Wednesday, December 26, 2018


As we continued on our Last Hurrah trip, we left Mitchell, SD on the morning of October 1, 2018, headed ultimately for Custer, SD, where we had a lodging reservation for that night. Our primary sightseeing goal for the day was Badlands National Park, about a 200-mile drive from Mitchell.

Halfway between Mitchell and the Badlands, near Chamberlain, SD, is a rest area that should be a destination in itself, if for no other reason than the excellent Lewis and Clark museum located there. Since our last time through the area, a new feature has been added: a 50-foot-high stainless steel statue of a Native American woman. The statue, titled simply "Dignity" and situated on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River,  is an impressive sight.


Near the entrance to Badlands National Park, something caught Doug's eye in a field beside the road. We stopped to get a closer look and saw what appeared to be a prairie dog town. But what really captured our attention was a little burrowing owl among the prairie dogs. We were too far away for me to get a good photo, but I was pleased to get even this.

Burrowing Owl, with a Prairie Dog standing watch in the background

And then we entered Badlands National Park, which covers an area of 244,000 acres of geologic deposits and mixed-grass prairie. Its rugged beauty must be seen to be believed. Numerous overlooks along the loop road through the park provide great views. Trails are also available, including a Fossil Exhibit Trail, for a more up-close-and-personal experience.

A panoramic look at some of the landscape

If you look very closely at the following image, you might be able to see the two dozen or so Bighorn Sheep lined up along the ridge. They were so far from us that we couldn't see them without binoculars. Another tourist pointed them out to us or we'd have missed them completely.

Bighorn Sheep on ridge
The next four images show various views of the Badlands landscape:

As we neared Custer, South Dakota that night, we were treated to a lovely sunset:

Sunset Near Custer, SD

 Today's video will help you get a better look at those sheep on the ridge:

Custer State Park, South Dakota, was our sightseeing destination for the next day. But more on that next time.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Sioux Falls

At the end of September, Doug and I set off on a three-week vacation that we dubbed our "Last Hurrah" trip. Lengthy road trips are getting harder for us, so we decided we'd head west one more time, to revisit some of our favorite places and see a few new ones, before giving up those long trips that we've been privileged to enjoy for so many years.

The timing of the Last Hurrah trip, while late in the season, was determined by a conference that we wanted to attend in the Minneapolis area on September 29. Once we'd traveled that far, it just made sense to keep on going westward. But we knew we were likely to run into some cold and snow on our route. The high winds and low temperatures in Minneapolis set the tone for much of what we would encounter in the days ahead.

Leaving Minneapolis on September 30th, our first destination was Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, featuring the Falls of the Big Sioux River. We'd visited this park once before, in 2012, and wanted to see it again. It was very warm when we stopped there in 2012; but it was very cold when we stopped this time.

And, lastly, a very short video clip of the falls:

Falls Park is a beautiful place; but the cold temperatures and the miles yet to travel to that night's lodging in Mitchell, South Dakota caused us to cut this visit a little short.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Our New Villa

Well, I decided that, if I waited to take pictures of the inside of the villa until everything was neat and tidy, it would never happen. So I'm just going to show it to you as it is.

This is the living room as viewed from the entryway.

This is the dining area, just off the living room.

The Kitchen
We're calling this the den, although it's officially the second bedroom.

The "den" has been the big hold up in showing you pictures of the new house. As you can see, we still have a lot of organizing to do here. We each have a work area. Mine is in the corner on the right. Doug's is in the middle, beside the recliner.

Because the intended use of this room was as a bedroom, it has a closet on each end of the room. In addition to what you see in the above photo, we have two chests of drawers and a tall-but-narrow bookcase also in the room. Doug is using the closets and chests of drawers in this room for his things and letting me have the walk-in closet off the master bedroom for my things. Of course, the walk-in closet is also a catch all for everything that we haven't found another place for. I'm not showing you a picture of that!

The two photos above show the master (translate that "only") bedroom. We had that large bedroom furniture in the old house, and it took careful planning to figure out how to make it fit in the new house. We didn't want to give it up, though, because of the storage it provides. We were thrilled with how well it turned out.

This is the bathroom off the master bedroom. The walk-in closet is to the right.

This is the second bathroom.

So this gives you an idea of our new living quarters. The villa is smaller, and it's sometimes challenging to get organized; but we're very happy that we made the move.

We've continued to be busy emptying the old house and finding homes for the things we can no longer keep or no longer need. The sale of that house will become final on Friday, and we'll be free to focus all our attention on our new house. We're looking forward to just enjoying it.

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