Sunday, November 26, 2006

Maggie and Kat

Yesterday was Maggie's birthday. She's four years old now. For her birthday, we celebrated with a mammoth bone (think of a 10 + pound femur and you'll get the idea). She was quite excited. So was Kat. At least Maggie's not possessive of her chewies, so she didn't mind Kat licking on one end while she was gnawing away at the other end. Eventually, Maggie relinquished it to Kat and then pouted.

Our Christmas card will show a cut off picture of Kat and Maggie. Getting the two of them to pose at the same time has proven to be extremely difficult. Maggie lays around while Kat runs around. And neither of them ever looks extremely pretty. But, Tony has managed to get some pictures of the two of them.

Last Friday, they did get baths. I was going to just give Kat one, but Maggie heard the magic word and ran into the shower to wait her turn. Great! Kat doesn't enjoy it, but Maggie could spend an hour in the shower eating water. I don't particularly enjoy it either.

Aren't our babies cute?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Laura's Spicy Tomato Soup

This is really, really yummy. Think about this with grilled cheese sandwiches. We were talking about soup and grilled cheese sandwich day in December up at Sharkeys. I will not be bringing this though since I have grilled cheese "duty." Think: Goat cheese, prosciutto, sour dough bread with some basil oil.

1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
3 cups chicken broth
One 29 oz. can tomato sauce
One 29 oz. can diced tomatos, with juice
2 dashes of hot sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
Homemade croutons

1. In 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt half of the butter. When melted, whisk in the flour and stir until very smooth. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, until very thick and smooth.
2. In a small skillet, melt the remaining butter. Saute the onion and garlic over low heat until the onion is translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the onion and garlic to the flour mixture and combine. Slowly add the chicken broth, about 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition and allowing the soup to thicken slightly before adding more broth. When all the broth is added, begin adding the tomato sauce and the diced tomatoes, about 1 cup at a time, stirring well, then allowing the mixture to thicken before adding more. When all the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes have been added, season the soup with the hot sauce, honey, dill weed, pepper, chili power and basil. Turn off the heat, let cool, and refrigerate until party time.
3. The day of the party, reheat the soup over very low heat for about 45 minutes so that the flavors can blend. Stir frequently, as the soup will stick to the bottom of the pot. Garnish with croutons.

Laura's note: I only use the butter to make the roux, which means half as much butter is used. I carmelize the onions before I add them to the roux. Just sweat them in a non-stick skillet with a little olive oil for about 25 minutes. Add a dash of salt to pull the moisture out as the onions cook down. I use fire-roasted diced tomatoes and organic beef broth instead of chicken broth. I serve this with a dash of grated parmesan on top.

This, by the way, is from Paula Deen & Friends cookbook. Have to give credit where it is due!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sharkey's Fourth Annual Golf Tournament

Thanks to Andy's planning and Sharkey's bar crew's awesome help, on Saturday the 4th Annual Golf Tournament was held at Los Rios Golf Club. Much was said about the team I put together: me, Tom, Jason and Pete. Guys I play with at Woodbridge. Tom and Jason were with me on the team that won the Third Annual Sharkey's Golf Tournament (and when everyone first started joking about my "ringer team").

The tournament began with the sad news about Ron Blackburn -- it looked like he wasn't going to make it through the day after liver and kidney failure. We said a prayer and promised to think about him throughout the day. I remembered playing with Ron in the First or Second Sharkey's Golf Tournament. Wasn't great, but was a lot of fun to play with. Now that I remember, I wasn't really sure where to stand that day when playing with them! But, that's what we love about Sharkey's. The stories, the people, the interaction amongst us.

So it's a bit anticlimactic to say who the winner was: My team. We came in at 13 under. Second was 8 under. Steve, Randy, Scott, and ? came in Dead Ass Last (last past the all girl team of Glenda, Rosie, Julie and Dawn -- you go girls!). Our goal was to be at least 18 under, but a few pars didn't help. Kelley won the closest to the pin -- and said that it was almost a hole-in-one.

Now we have bragging rights for the next year. And Sharkey's golf windshirts (courtesy of Sharkey's and CooperStepp) to flaunt our victory.

On a sad note, Ron passed away while we were on the course. I know our thoughts were with him and his thoughts were with all of us as we celebrated his life. And raised money for a great cause: TEAM (Steve Anderson's charity).

