Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “South Dakota”

Being Checked Out

I have a mind.  I’m not just a piece of meat.  I have feelings too.

Sugar and I were in a store in Hill City, South Dakota, in The Black Hills, last weekend.  The store sells books about The American West.  I bought one about Crazy Horse, whose monument is nearby.  It has other items too.  Sugar was looking at Native American jewelry.  The salesclerk was not Native American nor was she from The American West.  She told Sugar, who noted her Back East accent, that she was from Philadelphia.

Out of the blue, when I was not even talking to her, the Philadelphia lady asked me, “Do you ride horses? (pause)  A lot?”

I proudly told her that I have been riding horses my whole life or at least since I was two years old.  I expected her admiration.  I figured she was thrilled to be in the presence of a genuine cowboy.  (In my prior post, Miss Sugar’s Purse, I described my attire, including the manly shoulder bag).

Maybe she asked the question because of my hat and boots.  It turns out that her focus was on checking out my Wrangler jeans as  I innocently browsed the books.

“Man, are you bow-legged!”  That is what she said.  She then asked if spending too many hours in the saddle during my formative years caused my condition.  I am certain that she meant it as a compliment.  I took it as a compliment.  Of course, Miss Sugar being there and all, the store clerk probably was too uncomfortable to come right out and compliment my rear.

The great thing about being delusional is that even if you are not actually on the beach, you can still enjoy it.

coffee at churchHere I am having coffee at our Cowboy Church, Ridin’ for the Brand, which meets in an indoor horse arena.  Guess whose legs are the subject of this post? Hint:  white hat.  Maybe I am slightly bow-legged.  Or it could just be the angle of the camera.

Buffaloed in South Dakota

Last September, Sugar and I went to the Black Hills and enjoyed the buffalo festival in Cody, South Dakota.  I’d like to say that we picked the weekend so that we could attend, but it was simply good luck that we happened to be there.

Buffaloes were central to the culture of Plains Indians, including the Lakota Sioux people, many of whom still live in South Dakota.  The Black Hills are sacred to these people, and to me too.  The Pine Ridge Reservation is there.

There is a large buffalo herd in Custer State Park.  In late September they hold their annual buffalo round-up there.  During the weekend prior to that event, when we were visiting, the town of Custer celebrated the importance of buffalo to the area in many ways.  On street corners throughout downtown Custer were life-size model buffaloes that had been painted creatively by artists.  On Friday evening was a reception at a bank at which the public could meet the artists and get a preview of their artwork, which was auctioned off the next day.  Not only were the full sized buffaloes auctioned, but also smaller sculptures of buffaloes and paintings of buffaloes.  Lots of buffalo art!   Since our home is decorated with western art, and since Miss Sugar is an artist and art teacher, the art auction was of great interest to us.

Now you are probably wondering what art we purchased.  The answer is that the bidders were out of our league.  However, we did buy a buffalo skull from a booth of such items.  It was not part of the auction but it was part of the buffalo festival.

We’d like to go back to Custer, South Dakota this coming September for the buffalo weekend.

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse was a Sioux war leader who was never defeated in battle.  He was one of the strategists at the Battle of Little Big Horn, where General Custer was wiped out by an alliance of Indian tribes. 

He fought to protect his home in the Black Hills of what is now South Dakota.  He was never defeated, but he did surrender and was taken to Fort Robinson, in the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska.  Sadly, he was murdered there, stabbed in the back by a bayonet, to the shame of his captors.

He died in 1877.  Many years later, Indian leaders persuaded an award winning sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, to build a monument such as Mount Rushmore, honoring Crazy Horse.  The “monumental” job was undertaken by the artist in 1948, but is still not completed.  Mr. Ziolkowski died in 1982.  His family continues the task.  So far, after six decades, only the face of Crazy Horse is recognizable.  It is not really a task of sculpting because a mountain is being carved by dynamite primarily.  There is a sculpture done by the artist which is being recreated on a much larger scale.  It is a daunting task. 

I recommend that you visit the monument, which is near Custer, South Dakota.  There is no hurry though.  Take your time.

Buffaloed

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota last weekend.  Actually, that post was more about our misadventures with the trailer we rented.  This one will be more positive and well illustrated with American Bison, also known as Buffaloes, so if you are not enthused about such critters, back off immediately.

