Wednesday, November 4, 2009

· Daily Recipe Spot

Food Network created a widget which provides daily recipes...on the SPOT! Please scroll down the right sidebar (just below About Us), and enjoy this fun and tasty feature, compliments of Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

· Guest Comment - PreTeen

One of our younger guests, a pre-teen, stayed for seven nights with her mother in mid-June. Although she was not a 'picky' eater, she favored oranges over any other fruit, and cinnamon rolls made her taste buds really dance! So, we served the rolls twice during their visit. We found great pleasure in seeing her expressive happiness.

Friday, July 3, 2009

· Entering Summer

   At Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast, lilacs provided the primary beauty of bouquets for the breakfast tables in June.
   But with the spring season over, this tired bush needed a little help shedding its dried flower clusters.
   Except for handfuls of spring lilacs, the simple summer bouquets enjoyed by guests consist of wild flowers, usually picked by eager grandchildren while spending their excess energy during evening adventure outings.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

· The Tree House Loft

Above pictured is a pleasant—always cheerful—teenager comfortably occupying The Tree House Loft for four nights during the first week in June. Her parents felt that their daughter would enjoy having her own relaxing place. The Loft, with its half bath, is upper level in the Chessie Lee's Peas Suite, and is an optional space. This contented young lady is an avid reader, and found the shelving unit next to the bed useful. 

Most recent guests in the Loft were a sparkling young girl and her lively little brother, for three nights. They looked through the shelving unit to see between the pine posts behind it, to view the TV on the lower level. On the night prior to their leaving date, the excited boy told us that the pillows up there are like parachutes!  
(This had us rather curious, so after they left we went up to see for ourselves. Sure enough, Sam could imagine parachutes out of those pillows! And Linda noticed that the parachutes hadn't bumped into any flying birds as they went down—No feathers to be found.  :-) 
On the main level, the oldest brother claimed The Nook; while the youngest, 2-year old brother slept on an air mattress behind Mom and Dad's bed. On more than one occasion, the parents said that Chessie Lee's Peas was perfect for their family.

(Photo at top was provided by the girl's mother with permission to post. This family also loved the suite and said they will be back!)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

· Beaches / Trails At Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake
Harney Peak from Palmer Gulch Trailhead
If you will be visiting the Black Hills in late June through August, perhaps early September, chances are you will find the perfect climate for outdoor swimming! Sylvan Lake has a beautiful small beach, which, if it were visible in the first photo above, would be found somewhere between the elongated granite mounds on the left. 

Sheridan Lake and Pactola Lake both have beaches. One of the lakes in Custer State Park has a somewhat larger beach, pretty as can be. In Hot Springs you will find Evans Plunge, which is an indoor/outdoor facility warmed by natural 'hot springs', and features waterslides. Hot Springs is in the southern Hills (about 45 miles from centrally-located Hill City). Hot Springs may be approached via a scenic drive through Wind Cave National Park, where you might want to take advantage of the cool underground caverns. No doubt there are other splashy places around here, too. You might try asking some of the locals where they go for a swim!

Back to Sylvan Lake, it is certainly a favorite in the near vicinity of Hill City (approximately 10 miles), extraordinarily picturesque. The water goes from shallow to fairly deep in the designated swimming area, so probably something agreeable for everyone regarding temperature, not excessively cold in the summer months. The beach is also in close proximity to a trailhead leading to the top of Harney Peak (second photo above), extremely popular with visitors and locals alike...about a 3 to 4 hour hike. Amazing views up there!
(The peak is not visible from Sylvan Lake.) Another spectacular hike can be found below the dam of Sylvan Lake. It is the Sunday Gulch Trail and descends between massive granite mountains on concrete and boulder steps, with supportive railings placed strategically. 

After swimming and/or hiking one might expect a bit of an appetite. Conveniently near the Sylvan Lake beach, a picnic area is equipped with tables and fire grates for grilling hotdogs and other grillables. On the opposite side of the lake a souvenir store offers a small take-out eatery and an outdoor patio for picnicking. There is a fine dining restaurant nearby as well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

· The Bear Den

... for children in the Bluma Madle Suite at
Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast

The brilliant expression of imagination, below,
we show by permission of the happy 'campers'...

The two youngest folks whom you see at breakfast
created the above fanciful nest ...

Monday, June 8, 2009

· Tea for Two, and Three

The Mother-Daughter Tea Party of May 9
(see blog of Saturday, May 16)
was a happy and rewarding occasion.
A similar Tea was subsequently planned for May 16,
for the same mother...with another daughter!