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Lots of nieces

Unfortunately, work hasn't let me get up to Illinois to see Allison and her three girls. Mom made it up there a few of weeks ago to see Anna (going on 3) and Lily and Clara (just 1). Anna is at the age that she's pretty independent. Lily and Clara are both walking now. Al and Robert were really excited, but now may be wistfully remember the non-walking days.

They all keep Al and Robert really, really busy.

When I look at the pictures, I see a lot of Allison and me in Lily and Clara and Anna looks a lot more like Robert. Looks like Lily and Clara have the Kline hair. And look at all of their gorgeous big blue eyes!

Have to share pictures of my adorable nieces!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Better Made Pretzels

A few years ago, while playing our week of golf in Michigan, we made a wonderful discovery by accident: Better Made Butter Braided Pretzels. The best, butteriest, crunchiest pretzels you could imagine -- and Tom, Jason and I didn't discover them until the last round of golf when I opened up the bag. We were hooked.

The following year, we bought them the first night we were there and I vowed to remember the brand so that we could try to track them down. Of course, we didn't. Ditto for the third year.

2006 comes and I unfortunately wasn't going to Michigan because of Sturgis. But, Jason had instructions to bring back some pretzels. He lives up to his promise and brings back a bag (or two or three) of Better Made Butter Braided Pretzels (or as Ron calls them "popcorn pretzels")

On the back of the bag, they have a URL: -- with a store. But you can't order them online, so I email. Donna Seder is great and emails me back that I can order them over the phone: 313.925.4774 x 100. You get 5 bags of the 12 oz size for $12.95 plus shipping.

Today, I finally ordered them. They ship on Monday so I should have them for next weekend's round of golf.


Monday, October 16, 2006

Woodbridge Takes the Gold Cup

Last weekend, Woodbridge (my home course) played Plantation in a Gold Cup Tournament (read: Ryder Cup, but for copyright purposes, we probably had to be original and come up with our own "original" name). Practice round Friday. Best Ball and Alternate Shot matches on Saturday, Sunday Match Play. I know I'm boring you non-golfers, so you can just skip this blog.

Friday was practice round at Plantation, a course I've never played. Playing from the Whites (aka Old Mens Tees), I quickly discovered I had NO ADVANTAGE off the tee. Also discovered that there is a lot of OUT OF BOUNDS. Another good thing to know.

Then we had the Skills Challenge -- long drive in a grid and putting. We were trounced. But, last year we won the skills challenge and then didn't win the Gold Cup.

Appetizers (read: fried chicken tenders, fried chicken wings, fried mozzarella, fried onion rings) and cold icy beverages followed with introductions to the teams. Great group of guys. They all seemed much younger (sorry, guys!) than our team.

Saturday morning, I try on my my uniform shirt (buttercream on Saturday, baby blue on Sunday), not so sure I'll be able to fit into men's small shirts. While a nice thought that Eric thought I could fit into a small, not sure it'll fit in the boobs. It does fit, kinda. But, thankfully it's chilly so I put on my black turtleneck and head to Plantation (note to Laura: I also put on mascara and tinted sunblock). Keith and I are playing Best Ball. I've brought "extra smokes."

We're the 3rd group off after Ron and Frank and Garrett and AK. Gary and Tom are behind us. Playing with Dennis and some guy that Jason called "Jukebox." Who's Jason to talk -- we call him "Radio." Jukebox starts off his morning with a double Jack and Coke in the clubhouse at 7am and they have beers already in the cart. Should be fun at least.

Keith and I were off to a really, really rough start and were 4 down real quickly. We finally settled down and played steady, no blood golf. Make the turn and both Keith and I started playing better, or rather, smarter. Hear that Ron and Frank are winning. Garrett and AK losing. Gary is playing lights out (better than his practice round). Rest of the matches pretty close. We know we need to wake up. We win 10. A birdie on 14 helped, net eagle. Now we're only 2 down. 17 and 18 -- 2 down, 2 to go. 17 is a par three. I'm having some "issues" with their par 3s because they are a lot longer than Woodbridge. But, I'm liking my 7 iron so I hit that. Make par and win the hole (it didn't hurt that our partners didn't fare so well). And now there are lots of people from both teams watching. Great..... spectators.

