Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

· Spearfish Canyon's Rare Winged Visitor

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast

The Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush, an extremely rare visitor along Iron Creek in Spearfish Canyon, has been drawing birders from all over the country.
An Orange-billed Nightingale-Thrush has been sighted in Spearfish Canyon. This rare bird is only the third of its kind ever recorded in the United States...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

· Harvest Time!

Black Hills Wild Black Currants
What we go through for Smiling Bear's
jam connoisseurs and coffee-loving Black Hills visitors :)

September 23 marked the last opportunity for harvesting the exotic Black Hills Wild Black Currant. To punctuate the event, Sam and Linda (of Smiling Bear Espresso Bar and Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast, Hill City, SD) packed up a truckload of overnight gear.

And off they went, anticipating a full moon to wind down with after a happy time of picking. And the picking was indeed happy. Since Sam could find no more chokecherries, he dove into the bushes and helped Linda glean currants. (Did I say bushes? I meant...jungle!...with no over-the-top view.) They called to each other now and then, especially when something rustled in there, and, well, they were just checking to see if the sound was one of us.

They moved from jungle to jungle, too. Sam returned from a particular expedition and told Linda about his methods. He would leave the main trail when he found a cowpath which appeared to descend into a promising patch of currants. To avoid lugging around the flat of currants already picked, he set the box at the edge of the main trail against a bush where he would return for it later.

Sam and Linda picked together for awhile, but with the sun steadily going down, Sam thought it was time to look for a campground. He went off to get the flat of currants from alongside the main trail. Linda continued picking. In about 15 minutes, Sam returned and said, "Funny, I thought I knew right where I put the box."

Linda opened the truck and poured her currants into the flat she had been filling. They both went in search of Sam's currants. This felt like a BIG deal to both of them...since currants are a luxury fruit and scarce to find. Sam's currants were especially scarce to find. They searched even further down the trail than Sam thought he went, just in case...just in case. Back and forth, back and forth. Sam went ahead and Linda backtracked, slowly, carefully searching every nook and bushy cranny.

One path Linda hadn't noticed before led into a small open space at the bottom, with both sides of the space not visible—so, she started down. Suddenly her feet were caught and she found herself flying through the air in too many directions and landing in the clearing soundly on both knees, and flat forward in the next instant, the calf muscle of one leg twisting and seeming to pop loose. She grabbed the muscle and squeezed, at the same time turning, while straightening her legs and managing to sit upright.

How long is a heartbeat? only took a few. Her knees throbbed. She rubbed them. "Thank God, nothing is broken." She felt grateful for that, and grateful, too, that the muscle wasn't torn. She sat there for a few minutes, musing and wondering over how she could possibly have come out of that wild fall intact...hands, wrists and elbows unscathed...head still there and unabused. It did seem miraculous, perhaps angels? Anyway, "Thank God!" Somewhat stiffly, she rose to her feet, moved around the clearing, gingerly, looking for Sam's currants. She heard herself say aloud, "They certainly aren't worth getting hurt over."

Linda turned to face the three strands of low-strung barbed wire that had been her downfall, and stepped over them carefully. Just as she reached the top of the path and pulled herself out onto the main trail, Sam called. He had turned around to ask her to drive the truck down the road a ways and pick him up, as he wanted to walk further to see if possibly someone had discovered the box while he and Linda were in the bushes; perhaps they carried it a bit, then sampled a currant, didn't like the taste and set the box down somewhere. (We were thinking a little strangely.)

Deciding to tell Sam later that she had fallen, Linda walked slowly toward the truck. Still examining the side of the trail in hopes of finding Sam's currants, her thoughts turned more gracious, more heavenward than before. It was nearly too dark to see shapes at this point. Passing an old post marker which Sam had made mention of earlier, Linda glanced into an open area without breaking stride, but then paused abruptly, leaned to see if the white spot she had glimpsed was a rock, about 10' back into the clearing, tucked nearly behind a bush. It was Sam's box!...tilted in such a way that the currants created a shadowy illusion making the box difficult to find. Linda was elated, knowing Sam would be relieved that the fruit of his labor had not been carried off or lost.

With no full moon visible due to complete cloud cover, and darkness imminent, Sam and Linda agreed on taking their picnic home, to relish while watching a movie. Camping could wait. They would select an alternate road home. Enough dusk light remained to allow the enjoyment of brilliant fall colors, which seemed also to light up the evening.


Click the happy bear for something on the light side!
Brought to you by Smiling Bear of
Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast...
looking forward already to spring flowers!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

· Medicine Mountain Rd, Upper Spring Creek Rd

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast on facebook

Want to come along for a little adventure on a Black Hills Sunday drive with Sam and Linda?

26 photos...

- The first five photos shown in the album were actually the last ones taken on our Sunday outing, taken where our day in the woods ended, by a roofless cabin on Upper Spring Creek Rd, at dusk. The cabin now houses aspen trees. We and relatives tromped around there a few years back...only it was Spring then. - Many of the remaining photos invite you for a walk with Linda along a two-rut road off Medicine Mountain Rd. This is when Sam fell into his much-needed nap in the car.

Monday, September 20, 2010

· GOLD NUGGET Unveiled in Black Hills

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast on facebook

Here is a short video clip of the unveiling of the largest undisputed gold nugget found in the South Dakota Black Hills in approximately 120 years. Potato Creek Johnny had one that weighed in at over 7 troy ounces, but it was widely disputed and may actually have been several smaller nuggets welded together.
The largest undisputed gold nugget found in the Black Hills in the past century was revealed to the public yesterday at Rapid City's Journey Museum...

