Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

Recipe for a Friday Fictioneers story:

Take one photo.
Add some thought. (Amount is optional.)
Shake (or stir, James) to make 100 words.
Enjoy immoderately.

Serves one or more. No calories.

This week’s photo is from a Friday Fictioneers stalwart, Jennifer (ElmoWrites) Pendergast.  I’m sure it has a much happier memory than the story I derived from it.

Missing

I miss my dad.

He took us on hikes where we found green frogs and slithering snakes, taught us to swim and always splashed us, gave us piggyback rides, told us stories.

That was before he and Mom started fighting.
Before her bruises.
Before she fell down the steps and broke her arm.
Before he was gone.

Mom made a pile of stones, one for every year he’s been gone. That’s where I go over the good times so I don’t forget them. Or him.

Mom said it’s a place I can remember Dad.

They remind me of a headstone.

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This week’s theme is “Connected”, in whatever sense that works for the blogger. No further explanation needed.

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Having survived the downpours of Saturday and refreshed ourselves with an outstanding meal the night before, Bill’s ready to leave for the last half of the trail, from Custer to Deadwood.  Although there’s water sitting in the parking lot of the motel, the sky is mostly clear, the temperature lovely.  After he loads the bike and all his goodies, I drive him to the trail head where yesterday’s ride ended.  He’s off with the ease of just getting started.  I head back to town to look for sandwiches for lunch.

At the far end of the main street, I find the only large grocery store in town.  My meandering brings me to bulk dark chocolate-covered malt balls.  I quickly put some in a bag.  Most places only carry milk chocolate malt balls, so I’m filled with joy at the score. There are also (my initial objective) some rather nice pre-made sandwiches that look as though they’re homemade.  Even better, the price is excellent.

Next stop, a bakery spotted the night before.  Resisting apple fritters the size of the wheel of a tricycle, (why did I do that??), I buy a freshly-made glazed doughnut. (No picture, I ate it too fast and discover only after breakfast that I have glaze all over my chin!)   Have to have something to last until breakfast, which is at least 5 minutes away.  It turns out to be longer, as an older man sitting in front of his room, engages me in conversation.  I have to walk away but after breakfast, he and his half-brother are both out, so it takes a bit more time to get past.

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One of Bill’s favorite sayings is, “Hunger is the best sauce” and riding 50+ miles makes for hunger.   After a shower, for Bill, and the Belmost and subsequent excitement at seeing the first Triple Crown in 37 years, we headed to downtown Custer (only about three minutes away), to look for Black Hills Burger and Bun.  This place had achieved the highest rating on Trip Advisor, which also warned that a) they were only open from 11-2 and from 5-7:30, and b) there would be a line.  I’m normally not much of a burger person, burgers always sounding better to me than they ever taste, but after last night’s deliciousness, I was ready for more.

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Michelson Trail‘s 109 miles run between Edgemont, South Dakota and the much more famous Deadwood.  If you want to do a bike ride, you couldn’t do better than to ride this immaculately-kept trail with its gorgeous scenery.  For $3/day or $15/year, it’s a bargain.  Be prepared for all sorts of weather and all types of animals.  Bill carried bear spray which he fortunately didn’t have to use, but he did spot a rattlesnake, as well as other, non-lethal animals.  The trail is part of the Rails-to-Trails system, where the old Union Pacific track has been turned into a trail for walkers, bikers, and horseback riders.  By the way, one of the major funding sources for Rails-to-Trails is under attack.  Although I’m not for frivolous spending, especially when debt is mounting, this is a worthwhile effort.  If you live in the US and would like to support the continued funding, go here to send a message to Congress.

Edgemont is one of those small towns that make me wonder what the people who live there do.  There’s one main street, gas stations, a few motels and restaurants, a small library (something I always spot), other businesses, and too many apparently empty houses.  The next morning when I look for lunch items, I discover the small store.  But to do any serious grocery shopping, Hot Springs would be the closest town, I think.  The only other places for groceries are two gas stations, although I do get some surprisingly good and not expensive sandwiches at one.  The economy is obviously not robust.

