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ragnar 2021: NO INJURIES

ragnar 2021: NO INJURIES

my constant vigilance paid off!

(and so did my propane heater!)

thursday

after a hiatus in 2020 because 2020, we were back for ragnar trail wisconsin 2021. and i was prepared. after the cold year, i knew that i did NOT want to be cold again because that sucks. sure, running in the cold is something everyone’s like, yeah! so much better than running in the heat! but when you’re tenting, you don’t get to go into your warm house and take a warm shower after your cold run.  personally, i’d rather run in the hot during ragnar trail at that point.

BUT i had been monitoring the weather and what do you know, it was going to get down to the 40s at night, and no way was i gonna deal with that noise. so i bought a propane heater to go on top of a 20 lb propane tank.

it was a lifesaver both nights. best purchase for ragnar.

i also packed plenty of layers and what i thought was more clothes than i needed, but better to be safe than sorry.

so off i went thursday around 11, picked up jane, and we headed out to wausau, which is in the middle of wisconsin. we got into line right at 4 p.m., and once the line started moving, we were moving pretty quickly. got in, unloaded, and i took the car to parking while jane hauled our crap down to our campsite.

we hung out for a bit until liz, doug, and quinn showed up with the tents, and then we were really able to set up camp in earnest.

that night it was just us five, but we got to test out the new heater and managed to remember why we brought so many layers. it’s no fun being cold at camp! i managed to get a decent amount of sleep, though i ended up waking up every 2 hours or so to roll over and had to get up once to use the porta-loo to pee (it was 4 a.m.- no way was i holding it). (also, hydration is KEY the day before race day, so i wasn’t surprised i had to get up in the middle of the night to pee.)

then it was race day…

friday

liz was set to start the first loop at 9:40 a.m., which seemed awfully early for our fast-ish team, but we took it. matt left early so he could get to camp before his loop, and our remaining two teammembers were on the way to be there a little later in the day.

i decided to opt for a later loop than i normally do, because i wanted to do the red (read: hard) loop in the daylight. that loop has been an arch nemesis in the past when i fell and sprained my ankle right at the beginning of the loop. in the past, i ran it during sunrise, which was nice, but our timing was weird, so i chose runner 5 this year.

yellow loop

oh, so fresh, so ready to take on a run. the yellow loop has always been 5.5 miles, but only this year did they figure that out. it’d always been advertised as 4.5 miles, and every time i ran it i wondering, how is my running time so slow? it’s my first run, on fresh, pampered legs, with trail running that i’ve been killing lately. so, imagine my happiness when it’s actually a MILE LONGER. (well, not happy because of that extra mile; just happy because my time isn’t abysmal.)

the yellow loop is probably the least hazardous of the loops – fewer roots and not as many rocks. there are a lot of switchbacks and some minor slopes to run up, but overall, it’s a pleasant route. they did a little rerouting and i didn’t have to deal with the bridge that i fell off three years ago.

it was about 70º when i went out, which was nearly perfect for me. i was able to wear a tank and shorts and not sweat too badly during my run.

here i am: a vision in sherbert.

note my knees! i was so worried. i decided to see what happened on the yellow loop to figure out the other two. i taped the crap out of them and wrapped the right one. after my run, they weren’t horrible, but they weren’t too happy. i stopped at the medic tent and grabbed a bag of ice. after stretching and icing, i decided to give the next loop a go.

they yellow loop was the best as far as weather and speediness. i was booking it at the end. i finished 5.5 miles in 1:07, which i right about where i expect that to be.

time for a break! i ate some food, drank a lot of electrolytes (which, i think, saved me), and then we lived through a big rainstorm. liz was running during the rain, and with the rain, the temps dropped. i had to figure out what to wear in the night at 50º-ish degrees. trying to figure out what to wear to run in anything 40s and 50s is the worst. ugh.

green loop

i ended up taking off on my red loop around 10:45 after matt came in a little later than i’d expected from his red. that red loop is just a beast. anyway, i ended up wearing a long-sleeved wool shirt, a poly tank, a poly tshirt, and then a pullover poly long sleeved 3/4 zip that i had just purchased! good call on that. i also pulled on a brace over my long pants on the one knee and then slipped a knee wrap on the other one.

off i went into the cold on the green loop.

THEY SAY the green loop is only 3.35 miles.