Last hole. One down. One to play. The 18th hole has a carry over water and water ALL OF THE WAY DOWN THE LEFT SIDE. I tend to like the left side, so I begged Keith to help us out. He hits it OB into some backyard. But, Dennis managed to hit his drive left of left into someone's house on the other side of the water. Somehow, I managed not to duck hook, shank, banana slice my tee ball and hit my drive into the middle of the fairway. Use my 7 iron to just in front of the green (I like my 7 iron). Make putt for par and All Square the match. Pretty intense. I need a beer.

Second round is Alternate Shot and I'm not playing that afternoon, so I get to ride in the cart with an opposing team member. He has LOTS of beer and we end up consuming LOTS of beer while riding around, taking a few photos with Pete's camera and watching the rounds. Again, drinking LOTS of beer. Woodbridge ends the day ahead 6 1/2 to 5 1/2 going into Sunday. A bunch of beers consumed, the guys are concerned about my driving home (I'm not), so I get to follow Tom closer to home. He's worried that my lead foot will get me in trouble. I make it home safe.

Sunday, wake up and it's pouring. We're not playing until 12noon and the weather isn't looking promising. I'm now happy that I'm not playing "golf that counts" on Sunday because I don't particularly like playing with a cart cover, wet clothes, wet clubs. Call me a girl, but it's just no fun. And it wasn't for anyone. Advantage Woodbridge. And we weren't wearing those silly knickers that Plantation was wearing. Woodbridge wins our first five matches and then our seventh match so everyone could go in. Pretty cool to win the Gold Cup.

Wait until 2008.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Van Break In

Saturday, 9/31, I head to the golf course, as usual. This time I have to shove 10 pills down Maggie's throat for her eye infection, hot spots, etc. Poor baby. Not a great round at all. But, I'm playing from the white (aka old men) tees until after the Ryder Cup tournament and then the Dallas Morning News Club Champion Tournament (if I might brag, I came in second in the second flight of the Woodbridge Golf Club Championship and first in the women's flight to represent the club. I'm more proud of the former than the later since I'm the women's club champion by default, not for winning). So, time to try to get some semblance of a game. Get done at least 45 minutes before the next group and Tony's already calling about going for a ride. I bolt and he tells me his van has been broken into again. This is the third time and he's not a happy camper. I know I live in the "hood" but it's really a pretty decent neighborhood. Things like this give it a bad rap and now we're trying to figure out what to do.

So, today I went online and ordered: 1. solar powered motion sensor flood lights (figure that would be easy to install) 2. wireless receiver to receive notifications of intruders 3. two motion sensor outdoor "things" to detect "intruders" (read: squirrels, rats, possuums, and hopefully mean people trying to break into vehicle. I'll tell you how this goes.

The neighbors are also suggesting a multitude of other things requiring moving the fence line and installing an automatic gate with extra lighting to keep mean people from breaking into our house. By changing the fence line, they could look into the back yard at our mean ferocious animals that will attack on command. I'll tell you how this goes as well, since it involves: 1. pricing 2. certificate of appropriateness from the historic district 3. paving the driveway 4. moving fenceline 5. installing automatic solar powered fence.

We'll go with the easy solution first and hope for the second one sometime early 2007.

Friday, September 15, 2006

End of Summer

It's the end of the summer, but not yet the end of lazy weekends at Lake Texoma. Thought I'd show you where we spend parts of our weekends. While I'd like to say it's the big house (that's Ross Perot's), ours is pretty cozy. It's great to be able to hang out on the boat at Deer Cove, have a few cocktails and then hang out on the dock. AC and a kingsize bed ain't too bad either. Heading to Soldier Creek for a boatride and breakfast on Sunday morning -- what an awful life we have! While Maggie isn't really a lake dog (what an adventure that weekend was we did bring her up there), Kat doesn't mind hanging out on the boat and in the water and rolling around in the sand at the beach.

