Tuesday, October 27, 2015

More Amelia Pictures and Some Thoughts

On Sunday, October 25, I was finally able to see and hold my new Grand Daughter, Amelia. She is just as beautiful in person as she is in the pictures I have seen. I have had family members ask to have as many pictures as possible be posted to the blog. I took a few during the visit to the hospital, and Kim took this one when she came home.
The great news is that both Shannon and Amelia are doing awesome with no complications at all. Kim will be spending the next week or so with Shannon and the kids. I am playing bachelor out at the ranch.
Here are some shots of my visit to the hospital. I was having a bit of a bad hair day.
Amelia in hospital
Scott came with me to the hospital to see his new niece. After holding her for about an hour, I gave him a chance.
Shannon is already getting out of the house with Kim driving her and the kids around. We have tough women in this family.
I do not write about current politics in my blog. I find the subject way to divisive, but I will mention one thing.
Last night, I watched a movie called “Gifted Hands”. It is the story of Ben Carson. I have not made up my mind about the coming election, but it is a very inspirational story. The movie was made in 2009. Just today, the news reported that Ben Carson is polling above Donald Trump in some national polls.
Babies are awesome. I love to be around them and love to hold and love on them. There is just something about a creature that is so unable to harm with hand or word. God makes them perfect, and leaves it is up to man to corrupt that innocence.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Amelia is Here!


This will be a short post. On Friday, October 23, at 11:11 PM our new grand daughter Amelia was born. Here is a picture that our son Brian took of this beautiful baby.

Amelia First Picture

When I looked at this picture, I immediately felt the same love that I felt when I first saw her mother. It is amazing how your heart, that you think is as full of love as it could be, has the capacity to enlarge when you add one to your family.

At the writing of this post, I have not yet met this little girl in person. I am leaving now to have that meeting. I have not felt this level of excitement since I met Cameron, ( my youngest Grandson) for the first time.

My next post will be filled with many more pictures.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Different Type of Camping


This is the second update to try to keep my blog active while we are in Missouri at the ranch. We have been staying very busy. We try to take on a project each day. On October 7, I got up and got to work replacing the landing gear leg in the trailer. It went pretty easy and I was done by noon. We then decided to wash all 4 of our vehicles. First the boat and then the second time for the Mustang. The Mustang is a 40th anniversary edition convertible that I bought for Kim when she became a Grandma. Nothing says sexy like a grandma in a convertible. We left it in our storage unit here at the ranch and it developed some mold. I guess 10 months is too long to let it sit. It cleaned up nice and she is running well. Next up was the truck and then the trailer. Kim did an awesome job and they all looked so good I had to take a few pictures.


I just wish I had not put the boat away when I took these pictures. We worked on a number of other projects that week. On Friday, My son’s wife Audrey brought our two grandsons up to the area from their home in Arkansas. We met at Shannon’s house and I got some quality time with the boys. Cameron is now 18 months and he is growing up so fast. Connor is 5 and he loves to play sports.

On October 11, the ranch hosted a round of the Missouri Hare Scramble Championship Series. I helped out with a few things while Kim went to spend time with Shannon. Brian needed to go out of town for a couple of days and we are still waiting for that baby to come. They also had a baby shower for Shannon on Sunday.

I kind of acted as a course marshall during the race. I did take a few pictures. Here is the start of the Pro Class. The leader is a young man that I know very well. He is an awesome kid and has a bright future in whatever he wants to do. He is only 18. He led the 2 hour race until the last lap. He crashed hard and lost the lead. He still finished second. It would have been his first win, so we were all disappointed.


It was pretty dry and dusty, but as the field spread out it was not too bad. I have been involved in off road racing for about 35 years. I think I am done racing, but I still love the sport. Most of the 10 mile course is in the woods. Here is a shot at a spot in the woods.


Not good pictures, but I think you get the idea.

When we put on a race, our main field turns into a small city. We had about 90 racers on this day and quite a few had come in and camped the night before.


The next race at the ranch will be a big one the weekend after Thanksgiving. I will do a write up about that one. It is really special.