The woman at the motel recommends several restaurants and we choose the one that she says has good burgers.  It’s a small bar in the style of an English pub, not in decor, but where families are welcome.  Although they’re out of some things, we get some tasty craft beer from Alaska and order burgers with bleu cheese and bacon.  Although the cheese turns out to be bleu cheese dressing, the beef and bacon are both excellent.  But the star of the meal is the homemade chips, crisp and delicious!

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“Ashall Fossil Beds 7 miles.”  I hit the brakes as the sign flashes by and turn north.  The rolling, green hills hide a plethora of fossils, housed in an enormous building. In 1971, the skull of a juvenile rhinoceros was discovered in a cornfield.  Imagine being the person who found that!  Now the area is a Natural National Landmark, still being worked by University of Nebraska student interns as well as others.  Skeletons of rhinos, horses, and camels have been discovered.  Volcanic ash from a volcano in present-day Idaho caused lung failure in the animals who apparently gathered at the watering hole because of the heat and thirst.  Some died with fetuses inside, others with the contents of their stomachs still intact.

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These hills may contain more fossils as yet undiscovered.

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As soon as I get home from work on Thursday, we load the car and point it in the direction of Iowa. It’s time for a mini-adventure, mini to me being something that takes less than a week. My husband is an avid biker…as in bicycling, so this mini is going to be a two-day, 109-mile bike trip in SW South Dakota…for my husband. I’ll be driving the support vehicle, support in both the sense of emotional support but also for food, water, and so on.  It’s not the Tour de France, but it’s not a flat ride on the prairie, either. I plan on taking lots of photos and generally having fun and relaxing.

Relaxing will have to wait until after we get through Iowa! We lose between 1 ½ and 2 hours in two huge delays: the first caused by a detour for construction, the second for an accident that leaves the shell of a semi hauling fish shredded. When we choose a place along the highway to eat, the service is quite a lot below stellar, the food only average. Our motel is clean and adequate, but although I’m exhausted, I don’t sleep well.

Up until we’re almost at Council Bluffs, named for the Lewis and Clark confab with Indian chiefs, we are, outside of the huge delays, flying along on interstates, two lanes going each direction. But we elect this time to take the road less traveled by ditching the fast lanes for the two-lane, old-time road of Route 20 once we hit Sioux City, Iowa. Our GPS almost has a heart attack, continually trying to get us to turn around. “Recalculating” plays over and over as she strives to determine why we aren’t following her directions.  Bill finally shuts her off, leaving only the map.  I think that because most people travel on the interstates, there’s not much traffic on our chosen path.  When I was growing up, we went on vacation every year, driving all over the US on two-lane roads.  But at that time, that’s all what there was, so there were lots of vehicles and whoever was driving spent a lot of time trying to pass slower-moving vehicles.  I imagine it wasn’t nearly as much fun then as these mostly empty roads are today.

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Although I grew up in Nebraska, I’ve never been in this part of the state, a place that gives lie to the idea that Nebraska is flat and boring. Rollercoaster-like hills go on for green mile after green mile. We reach Plainview, Nebraska and are arrested by the sight of a gigantic clown outside the Klown Museum. Our younger daughter finds clowns creepy, so of course we have to stop for a photo. The owners are working outside and the museum isn’t open, but they insist that we come in, showing us the museum’s over 7,000 clowns, which vary from vintage Ronald McDonalds to porcelain clowns, a clown carved from Mt. St. Helen’s ash, and one made from coal. All the clowns were donated, with many of the owners coming personally prior to donation to see if the museum was suitable.

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No drought here. Everything is vivid green with water lying in many low spots. Then we see a sign for Ashfall Fossil Beds.  Bill becomes animated, insisting that we stop.  So, to the chagrin of our much-tried GPS (yes, she got turned off again), we turn north for the seven-mile drive to the fossil beds.

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To be continued…