THEY SAID it used to be 3 miles.

we think they’re wrong. i ran that whole dang loop, and there’s no way i’m running a 14.5-minute mile running all the time. that’s about where i was at when i first started running! plus, that loop always seems to go on and on, and i run 3 miles ALL THE TIME. it’s my minimum mileage these days.

i think the green loop is closer to 4 than 3 miles. but whatever.

i have no pics because it was dead dark out, but there were some pretty awesome lit-up arches that matt managed to sort of get a pic of!

i was expecting a lot of puddles on the loop since it had rained, and doug gave good advice to just run through the puddles that were there to avoid the mud. i think a lot of them had been soaked up but there were still some that i had to just splash through. good thing i brought two pairs of shoes.

the coolest thing about the green loop was that i was pacing a dude. i asked him a couple times if he wanted to get past me, and he said nope, he was good. the trails through the woods on ragnar are single-file bike trails, so when you really get in there, it’s hard to pass without moving over/stopping. and since i am a slowbie, i end up doing that quite a bit. so, pacing someone in the woods is actually pretty cool. it forced me to just keep on running, which also kept me warm.

i finished up red in 48 minutes. totally closer to 4 miles than 3. i ended up getting done a little bit quicker than expected, and i must have just missed quinn in the transition list. i waited for maybe 5 minutes, then i had to go. i was going to get chilled. i hung my bib on a rack for times like this, took a glance at people watching screens and didn’t see her. so i went back and told the dude on deck about quinn, and he went to take a look. meanwhile, she responded to a text i sent her, and she got going about 15 mins later.

and THANK GOD FOR THAT HEATER. holy cats, what a phenomenal investment. i ran (yes, ran) back to the tent, changed into my wool under layer shirt, wool sweater, down vest, wool socks, two pairs of pants, and fleece jacket and then camped out in front of the heater for about 30 minutes while i ate some oatmeal, cheese, and some protein, then drank more electrolytes, chatted with a semicolon aficionado teammate, stretched, and then decided to call it and try to sleep.

surprisingly, my knees weren’t screaming at me too badly. so i was gonna do the red loop.

saturday

i maybe got 3-4 hours of sleep after crawling into my 400 layers of warmth in my sleeping bag. the unfortunate thing about that was that my pillow got damp from my sweaty head, so every time i rolled over, my face was on chilly wet pillow until it warmed up. yuck-o.

and in and out went teammates on their runs. liz got up and came back, jane got up and came back. but i slept, and that was a good thing. this was probably my best year for sleep. (although, i was lying there thinking, what am i doing? i could be at home, in my bed, in my warm house, and be comfortable. why am i doing this?)

i woke up to go pee at 5:30ish (again). there’s always a bit of hum during the night because the relay is constant, so there are people out and about. the moon was bright enough overhead to not need a headlamp to see, and on my way back, i saw a shooting star. the stars in general were great.

(the portapotties were also pretty great this year. clean, well-ventilated, and emptied often. TP was always stocked.)

when i got back, liz had come back from her last run, and jane was awake, so i just stayed awake. i wasn’t feeling too bad. dressing myself was going to be a different matter!

red loop

i was going to, once again, be running at the low-temp time of the day. fortunately, it didn’t get as cold as expected, and it was a whopping 43º instead of 39º. i didn’t realize that i was going to be running this early, so i hadn’t packed the right pants for cold weather, so instead, i wore my long shorts and my calf compression socks. wool tank, wool shirt, long sleeved poly shirt, and a short sleeved poly shirt. i wore liz’s ragnar cap, which i think actually helped quite a bit.

time for the last loop. the red loop is not only the longest, but possibly the most treacherous. there are sections of giant boulders and small rocks and middling rocks on the path that you have to hop your way through. then there are sections of roots and roots and more roots sticking out of the dirt path. and, if you’re like me, you don’t pick your feet up well enough, and the toes of your shoes just catch the edge of the root.

but first, the red loops starts out nice. a wide, open, grassy path where you can warm up, get your bearings, think you’re doing great. there are a couple of long, slopey hills that are more work than you want them to be, but generally they are followed by a nice downhill. then BAM.  we enter the single-file forest rock city.

this is pretty tame.

