Trout Lake

Last week Bill and I took a beautiful drive through Dolores Colorado on our way to Trout Lake which is near Telluride Colorado.

The scenery was stunning as we drove along the Dolores River.

Just before we arrived at Trout Lake, we could see the beautiful snow capped mountains that surround the lake. I knew right then that it was going to be cold when we arrived at the lake, but I had fishing on my mind and I was willing to do whatever it took to catch my fish…

Trout lake is one of the most pristine high altitude (10,000 feet), lakes in Colorado, and it’s just a short 15 minutes from Telluride. To our daughter, Shantel, for whom I write this blog, I would give you my own eyes if it would make it possible for you to be able to see the beauty of Trout Lake. The lake itself is not real big, but it is surrounded by beautiful mountains that were capped with snow the day we were there and the image of the mountains was being reflected onto the clear, still, water of the lake just like the water was a mirror. Snow was also all along the shoreline of the lake.

I couldn’t wait to get my fishing line into the water and start catching lots of fish. After all, we promised a big BBQ fish dinner to  our co-hosts at The Views Campground where we are staying.

I sat patiently, which as you know Shantel, is not one of my greatest virtues…

The sun was shinning, but the wind was blowing, and coming off of the lake water, it felt even colder than it really was. Papa was sitting near me and even he said he was cold, which as you know Shantel doesn’t happen often.

We sat and sat getting little nibbles from the fish tasting our bait, but not one of them was going to offer themself up and get on our fishing hook. So we took a little break and had a picnic lunch of sandwiches, veggies, and chips,  which we ate on our laps, while we continued to take in the absolute beauty of the lake and surrounding area.

When I was researching Trout Lake, I found out that “there are cabins and houses peppering the shores. Some folks live there year round. Its a quiet way of life, and one filled with living in harmony with Mother Nature.” The information on Trout Lake I read also said “Trout Lake is a trout fisherman’s paradise. Stocked by the Hotchkiss National Fish Hatchery, you’re sure to reel in some quality rainbows and brown trout.” Well, that may well be, but Papa and I didn’t catch anything the day we were there. But we will return and try again another day.

There are so many places to fish around the area where we are staying and we are determined, and holding positive thoughts, and offering up our prayers every time we cast out, that we will catch our fish…

We love and miss you Shantel.

Stay Tuned!

Exploring

Yesterday Bill and I spent the day exploring fishing options around our area. Two reservoirs are just across the highway form The Views Rv Park where we are hosting for the summer. We drove down lovely back country roads,

until we came upon the McPhee Reservoir. “McPhee Reservoir is located in Montezuma County, Colorado.It was constructed and is operated by the Untied States Bureau of Reclamation as part of the Dolores Project, and dams the Dolores River to furnish irrigation water for Montezuma and Dolores counties and the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Reservation”. It’s a large reservoir, but the shoreline is pretty bare, and not much to look at.

However, we found evidence that someone had a good time there…

You have to be careful where you sit because there are lots of spiders (lower right), running around all over the shoreline.

And we realized there must also be some big critters running around the area seeing how something big had to take down whatever the remains of this critter was…

I was pondering how I was going to be able to fish in this area when you apparently have to watch your back in case one of those big critters decides to sneak up on you to steal your fish, or even worse, steal you…

As we were leaving the shoreline I noticed lots of rocks with faces in them like the reddish on with the white face, and the longer blueish colored one just below that. Do you see any faces in the rocks?

It was lunchtime, and since we couldn’t find any suitable shoreline area where we could sit, and the lack of shade, we returned to our car and had a picnic there, looking out over the water.

After lunch we drove down the road to the Narranguinnep Reservoir. Now this reservoir was much more to our liking.

Beautiful clear water and lovely views all around the area.

I loved finding this rope swing hanging from this tree. Almost made me want to swing on it and jump off into the water. I say almost because that water is way too cold for this desert rat to get into…

I thought this dead tree sitting in all that water brought home the fact that some plants really can be over watered!

