June 1 I took off from Scottsdale after cleaning out my apartment and turning in the keys. I figured this trip through Montana would be 2100 miles or so. I went through Flagstaff, Page, then Kanab Utah. Highway 89 in Utah parallels the interstate but is much more interesting, and there wasn't much traffic.

From Kanab I stayed on the back roads until Nephi, then shot up the interstate toward Butte, Montana. It was hot all the way. I expected it to cool down, but no luck.

In Butte I visited the huge open pit that a mining company left behind. It is constantly filing with water that then leaches out all the harmful chemicals and metals in the soil. The water has to be pumped out constantly because if it rises above a certain level, the bad water will leak into the local water supply and essentially kill the town. They's recently discovered some super bug in the water that lives off the iron there. I also visited the Montana Mining museum there, which is ok but not spectacular.It's actually on a mine that closed down in the 1950s. Also in Butte there's a strange white blob on top of a mountain to the east. It turns out this is a 90-foot tall statue of a woman that somehow celebrates womanhood or something like that.

From Butte I headed to Kalispell. I stopped in St. Ignatius on the Flathead Indian Reservation to see the frescoes in the Mission there. Quite beautiful. Then I went a little north and found a museum, where I took a photo of this bird who agreed to pose for a few shots. The museum was pretty good, with a collection of Native American tools, clothing, and photos. There were photos on one side of the Native Americans, and on the other were the white folks who came to the area. The strangest photo was of a male elk with huge antlers that had a saddle and reins on. A woman was attempting to jump onto the saddle. I wish there had been a followup photo.

Going north from there, I went by Flathead Lake, which turns out to be the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the United States. I'd never heard of it, but it was beautiful, with deep blue water, pine treed islands, and soaring mountains in the distance. It looked like developers had just discovered the place, as there was construction going on but no completed developments yet. The highway goes along the lake which was very nice.

I finally got to Kalispell, which is maybe 50 miles from the Canadian border, but it was still hot! Radio newsmen had been saying they were breaking temperature records all over the area.

Next day I went to the west side of Glacier National Park. The west side is beautiful, but no glaciers that I could see. The map showed that you could hike up to a chalet just a few miles from a glacier, so I thought I'd see how far I could get on the trail. The trail was pretty steep, maybe like Camelback Mountain trail. But it turned out the Chalet was about 8 miles from the lake where I started. So I decided to take a side trail to a lookout tower, only another 3 miles from where I was (maybe 4 miles from the lake). I had not seen anyone on this trail but 2 deer who were so tame that I figured they must go down to the park and mooch off tourists. Sure enough, when I got almost to the bottom they were walking right on the trail towards the horse rental place. Anyway, I made it another mile or so, so I figured I went at least 11 miles total for this hike, and I haven't hiked in quite a while! Soreness arrived 2 days later.

Oh, there is a road that goes from the west side of the park to the east side, and it goes over the Rockies at Logan Pass. But the road was damaged over the winter, so the west road was only open for about 12 miles! My plan had been to go through the park, then loop around to the south to get back to my motel in Kalispell. But that idea was now shot. So I just went as far as I could and turned around. On the way back down I stopped at every turnoff just to see what was there. There were wonderful waterfalls, and great views of the lake. But no glaciers. I really think now the way to see this park is to plan long hikes up to the little glaciers that are left. It's probably a 2-day hike to the one I was heading toward, actually.

I went back to Kalispell through Whitefish, which is pretty unimpressive.

Monday I drove around the mountains to get to the east side, since I was determined to see a glacier! The map showed that you could drive as far as the "Jacobs Glacier Overlook" so that sounded fine to me. On the way into the park were miles and miles of burnt forest. The ranger later told me this fire happened last year. It's horrible, but I could see everywhere I went in the park that they don't thin the trees out at all, so there's just so much fuel there once a fire starts, it's hard to stop. The mountains on the east side are to me much more spectacular (although I could get closer to them than I got to on the west side). There's a huge lake you go by as you climb toward the glacier. Waterfalls are everywhere as the melting snow heads toward the Missouri River. At Jacobs Glacier I was disappointed because winter snow covered the glacier. The ranger there said that when you can see the glacier, it looks like a blue gem color. Again, this is something that would best be seen after a 2-day hike to actually go to the glacier. But at least I can say that I "saw" a glacier years from now after they're all gone. And I do think they'll be gone because it must have been 85 degrees as I was standing looking at Jacobs Glacier. Also on the east side are very impressive falls, like St. Mary's Falls, which is only a .8 mile hike to get to. I saw 2 dipper birds here but they flew off before I could get a photo.