there are two bridges on the red loop, and i walked both of them. they were full of mud from the trail. and if the roots were too much, i walked that too. i tried to run through the rocks; generally, the rocks were better for me than the roots. maybe because they were obvious? i’m not sure. but the last leg of single file dangerousness was rooty rooty rooty.

also not too bad. this pic courtesy of matt!!

but after you get through the roots sent from hell, you get back into wide-open grassy paths where you get a little too confident in your running.

side story! so quinn was telling us about her fall on her first run, where she landed on her face. she was describing it and said, “you know when you trip and you throw your hands back like this?” and he demonstrated by throwing her arms along her sides and backwards, like reverse superman.

in my head, i was thinking, “i don’t do that. i throw my hands forward to stop the fall what is she talking about.”

so i am just rolling out into wide-open plains for running, and i do NOT constant vigilance, and i trip over something. and i THROW MY ARMS BACK TO COUNTER BALANCE. in my head, i’m not thinking about the possible trip and fall of this, but rather, WHAT??? QUINN WAS RIGHT!!!

(i did manage to pull out of that fall, though my lower back did a LOT of work to prevent that.)

and when i told the others about this? they all said that they, too, were skeptical of quinn’s arm position, and liz actually had the same experience that i did! so, that’s the side story. and the closest i came to injury.

the final slopey section is about a mile or so long, but it’s nice because you aren’t hemmed in by trees and switchbacked trails. there’s more freedom in the run, and you can lengthen your stride. there’s a GIANT HILL that you basically just power walk up, cuz ain’t no one gonn run up that thing.

and then you come into the final stretch where all three loops’ runners converge, run through a short leg in the woods, and come out to cheers in the transition tent.

then i was DONE!!

i finished up the red loop, 6.75 miles through rocky, rooty mess, in 1:33. and that was with a lot of walking through obstacles!

we had three more runners after me, and then we got our medals and pics.

matt did the volunteer shift while the rest of us packed up and hauled everything over to the drop site. by the time we were done, almost 2 p.m., nearly all the teams had finished up. it was probably the earliest that i’d ever seen us finish up our relay – i think in the hot year (2017?) we didn’t finish the last runner til almost 3 p.m.

then it was time to get out. i was tired, needed a shower, and also needed food. liz, jane, doug, quinn, and i stopped in wausau for lunch, then it was time to head out.

i got home at 9 p.m., took a shower, threw my sweaty clothes in the wash, then promptly passed out. i slept 11 hours last night. and, weirdly enough, all that running seemed to have healed my knee issues?? what the heck.

til next year, ragnar!

i kneed

i kneed

welp, if it’s not one thing it’s another, right? my feet have been pretty decent lately on the run front, but of course my knees have decided to crap out. exciting times in the ramp up to ragnar trail, of course!

i started gathering my gear for ragnar.  i packed my headlamp, then decided to go for a run in the dark tonight. which doesn’t take much these days; thanks, axial tilt. but here’s some new gear for this year!

  1. i bought a propane tank heater. lows are going to be in the 40s, which doesn’t sound bad for running, but it sure sounds bad if you’re camping. so i got a nice heater and it works great. no freezing for me.
  2. a nice wool blanket to wrap up in while i’m sitting around and also in my sleeping bag. like i said, no freezing for me.
  3. pedialyte galore.
  4. a crapton of food. no free supper at ragnar this year, and i have trouble eating enough anyway, so i’m going to just bring a bunch of food and hope i eat enough.

training has been pretty good up until the knee issue, so i’m not worried about finishing. kind of worried about finishing with reasonable knees. hopefully it’s just runner’s knee and it’ll just sort itself out. otherwise, i have an appointment in october with my GP and if they’re still annoying then, maybe i can get into PT or something for them.

ragnar update to come afterward!

GOAT. got it?