Speaking of Kat, today she had her "puppy maker" taken out. Poor little baby. Felt so bad the morning when we got up. She wasn't allowed to have breakfast, so Maggie had to go without her cookies and breakfast this morning as well. Maggie especially wasn't happy without her morning cookie. Hopefully she won't destroy something today to spite me. Kat's recovered, and didn't have a bad time when I was in Washington DC for a Leadership Conference (more on that in a separate blog) and Tony was in Amarillo. Poor Maggie has an awful eye infection and is on all of these steroids and antibiotics and ointments and... poor Mags.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Day 9: Last Day in South Dakota

Both of us slept in this morning (me until 545 am!). I went across to get my morning coffee and newspapers. Brought the computer outside and plugged it in and started uploading photos. It's a lot of work this vacation thing. Taking pictures, uploading pictures, captioning pictures, rotating pictures, blogging. Got dressed and out the door, deciding to have breakfast in Deadwood and ride through Sturgis one more time. Definitely a lot of people have headed out of town already or were leaving today. Deadwood was half as busy as last time. Same for Sturgis. Stopped in the Broken Spoke to check it out. They have a bunch of motorcycles on display so we took some pictures of the Triumphs for Steve Anderson (we know he likes Triumphs). Saw the maps that have pins of all of the people who stopped by and where they are from. They have one of the world and one of the United States. Dallas was well represented. They have celebrity bike builder bartenders during Sturgis. Rick Fairless/Strokers was there on Thursday night. Guy at the bar said that he loved Texas Hard Tails, the show on Speed Channel that Tony's been in about four episodes of. Guy was sad that Debbie, Rick's wife, didn't make it to Sturgis this year.

Decided to take a ride to the Strokers set up across from the Whiskey Throttle. Got inside and found out we had to pay to get in. Since we see Rick up at Strokers and don't have to pay for the privilege, we decided not to go in and head up Spearfish Canyon Highway. Picked up some sandwiches and water for a picnic on the highway next to one of the babbling brooks. That was fun. The water was chilly but felt good on our feet!

Stopped at Roughlock Falls. According to the sign, they filmed a scene of Dances with Wolves at Roughlock Falls. Tony and I can't remember the scene. Guess we need to watch the movie again. The falls are picturesque and again, a new history lesson about how they were formed: Roghlock Falls was created over time as a result of the solid bedrock which did not erode as quickly as the soils downstream. Roughlock Falls got its name from the way wagons had to travel down very steep slopes like this during the gold rush days. The drivers would "roughlock" the wheels of their wagons with logs or chains to prevent them from turning, hitch the horses to the rear, and slowly skid down the slope.

Back at the hotel/inn to pack up and get the bike on the trailer. Our vacation is almost over. Have had an awesome time, but will be happy to get back to see Maggie and Kat and get back to work. Decided our route back to Dallas -- through South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and finally, Dallas. It looks like it'll still be hot when we get back.

Day 8: Evening at the Blue Cactus

After a long day playing tourists, we stopped by the Blue Cactus (I think in an earlier blog I called it the Iron Cactus) for a few cocktails. It's a block from the hotel/inn, so perfect place to end our day. We feel like regulars even though this is only our second time there. And, the drinks are only $2! We sit down at the bar and Janelle (we called her Seattle until we asked her name) served us.

After about 30 minutes, a big guy ordered the bar a whole round of drinks. A little bit later, we reciprocated and ordered him a Gypsy Hooker and Tony a Red-headed Slut. Janelle switched the order, remembering what went into the drinks, but didn't know which was which. The big guy came on over and thanked us. His name is Wayne. Big guy with hair longer than Tony's wearing a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses. He's about 6'5, and a "local." He called me ma'am and Tony sir until we introduced ourselves. Owns a printer in town that prints the Buffalo Chip newspaper (380,000 copies this year), among other pubs. Also owns a ranch out in Montana. Ended up giving us a bunch of info that I wrote down, that now I don't really know what to do with it. Tony and I had a great time talking to him and hearing his stories and opinions (Wayne definitely had opinions about Lead and Sturgis and the current state of the US government and Deadwood and Montana and). Would be the kind of guy you'd want as a friend -- one for life who would help (even defend) you if you needed his help.

Met a couple of guys from New York (one of them kept encroaching on my space at the bar) who liked coming to Lead to avoid the crowds and madness and cops in and around Sturgis. Big talkers and you could tell that Wayne didn't particularly care for them. Wayne invited us to stay at his ranch in Montana next time we came back. That'd be cool -- if I can figure out how to locate him.

A couple more drinks later and we headed back to the Gold Town Inn.