The green pottery teapot is just right for two or three.
It was handmade by the daughter of hostess, Linda,
and helped provide a relaxed and casual atmosphere.

The mother's own heirloom porcelain
teacups and saucers were brought and used,
giving the Tea Party an elegant feel, as well,
to match their pretty attire.

Though mid-May B&B guests were coming and going,
Linda wanted to arrange one more Tea Party.
One (of three) arrived early, enthusiastic to help
with table setting and arranging fruit, nuts and sweets.
This was her Mother's Day gift to her Mom.

Memories are made of these things...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

· Kids at B&B and Smiling Bear Antiques

The children of 5-night guests in the Bluma Madle Suite
considered the suite's Bear Den a daily
vacation destination!

The children enjoyed an education
involving certain antiques (awaiting prices)
which were scattered upon a table in the dining room.
One of the children, below, models a wire egg basket.

The other child is learning the safety features
of an antique grater, which help avoid grating fingers.

In the photo below, the children have discovered
a series of concrete bear tracks next to the porch,
arranged for skipping one to the other.

Goodbye wasn't so easy after all!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

· Mickelson Trail Near Hill City

Just south of Hill City along the Mickelson Trail,
here is one relic of laborious pioneering history...

Visitors may also discover similar sights while
strolling north along the Trail.

Two springtime guests, in the Bluma Madle Suite,
enjoyed a walk on the Mickelson Trail before breakfast.
A short distance from Hill city, going north,
they spotted a few foxes at early-morning play.
They were fortunately quick with the camera...

No, that is not a contortionist fox,
but rather it is two fox pups,
one diving in and the other wiggling out.

Some of the locals who live next to the Trail
are unabashed beggars for affection...

And below is part of a Breyer horse collection
belonging to a recent 11-year old guest, 
who found a vacant shelf useful for corralling the herd.
She and her grandmother stayed in the
Chessie Lee's Peas Suite for 7 nights. Delightful pair!
The grandmother is an experienced, energetic hiker
living in the Colorado Rockies—
and while vacationing here,
she kept herself fit on the Mickelson Trail.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

· Lilacs In June

Beautiful lilacs and their sweet scent
will adorn the breakfast tables in early June
at Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast.

Below is the lilac bush on April 30,
with leaf-buds beginning to open,
unafraid of the unexpected frost.

The Hills are alive with the blooming of flowers,
and tourists—Welcome!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

· Prep Week and Spring Opening

This past week marked Sam and Linda's induction into Tourist Season 2009 (ready or not)Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast, Smiling Bear Antiques and Smiling Bear Espresso Bar needed awakening from hibernation and preparatory grooming

The week began Saturday, May 9 with a Mother-Daughter Tea Party for Two. There was some hesitation on Linda's part when requested to host the party, because winter dust created by Sam's ongoing third guest suite construction project had not yet been gathered. However, the mother assured Linda that her young daughter would not be much of a dust inspector. So, Double Chocolate Scones were served, along with other treats, and organic tea!

Sunday, Mother's Day, we fled to the deep woods for rest and rejuvenation, finding fields of wild flowers, various wildlife, and sweet mountain air freshened with moments of light rain.

Tuesday, May 12 cleaning began in earnest, with the assistance of a friend. An antique shop that needs dusting—to Linda's way of thinking (she would rather be out hiking)—can be a formidable sight! But, having a cheerful friend in the same room doing the same task, and with conversation flying like feathers, Enemy Dust met its demise in just a few short hours. The protagonists were urged along by an added incentive...hunger pangs, in anticipation of a late lunch at the Alpine Inn Restaurant.

Volunteer Duster Snacking on Apple
May 14, after serving our guests breakfast, we spun into a whirlwind of pre-determined, as well as spontaneous, activities:
  • made two batches of jam, Chokecherry-Oregon Grape and Wild Raspberry-Strawberry (at the request of one of our B&B guests who arrived May 13 and wished to take some jam home to her husband). Prepared labels
  • made Wild Chokecherry Syrup, for our signature lattes and for breakfast french toast or pancakes
  • made seedless Wild Raspberry Sauce, for same use as above
  • more cleaning ... unpacking merchandise ... pricing
  • completed a batch of Dagoba Mint Dark Chocolate Truffles
  • naturally, other necessary tasks were tucked between the flurrying pleats of the day 
Sam too often observed potential customers pull into the parking lot, look at the Closed sign, turn around and leave—until, not able to stand it any longer, he let one couple in to do a bit of shopping, and visiting. He was ready; Linda had nothing left to do but to catch up.