Buffaloes were central to the culture of Plains Indians, including the Lakota Sioux people, many of whom still live in South Dakota.  I have previously written about the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Tomorrow, I intend to write about a famous Lakota leader, Crazy Horse.

There is a large buffalo herd in Custer State Park.  Yesterday was the annual buffalo round-up there.  During the weekend prior to that event, when we were visiting, the town of Custer celebrated the importance of buffalo to the area in many ways.  On street corners throughout downtown Custer were life-size model buffaloes that had been painted creatively by artists.  On Friday evening was a reception at a bank at which the public could meet the artists and get a preview of their artwork, which was auctioned off the next day.  Not only were the full sized buffaloes auctioned, but also smaller sculptures of buffaloes and paintings of buffaloes.  Lots of buffalo art!   Since our home is decorated with western art, and since Miss Sugar is an artist and art teacher, the art auction was of great interest to us.   I’d like to say that we picked this weekend so that we could attend, but it was simply good luck that we happened to be there.

Now you are probably wondering what art we purchased.  The answer is that the bidders were out of our league.  However, we did buy a buffalo skull from a booth of such items.  It was not part of the auction but it was part of the buffalo festival. 

We’d like to go back to Custer, South Dakota next September for the buffalo weekend.

Stinky Slinky and Miss Sugar (and me)

For all of ya’all who have been awaiting my next blog with bated breath, you may unbate your respective breaths because I am back.  I am back from where I have been, which is The Black Hills of South Dakota, USA.

Miss Sugar and I made reservations at a private campground which shall, as they say, remain nameless.  Now when I say “remain nameless” I am not exactly accurate because it is not nameless at all.  I am not going to tell you the name in order to protect the innocent.  It has a name and Miss Sugar and I know the name and we went there and camped.  We ran into some difficulties there, however, some of which I am fixin’ to relate to you, gentle reader(s).

First off, understand that we do not own a camper aka RV trailer or any other kind of RV.  What we done was rent one, which was costly.  Let us say one can stay at a pretty nice motel for $130 per night, which for three nights is approximately $390.  On the other hand, one can pay $300 to rent a trailer, plus a $45 set up fee, plus a $500 deposit, which is approximately $845.  Which is a better deal?

I know what you are thinking — it is about the same if you get the security deposit back.  That would be true, provided the security deposit is returned, which it was not in our case.  Not yet, anyways.

Another difference is that the campground charges too.  In our case, the charge was $35 per night.  If you are keeping up on the math, that is $115 added to the $845, which is approximately $960.  I say approximately because due to circumstances on our trip, I paid the RV park manager another $20 for helping us get in our trailer after one of us, a very attractive person, broke off the key.  The resulting circumstances were that we could not get inside of our $960 trailer.  Of course we could have just looked at it and enjoyed the view, but we actually desired to sleep, so our choices were to break in or stay at one of those $130 motels.  We chose to enlist the assistance of the manager of the RV park, who helped us break in by removing the lock from the door with his power drill, hence the extra $20 expense in the form of a tip.  Consequently, we could get in but we could not lock the door ever again.  Nor can anyone else unless the folks who rented us the trailer fix the lock and replace the key, which they will do and take it out of our security deposit.  We don’t know yet how much that will be, but our $500 is no longer intact.

That might not be so bad, you are thinking.  However, you do not know the rest of the story.  Part of the rest of the story is that one of us, a pretty big guy with little finesse in things mechanical, despite having hitched up trailers hundreds of times, this time broke off the handle for the jack which raises and lowers the trailer so it can be attached to or unattached from the hitch on the back of the truck hauling the trailer.  Our predicament was that I could not unattach our truck from their trailer without the jack operating correctly and it was not operating at all.

Since we needed to either leave our truck with the rental company or self-tattle, the rental company is fully aware of the broken jack handle and has the power to deduct  from the deposit the cost of repair of the jack and replacement of the handle.