Day 8: Mount Rushmore, Custer National Park, Crazy Horse

Yesterday morning we headed out to Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Crazy Horse Memorial. With our trusty, well-used map, we headed through Lead and over to 385. Weather is nice and chilly, but the sun's rising and we'll be warm soon enough. Stop for breakfast at Trout Haven. Longest wait for them to bring our food out yet. Figured that they went and caught the trout that Tony ordered for breakfast, or had to let the bread rise for my french toast. But, we're on vacation! Back on the road, heading towards Mount Rushmore. Stopped at Pactola Dam and Reservoir, a really, really blue lake. Water looks cold.

Stopped in Hill City on the way to buy a Mt. Rushmore Harley shirt for Tony. Found one with a big buffalo on it. Back on the bike and onto 244 highway a curvy little road with switchbacks and got off the bike at a stop and looked over and you could see George Washington's profile. Pretty cool to see just a part of Mt. Rushmore. We were told that you can see Mt. Rushmore just was well outside of the park as inside, so we pulled over just past the fee booth and took some pictures. Doesn't look as big as you see in the pictures, but impressive nonetheless. Took Iron Mountain Road towards Custer State Park, another windy road with lots of switchbacks and tunnels -- time to see some buffalo and wildlife.

We enter the park and start looking. Turn onto Wildlife Loop Road. They have to have wildlife if that's what the road is called, right? Wrong. All of the buffalo and antelope must be napping because we see nothing. Decide to get adventurous and head on a little gravel road. Maybe the wildlife is hiding from all of the bikes.

This was the right choice because about a mile down the road, there is a herd of buffalo, really close to the road on both sides of the streets. Lots of buffalo (around a hundred) with lots of cute little baby buffalo and lots of buffalo poop. We head down the road towards the buffalo. There were lots of signs when we entered the park saying to be careful and not approach the buffalo because they are dangerous. Looked pretty calm when we passed them, but we didn't stop the bike and rode on through. One of the momma's with her baby by her side snorted at us.

So, we rode on, looking for more wildlife. A little ways down we stopped and saw a herd of antelope (or a family -- I don't know what constitutes a herd. There were about 10 antelope). Just to the left of the antelope was another herd of buffalo, staying cool in the shade. Good napping place. Run into a couple on horses and they tell us about the herd of 300-400 head of buffalo a couple of days ago. Gave us directions that we tried to remember, but didn't really know about. We turn around to head back towards the buffalo since the road turned from gravel to dirt.

We're riding past the big herd of buffalo, feeling pretty comfortable being right next to them. But not stupid enough to get off the bike! Smart move. I'm taking pictures left and right, hoping that they come out, wishing I had a zoom lens that zoomed better. All of a sudden, one of the momma's charged us. Never had a mad buffalo that close to us. Tony sped up really fast and up the hill we went. Didn't know how fast a buffalo could run, but we were getting out of the way! Two guys on their bikes were at the top of the hill and saw it happen. We got off at the top and caught our breath. We decided that she wasn't happy that we were so close to her baby on the other side of the street. One of the two guys gets off his bike and heads our way. Big talker. Talks about all of his experience with buffalo. "They like the sound of my Yamaha." They kill people every year. Stupid woman was trying to lure a baby buffalo to her. Blah blah blah. Some more people came up in their cars and motorcycles, deciding if they wanted to go down or not. First they waited for the two guys to head down. When they saw a buffalo charge them, they decided not to venture down.

Off we went in search of more buffalo and antelope. Saw a donkey (or pony or mule -- I'm not an expert on that). Went looking and looking for the 300-400 head of buffalo, but no luck. Saw lots and lots of buffalo poop though. Guess it's time to take Needles Highway and get lunch and go to Crazy Horse Memorial. Needles Highway wasn't all that exciting until we started seeing the spirs and what they call the needles -- tall pieces of rock that are vertical. We're surrounded by them.

Stop in Custer for lunch. We're pretty burgered out so we have steak and ribs. Yum. I stop at a little jewelry stand and buy a necklace/charm for me. I don't need to have everything say Harley or Sturgis on my trip, but I always like a memento. The charm is made of Drusy (a stone found in the area). I'll have to go online and read more about it. Jewelry was made by Linda Thelin, a local resident of Custer.