After the race was over the place clears out and we are here all by ourselves during the week. We did have a local pro come out and practice for a couple of days, but that was it.

On October 16, I left the ranch to go on a camping trip with 5 of my grand kids and my son in law. This is a Cub Scout family camping trip. We set up tents (yep, I slept on the ground) and they had activities and a pack meeting. They passed out awards including the Bobcat badge for our grandson William. We got a great shot of him with his cerimonial paint on his face.


That is my tent in the background and one of the hammocks. All of the grandkids have hammocks and love to sleep in them.

I was invited to this campout because Shannon can’t sleep out in her advanced state of being with child. Brian is now a leader and needed to go. I stayed with him and helped with the kids and Kim stayed with Shannon in case a quick trip to the hospital was needed. Shannon and Kim did come out during the days and it is amazing how much stuff Shannon was doing. Still no baby…

When we got back to the ranch we saw a beautiful bald eagle eating something in the bar ditch by the front gate. I got one bad picture, but this is the evidence.


Today, October 19, I decided to take on the project of cutting down a large tree right by our trailer. It was leaning badly and we were all afraid it would fall on someone. All that is left is a large stump. I missed my target drop point by about an inch and a half. Kim helped a bunch with dragging brush, while I ran the saw. It took about 6 hours and we both got a great workout.


Shannon’s due date is tomorrow. So, hopefully I will be reporting on the birth soon.

I did go for a ride last Friday after we got a bit of rain. It felt good to get back on the bike. I am going to get the Go Pro set up on one of my Motorcycle helmets. I should be able to get some good footage. That is it for this entry. Hopefully the hitch itch won’t get too much worse.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Motorcycle Races and Getting Organized


We arrived back at the ranch in Missouri on October 3. It was a very hectic time at the ranch. Our empty field turns into a small city. We had a bunch of RV’s and 129 riders show up to the Hardwood Enduro. This is an off road Motorcycle race that is held at the ranch each year. In the past I have been very involved in putting it on, but this year we had very little to do with it. Kim and I jumped in and stayed pretty busy all weekend.

The only bad thing is that when I went to set up, my passenger side landing gear started to go down and then just stopped. On Monday, I took it apart and found out that the repair that we had done to the same leg back in 2014 in Florida was done incorrectly. They installed the wrong pin. So, this time the main shaft sheared off. To make a long story short, I ended up having to replace the entire leg. It was $250. Crazy and good, how that waited until I was at the ranch to happen.

We spent the entire first week going through our stuff and getting things cleaned up and running again. We took the boat out for a run and thankfully it ran great. I then winterized it again and it will wait until next summer to pull us skiing. Here is a couple of shots at Bull Shoals Reservoir.



The crazy thing is how difficult it was to find a place to launch the boat. We went to Theodosia and the ramp was under water by about 20 feet. It has been a very wet year with plenty of flooding and the lakes have not gone down totally yet. We went down to Kissee Mills and we could launch there off of a road. In the picture above the post on the left is at the top of the boat ramp. I can’t wait to get back out there and do some skiing. I just hope I am still able.

As we say in Missouri, we are always about 2 weeks of no rain away from a drought. Even with all of that water in the lakes, the ground at the ranch is bone dry and dusty. I really don’t like to ride in dust, so I have done very little riding to this point. I am sure I will get motivated to ride after we get some rain.

I have to admit I have been a bit depressed. I think it is like a rock star when the tour is over. You get used to the rhythm of the road and the daily problem solving. We really enjoyed our time out there and I can’t wait to start again.

I do like the peace and quiet of the ranch and we will enjoy it while we are here. We will be very busy. We are planning to go through all of our stuff and purge as much as we can. I think that will keep us busy. We are planning to leave after Christmas and head south. We are talking about Texas and then Florida.

Until then, I will try to stay motivated to write. I have found that I like to keep a journal of what I do, but I am very concerned that it is not very interesting. 

Oh Yeah, No Baby yet. The doctor told Shannon yesterday that it will happened in the next week to 10 days. Maybe that will get me out of the funk I am in.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Heading South


On September 30, we left our beautiful camp site in the Black Hills of South Dakota and headed south. We were rolling by 9AM. We were not sure where we would end up, but that is pretty normal for us. We were expecting to drive close to 300 miles.