This extra travel to the east side screwed up my mileage and timing plans, but I just decided that I was on vacation and too bad. I went through Browning but didn't see the Native American Museum I wanted to see, so I thought, screw it, I want to get to Great Falls before dark. So I took off. The back roads here are much like the eastern part of South Dakota, which is rolling plains. Very boring.

I got to Great Falls Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center 10 minutes before they closed. The ranger there showed me how to get to the falls. I decided it was getting too late to see all 3, so I took off using his map. The first stop was a park that had a large spring just about 10 feet above the Missouri River. The water from the spring goes about 50 feet to the Missouri, and this little stretch is the shortest river in the world. Took photos, took off. Stopped along the way to see the Upper Falls. The problem with each of the 3 falls is that they've been dammed up just above each falls. About 1/2 the water is diverted to an electric generating plant, so the falls are 1/2 as impressive as when Lewis and Clark saw them. But still, half the Missouri River going over falls is pretty amazing.

It's about a 15-mile trip to the other side of the river to get where you can see the Great Falls. There's an island just below the falls where you can take photos. Unfortunately, I was there almost at sunset and facing west, so it was almost impossible to get a good photo. Still, I think it can be seen how impressive the Falls would have been to Lewis and Clark when all the water was then flowing over here. Lewis and Clark spent 2 weeks traversing around these falls, dragging their boats 300 feet up, then several miles along the plains.

I got to Helena before dark, which was nice. I try not to drive in places I've never been to in the dark, because I miss things.

In Helena I managed to do most of my Scientological research, then headed to Gillette, Wyoming for the night. Near Bozeman I saw a flock of pelicans, so I got ahead of them some, and turned off the road to get a photo. Amazingly, they landed in a river not 50 yards from where I stopped! An old-timer in Bozeman told me there were never pelicans there until they built some dam to the north.

When I got to Gillette, all the motels were full, except a very expensive one. So I thought, well, Buffalo is not too far down the road. When I got to Buffalo, again the hotels were full. So I called Super 8 to see which town had a room. Spearfish was the next town with only one smoking room available. I took it and just drove straight through, arriving about midnight. That was a bummer because I would have liked to have seen Buffalo and the museum there.

About 3am at the Spearfish motel, there was a very loud siren like the air raid alarms from WWII. I figured this must be a tornado warning since a storm was following behind me when I was driving. So I got up and put my clothes on, thinking I really don't need to go anywhere since I'm on the lowest level of the motel anyway. I went out and asked the teller if it was a tornado. She said no, there's a fire department right next door and there was a fire somewhere. So we chatted a while, I checked my email, and went back to bed.

JUNE 8, Friday

We had 1.2 inches of rain yesterday. Everything is nice and green, though the flowers seem to be delayed blooming from last year. It got down to 32 degrees last night, so the little electric space heater had to work overtime. I used up all the firewood that was in the cabin in the stove before I went to bed. There isn't much hail damage from last year's hail, so that's good. Today I'll just clean up, mow the yard and stuff, then go to the play in Rapid City tonight commemorating the 1972 flood. 238 people died in the flood, and houses were left in the middle of Jackson Blvd having floated downstream.

JUNE 9, Saturday

I rode the bicycle down the road. There's a new house being built, with a for sale sign out front, on top of the slag pile. It's a simple looking house sitting all by itself. This will be the 2nd to the last house in Galena. The first house is now for sale too, but I don't know for how much. We're not used to so much activity in Galena!

I decided to try to walk along the creek farther down, but it was difficult, so I just climbed up to the road a little ways up. Before I got to the road I saw these beautiful flowers. Ken and Janet say they're called Lady's Slippers. I don't recall ever seeing them before. The creek goes in between really steep hills, so I don't know if it's possible to get very far downstream by walking along the shores. I'm thinking maybe an inner tube right down the creek would be the way to go, but there's a lot of debris in the creek itself that's been washed down as well. So tomorrow I'll try to figure it out.

