Capitol-izing on Our Weekends

We recently discovered that Hulu is streaming “The Wonder Years,” so now we’ve got a new old show to add to our retro collection, a list that includes “Perfect Strangers,” “Blossom,” and “The Brady Bunch.” I was a big fan of TWY back in the day and even met Josh Saviano, the actor who played Kevin Arnold’s best friend, Paul Pfeiffer. I was working at Brookstone, selling overpriced and completely unnecessary (but still kinda cool) gadgets to the masses, when Josh came into the store one day. I wish I remember what he bought; all I can recall is that he was shopping with his grandparents and was a really nice kid. I asked for an autograph and he signed it, May all your years be wonder-ful.

Something tells me he didn’t just come up with that on the spot.

“The Wonder Years” was such a nostalgic look back at a complicated, yet simpler, time. It holds up quite well all these years later. Much like Danica McKellar. Ahh, but who didn’t have a crush on Winnie Cooper back in the day?

Not that we’ve had a lot of spare time to watch TV. Feels like we’ve been on the go for weeks. And I suppose we have. Last Sunday was our REO Speedwagon concert in Deadwood. The boys put on a good show, even if they are all pushing 70. We made a day of it, visiting Mount Moriah Cemetery and watching the Broncos lose to the 49ers (ugh) in a sports bar on Main Street. But the weather was decent, and Deadwood Gulch looked beautiful covered in snow!

IMG_20181209_142649_038.jpg

IMG_20181209_220346_453.jpg

By the way, I broke down and bought a new phone last week. I hadn’t planned on it, but my HTC was giving me all kinds of trouble. I was one payment away from paying it off, naturally. I swear, smartphone manufacturers do this on purpose. Just once I’d like to have a phone last longer than two years! I smell a conspiracy here. In any case, I bought a Google Pixel 3 based on stellar reviews, and I love it so far. The camera is amazing. The photos above – and below, actually – were all taken with my phone. Pretty incredible when your Google phone outperforms your Nikon DSLR. What’s really funny is, the first time I bought a cellphone, I specifically asked for one without a camera. I couldn’t imagine ever taking pictures with my phone!

Thursday was Tara’s company Christmas party at the bank. It was a nice little gathering. PSI, the company I’ve been contracting with locally, has invited me to their party on 12/26, which I thought was a very nice gesture.

Being new to town we didn’t know where the good Christmas light displays were, so Tara asked her coworkers and they all unanimously agreed that Storybook Island was the place to be. I’d never been before, because it’s a children’s theme park and even when we lived here in the 80s I was too old to enjoy it, but every Christmas they string up thousands of lights – and that’s fun for any age. So we headed out there Friday evening, and the place did not disappoint. We enjoyed walking around even if it was freezing cold.

Yesterday morning, we drove to Pierre for our rescheduled weekend getaway. The main attraction was Christmas at the Capitol, a monthlong festival in which the South Dakota capitol building is decorated with 90 or so Christmas trees. We’d seen photos on Instagram last year and they looked stunning, so we wanted to check it out in person. I’m pretty sure this might become an annual tradition for us now, because…wow.

MVIMG_20181216_082850.jpg

MVIMG_20181216_083300.jpg

MVIMG_20181216_082621.jpg

MVIMG_20181216_082228.jpg

IMG_20181215_124607.jpg

IMG_20181216_083700.jpg

IMG_20181216_085858.jpg

MVIMG_20181216_082513.jpg

We actually ended up going twice: when we first arrived Saturday, right around noon, and again this morning right when they opened at 8:00. Yesterday when we got there the place was crawling with hundreds of visitors, but sunrise on a Sunday morning was a different story. .We ended up having the entire capitol building practically to ourselves.

After checking into our motel Saturday afternoon, we took a nice stroll along the Missouri River and around La Framboise Island. The weather was unusually warm, in the lower 50s, and we had lots of sunshine.

After dark, we drove to a sports bar in Fort Pierre to watch the Broncos lose to the Browns (ugh).

I’m sensing a theme here. Maybe we’d better stop watching the games.

Despite the final football score, we had a great time in Pierre. The three-hour drive home might feature a lot of empty prairie, but there are a few cool things to see along the way. Like this dinosaur sculpture just off I-90 near Midland.

IMG_20181216_113822_777.jpg

Roadside kitsch doesn’t get any better than that!

Advertisements

Every 8:45

Winter continues to hold us tightly in her icy grip, but that’s okay, guys. It’s what I wanted after 23 years in the climatologically-monotonous PNW where winters are one-note (wet) and summers are dry. All this snow and cold is simply making up for lost time.

When last I wrote, Tara and I were tentatively planning a weekend getaway to the state capital but keeping an eye on the weather. When the NWS issued a Winter Storm Watch the day before we were to leave, we decided to cancel our reservation. This proved to be a wise decision for two reasons:

  1. The watch was upgraded to a warning, and
  2. Tara got sick.

It ended up snowing all day that Saturday, and when all was said and done, we ended up with just over 6″ on the ground. A week later, we still have…almost 6″ on the ground. It hasn’t warmed much above freezing since. But it sure is beautiful out there – so much so, that on Sunday, we ended up going for a drive around Custer State Park. Approximately every 8 minutes and 45 seconds I gushed over the stunning scenery, which I’m sure drove Tara a little mad. But to her credit, she didn’t complain.

