River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018
River Walk, downtown San Antonio, Sunday, February 25, 2018

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Shiny, Sparkly Feet - Sunday, June 4, 2017

Yesterday, I mentioned in the blog that we had a bonanza of wildlife sightings, but then I only mentioned the rabbit. "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kid.". Oh, sorry, I got distracted by a cereal ad from my youth. Anyway, in the past two days, our wildlife count includes elk, deer, pronghorns, bison, pheasants, turkeys, rabbits, prairie dogs, marmots, and a bull snake. Who knows what tomorrow will hold?

A quick factoid: Pringle, a very small town, is the elk capital of South Dakota. Now you know too. And that is where we saw one elk in our drive that day.

On to today: We woke up in our very nice lodge room at 6:00 a.m. Every morning, Susan and Darren make breakfast smoothies in their blender, and I make smoothies in my Magic Bullet. We're saving a ton of money by not going out to breakfast every morning. 

My breakfast smoothie recipe is a handful of half walnuts, three baby carrots sliced, a slice of apple (cut up), a slice of cucumber, a slice of raw beets (diced), two strawberries, sliced, about 4-6 blueberries, one cup of unsweetened almond milk, and a scoop of Costco's Orgain Organic Protein Powder (smooth chocolate fudge flavor). I put them all in the 8 oz. size Magic Bullet cup and run it for a little less than a minute. Mmm. Very tasty.

Crazy Horse Memorial is 15 minutes from our lodge. We wanted to be there before the 8:00 a.m. start time so we could register. That way we'd be in the start line by 8:00 a.m. when they open the trail to us. For three cans of food per person for the local food bank, we were admitted to the park for free.

All went well. We were registered and in line with 5 minutes to start time. Then I remembered I didn't have my knee brace on. It was very important to keep my knee stable, especially with the steep trails we would be walking. Darren ran to the van and retrieved my knee brace. I finished putting it on just before they opened the trail. Thank you, Darren!

Line waiting for trail to open--in front of us
Line waiting for trail to open--in back of us
Part of the San Antonio contingent--
Darren, Susan, Ellen, Mike
Darren, Susan, Ellen, me (with knee brace)
Shortly after that last photo, the trail opened and we were off much like the start of a marathon: everyone jockeying for position, trying to move around the slowpokes, and get out of the way of those faster than us.

And away we go!!!
Here's where the crowds thinned out...
going uphill. We stopped to breathe for a bit.
Very organized event with lots of signs
The day was absolutely stunning. The sky was azure with no clouds when we started. The temperature was a nice 64 degrees which, in our opinion, was perfect for walking. 

The trail started out with a lot of steep down. Uh-oh, I thought, that means a lot of up is coming. We made it through the up parts and let people pass us as necessary. We did our share of passing others. People who had done this walk in the past said that the trail was steeper in parts this year because they did away with a lot of switchbacks. 

On the trail, it was like old-home week. We saw Volksmarchers from other parts of the country, and from other clubs in Texas. I especially enjoyed seeing Carol and Dennis Romig from Menehune Marchers, the club Bob and I belonged to in Honolulu, Hawaii. We last saw them in Honolulu last December when they had their Volksmarch Christmas luncheon and walk. They graciously invited us when they knew we'd be in Waikiki.

Judge for yourselves how beautiful this walk is. Some high-level clouds moved in as we hiked.

On the trail
Crazy Horse's head taking shape, with the horse's head
outlined in white on the rock on the right.

Almost to the top
From the back side of the rock
A picture of a photo
In your face
From the front

From out on the arm - which isn't done yet
Me and Susan
Amazing detail
Someone's life got saved that day!
Darren and Susan at the tunnel
Susan and I at the tunnel
Susan taking a long look at Crazy Horse
Susan and John Ives
John Ives and Darren
Just awe inspiring
Three marmots on the rocks
Crazy Horse and tunnel. Above tunnel is his arm;
below tunnel will be his horse.
I had a marmot nature moment today. I was kind of by myself between people on the trail. Someone yelled, "Susan look!" On the left side of the road, two marmots were having a territorial dispute. Apparently, one male was running another male off. The marmot that was running away was heading directly toward me! At first I thought it was being friendly, but it just kept on running. The male back on the left side of the road was marking its territory after the other one left.

Our first walk of the day was complete. After stamping our Volksmarch books, we walked to the Visitor Center to see the movie about the history of making Crazy Horse. It's really an excellent film that shows how the whole idea started and how many years it has been in the making. 