Off to Crazy Horse Memorial. Didn't really know the "big deal" about it until we saw most of the movie (before the fire alarm went off). They've been blasting since 1948 and have blasted millions of tons of stone, but there is so much left to blast for its completion. The sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski (1908-1982) and his family have taken on this project. With 10 children, his family is definitely following in his footsteps. When it's done, it'll be taller than Washington Monument and 641 ft. long. The fire alarm sounded, so we didn't get to watch the rest of the movie. We'll probably never see it completed in our lifetimes.

Off towards Lead. It's getting chillier and the sun is setting. We stop at Pactola Dam and Reservoir again to see it with the sun setting. And then head back to Lead. Long day, but another great day!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Random history/trivia

Thought I'd go online and check out some of the sights we've seen. Tony thinks I've substituted work for blogging. I can sit at the computer and work without calling it "work." He's probably right.

The Church in the Rocky Mountains from an earlier blog: Camp Saint Malo

For over eighty years, the land at the eastern base of Mount Meeker in the Rocky Mountains has been special to the Catholic people of Colorado. One can say that there is even a sense of the holy attached to the place – and the huge rocks on which the statue of Christ now stands.
It was an August night in 1916 when Msgr. Joseph J. Bosetti saw a fiery meteor fall from the sky. An avid mountaineer and, at the time, a young assistant pastor at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Msgr. Bosetti later related that the meteor seemed to fall into the aspen and pine-covered forests at the foot of Mount Meeker.

He never found the meteor, but at dawn, did discover an impressive lichen-covered rock formation. Bosetti regarded this as a message from heaven and vowed to build a chapel on the site.

In 1993, Pope John Paul II stayed at Saint Malo during his World Youth Day visit to Denver. Photographs of his visit appear throughout Saint Malo and his prayer-filled walk through the Rocky Mountains was commemorated with a plaque on the Saint Malo grounds.

Msgr. Bosetti said it all when he reflected on the significance of Saint Malo: "The religious atmosphere of the camp cannot fail to make an everlasting impression." (source:

We passed a bentonite plant in Wyoming and didn't know what it was. So, here you go if you don't know: Bentonite is an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate generally impure clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite, (Na,Ca)0.33(Al,Mg)2Si4O10(OH)2·(H2O)n.

Bentonite can be used in cement, adhesives, ceramic bodies, cosmetics and cat litter. Fuller's earth, an ancient dry cleaning substance, is finely ground bentonite. Bentonite, in small percentages, is used as an ingredient in commercially designed clay bodies and ceramic glazes. Bentonite clay is also used in pyrotechnics to make end plugs and rocket nozzles.

The absorbent clay was given the name bentonite by an American geologist sometime after its discovery in about 1890 - after the Benton Formation (a geological stratum, at one time Fort Benton) in eastern Wyoming's Rock Creek area.

Most high grade commercial sodium bentonite mined in the United States comes from the area between the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Basin of Montana.

(source: Wikipedia)

That's enough education for the day. Time to get dressed and ready for Mt. Rushmore.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day 7: Devils Tower

As usual, I woke up at 530 am. Put my jeans and new Sturgis sweatshirt on and went across the street to Common Cents for coffee and newspapers (Rapid City Journal, Lawrence County Journal and The Black Hills Pioneer). It's becoming my ritual to sit out front of the hotel and read my newspapers and drink coffee while Tony's sleeping. The news is all about Sturgis. 5 people were shot yesterday in Custer (they think a Hells Angels and Outlaw gang related incident), the hail/snow that hit on Monday, the traffic in Deadwood and Sturgis, the concerts in Sturgis, and even an article about Cheyenne Crossing, the little stop we had yesterday for breakfast. Finished up my paper and went back to the room. Tony was up, showered and getting ready for our ride.

Got back on the bike. Destination: Spearfish Canyon to North 85 to 34 to Devils Tower. About 80 miles to Devils Tower. Stopped at Cheyenne Crossing for breakfast and so Tony could zip up his jacket (it's a bit chilly and he has his chaps on, vest on, ski cap on, but didn't zip his jacket). Nice breakfast to start out the day.

As soon as we turned on 34, you could tell there were lots of bikes going to our destination. There was a guy with a Danbury, Connecticut shirt in front of us most of the ride. A pretty ride, with rolling hills and grasslands. Going through downtown Hulett, they had a mini Sturgis going on with hundreds of bikes and bikers. Tents set up, vendors, food, beer. We kept riding through Hulett. We had a destination in mind.