GOAT. got it?

yesterday i called melissa to say hi and chat and all that good stuff. we were talking about something infuriating to both of us, and she said “and you know what really gets my goat?”

and i had to interrupt her well-formed rant because i was just like, where on earth did that saying come from?

so here’s your etymology saturday lesson!

the first time it was in print, it was in reference to a burst water pipe in 1909, about transferring water back and forth from the tub to a bowl and back again all night. that certainly would have been goat getting.

this is a relatively new phrase, as you can see from 1909, and one story is that it came from when goats were placed next to racehorses to keep them call. when people wanted to rig the race, some ill-mannered people would steal the horse’s goat, causing the horse to race poorly. but while that’s a nice story, it’s not widely accepted as the true source.

another idea is that the word goat was used as slang for anger around the early 1900s, which makes a little more sense.

yet another option is from the french phrase prendre le chevre, meaning take the goat, angering the owner. (i don’t like this one.)

i actually thought of this one while looking at various sources: a mispronunciation of goad. get your goad – like goading someone on.

or maybe we’re all just goat owners and we’d all be angry if someone tried to take away our goats!

we may never know the real origin, but i do like the slang idea. it was the idea that we all have an inner goat just waiting to get out there and be angry. so when something irks you, you get your goat out.

GOATS!

(hrrrmmmm i was going to link to a post i KNOW i did about the term scapegoat, but i think it was lost in the great blog migration. ugh! well, that’s another post, i guess!)

dry girl summer to almost girl fall

dry girl summer to almost girl fall

this post is totally inspired by my long-time blogging friend over at ohhonestlyerin.com, who blogged today with the following sentence: “I am already getting the tickley sensation in my belly thinking about upcoming FALL stuff.”

because i could sure relate to that! the other day i was like, oh! i should start my spooky movie watchlist! only to realize that spooky movie month is still a month away.

in my old age, i have come more and more to really appreciate spring and summer. spring is my favorite season at this point, barely barely edging out fall. but spring doesn’t bring the tickley tinglies (probably hope – the thing with wings in your chest, so emily d. says). there are only two things that bring this for me: the far-off thought of fall and the far-off thought of christmas, when the seasons are  j u s t  about to start and they haven’t completely gone off the rails, commercewise.

i hate that it’s dark now at 8:15 p.m. i miss the gloaming at 10 p.m. i hate that my garden is overgrown with weeds and dying plants. i miss the songbirds and chattering rodents. i hate that the frogs are long gone and now the drone of crickets and high-pitched cicadas overrule all other outdoor sounds. i hate that once again, summer’s on the way out.

but.

i sure do love october. it’s still a month away, but october one-eth cometh. here’s what’s in store!

  1. i’ve already started the pumpkin coffee thing because i have made it WELL KNOWN that caribou can’t seem to keep pumpkin in their stores past the end of september for some reason. it doesn’t even get stocked in october!!! they should offer pumpkin flavor through thanksgiving. what a bunch of losers.
  2. in about two weeks, i’ll be telling stan that his month is coming. he’s spooky looking. he’s spooked all the time.  october is the perfect month for a scaredy cat like him. i’ll try to wrangle the halloween jingly cat collar on him for at least one pic.
  3. the end of september is RAGNAR TRAIL. you’ll hear more about that later, but i do enjoy a run through the woods with the leaves changing.
  4. scary movie month. through october, i like to watch all the halloween classics, mostly campy scary movies like evil dead and scream because i can’t handle real scary movies. of course i’ll watch hocus pocus and maybe try to find some old disney halloween classics. can’t go wrong with some scary movies during october!
  5. the first two weeks of october in MN are the best. the leaves are peak color (usually – we’ll see what happens with this year being so dry) and it’s a great time to get out and take pics. hopefully the colors cooperate and there aren’t gale force winds that blown them all off the trees by october 3.
  6. sometime in the first half of october, i finally get around to putting up fall decor and lighting my “autumn leaves” candles, etc. no need to rush this. the first half of september is still summer, and my fall decor stays up through november, so i wait until at least october 1 to put up any semblance of a red leafed decor item in the house.
  7. i’ll roast my pie pumpkins i grew this year and then make some pumpkin bread and save some for some pumpkin pie at thanksgiving, but i’ll head down to a pumpkin farm that’s about 3 miles from my house to load up on carving and decorating pumpkins. they have a few heirloom varieties and usually some squash (i do like me some good eatin’ squash).
  8. and i’ll be on the lookout for basic white girl fall thoughts while i’m out and about. last year i heard this gem: “i really like fall, but i sure do hate that it’s cold.” honey, what do you think fall is?? axial tilt does that to a planet.

anyway, welcome to september, the fake fall. it’s still summer, so let’s not get too excited yet. just enough to get the winged tickly tingles.

oh to find a running shoe

oh to find a running shoe

oh hi there! i come to you with shoe review 42.