Yesterday, May 15 we officially opened shop to the general public, while our B&B guests were out bicycling the Mickelson Trail from Hill City to Custer, and back. We enjoyed a prosperous first day serving espresso drinks and selling antiques, but felt especially blessed for the opportunity to converse with such interesting tourists.

Friday, May 8, 2009

· Your Relaxing Place

Yesterday a friend and I (Linda) had the opportunity to drench ourselves in the springtime beauty of the Black Hills Forest, along Playhouse Road. Intermittent light rain helped the sensation greatly, but certainly didn't dampen our spirits.

Sprinkles of rain scented the exhilarating mountain air with freshness, and enhanced intricate woodsy fragrances, as well as highlighted many otherwise subtle natural colors. My camera had not a minute of boredom, capturing the mellow sagey hues and lacy texture of lichen on moist rocks, as well as the brilliant green colors and spongy appearance of mossed-over logs. 

The picture below is a composite, featuring a lichen background and one end of a hollow oak log, in which the bear feels right at home... 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

· Guest Comment - German

Recent guests from Colorado consisted of Mom, Pop, their delightful little lady, and the girl's Grandmother. They all were a pleasure to have with us for their five-day springtime visit to the Black Hills. We showed them our BEAR picture of the weekend's adventure, trying to decide whether it truly is a bear in the back of the mine shaft—but only God knows for sure, and the bear. 

The girl is a rockhound, so we contributed a couple of rocks to her collection. She was particularly fond of the mica, a few pieces of which adorn a tray on one of our tables.

The Grandmother is from Germany.  We brought her an antique miniature framed hand-painted Germany red deer picture for her analysis, with the added question of whether it may have originated from the Black Forest. She suggested a loupe for discovering of what metal the frame is made, and translated the script on back of the piece. Her beautifully written comment in our guest book needed translating, too, so she graciously offered to read it, indicating that the longest word is akin to hospitality.

We thank all of our guests for their friendship and stories shared!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

· Wild Raspberries & Thimbleberries

Our homemade award-winning Wild Raspberry Jam (pic below) will appear on the Bed and Breakfast table in the morning, along with a German flat bread called flumkuchen, on which our guests may enjoy the jam. In the taller jar are thimbleberries, picked last season, with their bright color suspended in dried form. In this region, the elusive thimbleberry grows only in the northern Black Hills under particular conditions, and they ripen only one or two at a time in the berry cluster, very inconvenient for pickers from the central Black Hills. 

On account of this lapse of thoughtfulness on the part of the thimbleberry, we are not able to collect enough of them for a standard batch of jam ... but possibly enough for a few quarter-pints of seedless jam, hoarded for the delectable destiny of being a rare ingredient in the ganache of homemade dark chocolate truffles. Raspberries and thimbleberries, both, have multitudinous seeds. Truffles don't like seeds. Therefore, the seeds are strained out and discarded before the jam is made, so they will have no chance to jump into the ganache.  :)

Wild Raspberry Jam - with seeds

Through the soft snow of spring the wild crocus peeks . . .
Summer, in the sunset of wild raspberries, we reap . . .
The crisp fall leaves tell of neighbors in the forest deep . . .
And winter quiets the thoughts of everything that breathes.

Copyright © 2007-09 - Linda L. Brown

Monday, April 27, 2009

· April - Practice Month

April, 2009 has been a wet month, mostly snow. Pactola Lake is bulging again, after a long drought. Sunday afternoon we enjoyed a beautiful spring drive along Deerfield Road. We backed out of a side road, when the snowy tracks treacherously narrowed. Sam helped some stranded folks push their vehicle out of the ditch. Nonetheless, we ventured down another side road and stuck with it, though it was quite soggy in places. The scenery was pristine, and the big bonus was getting to see a herd of elk. 

This spring we reserved four weekends, beginning end of March, for personal guests in our B&B suites. We didn't tell them they were practice guineas, unless we made a boo boo. The first weekend was a slumber party, celebrating the two birthdays and one retirement of two friends. The focus was on healthy foods and a brisk walk on the Mickelson Trail, and cake :) Easter weekend, friends drove over 150 miles to attend Sunrise Service at Mount Rushmore with us. Actually, we attended with them—It was their idea to get up that early. But it was worth it! - The next weekend several of my high school friends drove many more miles for a blast from the past, including a reverie with old 45 records. Sam was kept entertained by our hmmm unusual behavior all weekend. Aside from reverting to our teen years, we indulged in some normalcy, such as taking a nice long walk along the Mickelson Trail, and enjoying a scenic drive to Keystone for a little shopping, and discussing seriously interesting topics, such as our faith and nutrition. But mostly we were a little crazy, Sam says. - Then, this last Friday night we had more fun, more healthy food and amiable conversations with three other good-natured friends who ventured out in stormy weather to spend the night. They didn't mind being guineas either. Nor did we—as we felt like guests here, too, all the month of April. Thank you, friends!