Friday, September 17, 2010

· Wind Cave / Evan's Plunge / Mammoth Site

Some of our guests at M2P in centrally located Hill City like to allow a day for a drive through spectacular Wind Cave National Park where they can tour the cave and possibly site a herd of bison; and then enjoy a dip at Evan's Plunge in the historic town aptly named Hot Springs. Often they include in their day's plans a visit to the great Mammoth Site near Hot Springs (in the southern Black Hills, South Dakota).

Thursday, September 16, 2010

· Scenic Mickelson Trail - Crazy Horse to Custer

Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast on facebook

Linda and friend Nancy enjoyed a bicycle ride on the George S. Mickelson Trail on hot and sunny September 8, 2010. Nancy, a retired teacher, is a summer hostess on the Black Hills Central Railroad 1880 Train here in Hill City, South Dakota. Her train savvy came in handy as we followed the BUCKHORN Mountain Range from Crazy Horse Mountain Carving to Custer. Please see the album of photos taken during our adventure, for added details in the captions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

· Smiling Bear Espresso Bar, SWEET and SURPRISING Visitors

What could be SWEETER than this tiny visitor at Smiling Bear Espresso Bar? She toted a Schlecher's Root Beer over to the porch swing and made herself comfy-cozy! She and her parents were regulars in the good ole days when Smiling Bear also had a Lunch Cafe...favoring the Buffalo Chili and Wild Chokecherry Kuchen. The Cafe was given up gradually as a second and then third guest room were added to Mountains To Prairies Bed and Breakfast.
Or, how is this for SWEET?...
And what could be more SURPRISING than these hungry visitors from France? The one on the right stretched his legs into the Espresso Bar foyer anticipating something to eat...and we wish we could have accommodated the two of them. They were fresh off the Mickelson Trail, having all the gear representative of having spent some rustic time in the beautiful Black Hills National Forest!
They were directed to the Slate Creek Grille, on the block across Walnut Avenue from Smiling Bear, hoping they would find the bike rack for hitching their horses.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

· New Zealand Guests, Cowgirl Turned Bandit

A family from New Zealand stayed at M2P for three nights. Linda (hostess) was enraptured by the family's NZ accent and wanted to know everything New Zealand. Did you know that it was all the fashion for ladies of the early 1900's to wear gloves lined with Possum? - Linda and son Kenneth A. Huff toured NZ when he graduated from high school, and thoroughly enjoyed as much of the NZ culture as they could gather up while there...from a traditional Māori performance and banquet to Glow Worm sitings, and of course dodging Possum; dipping for Mussels; devouring Kiwi and floral-tasting Feijoa fruits. Halley's Comet was soaring the sky at the time, but clouds prevented seeing the event for another 75-76 years. They did see the elusive nocturnal Kiwi bird, in a man-made habitat. - When showing our guest family their temporary habitat, Linda pointed out the white NZ sheep skin at the entrance to the bathroom of the Bluma Madle Suite.

The playful antics of the three young children (including spittin' image twins) were strongly reminiscent of those of our grandchildren during their time here this summer. Seeing the children dressed up in Linda's 'olde' clothes was hilarious—just as it was when Ava and a neighborhood friend of her's first discovered and dug into the boxes stashed in the attic. The NZ girls also discovered some other fun bits and pieces, left behind when Shelby and Ava returned home for the school year. Here are a few more photos...
First night of the New Zealanders' stay,
the older sister takes a break from bug catching...
having come upon our granddaughter Ava's paraphernalia!
One of the twins discovered cowgirl boots and hat!
Except for watch and shorts, this cowgirl found her entire outfit in the attic
...and then moseyed her way to the porch pony!
Linda (...wearing an attic shirt) babysat while the girls romped.
The down vest was Sam's, and the perky tall Irish hat
was part of a costume of Shelby's the year she went to school in Hill City.
Cowgirl turned bandit!
"I had a lot of fun in those blouses, too! Déjà vu...sigh" (Linda)

Friday, September 10, 2010

· Junior Ranger Program

Reflecting on some of the interesting past guests of Mountains To Prairies B&B—a healthy sprinkling of them from foreign countries—
a particular girl comes to mind...

An eight-year old guest, from France, participated in the Junior Ranger Program of the National Park Service while she and her family visited a selection of the National Parks here in the United States, including Mount Rushmore National Memorial Park, in August 2009. Abundantly enthusiastic, she earned a beautiful collection of official Junior Ranger patches for her involvement in activities.
Our French family also went on a shopping spree! Mom and daughter favored outfitting Western-style, while Dad kept in step with the rugged Black Hills terrain.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

· 2010 Buffalo Roundup - Custer State Park

The annual Buffalo Roundup will be held September 25-27 in Custer State more...
For the second year in a row, the Custer State Park Buffalo Roundup and Arts Festival has been named one of the Top 100 Events in North America...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

· Tyrannosaurus rex Neighbor

Fitting right in with the historical nature of Hill City, South Dakota is this T. rex neighbor of Mountains To Prairies B&B and Smiling Bear Antiques. He consists of partial replication casting and 65% real bone. His name is Stan, of the well-known Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc., and is on display at the Black Hills Museum of Natural History on Hill City's Main Street. The museum's entrance is through Everything Prehistoric Gift Shop.

These photos were taken while Stan was, in good hands, regaining his original stature and ultimately his extremely impressive head.
We amateur enthusiasts have dubbed the Institute's appropriately proportional building across the street...
The Dinosaur Assembly Facility.