Tonight I went into Deadwood to gamble. I always try the quarter slots and that's it. I decided I'd use up $10 tonight. I went into the new hotel that wasn't open last year and spent a few dollars, then went up to my favorite slot from last year on the other end of Main St. I came out with $30! Not a bad haul. Maybe I can make a living at this :) And of course I went to Taco John's after.

There seemed to be more tourists downtown this year. So it's wetter and more touristy, both of which are good. There are quite a few ATVs going through Galena too, so that's probably a good sign of tourism too.

I finished mowing the yards today. 2 robins were chasing a bluejay through the trees in front for some reason. Jays can be creepy, so maybe he was bothering their nest or something.

JUNE 10, Sunday

Quiet, nice day. I decided to walk downstream on the left side of the creek today, Immediately the bushes get so thick it's almost impossible to get through. Also, there were 2 deer carcasses right close to each other there, so I assume it was a mountain lion or disease that got them. I climbed up the very steep hill and walked along the edge on a deer trail. When I started going down again I noticed that there's an old road below me! It obviously hasn't been used in years, and when I say "road" I mean a path for wagons. This road starting going left and steeply up the hill, so I just tried to stay along the creek again. But again the bushes were just too thick, so I went up through the poison ivy laden hillside and walked along the stone outcropping.. I finally got to the turn where I saw the high cliff yesterday, but again I couldn't get a good angle to get a photo. I think I really need to go down this creek in an inner tube and some throwaway boots.

I decided this is as far as I wanted to go, so I considered my options and decided to go even higher, above some rock outcroppings, and look for a deer trail or keep going up to where it was less steep. The easiest part looked to be to go right. I noticed that it looked like if I went high enough, I could see over the other side of a ridge. When I got there I was surprised to hear a stream on that side too. But when I finally got to a place where I could look down it was Bear Butte Creek again, having gone 180 degrees around the big cliff! That was a surprise.

I finally got back to the road, only higher up. It kept going steeply uphill, but I got tired of walking up and up, and just assumed it would wind up above Koppos anyway. So I simply followed the road back. It finally came to the narrowest part of the creek, so I assume that there had been a short bridge there. I finally got to my bike and went home to a semi-cool shower (I forgot to put the bag out before I left to warm up). Now I'm tired and deciding whether to go gamble or not.

Back from gambling. I broke even after about 45 minutes. But before I left I found a tick on me. When I was changing clothes, I took off everything, looking at each piece of clothing, then looking at myself in a full-length mirror. No more ticks. So I sat down on the bed to put my socks on, and there was a tick on my leg! 3 ticks is all... I hope.

JUNE 11, Monday

Ate at Bob's Family Restaurant in Sturgis. An old geezer and I were the only patrons from noon to 12:30. Finally some National Guard guys and a family came in. I asked the waitress if the place had been sold and she said not yet. She said the owner has other businesses in the hills and prefers ones that have consistent income year round. I then did laundry in Sturgis. Whoopie.

After stopping at the Pactola Ranger station for maps (there's a new one that shows which back roads are closed) I parked at Sheridan Lake and walked part of the Flume Trail. This goes from the lake to Rockerville, where it gave water to the mines there long ago. The trail is about 11 miles long total and simply follows where the flume was. It goes through 2 tunnels, one long (about 60 yards) and one short (maybe 20 feet). It took me about 2 1/2 hours to go to the short tunnel and back. There's a quicker way from another starting point, but I wanted to see the lake anyway.

I drove down Sheridan Lake Road back to Rapid and ate there. My strange eating disorder acted up again, but not as bad as usual. Went home and slept for 10 hours.

JUNE 14, Thursday

Yesterday I took photos of bees on the poppies with my macro-zoom. Some came out ok.

Today I climbed Crow Peak near Spearfish. It's a 3.5 mile trail with a 1500 foot rise, so now I'm tired. There's a very nice view up there, though. There was a box with note pad and pen so you could sign in. I read quite a few of the notes. Most just said the date, the weather, and who it was. One guy said he was 81 and this was probably his last climb there "because I'm moving to Rapid City."