Bill spent some time pondering on just how we will get down to the shoreline when we do come fishing here. Lots of the area has steep cliffs we would have to climb down. But we have the will, so we will find a way.

So much to see and do around Dolores Colorado and surrounding areas. Tomorrow we’re going to drive about 60 miles to Trout Lake, and if it’s not catch and release, we will make that our first day of fishing. We need to have catch and take home so we can have grilled fish for our friends here at The Views RV Park and Campground!

Stay safe, and stay tuned!

 

The Views

Bill and I spent a wonderful, relaxing, month in Camp Verde, Arizona where we attended my brother Danny’s wedding to his beautiful new bride, Flo. We were honored to be there to help out in any way we could, and to be able to attend the wedding ceremony. On the day before we left, my new sister-in-law, Flo, gifted me with not just one, but three of her beautiful flowing designer tops right out of her studio as shown below.

Fl

I love them all and I was beyond surprised. I just can’t thank you enough Flo. You are a beautiful person inside and out, and I’m so very happy you and Danny found each other. We will see you both on the flip side..

After leaving Camp Verde, we made our way to Delores Colorado, and The Views RV Park and Campground where we will be hosting for the summer.

The Views is a private RV Park run by a man and wife team that live onsite and are fabulous! The picture below is of the adorable little office where we will work as part of our hosting duties.

The grounds of the park are very well manicured,

and there are lots of interesting little surprises tucked in around the park.

The name, “The Views”, captures the essence of the park perfectly. Everywhere you look you see spectacular views!

There are several nice hiking trails within the park.

A nice pavilion with two nice size bbq grills for us to use when we need to grill up all the fish we’re going to catch in the 150 mile shoreline lake that is just across the highway from the RV Park. Bill and I went out yesterday and purchased our fishing license and we can’t hardly wait to get our lines in the water…

The park has several really nice glamping tents as seen below..

And last, but certainly not least, is our cozy campsite. The large trees provide afternoon shade as we sit out on our patio. The temps are perfect. High 70-low 80’s.

Bill and I are loving life here at The Views. We have a work schedule that can’t be beat with a stick, three days on with six days off… We also have the delightful company of Deb and Dave Barr, and Mary and Dave Ward, they hosted with us at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Arizona. We all work well together and enjoy each other’s company. This is going to be a FANTASTIC summer..

Stay Tuned!

 

New Beginnings

You might remember from a previous post I did about six months ago, where I showed pictures of when Bill and I visited my brother Danny’s new home in Cottonwood Arizona. We helped him hang pictures and get his kitchen in order and his new little home was just adorable, and perfect for him and his two dogs. The next two pictures are of that home in Cottonwood

While living there, Danny worked part-time at the local gym, where he met a lovely lady, Flo. Flo is a fabric artist, known in the community for her women’s apparel line featuring garments created from her own patterns. Flo’s website says “Flo chooses to work predominantly with lots of color and print, in light flowing fabrics to suit her imagination. For her fashion design and creating garments are an art form; the female form is the canvas and the medium is fabric. Flo also designs and creates Joyful Expression Flags, colorful flags used for dance performances and worship. One other of her artistic expressions By International Design, fabric sculptures on canvas.She also offers her seamstress skills for alterations to local residents”. Flo has a studio in her home and one in Sedona Arizona.

Fast forward to this past Saturday 4/25/2020. That’s the day Danny and Flo got married and started their “new beginnings”. The blending of lives of two very special people, who found each other, fell in love, and wanted to get married. They were going to get married in July, but since Bill and I were here taking a break for the month of April before we head to Colorado for the summer, Danny and Flo said they wanted to move their wedding date up so we could be there to share in their joy. Danny even asked Bill to be his best man.

We arrived at the new home Danny and Flo bought together (They both have their other homes up for sale), and found Danny relaxing in the living room. The wedding was very casual, and small, ten people total including the preachers, but it was absolutely beautiful.