Sam has been making great progress on constructing our third guest suite. Now that the worst of the dust has settled, it is time to devote some energy to rounding it up. But some energy will be reserved for taking refreshing walks in the forest during this beautiful season teeming with meadowlarks, mountain bluebirds, redwing blackbirds, Canadian geese, ducks and...aaahhhh...the first wildflowers of the year, crocuses (pasque flowers), the South Dakota State Flower.

Monday, April 20, 2009

· George S. Mickelson Trail

Rain or shine . . .
The kind of happiness stirred up by the deep and high beauty of the wilderness Black Hills, by the pure invigorating freshness of it, can also be enjoyed along a more even plane. Whether out for casual walking with your friends (see mine above), or for brisk hiking or running, or for breezy bicycling . . . these are all much loved activities of all ages, all along the 112 plus miles of the easily accessible George S. Mickelson Traila trails from rails project, which gave the late 1800's railbed new purpose. The highly acclaimed Mickelson Trail can be enjoyed from Deadwood of the northern Black Hills to Edgemont of the southwestern foothills. The splendor of towering cliffs, granite mountains, crisp streams, wild flowers and wildlife along the way is only matched by the fragrance of pine-scented air which rejuvenates the lungs and refreshes the beating heart. 

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast, Hill City, is in the Central Black Hills, along the Mickelson Trail. Bicycles can be rented within a few blocks of the B&B. An added luxury for our Trail guests is that Mountains To Prairies is within easy walking distance of everything Hill City offers. Historic downtown provides a pleasing array of delicious foods, fine art and specialty shops, such as Jon Crane Art Gallery and Black Hills Institute of Geological Research (Everything Prehistoric Gift Shop); and the community has several nearby church denominations, which welcome visitors to participate in Sunday Worship Service or Saturday/Sunday Mass. 

Going north-northwest of Hill City along the Mickelson Trail, one may catch glimpses of traces of 1880 cabins or other evidence of once vibrant life, and one may hear the distant chuggings of the popular present-day 1880 Train like as if they were the pulses of energy and enthusiasm spent by the hopefuls who dwelt here . . . working such mines as the King Solomon, the Bengal Tiger and Lucky Tiger. About 7 miles out is the site of Redfern, showing very little but the skeleton of a vintage railroad car.

Railroad Bed Rememberings
Nostalgic sighs may resonate with the leaning pines
gently sweeping sounds through the heart and soul and mind
even involving those curiously passing by
who have no dim memory of such rugged ragged times.
Copyright (c) 2009 - Sam and Linda Brown

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

· Easter Sunrise Service at Mount Rushmore

Click on the Mt. Rushmore plate for an interesting slideshow of the 04.12.09 Easter Sunrise Service held at our National Memorial.

We attended this beautiful service with a visiting family of four.

Friday, April 10, 2009

· Pretzel Donk of Custer State Park

Now, that is a horse of a different foible ...
Well, not exactly a horse,
but this wild burro had enough of a weakness for pretzels
to drop his camera shyness for a handout.
(Actually, the burros are not really camera shy.
 They are extremely persistent about taking care of themselves
... which can make for chaotic photo-shooting, and a lot of fun!)
We met this handsome fella in Custer State Park
along the Wildlife Loop.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

· Welcome to the Blog Spot of
Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast

bed and breakfast hospitality lodging
hill city, central black hills, south dakota
near mount rushmore - 1880 train - custer state park
- wind cave national park - jewel cave national monument
- mountain lakes - harney peak - norbeck scenic byway
- black hills playhouse near center lake
- george s. mickelson trail - the centennial trail
- historic downtown hill city - antiques
- all things bright and beautiful

If you were to vacation in the Black Hills of South Dakota, what would be the most important part of your adventure? Would it be the local food, such as bison; would it be Mount Rushmore; hiking in the forest; climbing the towering granite rocks; fishing in the mountain streams and lakes; backpacking; caving; touring the beautiful scenic highways; enjoying the culture and art of the area; visiting Crazy Horse Mountain Carving; thinking, seeing, breathing and doing something different . . . What is important to you?