Road 214 that goes to the Peak trail is really nice.

JUNE 15, Friday

Didn't do much today. Went into Sturgis to mail some stuff. There was a hill side covered in blue flowers so I stopped to get photos of that. Before I left I was waiting for the clouds to break so I could take a warm shower, but they never did, so I heated water on the wood stove and just washed my hair and face. But I left the water bag out.

I went up to Golden Crest on the way back and just snooped around. Coming back up the hill, I saw a deer carcass by the road, and a chipmunk gathering the white fur in it's cheeks. It really seemed to be stuffing the fur in there, and when it took off it looked like it had a huge white mustache. It made a roundabout trip to its hole, so I figured maybe I could get a photo of this. The first time back he didn't even come to where I thought all the fur was, and I saw him make his wide route again. So I went across from where he crosses the road and waited. But he was just too fast for me so I never got my photo.

I walked over to see where else he might be getting the fur, and it turned out the deer was spread out over a wide area. I assume this means it was a mountain lion that was eating it.

Took a cool shower. Played the 6th level of Starcraft (2 to go). A good day.

JUNE 18, Monday

There was a tornado Sunday near Spearfish that touched down briefly twice. It took off one roof and then knocked over one semi. I was coming home from Sturgis when I saw how dark it was in that direction and actually thought to go to spearfish in case I could see a tornado. Darn it, I went home.

Today I hiked the Dalton Lake trail. This goes from below Dalton Lake through a wonderful canyon maybe 3 miles to Little Elk Creek Road north of Piedmont. I decided I would follow the trail until I could see the interstate. That took almost 2 hours. But the canyon is great. A nice stream makes falls going over the huge boulders that have fallen from the cliffs. The cliffs have all kinds of strange rock. But then about half way down I was going across a large boulder on the trail, when I heard a hissing or rattling noise. I instinctively stopped and looked around. About 3 feet in front of me was a small rattlesnake, right smack in the middle of the trail. I guess he was sunning himself. At least he was nice enough to rattle before I stepped on him, which I would have done had he not rattled. I thought, ok, should I just go back in case there are more? But then I decided that I could come back on the higher trail, which would be easier to watch for snakes. Sheesh, you have mountain lions, snakes, ticks, and poison ivy (I just started itching from that 2 days ago). What a fun place to hike! The trail is great, though, and looks much like Spearfish Canyon toward Piedmont.

I looked more closely at some of the Lead houses I was intersted in. They all are very quirky in one way or another. One is on some roads that must require an ATV in the winter just to get home. Another is actually connected to the house next door!

Tonight I hope to finish my annual trip through the Starcraft video game. I do it once a year, which takes about 8 hours total.

June 19, Tuesday

Today I went to Deadwood to see if anybody would want our old washing machine. I may have found a taker. Then I went to Spearfish to get supplies for the cabin, and look for a cure for my poison ivy. The pharmacist recommended Zanfel, which they didn't have at Safeway. They had some other package for $34 which I thought was a little high. But at Walmart, Zanfel, was, guess what, $34. But hey, it works! When I got home I put it on, and it apparently takes the poison ivy juice right off your skin! Love it.

After Spearfish I decided to look at the lake east of Belle Fourche, since I don't remember ever actually going there. It's in the plains and was apparently full, according to the water line as I could decipher it. But also, there were small trees now in the water. This means that the trees grew up during the drought while the lake was much lower, and now that the lake has filled back up, the new trees are under water.

I drove through Newell and had supper. Big city of 624 people, but cute. Then went south on highway 79, going right toward and around Bear Butte. It's pretty from that angle. I came home on the Vanocker Canyon road and saw 5 elk! These are the first elk I've ever seen actually in the Black Hills. It looked like all females. Also, I've been seeing deer here and there out in broad daylight. That seems unusual to me.

I didn't find the stove parts so will go back another day.

JUNE 21, Thursday

Yesterday I hiked the LIttle Spearfish Canyon trail. It was nice, but not spectacular. The first part goes along the creek, which is small but fast flowing. I think when it gets hot I might come here with a small inner tube and try tubing this small section of the creek. The trail then turns and goes uphill. I was short of breath for some reason, but it was 6000 feet altitude, and I had just mowed the lawn, so that was probably it. I saw 5 deer and one fawn. Lots of robins.