Bill and Danny spent a few minutes bonding as we waited for other guests, and the preachers to arrive.

Flo, in the black dress, shared special moments with her best friend, Cindy. Cindy provided the cake and beautiful flowers to grace the table. Then Flo and Cindy went to one room to get ready while Danny went to another room to get himself ready.

When Danny returned in his wedding outfit, he and I shared a special moment as I pined his boutonniere on his shirt, and wished him all the happiness in the world.

Then Bill and Danny tried to get serious as we all made our way to the back deck of Danny and Flo’s home where the wedding ceremony would take place.

When all the guests were seated on the back deck, Flo made her way there. She was glowing and beautiful. As I mentioned, Flo is an artist, and fashion designer, and she is wearing one of her creations.

The music started playing, and Flo made her way to where Danny was waiting for her. The look of pure love on both of their faces.

They shared an emotional moment as they stood and just looked into each other’s eyes as the music continued to play.

They held tight to each other as the preacher read bible verses and led them through the ceremony.

Then Danny read his vows to Flo,

and we all cried.

Then Flo recited her vows to Danny,

and with the beautiful views from their deck as a backdrop,

Danny placed the ring on Flo’s finger, the preacher pronounced them man and wife,

and they sealed the deal with a kiss.

And with that, the preacher presented to us, Mr. and Mrs. Daniel G Vezie…

The wedding ring Danny gave to Flo is very special as it was once our Father’s, Mother’s wedding ring. Our grandparents were married over 60 years, our parents were married 57 years, and now this ring is a symbol of a long and happy marriage for Danny and Flo.

Lunch was served family style,

the cake was cut,

Danny and Flo fed each other some cake,

and we all toasted Danny and Flo wishing them health, happiness, and beautiful “new beginnings”. Love you both!

Stay Tuned!

Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Bill and I took a lovely hike this morning around Dead Horse State Park. The information sheet we received when we entered the park says Dead Horse State Park ” has 423 acres for camping, mountain biking in the Coconino National Forest, hiking along the Verde River, canoeing, picnicking, fishing, or just wading in the cool water of the Verde River.

The ranch got its name when the Ireys family came to Arizona from Minnesota in the late 1940s looking to buy a ranch. At one property they discovered a dead horse lying by the road. When Mr. Ireys asked the kids which ranch they liked best, they said, “the one with the dead horse.” The family named it “Dead Horse Ranch ,” and when Arizona State Parks acquired the park in 1973, the Ireys made retaining the name a condition of sale.

Bill and I have visited this park before, and at one point, we were offered hosting positions here, but it’s just too hot here in the summer for our full-time RV living lifestyle. However, it is a beautiful park and well worth multiple visits.

I love the massive cottonwood trees throughout the park.

 

Even the trees that have fallen are still beautiful and expressive in their own way.

The tall grasses throughout the park create a “peaceful and easy feeling”.

 

And the wildflowers perfume the air.

The trees and grasses throughout the park are homes to all kinds of wild life, from song birds that greet you along your way,

to whatever large animals that create their beds out of the tall grasses.

There are three lovely lagoons in the park where people come to fish and picnic.

There is a little something for everyone at Dead Horse State Park. I know Bill and I will come back again soon to find that “peaceful easy feeling” we all crave…

Stay safe, and stay tuned friends.

Shantel’s First Winter Gala 2019

It’s been a while since I shared my last post. That’s because when we are in Arizona, we don’t really go anywhere that I haven’t already shared on my blog. But last week, our beautiful, grown, baby girl, Shantel, attended her very first formal company Winter Gala.

Shantel started a new job a few months ago. She’s working for a wonderful company that helps people who are in financial distress due to high credit card debt. This company was started by two young men in a garage and has now grown to a company employing over 2,000 employees. When Shantel interviewed for this company, I had my doubts that it would work out, because she has been hired at so many other companies who thought they could get the JAWS screen-reader program to work with their company system. So many times we’ve had our hopes up waiting for Shantel to land a job that would be willing to try to find a way for JAWS to work their system, only to have those hopes dashed over and over again.