(i don’t know if i’ve reviewed shoes that many times or if it just seems like that many times.)

in a quest for a comfy, cushy, low-drop shoe that has a nice room toebox, i think i’ve purchased and returned 5 pairs of shoes over the past 2 months.

when i found out that asics had a lower drop shoes than the last time i’d worn them, i decided to give them another go. a low-drop shoe means the distance between the heel and the front as far as how far off the ground. a zero-drop shoe is like going barefoot. high heel would have a ginormous heel drop. my asics i wore for years had a 12mm drop. when i started having super weird foot problems a couple years ago, a lower-drop shoe helped out a ton. the hokas i’d been running in for the past year or so have a 5mm drop, but the toe box is just a bit too narrow for my tastes. the wide is super loose in the heel.

so the asics novablast had an 8mm drop, which i tried and actually ran one run in, and it just was too much of a drop. then i tried out the magic speeds, which have a steel plate (!) in them at a reasonable(ish) cost. the drop was excellent. the space for my toes was good. but they had NO arch support at all. so back to the asics factory those two pairs of shoes went.

after reading for years about altras, which are a zero drop shoe, i thought that now was the time to try them out. they look like no other running shoe out there – probably because they actually look like your foot shape.

the first pair i got had medium cushion and high support, which is excellent for trail running. i love these in the woods. i got a second pair with high cushion and high support, but the 11 was a half size too small, and this company doesn’t make an 11.5???? what legit running shoe company doesn’t do that!! so have a pair of the men’s shoe on their way here, and they should be here tomorrow. i’m hopeful that they should work well, even if they aren’t the more fun colors of the women’s shoe.

ok, so the grey/lime isn’t so bad.

i hope i run like the wind! because ragnar training has begun and i’m going to run 2 runs this saturday in the 70º weather*!!!

*ugh i really want to write about our stupid hot weather and climate change but i feel like i will get so severely depressed.

end of july musings

end of july musings

oh hello from a new laptop! not just a new-to-me laptop; a NEW SPANKIN NEW laptop. the last time i had a brand new laptop was the white 14″er in 2004. since then, i got a refurb 2009 lappy and then charlie’s old powerbook from 2011. so, over the course of 17 years, i’ve used 3 mac laptops? and they all would probably still work today just fine. but i had some extra cash and it was time to invest. this laptop will do internet work and photoshop just fine.

it’s olympics time, which means it’s time for me to complain about lack of infrastructure for people in the boonies. the olypmics are on network TV and supposed to be “free” to watch, but those of us out in the boondocks can’t get a signal unless we have a 150′ antenna. and getting cable for 2 weeks? dumb. i was super excited for about 5 seconds when NBC was touting their peacock app to watch the olympics, but turns out it’s nothing live: just weird specials and minor highlights after the fact. good grief. i’d PAY for them to offer live olympics somewhere that’s not cable or i have to pay $60 to get (looking at you, youtube TV). throw it on youtube live with ads. i’ll pay $15 to watch on the peacock app. let me just pay you $5 for access on your website. HOW HARD IS IT. this would be FREE if i had a large antenna and i’m offering to throw a nominal amount of money at you instead.

/rant

summer is waning. maybe it’s full summer, though i feel like it hits the full summer right around july 4. bet, we’re about to enter july, which means it’s time to make some pickles! despite about 2″ rain in the past 3 months, i’ve been watering my garden on the daily and my veggies are doing ok. i did not keep up with the tomatoes, so they are just exploding into giant bushes. my pumpkins are doing awesome. the pea plants only got to about about 2″ high before they quit (but i did get some peas out of them). bunnies keep trying to eat my beans. my apple tree only has about 10 apples on it though. i guess it’s good i forgot entirely about the FULL DRAWER of apple butter until about a month ago. i’ll be set for the next year at least.

it’s positively apocalyptic looking outside. between no rain, wildfire smoke pouring in, and the fields of corn already turning brown and shriveling up, it makes me wonder what’s going to happen next. water wars? will MN’s trees start dying off as we move into another biome? ah, climate change. too bad no one saw this coming. here’s a good video from hank green about why we should care about climate change and try to effect change even when it seems hopeless.