This morning I woke up and it was foggy! So I got on my clothes, grabbed my camera, and by then the fog was lifting in Galena. So I drove up to my favorite pasture and took a photo. That's about it. I went along road 180 but decided the fog was lifting everywhere, so I turned around and came back slowly because I had seen turkeys. I rolled both windows down and had the camera ready in my lap. Sure enough, ahead was a mom and 4 chicks crossing the road. I stopped and got 2 photos but they were both blurry.

It's still cool and cloudy, so my shower plans are on hold. I guess I'll finish mowing for now.

JUNE 23, Saturday

Yesterday I just did shopping, laundry, and a movie. No biggie. Today I went past Koppos to follow the road that goes to the left. It ends at 2 mine entrances. I looked in the bottom one and it appeared to have caved in back maybe 15 feet. I climbed up to the top one and it too appeared to have caved in. Just then I heard a hissing sound. I thought oh no, another snake! I froze and tried to figure out where the sound was coming from. First I thought it was to my right, but then it sounded like it was in the cave. It actually sounded like several rattlers going, but I still wasn't sure what the heck it was. Then I thought well maybe it's the cave making a noise, like if there's another hole and it's sort of breathing. I still couldn't decide what it was, and I couldn't see anything in the cave, so I zipped down and over to the other side of the gully. The noise continued with varying loudness for a few minutes then stopped. I was there for another fifteen minutes or so and it never made that noise again.

The road seemed to stop there but I continued up the gully and found a few more dugout areas, but nothing else of interest. There were 2 of these flowers in the middle of nowhere all by themselves. Then I thought, you know, if you just went west you'd run into a road that connects to the Lost Gulch road and you can just walk home on that. So I went up the hill and saw a road on the other hill. Sure enough, it connected to the Lost Gulch road. There were some ATVers looking down on Galena so I talked to them a while, then went by Jeraldine's. John was outside so I told him my cave experience. Then I went home and looked at the photos to see if there were any eyes that the flash would have gotten looking back at me. Nope. I don't see a snake or anything in that photo, even blowing it up. So that will remain a mystery to me. I don't see why snakes would be in a cold cave when it was a nice warm day out.

JUNE 24, Sunday

Juha suggested that the hissing cave might have been some nocturnal animal that I woke up and was angry. Maybe a lynx. That could well be because I wouldn't know what noise that animal would make, and it seems more likely than a snake, from the way the sound was. So I'll go with that, and let Eric go see which is right :)

Today I went to Harney Peak and hiked up one trail and down the other. Trail 9 is faster and easier. But trail 4 gets you to the Little Devils Tower, which I wanted to see. But by the time I got down there I was just too tired to go an extra 2 miles, so I passed. There weren't a lot of people but it was kind of strange the contrast of who was there. They can be divided into 2 groups; the non-hikers in shorts and maybe even flip-flops, and the hikers with backpacks or even overnight backpacks.

Just before I got down the clouds started coming. By the time I got back to Sylvan Lake there was thunder and lightning in the distance. The clouds looked pretty ominous, so I hung around and took photos. It rained a little. I saw a swirling eye of clouds above me and took a reasonably bad photo of it. Then lower clouds covered that so I couldn't see whether it developed more or not. I had seen something like that on the farm once too. Driving down from the lake, there was a weather warning on the radio for Hill City to have a dangerous storm going through. So I got to Hill City in time for the storm, but it just rained. All the way home there were warnings farther and farther east, so I don't know if it ever really became a bad storm, or just looked like one like I thought at Sylvan Lake.

JUNE 26, Tuesday

Yesterday I drove east to Philip, Pierre, and Highmore, and came back on different back roads. It was hot and windy. At Philip I stopped to see an advertised display of "South Dakota as Lewis and Clark saw it." Sounded cool, and it was on the way to Pierre anyway. But all it was was a room full of panels showing graphics and quotes from Lewis and Clark. There were some pelts on a table you could feel too, but that was about it. Oh well, I like going through these small towns. I saw 3 white pelicans in a pond along the way. Pelicans seem to be becoming fresh water birds around here.