This company hired Shantel with the promise that they would do everything possible to make JAWS work with their system, and they stayed true to their word. On the first day of work, Shantel was welcomed in the lobby by the Co-Founder of the company, the Vice President, the head of H.R., the head of Training, and the head of the IT department. They all shook Shantel’s hand and thanked her for “allowing them to work with her to get JAWS working with their system, not only so she can work independently at their company, but for all those who are visually impaired that will come after her”. Within a couple of weeks, working together with Shantel, and listening to what she needed to work independently with JAWS, Shantel was able to work on her own in the welcoming department, taking incoming calls bringing on new clients, and working with the clients to ensure all their account numbers were correct etc. We were thrilled for Shantel to get that position because not only is this job full-time (her last job was just 32 hours a week), this job is only 15 minutes from her home as opposed to her last job that was an hour away. We just couldn’t be happier for Shantel and didn’t think anything could be any better than that. But things did just get better. Shantel did such a good job with the welcome calls, she has now been promoted to Client Services and will now earn a dollar more per hour. She is in training for the next two weeks and is loving every minute of it. Then another surprise! The company also has a Winter Gala every year. This year the Gala was held at the Civic Center. It was a very formal event and Shantel was so excited that she could attend, and could have one guest attend with her. Of course she invited her best friend, Jaz, who was equally excited to be able to attend the Gala with Shantel. Jaz arrived at Shantel’s home around 3:00 p.m. and helped Shantel with her hair and make-up before getting ready herself.

I was filled with pride, and cried tears of joy when Jaz sent me pictures throughout the evening.

This is the first picture I received of Shantel standing in the kitchen of her apartment in her beautiful dress.


This is Jaz and Shantel together beside the Christmas Tree at the Gala. I knew Shantel met Jaz in college, but I asked her the other day how they actually met. Shantel told me she was just sitting outside one of her classes waiting to go in and Jaz just came over and sat down and started talking to her. Turned out they both were taking that same class together. Jaz is such a blessing in our lives and we love her as part of our family.

The day after the Gala, I called Shantel to see what she thought of the event. She said “it was really nice and we had a great time, but mom, I never felt so out of place in my whole life”. I asked her why she felt out of place and she said “well, it was just so formal. Like when we sat down to be served dinner, there were forks everywhere and I didn’t know which fork I was supposed to use”. I said, your supposed to start with the one farthest away from your plate and work your way in. She said “mom, there were forks on the side of the plate, forks at the top of the plate and just forks everywhere, so I just grabbed the first fork I found and started eating.” That’s our girl!

Then Shantel told me the Gala had different things going on in different areas. She said they walked outside on the patio and at first all they heard was someone screaming at the top of their voice. She said they didn’t know what was going on at first, then they found out it was Karaoke and someone was performing hard rock music. She said “I didn’t know Karaoke could be so entertaining”.

When I sent Jaz a thank-you note for sharing the pictures of the eventing, I asked her if she had a good time too. She said she had a great time and even managed to get Shantel out on the dance floor to dance. Apparently gift cards were being randomly given to folks that were dancing. And speaking of gifts, the company had really nice door prizes they were giving away as well. Unfortunately, one of the employees had her purse stolen when she got up to dance. The President of the company got up and addressed all the employees saying their company is based on honesty and integrity, and that someone in that room was not being honest by stealing. He then presented the lady that had her purse stolen, and her guest, with one of the door prizes which was two round-trip tickets to anywhere in the United States, and he apologized for what happened to her. What a great company to work for. Shantel also told me the President sends out a company wide email every Monday welcoming the employees back from the weekend and wishing them a great work week. Who could ask for anything better than that?