The man who was hired to work on the sculpting of the rock started out working alone. He had limited money and limited equipment. Every day he would go out and haul up his equipment. There were mountain goats out there with him that loved his ladder and they would climb the ladder too. As the years went by, he got married. They had 10 children, all of whom helped him with the work. The boys helped out on the mountain. His wife and girls collected money from the tourists and made sure the tourists' questions were answered. He thought the ladies had the harder job.

Can you believe it took a decade to make the tunnel? That's a lot of time and some very careful explosive work.

Outside of the Visitor Center are the Black Hills Nature Gates. This work of art caught my eye immediately with the highly polished golden metalwork. I must have taken 30 photos of it, but I'll only share a couple here.

This looks like stained glass with the blue sky background.
Also outside is the sculpture of what Crazy Horse will look like when it's finished. Amazing, no?
Sculpture showing the finished product
Hanging in the Visitor Center are flags of the Indian
You're probably curious by now what the title "Shiny, Sparkly Feet" has to do with anything today. When we returned to the van, we wanted to change out of our hiking boots into more comfortable shoes and dry socks. After taking off our socks, our feet sparkled in the sun. It looked as though they had been sprinkled with glitter. The granite rock in parts of the Black Hills has mica in it. The mica is a very soft mineral and it breaks down easily. The resulting "glitter" dust collects in your socks and on your feet. Hence, sparkly, shiny feet.

As is usual when we finish walking, we were famished. About 10 minutes away, in Hill City, we found Hubcap Diner and decided to eat there. What a good decision! We beat the rush and were seated right away.

I had a patty melt, side salad, and a root beer float. The root beer float hit that sweet spot in my mouth and tummy. It was sooooo good. It had been years since I had a root beer float.

Susan M. with her Crazy Horse walk medal
Here's my medal too
Decor in the Hubcap Diner
Neon Marilyn Monroe
From Crazy Horse, we headed north to Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming. We opted to do two 1.5 mile hikes for a total of 5k. The first hike was Tower Trail, a relatively easy paved trail that went around the base of Devils Tower. This afternoon's temperature was about 95 degrees. Thankfully, part of the walk around the Tower was in shade.

Devils Tower - 867' from its base to the top
View of surrounding area
Happy Susan M.
Tower Trail
When we finished this 1.5-mile hike, we stopped at the Visitor Center to talk to a ranger about the best option for our second 1.5-mile hike. The Volksmarch Club recommended doing the 1.5-mile hike around prairie dog town, but that would have been in full sun. No go on a 95-degree day. She recommended the Joyner Ridge Trail which had some sun in the meadow at the beginning and end of the walk, but passed through some forest and a shaded ravine. The three habitats this trail goes through are prairie, forest, and ravine. She told us to make sure to hike it clockwise, starting at the trail on the left. The main reason to hike the trail clockwise is so you go DOWN into the deep ravine rather than having to climb UP out of it on the steep hillside. So we took her advice and had some stunning views of Devils Tower. 

View from Joyner Ridge Trail
I zoomed in on Devils Tower
Darren and Susan in the prairie
View from a different angle
Farmland below us
Susan with deep ravine and Devils
Tower behind her
Don't know what kind of wildflower this is.
Heading back to the van through the prairie
We had a two-hour drive to Buffalo, Wyoming, where we would spend one night and do two pre-convention walks. The first thing we needed to do that evening after we arrived was laundry! Lots of dirty clothes had piled up after all the walking we've been doing. We were happy to find a clean laundromat across the street from our motel. 

This motel had the worst room for me on the trip. My room reeked of cigarette smoke. I immediately called the office and told them. They told me the whole motel is non-smoking. I said, "Then why is there an ashtray in my room?" He couldn't answer that. I told him I was very unhappy with my room. He said they were full and didn't have any other rooms available. So we unpacked the van and moved into our rooms. Susan and Darren's room didn't stink. 

About 1/2 hour later, I took the ashtray up to the office and told the manager I don't smoke and handed him the ashtray. He then told me, he found another room on the other side of the motel. I told him it was too late, I was already unpacked and didn't want to move all my stuff. I hated that room.

Well, another action-packed day ended and we needed to get some sleep because our next walk would be at 8:00 a.m. More tomorrow. Time for sleep.


  1. You are really getting a lot of Volksmarches in! I like the pictures of the Crazy Horse monument. Its slowly but surely coming along. Great pictures!

    1. Thank you, Randy. We had an awesome day!

  2. Ah yes, I've done that hike up Crazy Horse and it's spectacular! And I love the sparkly granite rock in the Black Hills - the mica is really cool.

    1. I would do that hike again and again. Now I have to haul Bob up there so he can experience it.


Please let me know what you think, your experiences, and constructive criticism to make this blog stronger.