Along the way I stopped and took photos of old abandoned buildings. Farmers just abandon their old houses and leave them to rot. My grandparents did that too after they built a new house on a higher piece of land. There wasn't much else to see, except these abandoned Minuteman II missile silos. It made me so happy to see these. These fenced areas used to bristle with high-tech equipment, and a missile with a few nuclear warheads aimed at the USSR was underground in each of these. Now all that's left is the fencing, and the farmers use that for their equipment or to put their hay bales in. In Oklahoma or somewhere one of these missiles blew up in it's silo, and the many-ton silo cap was blown over 1/4 mile away from the explosion. So you can see that a few nuclear bombs on top of a missile is not a good idea. And there were hundreds of these silos around the state. But now they're all gone, and I'm happy.

Highmore, east of Pierre, is where the largest windmill farm in South Dakota is. I wanted to see it. There are 27 windmills that make enough electricity for 14,000 homes. I don't know why they chose Highmore, but it was on a rise in the middle of the state, so I'm sure there are usually good winds there. There were about 30mph winds when I was there, but that was over most of my trip anyhow.

12 hour trip, 520 miles.

Today I'm just going to be cleaning up and moving over to Gammy's cabin for when Janet and Art come to visit. It's cloudy and cool. There was 3 inch hail around here somewhere last night, but we just got a trace of rain.

I might not post much the next few days since it will probably just be cleaning and painting.

JUNE 29, Friday

Not much going on. I think I found the ice cave that my great grandmother used to go grab ice from in the summers. Unfortunately, it's caved in, but you can feel cold air coming out of it. Also, Jeraldine told me about an old cabin somewhere above her place that nobody knows where it is. Of course, it's probably burned down or been torn down by now, but a flat place, holes in the ground, or even a foundation should still be there. Today while looking I found an old road in the general vicinity that I knew nothing about. So I'll go back up and follow that to see if it leads anywhere interesting.

The mosquitoes are out like crazy tonight. Last year there were hardly any.

It looks like warm and dry are in store for us here.

JULY 2, Monday

Yesterday morning I took my cousin's little motorcycle up the hill, looking for a cabin she insisted was up there. There were 2 old roads or fire roads I walked up. One split and went steeply up the hill to a road at the top that Eric and I were on last year. I even walked between the roads on the hill, but I never found any place that seemed to definitely be a cabin or foundation. So I gave up after a couple of hours of that and rode down the hill to make a loop around before going back.

I ran into some ATVers from North Dakota. We had a nice chat and I tried to explain how to get to the Golden Crest as that is one of the better mine ruins around. Then I did the loop and came on the entrance to the top road of the hill I was searching. I went along there looking carefully too but again didn't see anything.

On the way back down I saw that Janet and Art had arrived. They had been leaving messages on my cell phone, which doesn't work in South Dakota (Sprint). So that's why I hadn't heard from them. We went to Brownsville for lunch which was really busy, then they went into Lead.

I also checked up on my class schedule. Unfortunately, I read the wrong book first. I was hoping to have read both books before class started, but now I'm only way ahead at the end, rather than the beginning. This will keep me busy as I read up and get used to the class schedule.

Tonight I went up behind Chester's on the roundabout back roads to see if I could find a cave you can see from below that appears to be almost at the top of the hill. I discovered after taking photos up there of landmarks, then looking at them from near Chester's that I was way below where the alleged cave is. Looking through bonoculars, though, I still couldn't tell if that was a cave I was seeing or just a coincidental dark spot made by a thick area of trees. It's not bothering me much so I'll probably let it go.

JULY 3, Tuesday

3/10 of an inch of rain this morning.

Today we went into town and ate at Costner's. It was ok. Then Art and Janet went to the courthouse to check up on any easements or anything that might be on our property. Meanwhile, I went back and rode the motorcycle to the cave. The bike stalled going through the creek, I think because it's just too much work hauling me through water. So I got wet going both ways.