This week when we visited Shantel, she asked me if I would take this picture of her, Jaz, and Danny. Danny is a girl that trained Shantel in the Welcome Calls Department. Apparently a photo booth was also part of the Gala event, so the three girls had their picture taken together. Shantel asked me if I would put it it a frame, so I put it in this adorable frame Shantel made for me when she was in grade school. Every time I would leave the house to go to work, or anywhere, Shantel would hug me and say “don’t forget me” like I could ever forget my precious baby girl…

Stay Tuned

Center Lake

Bill and I are winding down our time here in beautiful Custer State Park, South Dakota. We have only two more three day work shifts, then we will be leaving here on 9/24/19 to make our four day trip back to Arizona. We’ve spent the past five months here, and are thankful we had this opportunity to visit this magical place. While we really enjoyed all the things we saw and did on our days off, there were an equal amount of things we didn’t like about our stay. Like our ever changing work schedules. We worked at four different Visitor Centers, but not together. One day we would open a Visitor Center, and the next day we would be closing a Visitor Center. When we had to close, we had to work until 8:00 p.m. which did not suit us at all. Both Bill and I are very much early morning people and don’t like sitting around half the day waiting to go to work. And the campground we live in is a complete disaster. We changed campsites three times since we’ve been here, and still never got our coach level. The problem is most of the sites in this campground are on a slant. Somehow these things were not mentioned to us when we had our telephone interview and accepted the positions… We are so ready to get back to our level site at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, and work the Visitor Center schedules we have enjoyed for the past four years there. We already talked to our new Supervisor, and she said she would love for us to keep the same schedules we had for the past four years.

One good thing that did happen as the result of our ever changing work schedules, was that we were assigned to work “special project” last Friday with the maintenance lead, Darin. Darin is a really great guy, and he needed help loading up canoe’s that were used over the summer by the Naturalist’s to teach free canoeing basics. Darin told us to meet him at Center Lake ,and Bill could help him load the canoe’s onto his truck so he could deliver them to the storage garage where they will stay until they are needed again next summer.

While we were waiting for Darin to arrive at our meeting place at Center Lake, we had the opportunity to walk around, and take in how beautiful Center Lake is.

When Darin arrived, he told us that Center Lake is the lake that is also used for the “Hook em and Cook em” program the Naturalists teach over the summer. Hook em and Cook em is a free fishing program, where families can go fishing, without a fishing license, and the park supplies the fishing poles, bait, and the Naturalists will even clean, and cook the fish the families catch. What a deal!

Darin also told us that because Center Lake is stocked with three kinds of trout for the Hook em and Cook em program, it’s also the lake all the local folks come to fish. Yes, sign us up!

Center Lake also has a beautiful campground surrounding the lake. It is the only campground, in Custer State Park, that makes same day camping reservations. All other campgrounds must be booked in advance. Bill and I really enjoyed visiting Center Lake. It is so, so, peaceful and beautiful.

While loading up the canoe’s, Darin found this pretty little baby doll under one of the canoe’s. He sat it on the lock box that is used to store the life vests and canoe paddles. When we got ready to leave, I asked Darin if he was just going to leave, and abandon, this pretty little doll baby with her cute pink, teddy bear outfit on, and cute pink hat…? He smiled and said “put her in my truck and I’ll find a way to play a trick on the Park Manager, Lydia”. Lydia, I had nothing to do with whatever “trick” Darin is planning to do…

We were scheduled to work the full day with Darin, and we were ready to do just that. But that morning, when we met up with him, I mentioned that that day was our anniversary. And guess what? After we got the canoe’s unloaded back at the storage garage, which only took three hours, Darin said “I think I’m just going to cut you folks loose now ,so go and enjoy the rest of your day… “Thanks Darin!