Now, those of you who have stayed at motels likely have never been required to perform any plumbing tasks at the motel.  When one rents a travel trailer with a bathroom, one must not only return it clean without benefit of maid service, but also empty what we shall call sewage.  That task is performed by hooking up a sewer hose running from the trailer into a sewage dump or drain, which I done did without pleasure.  The seven children who occupied the Class A motorhome parked next to us informed us that they call the sewer hose a “stinky slinky.”

Our rental company expected us to return our sewer hose/stinky slinky with the trailer.  We fully intended to do so.  But alas, we did not.  The stinky slinky is cleverly stored in a hollow bumper and each end is supposed to be capped off.  We put our stinky slinky in the bumper and capped each end.  Then we drove 300 miles.  When we returned the trailer and confessed to breaking the key, breaking the jack and handle, and damaging the lock, we did not confess to losing the stinky slinky because we were unaware that it was no longer in the hollow bumper.  The rental person checked out our returned trailer and discovered the loss.  No big deal for her.  She has a $500 deposit, you will recall.  We left without the deposit but still hoping some of it will be returned.

Guess what!  We were driving back on Highway 287 when Miss Sugar saw a big hose on the side of the road and claimed it was ours.  So I got out, risked my life crossing the highway, and picked up the large hose.  Sure enough, it was our stinky slinky.  So we drove back and returned it, quite proud of ourselves.  Our pride was diminished by the lady’s unenthusiastic reaction.  She said, “I still have to charge you for it because someone ran over the hose.”  Apparently, dented hoses are unacceptable.  Therefore, the deposit will take another hit.

So what have we learned from this camping experience?  We had so much fun that we are talking about purchasing our own trailer.

P.S.  The manager of the RV park who helped with the lock was wearing a holster on his hip which contained a handgun.  He explained that he did not need a concealed carry permit because his pistol was not concealed.  Indeed it was not, hence the tip.

P.P.S.  He also introduced me to his wife, a lovely woman.  He shared with me that this is his 8th wife.  It has been done before.  You have heard about Henry the 8th.

P.P.P.S.  While sitting in his workshop as he worked on the lock by removing parts in order to ensure it would never lock again, he generously brought out a bottle of actual moonshine.  He showed me his copper tubing and still.  I had never had moonshine before.  I learned that it is to be drunk from the bottle and passed back and forth.  He seemed pleased to have me as his new friend.  He said, “You and me could get into some trouble.”  I reckon so.  I can get into trouble with or without him.

After the PowWow

Previously, I wrote about my introduction to Native American people, aka Indians.  Now I will tell you the rest of the story. 

As a dedicated young cowboy, interested in the American West, I enjoyed family trips  to places like Fort Robinson, where Crazy Horse was assassinated, and the Black Hills, sacred to the Sioux.  The Pine Ridge Reservation is in South Dakota on the border of Nebraska.  We visited Wounded Knee in the Pine Ridge. 

So, when I had to pick an 8th grade history project, I wrote about American Indians and learned a lot in the process.

Later, during my higher education, I signed up for a class called “Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication”  because it included a three week field trip as part of the requirement.  Some of my classmates went to Africa.  I arranged to go to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  In preparation, I read Dee Brown’s book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.  Unfortunately, at the time I was to go there in the spring of 1975, the American Indian Movement folks like Russell Means had a standoff with FBI agents and took some hostages.  So, I was told that it was not a good time to visit.

Instead, I redirected my field trip to New Mexico, where I stayed at Ghost Ranch near Abiqui.  I was there three weeks.  I visited the seven northern Pueblos, including the Taos Pueblo.  I enjoyed the experience, meeting some nice folks and learning a lot.  As it turns out, many years later, I still enjoy northern New Mexico.  My trophy wife, Miss Sugar, and I frequently make trips to Santa Fe, Taos, Abiqui and Ojo Caliente. 

Miss Sugar has made friends with some artisans in that area and gets materials such as turquoise and silver to use in her own jewelry making business.  She likes the SouthWest stuff.  So do I.  Actually, our log house on the ranch is decorated with cowboy decor, including SouthWest items.  Plus, I use guns and antlers in much of my decorating.

Fortunately, Miss Sugar shares, no, improves upon my taste in decor.  Of course, there is a good reason why.  Not only did she grow up in Texas, but she is an Indian princess, no less than 1/16th Shoshone.  Get a load of that.  That first powwow became my destiny.

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