JULY 8, Sunday

Janet and Art left on Friday morning, so I'll eventually move back into Clark's. Yesterday was the fundraiser for the Galena school building. About 25 cars came, which I knew because I was the parking attendant. One guy had worked at the Silver Queen mine. He said that the geologist they had hired insisted that there must be a mother lode there, but they never found it so they closed down. Another guy said his mother, Marguerite Marengo, had taught at the school from 1933-36. Mother says she remembers the name, but it wasn't her teacher. Another guy works at the Gilt Edge. I asked him if there was a time set for them to be done cleaning up there, and he snorted and said no. He said they laid out a 56 acre piece of plastic to protect the underground, and put a pump in Ruby Gulch (I think he said) to catch any drainage that did happen.

It was a nice event but hot out. I ate too much and was loaded down with the excess food everybody had brought.

Today I take my first quizz for my online political science class. Then I think I'll finish zipping around on Jeraldine's bike.

I calculate that our property is about .5 acres total. It rained 3/10" last night and was windy.

JULY 12, Thursday

Not much happening. I've done as much running around as I can before I have to buckle down and just paint. On 2 cliffs I've seen in the hard sandstone nodules of quartz. These must have fallen into the sandstone from somewhere else and then been buried. Otherwise I can't figure out how they were formed. I found one rock with a piece of a nodule so I took that home.

Time is getting short now because I'm running out of time to do all I want to do. Class is a lot of reading, and I did poorly on the first quiz, so I have to keep up with that.

This morning I found a tick in the sink and one on my chest. Yuk. Gotta remember to check for the little buggers whenever I go boony bashing.

JULY 16, Monday

Yesterday I went to a Hills Alive Christian music festival. It was ok, but I was surprised how few booths were there. I waited around to hear Rebecca St. James but when another band came on instead of when I thought she was coming on, I left.

Today I went down the creek for a few reasons; to try panning for gold, to look for Marilyn's cave, to test my Crocs as waders, and to see the scenery. All went well. At a big turn, though, there was a pretty big dam up of trees and such. It must have been from this year because some of the trees were fresh still. So I didn't go past there. I don't think I found any gold, but there were some cool rocks around there. Now I'm going to go do laundry. Joy.

It's been hot the last few days. I think it was 105 in Rapid yesterday or the day before.

JULY 18, Wednesday

Yesterday I drove the bike around and found a cool place that gets you to the top of a cliff overlooking Bear Butte Creek. I'd guess it's 125 feet almost straight up from the creek. Then I went down another road that took me to the creek bed, where the whole creek goes underground just in one little spot. A regular creek, then poof, 5 feet later, no water at all. Pretty neat. There are signs there saying it's a federal mining claim, so I didn't take any rocks. You could see somebody had been digging around in the dry creek bed for gold or whatever.

1/2" of rain last night. Some rain today, but I was gone. After finishing painting Clarks cabin and fixing the steps, I went south to Hill City. Just before I got there a 1/2 hour long hail storm had stopped. There were still hail stones in the grass, so I took photos of the bigger ones - maybe golfball size. Some were disc shaped instead of spherical, which was interesting. On the south side of town there were up to 2-foot drifts of hail.

One reason I had gone to Hill City was to see the dinosaur museum. But there was a sign on the locked door that said the hail had damaged their sunroof, so they had to close. So I went to Mt. Rushmore and took photos of the barely visible faces. And I finally found a South Dakota flag for Charly! I'd looked all over the hills for such a flag, and only found a bigger one in Deadwood. So I bought 2 here just in case.

I went through poor old Rockerville, then through a back road that connected to Sheridan Lake road. Once there I saw a turkey with probably 20 turkettes (?) with it. That was so amazing I turned around and parked a ways away to try to get a photo. When I was getting close the mom crossed the road into the woods. One kid zipped across the road, so I got ready for the rest. 7 went across in one batch, then a 2nd batch of the rest went across. I got a photo of the 7. Then farther up the road I saw 2 animals crossing, but I couldn't tell what they were, so I snapped a photo. It was 2 fawns.

Gas is $3.19 a gallon now.

In Deadwood I lost about $7 then went home.

Now I have to start planning out my final days here, with laundry, cleaning the cabins, moving to Gammy's, etc.

JULY 20, Friday

"Sicko" is playing in Rapid City! So I'll see that today and do laundry, and move to Gammy's. Tomorrow Scott will show me a cave near him, so that should be cool.