We decided to stay in the Black Hills for a while and drive Highway 385. It is a very easy drive that is mostly downhill from our starting point. We drove past the Crazy Horse memorial and then into Wind Cave National Park. We will not count that National Park. You have to see the cave to count a National Park named for a cave. They have a fair amount of land that is bordered by Custer State Park. They have a large herd of Buffalo that roams around the area. We got a few pictures from the truck.



After leaving the Black Hills we drove through far North Western Nebraska. I was very surprised how hilly it was. We drove along the San Hills Scenic Byway. It was really very pretty.


We decided to stop at the Nebraska National Forest. Who knew that Nebraska has a National Forest. This forest was planted by a guy named Bessey. He was a horticulturist that did some research and decided that this are was once forested. He planted a bunch of native trees and now after over 50 years they have a nice forest. They have ATV trails running through the area. I would love to take a ride on the sandy trails, but we were just there a few hours.


The sites were a bargain at $11 per night with electric. The only problem is that there is a pretty active train track right by park. I would still recommend it for a night or two.

They have developed a large nursery here for the National Forest Service. They have many different types of trees and supply all of the National Forests with seedlings. It is a very large operation.


As you walk through the park, you can see mature trees of over 50 different species. Each has a sign on them. We found it very interesting and educational. Here was our $11 site:


We once again got on the road early the next day. We drove about 300 more miles to Big Lake State Park just north of St. Joseph, Missouri. The drive was thankfully uneventful and looked more like the Nebraska we all know and love.

We stayed at Big Lake SP last year on our return from Colorado. It is a nice park now made nicer by new bath and shower houses. It was us and two other rigs in the park. It was a nice quiet place for the night. We even had a pretty sunset over the lake.



On October 2, we made the final drive down to Ozark, Missouri. We stayed in the Stage Stop Campground for one night, so that we could see Shannon and Brian and 5 of our grand kids. That RV park is right behind the famous Lambert’s restaurant. We missed the kids so much and it was great to see them. William had a flag football game on Saturday morning, so I really wanted to go to that. He played great and made 4 “tackles”.


After the game, we made the final 50 mile drive to the ranch. We will stay at the ranch through the holidays. I usually don’t write as much when we are at the ranch, but I will try to keep this blog more active this time around.

As of this writing, Shannon has still not had the baby, but it could be any day. Come back to see pictures of motorcycle races and then Baby Pictures!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Badlands National Park and the Black Hills of South Dakota


On September 28, we left Wyatt’s RV Park in Belle Fourche, SD and headed into the Black Hills. Wyatt’s is a pretty nice for an RV park. The sites are close together for us, but the place was almost empty while we were there. They are a Passport America park with a $20 rate. I am sure that Wyatt’s is jammed during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Sturgis is only about 15 miles away. Here is a shot of the park.


We drove about 70 miles to Sheridan Lake Campground. We drove by Sturgis. All is quiet this time of year, but you could see the facilities that are packed when the rally is going on. Mike told me that this was a record year for attendance at the rally with an estimated 1.2 million people. Wow!

When we entered the Black Hills we drove right into a cloud bank. The temperature was in the 50’s and raining. We found an awesome site at Sheridan Lake. This is a USFS campground and is beautiful. We are right on a lake. We had no hookups, but the large site was $10 per night.


You can see an arm of the lake behind the rig. Here is the view across the lake.



This was one of our favorite sites of the entire trip. Kim is always about the view, so this is the view out the window.


It was while I was sitting here reading, that we got the text from Shannon saying she was in labor and heading to the hospital. With that news our plans changed. We discussed the options including leaving the next morning and getting back to Missouri in 2-3 days. At about 11 that evening, we got the word that she was heading back home and it would be a bit longer. Kim does not want to miss the birth, so we decided to do just one day in the Badlands and the Black Hills and then head back to Missouri.