BH2021: day 6 (last day boo)

BH2021: day 6 (last day boo)

boo, vacay is over!

but, stopping for a night in chamberlain on the way home versus booking it 10 hours in one day is a much easier way to end a vacation. you can meander a bit. you can take your time and get lost in buffalo gap grassland. you can stop at some places you wouldn’t have stopped otherwise. or you could visit wall drug a second time or stop at al’s oasis a second time. (we did not.)

the final morning, we got outta dodge early after a late night of pizza and ice cream the day before. it’s pretty weird how suddenly the landscape goes from grassland dakota to cornfield dakota once you cross the missouri.

one note about SD: NO RECYCLE BINS??? come on! none at the rest stops, none at the national parks. what’s going on there. i’m writing a letter. at the first rest stop in MN, i unloaded 5 days’ worth of recyclables into the bins.

we met up in luvurne for lunch at a fancy pant place, then said our goodbyes. i then headed to the brandenburg art gallery in town (which is shared with the world war museum – a stark contrast).

jim brandenburg is a luvurne native and national geographic photographer. i remember desperately wanting to be a NG photographer but it never really was something even slightly attainable in my head. but brandenburg’s works are wonderful.

check out his photos!

he’s taken a lot of photos of MN – both of the southwest and of the north. you can tell he enjoys the prairie and wolves.

the gallery is free and you’re able to purchase prints while you’re there. i recommend that if you’re ever in the SW part of the state, check it out!

then i was inspired, so i headed to the touch the sky national wildlife refuge, which i learned was founded in the early 00s by the brandenburg foundation! huh! learn something new every day. anyway, i took some pics.

after that, i headed northeast, making a stop at the upper sioux agency state park, which i had skipped on my way down. the last time i was there, it was raining and i hadn’t really taken time to learn about the park or take a close look.

this park is the location of the buildings that housed the white people who were there to assimilate the native people before the dakota uprising. thoughts on this park: it’s right by a reservation. the information building was closed, and it’s definitely run down. there were no people there while i was there (it was a thursday afternoon but still). it makes me wonder if the state will return the land to the native americans who surround the park. in fact, i would very much support that. there is a grave of a well-known leader on the park grounds, and there is only one historical building (the first duplex built in the state, which is no real treat). that’s my two cents.

then booked it northeast. i’m glad the speed limit on 23 is 60, which means everyone drives at least 60. most drive 68 or so. several signs were posted along the 2-lane portion of the road: “4-lane for you!” we’ll see how long that takes.

and past willmar, the trees started to pop up and it was like a sigh of relief. i never realize how much i miss the trees until i’m back in them. how glorious to come up north of richmond, right outside of avon, with the hills covered in trees in deep summer green.

BH2021: day 5

BH2021: day 5

apparently i did not take the advice of “CONSTANT VIGILANCE” as well as i should have. because it applies to driving as well as running ragnar!

we broke camp this morning pretty quickly; we were packed up and on the road out by 10 a.m. liz and fam were on their way to go ziplining, and mom and i were going to check out the badlands. instead of hauling it on I90, i wanted to check out an alternative route. so first we headed up to check out pactola dam, then went into rapid city via hwy 44, which we were supposed to just stay on the entire time.

except i didn’t! i don’t know what happened, but somehow i ended up on 79 instead of 44, and we ended up going 20 miles (!) south before realizing it. i blame bad signage in rapid city. we were even checking out landmarks on the map to make sure we were going the right way! i’m sure i missed a sign or something.

so, by the time i realized i was going the wrong way, we sure weren’t going to turn around. instead we traveled maybe 30 miles on gravel roads to get up to the road we were supposed to be on to come into the badlands from the south.

the good news is that i saw the buffalo gap national grasslands and parts of the badlands that i’d never seen before. bad news? it probably ate up an extra hour or so of the day. oh well. at least i didn’t have to call in for a 2 p.m. meeting!

once we got into the main loop, the badlands were badlands-y like always! the highlight for me was seeing the vault toilet that was available right away after we entered the park. we’d planned on being able to stop at one the towns on the route we were supposed to take.

but the badlands were looking good!

we hit up the dining area and gift shop on the way out. i’d forgotten how great that gift shop was! and the food wasn’t bad (nate and i had not tried out the food the last time we were out).

it was SO HOT. it was close to 100º while we were driving across the prairie. after the badlands, i kicked it up to 85 and we made it to chamberlain after losing an hour crossing from mountain back into good ol’ central time. i don’t know that i’ve ever stopped at chamberlain on the way back – i’ve always just booked it across SD and MN in 10 hours to get back home. it’s not bad to meander sometimes.