Looking back over the past five months, we would not take anything for the experience we’ve had here in South Dakota. But, after five months of buffalo’s coming and going at will in and around our campsite, knocking over our outside ovens, scratching our motorhome, grunting, sniffing females to see if they are ready to mate, and fighting for the right to mate with her right outside our motorhome, keeping us trapped inside..,

after five months of all that… , we no longer say with excitement “oh look, the buffalo are coming.” NO!! Now we say “OH S##T, the buffalo are coming!! But oh, what stories we have to tell…  🙂 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota

Today Bill and I took a beautiful back-road drive through the black hills of South Dakota, on our way

to the Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, South Dakota. This is yet another free admission perk we get with our VIP card we received for our volunteer service here at Custer State Park.

“The discovery of this active dig came about in June 1974, when heavy equipment operator George Hanson was leveling ground for a Hot Springs housing development planned by land owner Phil Anderson. Hanson was grading a small hill when his blade struck something that shone white in the sunlight. Hanson got out for a closer look. What he saw was a tusk, about seven feet long, sliced in half length wise, along with other bones. Mr Hanson contacted the land owner, Mr. Anderson, who contacted three universities and colleges in South Dakota, and one university in Nebraska. None of the 4 colleges were interested in the project nor did they have any desire to come and see what was discovered in Hot Springs”. Eventually, they did get the attention of the right people who came and saw the discovery, and took the right actions to save this site, which is an active dig site to this day. All to the credit of Mr. Hanson who discovered the bones, and land owner, Mr. Anderson, who sold the land at cost. He did not make a profit off the land at all…

The information sheet we received when we arrived at the Mammoth Site say’s “Travel back in time to the late Ice Age by taking a 30 minute guided tour indoors”. What a great learning experience this tour was. We learned that there was a very large sinkhole in the area, and the edges of a sinkhole was very slippery. This is “where Columbian and wooly mammoths, camels, wolves, and giant short-faced bears became trapped leaving an ancient treasure trove of fossil remains”.

How did they become trapped, you might ask…? Well the edges of the sinkhole was spearfish shale, which is very slippery when wet. So when the animals would go to the edge of the sinkhole, where they were enticed by the tender grasses, and the warm waters that surrounded the sinkhole, many of them, like the mammoths, that carried massive weight, and didn’t have claws to help them dig their way out,  would slip in and die of exhaustion from trying to get out, or they would drown. The picture below is an example of spearfish shale.

We found it interesting that this is an active working excavation site featuring the fossils of over 60 mammoths,

and of those 60 mammoth remains, most of them are male. Our guide told us that they believe that is because the mammoths had a female matriarch that would teach the majority of the herd to stay away from the sinkhole. However. boys will be boys… and the young male mammoths that didn’t want to behave, would be kicked of the herd, and without the female matriarch to guide them away from the sinkhole… they fell in and died… Pay attention boys!! The next three pictures are of male remains found in the sinkhole.

The next picture is an example of a full-size mammoth.

This mammoth exhibit hall also features replicas of Lyuba,

and Dima; baby mammoth mummies discovered in Siberia.

For budding scientists, there is a hands-on learning activity for children. Downstairs, the laboratory windows provide a behind- the-scenes glimpse of the scientific work being conducted on site.

Bill and I ended our outing with lunch at the Blue Bell Lodge, here in Custer State Park,

where we enjoyed a delicious lunch of buffalo stew, served in a cast iron skillet, with mashed potatoes on top,

and delicious cornbread with honey butter…OMG!!!

Just another fun-filled day here in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Stay Tuned!

South Dakota Air and Space Museum

Last week Bill and I toured the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, part of the museum system of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. “The South Dakota Air and Space Museum serves to educate and entertain the public. Not only does it give information  about the history of U.S. Air Force aviation, it promotes South Dakota aviation history.

Aircraft that have been flown throughout the eras are on display at South Dakota’s premiere free aviation museum!”

When we first arrived at the museum, Bill said “Im going to nerd out here and read everything.”  The plane he is standing in front of, the F-100, is an example of one of many that his late brother, Rick, flew during his 20 plus years in the Air Force.

