I left Hudson-Meng early Sunday morning. The weather was fantastic and the dirt road had dried up in the four days I was camped at the site. It was about 150 miles to Hill City and I just enjoyed the drive and looking at the incredible prairie scenery. My route took me over much of the same road I had travelled for the field trip on Tuesday but I didn’t mind at all. It’s large country and the second look was as enjoyable as the first.
Once I got beyond Hot Springs, SD I was in the Black Hills and the scenery changed from sparse prairie to rolling pine covered hills. The temperature was about 65 degrees and the air was full of pine scent. My soul smiled as I drove, life is very good.
I reached Hill City right about noon and after a few wrong turns, found the RV park that was to be my reprovisioning stop. It was nothing fancy at all, about 15 gravel sites with grass between them and right on the main highway. It really didn’t matter because I was busy with dumping my waste tanks, taking on fresh water, grocery shopping and doing laundry. It fit the bill for what I needed for the night. I also was able to use my cell phone to check in with The Bride. I hadn’t talked with her for about five days.
After doing the laundry I drove out to the designated camp site for this project in the truck. Well before I reached the camp site I realized that my rig was just too big for that place. It was a very narrow rough dirt road with lots of low hanging tree branches. When I got to the camp site there were only a few people camping there and most were in tents. There was one truck camper and one small trailer. The people at the site said that the road had been closed for several days because of rain and a lot of the other volunteers had found better boondocking places in the general area so I decided to do likewise and it didn’t take long to find an nice meadow next to a little stream about a mile from the mine itself. I figured that if I left the RV camp early Monday morning I could set the trailer up and be at the job site by 8 am which I did.
I think I had more fun on this project that just about any other PIT project that I have done. There were about 20 people working on the restoration. In addition to PIT volunteers there were six or seven Forest Service personnel and several members of the Black Hills Historical Society. On our first day of work the project leader asked for volunteers who weren’t afraid of heights to work up on the roof and I volunteered. Much of my working career had me on industrial construction sites so heights and climbing ladders is not an issue for me.
For the rest of the week I worked with three other volunteers replacing rotted roof rafters and then sheathing the roof. To get to the rafters we used a large crane with a basket…that’s me in the basket in the picture above. It was physically demanding work but a whole lot of fun and we could really see the results of our labor. Unfortunately we did not get the entire roof sheathed but what we did do will help protect the building until the project restarts next year.
I was pretty worn out at the end of the day and my body is covered with black and blue marks, cuts and scrapes but it was very much worth it. I was in bed and asleep every day, well before dark and slept wonderfully except for two nights. On those nights I was having a running battle with several mice that somehow got into the trailer. I woke up one night and heard a “scurrying” noise that at first I thought was coming from the roof of the trailer. After listening for a while I discovered it was coming from inside the trailer and when I got up to investigate I saw the tell tale signs…mouse droppings. That afternoon I went in to Hill City and got some traps and mouse poison.
The following night I heard the scurrying again and got up to investigate. One mouse had gotten into the trash can and was having a feast in the bottom of the can. I grabbed the garbage bag out of the can and tossed it out the door. One mouse down. At first I thought that might be the only mouse but when I got back into bed I heard more scurrying and then shortly the snap of the mouse trap…two mice down. I think that was the last of them but to be sure I’ve left several baited traps in the trailer, just in case.
The project wrapped up for the year on Friday afternoon and I moved the trailer to the Rafter J Bar Ranch RV Resort where I met up with K and Too Tall-Two Timing who were spending several days there and taking in the local sights. Friday afternoon we drove over to Mt. Rushmore and then had a great dinner, graciously provided by K and Too Tall.
Saturday morning it was time to head home and I was on the road by 8 am. The trip home was uneventful but the traffic on I-25 from the Wyoming state line to the Denver area was pretty heavy. I’ll have the rest of the week to recuperate and reprovision the trailer.
On Friday, The Circle is having a Circle The Wagons long weekend outing at Mueller State Park. This is a great park just a few miles from the historic town of Cripple Creek and is a very popular place. To get camp sites for the July 4th weekend we had to make reservations in January. It should be a fun time so check back for the report.
Thanks for visiting.