BH2021: day 4

BH2021: day 4

If I never drive the wildlife loop again, I may be ok! We headed out earlyish to catch breakfast at the hill city café before a day of driving several miles at slow speeds through the scenic black hills. The hill city café has moved to a buffet only style eatery! I’m not sure if this is due to covid, due to short-staffed-ness, or due to it’s just easier. Either way, it gives the people in front of me in line the opportunity to load up their plate with the remaining bacon. Nate is right on when it comes to buffets: people suck.

We headed out on needles highway, which is always a treat. Mom and I drove separately so I could find wi-fi for a work meeting I had to attend, so of course I was wasting brain power on keeping track of the time and where I could find at least a bar of service but better yet wifi so I can call in for this meeting at 2 p.m. with my dirty hair and sweaty clothes.

But until then, we checked out a couple of the custer state park lodges, which are just great. (we wanted to camp in custer but they were booked.) the air was cooler the higher we went (of course), and it was a nice reprieve from the hot we’d been experiencing. We stopped at a couple of overlooks, and I gotta say, wildlife bingo was pretty much a bust this year! I was about to give up because all we’d seen were a couple deer and a turkey, which I can see any old day wandering across my back yard. But, vindication when we drove past the prairie dog field! At least we say some p-dawgs. Then I managed to see some burros from afar, and then the coup de grace! A bison herd! That was pretty great despite the idiot drivers who couldn’t figure out how to move off the road to get their pics. And those who got out of the car! Good grief.

(as an aside, there were also bicyclists on the road, like riding in a race or something. So you had people driving 10 mph across a straight road with nothing happening on the wildlife front, bicyclists, people driving jeeps who didn’t know that a cattle grate wouldn’t hurt their giant tires, and in the middle of it all, mom and I just kept complaining about it to each other hahahahahahha.)

So, no more wildlife loop. At the end of the loop, I had to find wifi, and luckily, we stopped at the visitors center, and down the road was the game lodge, where I set up camp for an hour, eating dessert and zooming in to this meeting using their wifi. I left a $14 tip on a $22 bill.

We finished up the drive through iron mountain road, with the pigtail bridges and the tunnels that looked out on mount rushmore. The road back to camp took us through hill city, so we stopped for a bit to check out the shopping there, which was pretty mediocre for me, but mom found a couple things she was looking for.

Then I decided, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, and after seeing a bunch of junky trump paraphernalia, I broke down and bought a Sturgis hat. At least it looks pretty! And if nate had a bike, I’d probably go to Sturgis too. At least once.

Got back to camp and I decided that just 2 days in the hills is just not enough. You need at least one more day to just putz around. We smashed a lot of stuff into two days! We wrapped up the day by burning four bundles of firewood because why not. Then of course there were winds that night, and the fire we’d put out had popped back up. Luckily, my mom was up and around and saw it. (by up and around I mean we’re in a tent and if you have to use the bathroom in the night, well, it’s off to the vault toilet with you.)

BH2021: day 3

BH2021: day 3

Woof I don’t know why it’s either feast or famine when I’m sleeping in a tent, but last night was not a good sleeping night. But today had a lot of stuff happening and I managed to get roll out of the cot at 7 a.m. to have coffee. Lots of coffee.

We had reservations for the 1880 train at 10:15, so we headed to keystone to catch the train! That was fun. It was warm out, so we weren’t worried about freezing or getting rained on. It was an hour to hill city and an hour back. I haven’t been on the train since I was 9, so that was pretty fun!

We decided to forgo keystone because it was just a giant mass of people, so we headed back to camp for lunch and a nap, then to mount rushmore! You know, I think I could be done with seeing mount rushmore. We did get ice cream cones, so that was probably the highlight of the trip.

After that, we headed back to camp, again, where I made campfire pizza. Way too much campfire pizza, I might add. But it was pretty decent!

So now I sit in front of the campfire waiting for bedtime and hoping that I sleep like a log tonight. Tomorrow’s a nice driving tour and then I have to call in to a meeting at 2 p.m. eye roll.

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