Finally, saw Devils Tower in the distance. We knew we were close. Now for a little history lesson, in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt designated Devils Tower as the nation's first national monument. It's actually the core of a volcano exposed after millions of years of erosion brough on by the Belle Fourche River and the weather. For a local legend story: "One day, an Indian tribe was camped beside the river and seven small girls were playing at a distance. The region had a large bear population and a bear began to chase the girls. They ran back toward their village, but the bea was about to catch them. The girls jumped upon a rock about three fee high and began to pray to the rock, "Rock, take pity on us; Rock save us." The rock heard the pleas of the young girls and began to elongate itself upwards, pushing them higher and higher out of reach of the bear. The bear clawed and jumped at the sides of the rock, and broke its claws and fell to the ground. The bear continued to jump at the rock until the girls were pushed up into the sky, where they are to this day in a group of seven little stars (the Pleiades). The marks of the bear claws are there yet." (souce: pamphlet).

Enough history and folklore: We paid our way into the park and rode up to Devils Tower, passing a prairie dog town on the way. Devils Tower is pretty cool. We even saw some rock climbers going up the walls of the monument. According to the park ranger, they had been there since 4 am and still had a long way to go (the record to get to the top was 18 minutes -- don't know how he did it!). We saw what we needed to see, got some pictures and off we rode. Decided that we were going to head 39 miles up to Montana. Have to get another state on the bike!

The ride to Montana was pretty, but open, wide open. Grasslands on either side of us and lots and lots of blue sky. Why they call Montana the Big Sky State. At the border, we got off and took a couple of pictures and then stopped in Alzada for lunch before heading on our ride back to Lead. I had another burger and Tony had meat on a stick. Plenty of bikers there doing the same thing we were doing -- riding to Montana. At 100 degrees (or thereabouts), we couldn't wait to get out of the open country and back into Spearfish Canyon. Passed a bentonite facility (need to figure out what that is) run by Halliburton. Stopped at Dairy Queen for a slushie. And a little bit later, made it back through the canyon and back to Gold Town Hotel to shower and unwind. Dinner: don't know yet. Tomorrow: Mt Rushmore and Custer Park.

Tuesday Evening

After relaxing and unwinding from our day, we headed to Lewie's on 85 for burgers. We'd passed it a number of times already and heard they had good burgers. They did. We're becoming hamburgers having eaten them everyday! Some people at the next table recommended going to Boars Nest and having a couple more beverages (no liquor) and going out to the creek behind the bar. We did. Very relaxing sitting out there with a Coors Light (Tony had a Mike's Hard Apple Lemonade -- no bacardi). Sun coming down.

Before it got dark, we headed back to Lead and decided to check out Main Street to see if there were any other bars. There were two. Went into one -- can't remember it's name. Pretty dead in there, with a bunch of locals. We decided to have a couple of drinks. It was only $4.75 -- total for a bacardi and coke and a jim beam on the rocks! Only $4.75! We liked this place. Stayed for a couple of drinks and decided to check out the Iron Cactus, a bar two doors down. This place was cheaper. Only $4 for both of our drinks! We liked this place. They had a band playing blues who were really pretty good.

Just having conversation, Tony and I were wondering what teams people in South Dakota followed. Tony thought Denver. I thought maybe Chicago or Green Bay. So, we decided to ask. One person said Denver. One said Green Bay. One said Washington Redskins (for no reason). One said Seattle (she was from there). So, guess we need to poll more people than the ones that we asked (in the paper on Wednesday morning, they did have a big article on Denver, so that must be what the local paper covers the most).

Met a guy at the bar who flips and rehabs houses in foreclosure in California and in South Dakota. He has four houses he's working on in Lead right now. He came into town a week ago on business, not realizing that it was Sturgis week. Got "kicked out" of his hotel because it was booked and was staying (really camping) at one of his properties. We bought him a shot (A Gypsy Hooker -- Tony had to tell the bartender how to make that -- Tequila and pickle juice), Tony had a shot (A Red-headed slut -- Tony had to tell the bartender how to make that -- Jaiger (sp), Peach Schnapps and Cranberry), and I had a shot (Jim Beam -- the bartender knew how to make that). Have a good time, at a really reasonable bar!

Couple more drinks and headed back a block to the Gold Town Hotel for a good nights sleep before Devils Tower.