On September 29, we got up early and headed to the Badlands National Park. This was NP #20 for the trip. We drove east for about 70 miles to the entrance. Sections of land that are too rough to farm or to use for grazing are called “Badlands”. The formations reminded us of Bryce Canyon in Utah. We took a bunch of pictures. Here are a few samples:





The colors were very interesting. We read all of the interpretive signs and learned about the geology of the area. Check out the yellow is these hills.


I really like this shot:



We did this park like most people on vacation do. We drove through and stopped at the overlooks. Then we went to the visitors center and watched the short film. We really enjoyed the visit, but it was time to go to get in some areas of Custer State Park that we wanted to visit. Our main focus was the Needles Highway. Our friends told us that it was a must see.

Needles Highway is not a highway at all. It is the tightest and most curvy paved road I can  remember ever driving. The aspens were beautiful and the rock formations were awesome.


As we entered the park the clouds started to break up and we got some decent lighting for some better pictures.


The star of the show is the “Needles”. They are the rock formations that are standing on end. They are awesome to look at.


There were two tunnels that we had to pull in our mirrors to fit through.


We made it to Sylvan lake. The lake is surrounded by these huge rocks. It was just stunning.



I just wish the lighting was better, but I think you get the idea of this beautiful place. We got back to our campsite at about dark. It was a long day and lots of driving, but we are so glad that we got to see a few of the top sites in this area. We will need to come back to do this place justice. We will do that when we come back to see North Dakota.

When we got back to our campsite we had an amazing moon rise. I am not sure this picture captures it, but it was awesome. That is the moon with a reflection on the water of the lake.


We got ready to leave the next morning. I was dreading the long hours of driving, but it will all be worth it when we get to see our new grand daughter. We had a very eventful trip with some fun and surprising things to see. Come back to see some wildlife shots and other cool stuff.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Visiting Friends in South Dakota


I have fallen further behind in this blog. The last week of my life has been a whirlwind. We are now back in Missouri and still waiting for the birth of our new grand child. I really want to keep up this blog while we are in Missouri, but first I want to finish writing about our trip.

On September 24, we arrived in Belle Fourche, SD. I have a friend that lives there. Mike and his wife Megan work for one of the distributors that I used to work with when I had a job. Mike is in sales, so we had a fair amount of interaction. He has worked for his company more than 25 years. We got together and had some long talks. I really enjoy talking to him because he is very knowledgeable on many subjects and I love to discuss different viewpoints on often controversial topics. Here is a shot of Mike and Megan and their three kids:


Here is a shot of Mike and I.


Check out the awesome photo bomb by Mikes daughter Braxton.

Megan fixed an awesome dinner and we had a nice evening. They decided to act as tour guides the next day and take us through their favorite places in the northern area of the Black Hills.

We started by going to the small town of Aladdin, Wyoming. This town has a population of 15 and has a very cool general store. The interesting part is the store and the town are for sale.



We then drove out to see some interesting spots including a lake that filled up a sink hole. You can see the edge of the hole in this shot. This lake is over 60 feet deep.


We then headed into the Black Hills. The cool thing is that the Aspens were turning gold and it was a beautiful day.



The Black Hills are full of large rock formations. To the American Indian it is a very spiritual place.



We then stopped at a place called 11th hour. This is a very narrow canyon that only gets direct sunlight during the 11th hour of the day. We decided to climb to the top. It was a bit sketchy, but it was fun and the kids showed us how to do it.



There was a waterfall with very cool colors.


The view from the top was very nice.



We made a couple of more stops and then headed to Deadwood. Mike has sold systems to many of the businesses in Deadwood. It is cool little ex-mining town that has taken on gambling and is very busy.



Here is Caleb checking out the sites from a balcony:


We got back together on Sunday and we went out a did some fossil hunting. We actually found a bunch of them I found some Buffalo teeth that were probably pretty old. I am not sure why, but I did not get any pictures of that day.

We really enjoyed our time together. I really like to visit the people that made a positive impact on me when I was working. Mike was one of those people and I am happy to call him a good friend. I really enjoyed getting to know his wife Megan better and the kids are awesome. This kind of interaction really enhances our travels.

As I shared in a previous post, our visit to the Black Hills was cut short. I will tell the rest of the story in my next entry.