I secretly think she was enjoying it, too.

IMG_20181201_183141_724.jpgIMG_20181201_183141_707.jpg2018-12-01 14.47.34-01.jpeg2018-12-01 14.56.22-01.jpegIMG_20181202_083004_273.jpgIMG_20181204_131445_558.jpgIMG_20181202_150841_033.jpg2018-12-02 09.39.32-01.jpeg2018-12-02 10.43.35-01.jpeg2018-12-02 10.03.43-01.jpegIMG_20181202_150841_032.jpg

We had to take one of the side roads off the main Wildlife Loop to find the buffalo herd, but there they were, in all their glory!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

No matter how many times we see bison, it never gets old.

After a busy week of work, I was ready for a break today, so I decided to head back to Sylvan Lake for a hike. I was questioning the wisdom of this decision a little when the temperature sensor on my car read 8 degrees as I passed through Hill City, but thanks to an inversion it was warmer the higher up I drove.  24 degrees in the parking lot. In a past life I might have found that frigid, but it almost felt balmy today.

The Needles Highway is closed every winter, but only to cars. So I strapped on my boots and hit the road by foot. It was 2.25 miles to Cathedral Spires, 4.5 miles round trip. Totally worth every step.

DSC_00012018-12-07 09.32.04-01.jpeg2018-12-07 09.49.47-01.jpeg2018-12-07 10.50.20-01.jpeg2018-12-07 10.02.32-01.jpegDSC_0041

2018-12-07 10.03.12-01.jpeg2018-12-07 09.58.43-01.jpegDSC_0056

Looking forward to a fun weekend! Sunday is our REO Speedwagon concert in Deadwood. Since our Broncos are actually playing pretty well these days and fun to watch, we’re going to head into town early so we can catch the game (2:00) before the show (8:00). I’m sure we can find plenty of other ways to kill time while we’re there.

We’re going to try again for Pierre next weekend. Barring, of course, more snow.

Tales Grow Taller On Down the Line

Funny story: I went online a few days ago to buy tickets for the Gin Blossoms at the Deadwood Grand Casino in October but ended up with REO Speedwagon tix for a December show instead.

I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to get the Gin Blossoms tickets anyway. Tara isn’t much of a fan and their heyday was a good 20 years ago, but I like them well enough and was itching for some live music. But looking at the list of upcoming shows I noticed the REO Speedwagon concert and couldn’t resist. $39 a pop seemed like a good deal for a classic rock group of their magnitude. Well, technically they cost $47.50 because I opted for ticket insurance. I’ve never bought it before, but Deadwood in December can be a tricky proposition. I’d hate to lose my money because a snowstorm prevented us from making it, so I figured it was a good investment for peace of mind. We’re both fans; I especially like their older stuff, songs like “Lightning” and “Golden Country.” But you can bet your ass I’ll unashamedly sing along to “Take It On The Run,” too.REO

Our fifth wedding anniversary was Friday. Once upon a time we were planning a big road trip to Alaska to celebrate, and had been saving money for that, but when we decided to move to the Midwest, our Alaska fund morphed into a South Dakota fund. We’ll get out there one of these days, though. Maybe for our 10th anniversary.

We’d talked about spending the weekend in Sioux Falls to celebrate, or maybe taking an overnight trip to Devil’s Tower, but in the end decided to keep it simple (and cheaper) and just do a little bar-hopping in Rapid City. So we hit up a few of the local joints, sat on an outdoor patio beside a blazing fire eating Mexican food, and ended the evening playing arcade games at Press Start.

Saturday we drove down to Hot Springs, a quaint little town in the southern Black Hills where we’d also tentatively talked about spending the night. It’s quite the charming place – lots of historic buildings, coffee shops, antique stores, and actual hot springs, in a scenic setting. Definitely whets our appetite for more.

DSC_0007

After killing a few hours in Hot Springs we drove through Wind Cave National Park. We’d planned on doing a cave tour, but the only tickets available were for the last tour of the day at 4:30. That would have left us with almost two hours ti kill and we’d have gotten home late, so we decided to save the tour for another time. Picked up Jimmy John’s on the way home and watched “Darkest Hour.” Gary Oldman is unrecognizable (and fantastic, actually) as Winston Churchill.

DSC_0031

DSC_0026

There are bison everywhere in South Dakota.

DSC_0035

Calamity Jane got drunk, tried to steal a horse, and wound up in jail one night in Hot Springs.

DSC_0012

Best store name ever.

Today will be pretty low-key. There’s a Broncos game this afternoon and we’re grilling chicken kabobs.

It’s been very summer-like the past week. Sunny and warm-to-hot; it actually hit 94 degrees one day. But it’s supposed to cool off this week and they’re forecasting showers and a few thunderstorms. Thank god: I’m ready for fall. And it’ll give me the perfect excuse to make Italian Wedding soup.