“The outdoor air park is filled with WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Cold War, and present day aircraft.” You are free to roam around taking pictures and touch history.

Inside the museum are all sorts of displays that allow you to get up close and see inside the cockpit of various planes.

I loved this display of the Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Remembrance Table. The sign next to the table explains that:

“The small table is set for one symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner.

The table is round showing our everlasting concern for our missing service members.

The tablecloth is white symbolizing the purity of their motives when answering the call to arms.

A single red rose reminding us of the life of each of the missing, and the loved ones and friends of these Americans who keep the faith, awaiting answers.

A red ribbon symbolizing our continued determination to account for our missing.

A slice of lemon reminding us of the bitter fate of those missing, captured and held as prisoners in a foreign land.

A pinch of salt symbolizing the tears endured by those missing and their families who seek answers.

A candle representing the light of hope which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home.

The glass is inverted symbolizing their inability to share the evening’s toast.

“Let us remember and never forget their sacrifices. May God forever watch over them and protect them and their families.”

After we finished touring the Air and Space museum, we took a guided tour through the Missile Training Launch Facility on the Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Bill is standing in front of a training missile silo that we actually got to go down inside of and see all the internal workings.

A very COOL way to end our visit to South Dakota’s Air and Space Museum!

Stay Tuned!

Mount Coolidge Lookout Tower

Yesterday Bill and I went to Mount Coolidge Lookout Tower. This tower serves as the Park’s fire lookout and information center.

Visitors to Custer State Park are always welcome to go as far as the outside observation deck on the second floor level.

However, if you are staff, or a volunteer at Custer State Park, you are allowed to go all the way to the top of the tower, and visit the third floor working interior quarters of the tower. What a treat that is!

The third floor observation room is the highest point in central Custer State Park (6,023 ft), and offers breathtaking 360-degree views.

It’s amazing to see up close all the tools it takes to not only spot fires from miles away, but also the maps and tools needed to pinpoint the exact location of the fire so you can communicate that information to firefighters on the ground and in the air.

The telescopes in the tower are so powerful, they make Crazy Horse,

and Mount Rushmore, look like they are just a stone throw away… We learned that on a clear day, you can see the Badlands nearly 60 miles away in the east.

It may look like a bit of a mess in the lookout tower, but I can say that the people that operate the fire tower know where everything is, and they are on top of everything all the time.

Mount Coolidge serves as the park’s dispatch center and fields a large volume of radio traffic and phone calls. Before contacting them, we are asked to make sure you have a legitimate question or concern. For example, we would call Mount Coolidge if we were notified of a lost person within the park, or if we were made aware of any dangerous situation. However, if it were a medical emergency, we would call 911 first, then call Mount Coolidge.

The first lookout tower was built on what was then known as Sheep Mountain in 1923. This tower was a log tower and the staff quarters were built at the base. In 1923 the mountain was renamed Lookout Mountain. On June 28, 1927, in a special proclamation President Calvin Coolidge changed the name yet again and called it Mount Coolidge. In 1940, the CCC built a stone tower with caretaker’s quarters to replace the log structure. The fire lookout consists of three stories. The actual fire tower is on the third floor of the stone building. The side walls consist of twelve very heavy windows. The second floor has one bedroom. Outside the second floor is an observation deck with an outside stone stairway for visitors. The first floor has a main room, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen. The person on duty works three 12 hour shifts, and more often than not, they stay in the tower for the three days they are working.

Bill and I were very happy we took the tour of the tower. The views from the top of the tower are truly breathtaking.

Just another fun-filled day in Custer State Park.

Tomorrow we are going to take advantage of yet another free adventure when we use the VIP card we were given as volunteers of Custer State Park to go visit and tour South Dakota Air & Space Museum. Not only will we get to visit the museum, but we also get a free bus tour of Ellsworth Air Force Base & Missile Silo. Now how cool is that!!?

Stay Tuned!

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