Last night I hiked up Butcher Gulch. Above the white walls I decided to climb south because it looked like a quick hike to the top. There was a road up there that I followed, then I climbed to the top of a hill. I could see the Lost Gulch road, and Bear Butte, from up there. When I turned around to go back down I saw what I thought was a strangely square rock on the hill to the north. It turned out to be a house! This makes me curious as he's actually a "close" neighbor. I heard 2 dogs barking too. But it was too dark to walk to the top of Anchor Mtn. and walk over to see if there's a driveway to that hill, so I might drive up there and see.

I brought back what now looks like part of a deer skull. I couldn't tell what animal it was, so if it was some exotic thing like a badger or something, I wanted it. But looking online at deer skulls, that's probably what it is.

When I got back, I sat down at the TV to eat. On my plate was a tick! So I took off all my clothes and inspected them, then looked at myself in the mirror. No ticks. I played on the computer, then came back to Clark's, and there on my wrist was a tick! How do they suddenly appear like that? Anyway, if you go boonie-bashing around here, check for ticks each time.

JULY 22, Sunday

Yesterday I went to Scott's. He and Mark took me to a cave that had ice in it last time they were there. I was expecting a small opening, then walking hunched down into a deep tunnel. Nope. It's a huge opening and just one big honking chamber, maybe 100 feet by 100 feet wide! It was very cool and very humid inside, with the ceiling dripping everywhere. There are old drawings on the wall too. But no ice.

I saw Greg for the first time in almost 20 years. He's married now and living in a nice house in a quiet back road. Seems life is treating him well. I had another food episode so I had to leave early. Nobody needs to watch me recover.

I've seen or heard a few people walking down the road today. Don't know where they came from. A big group of ATVs went by too. It looks like the 4-wheeler club that was at the campground started leaving yesterday.

I've noticed that when I'm in Galena I just prefer to do Galena stuff, like exploring, hiking, and such. So all the books I brought and plans for practicing the guitar every day kind of fell by the wayside.

Today I'll clean Clarks and start sorting my stuff at Gammys for leaving. If it's cool enough I'll start mowing for the last time too.

JULY 30, Monday

I'm home again. Eric came Monday, so Tuesday we went to look for the cabin above the new couple's property. Sure enough, there was an old cabin up there that had apparently been whacked long ago by a huge tree. The front logs were smashed in right in the middle of the log cabin. The roof was long gone. I'd assume it's 100 years old or so.

I recalled when I was young that you could see a cave from the road up there, so we went along the ridge on the road side, and sure enough, there's a mine! It still has wooden rails in it. We went back probably to the end (about 80 feet) and took photos.

I thought that might not be the mine you could see from the road, so I went along to the right and found 5 other tunnels within about 50 yards. The one on the right still had shoring in it and looked pretty flimsy. most of the others didn't go in very far either.

I left Galena Thursday morning. I visited the Mammoth site in Hot Springs (very cool), then got to Denver in time to get a hotel. Next day I headed on 285 toward Telluride. Not long after I got into the Rockies it started raining and didn't stop until I got out near Cortez. The road to Telluride is being worked on and is all muddy, so I only stayed in town about 1/2 hour because I didn't know how muddy that road would be getting.

Past Telluride is a dying old silver mining town called Rico. There's a hotel/restaurant there so I decided to stop. The food was extremely excellent! The waitress told me there's a mine up a certain road, so I went up there and took a photo of the mine shaft building. For some reason in colorado the old mine buildings are still intact. In the Black Hills all the old buildings seem to have been scavanged, or torn or burned down. I don't know why that difference is there.

I spent the night in Gallup. And by the way! Pick your motel in Gallup by how far away it is from the railroad tracks.

In Arizona I came down from Winslow to Payson, stopping at the old school in Strawberry. Around the Fort McDowell reservation it was really pouring rain, but in Scottsdale it hadn't even rained at all.

Eric called and had gone up to check out the hissing cave. He said he took some video, and it was, apparently, some turkey buzzard chicks inside the cave making the hissing sound. So I'll wait to see the video.

The Adams museum called and they want the washing machine, so that's good. Gammy's cabin is so cramped it'll be good to take out stuff we're never going to use anyway.

So that was the end of my great trip. Now it's back to work and school, until next summer!

Jeff's 2006 Excellent Adventure

return to Jeff's home page