Compare that to the fact these are all carved into granite that is 5,550 feet tall. The mount does dwarf the presidents, but it does not dwarf the achievement of the people who created Mount Rushmore. Here are 75 facts about Mount Rushmore

Different Perspective
Nice Color

I have to say the ability to be able to photograph Mount Rushmore at different times of the day and night has been fun. I was able to capture a sunset and wait twenty minutes and capture the nightly lighting of Mount Rushmore. It is amazing how one National Park can change a perspective.

Solid as a Rock

Maybe there is a deeper meaning here; that if you pull back and take a look at everything IT is not so big. Or maybe my mind’s eye and camera’s eye has gotten better at noticing the different perspectives of an object. Your choice.

Getting Up Early….

Observation Deck
From the Observation Deck

Nailed IT!. Yes, getting up at 7 am to get on the road to retake Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse from the Coolidge Fire Lookout Tower. The best part of this was the fact that there were very few people here and the sun and clouds were perfect. I have to say to be able to see and take a picture of Mount Rushmore that is 9 miles as the crow flies is awe inspiring. Crazy Horse is 10 miles as the crow flies. With Rushmore however you only get Washington’s profile and Lincoln’s nose and chin. It also helps to know what you are looking for. Crazy Horse instead of the usual profile from the tower you are able to get full front. The interesting thing is the equipment on that mountain I was able to capture with my camera. These pictures are from the observation deck.

From the parking lot

After I was able to get these pictures I head back to the car where I was able to also get a different perspective of both Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse. I was able to show a family the picture I took of Crazy Horse and then point it out to them with my finger. We headed down from the lookout and from a pull out I took these pictures looking back up the mountains. This area is also where most of the cell phone towers are for the park. The rest of the day was lazy we went into town to grab some much needed internet time and headed home for lunch. I was also able to catch up on my pictures and blogs. It is needed sometimes just to have a catch up sort of day. Roy, on the other hand sat outside and people watched.

People Watching

Stubborn Rabbit

I can and will explain but this is what led up to our encounter with said bunny. We are now in the cycle of getting up for morning photography that is hard (Roy is rubbing off on me). It is true they say good light happens in the morning. So the 28th I have it all planned get up early, head to the Coolidge Tower Fire Outlook, take some panoramas because the view is amazing. That was the plan. That is not how it happened.

Crazy Horse with haze

Hazy but There

I was woke up to my phone going off at 6:15 am glad I answered it because I am going to try an hour horseback ride. (Maybe improve the balance for a few hours. The balance has been a little off, and horse riding is good for that. ) Back to the story. I fall back to sleep, then we had a power blip a long beep woke me up. I just did not have the energy to get up and out early. I got bad light because of it. We got up to the outlook about 11 am the sky was hazy and the sun was harsh I did get a panoramic. I also was lucky enough to see Crazy Horse Monument head on and George Washington on Mount Rushmore. I did take a few photos but they did not turn out, just gave me inspiration to come back and try again. seeing this was a bust we went home to eat and head into Custer to use my hotspot. (internet not happening at the campground). Back to the campground to decide where we wanted to drive again couldn’t be too far because we had dinner at 7pm.

More Rocks

So we headed out to wildlife loop again with a twist. We stopped to take a picture of this rock formation because the light was perfect. We then hit another dirt road for me to take a landscape with clouds and rolling hills. I find out this is one of the roads that lead to Wind Cave. So Roy and I headed for adventure. (Roy and I were both looking for more adventure.) The fact that the roads start in Custer State Park and end right outside Custer State Park it was an easy decision to travel the V. Did I mention it was also a one lane road. Well the first thing we see are Prairie Dogs these critters are prolific and they have nothing on bunnies. More on the Prairie Dogs in a few paragraphs.

Narrow is an Understatement

So for this one lane road we are headed over ruts and stuff at a slow speed as to be able to see everything. I was able to catch out of the corner of my eye a pronghorn with her baby. They were definitely running from something and baby was trying to catch up I am mesmerized just watching how they slowed down and headed up the hill. Needless to say I did not take any photographs, we do have the crossing on dash cam though. We had one car pass us and then there was another car that decided to wait up at a turn out. This was a good thing because we ran across a stubborn bunny.

We start up towards the hill once we realize that we are going first, we see a bunny in the road. This bunny had a mind of its own and he was not budging. The rain that we had over the previous days left a water hole just perfect size for a rabbit. Picture this we slowly inch up on it until you can’t see it on dash cam thinking we get close enough that it will move. Wrong! So we inch in reverse the bunny is still there. We repeat the process again, same result. We even honk the horn the RABBIT did NOT even flinch. Roy then decides to creep up on it and have me open the door get out and chase him away. I took my camera with me got out and before I was around the front of the car it was gone. I will be sharing the dash cam of us going forward, backing up and repeating. So the guy on top of the hill started heading down and we met rolled down our windows and explained to the other guy it was the rabbit’s fault that we were not coming up the road.

The rest of the road was narrow even for a single lane had a few steep areas to it. In one place we drove up the hill and the road just disappeared over the crest. My only thought her was please no buffalo on the road at the top. There wasn’t thankfully. Although we did see a few down the road. Now for those prairie dogs. We are ending the adventure and we see hundreds of prairie dog holes on both sides of the road and even on the road. This critters were everywhere including running up down across the road. I know I will be back to photograph them. So the off road adventure had a stubborn rabbit in the middle of it all.