Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Full-Time RVers, Travel Nursing

Where The Wild Things Roam, Freely Still

We Saw The Buffalo!!!!! They were roaming freely, chewing the cud, just like they did decades ago!!! We were traveling around Custer State Park looking for these majestic creatures. A decision was made to leave the paved road and take an improved road. For the next hour or so we so no other human being, but we saw unrestricted nature.

Custer State Park keeps about 1400 head of Buffalo. This is the amount that the parks land can sustain. They do a round up each your and sell off some Buffalo. We saw only a small number of the 1400. But man, what an absolute beautiful site. There was a time where 100’s of thousands of buffalo roamed these lands.

Then we encountered several towns of Blacked-Tail Prairie Dogs. Prairie Dogs are rodents. They stay in large social groups called towns. They have a bark like call. They are curious little creatures. We probably saw several hundred scattered between several towns.

We ended up in a foggy part of the park at one point. There we found the White Tail Deer.

Also roaming freely and enjoying the safety of the park are wild turkeys. Here is Tom with his lady friends.

Throughout the park are three one lane tunnels through the rock. Each is unique. Here is the Needles Eye Tunnel.

Dianne also decided to do some ‘Rock Climbing’….

If you are in Rapid City, plan a few hours in Custer State Park. The time there will be worth it, and the sights to see there are abundant.

We are just days away from leaving South Dakota and starting the trek to Ohio. Started the usual pre-travel stuff. The route is planned and the stops are set. Hoping to catch up with some old Army buddies in Illinois, we shall see. Takes about a week to get two vehicles and the RV ready for a move. Of course it would only take a few days if I was not such a procrastinator. 🙂 Many items in the RV have to be packed up so they do not get broke. Other items have to be shifted for weight distribution purposes. Just part of the full-time RV life style.

My wife did an online Pampered Chef Party. She had huge sales and got lots of free stuff. One item was the waffle maker. Waffles are super easy with this item and are very tasty. The dogs also like waffles.

I see you have the waffle. We, sir, like the waffle too!!!

My daughter-in-law Kayla lost a grandparent in Iowa this past weekend. Steven, her and the kids, added 30 minutes to their route and came by Rapid City for a quick brunch and visit. Got to see the grand-babies. Nice way for us to start the week.

Should be seeing the Alabama grand-babies in the coming weeks. We are super excited about that.

Mahana had her yearly vet visit. She is a healthy 60 lbs!!! She did really well. We then took her to a self serve dog wash and gave her a bath. She did well there too. Sooooo the spoiled one got a special treat from DQ.

And finally we went to Ft. Hays this morning for the all you can eat Cowboy Pancakes for $.99!!! They were big and excellent. Cannot go wrong for $.99. Of course if you want juice, sausage, etc you pay more.

Well friends that is all for now. We hit the road in two days so look for the road trip photos soon.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Full-Time RVers, Travel Nursing

Man, We Have Been Busy!

So much has happened since our last update in March. We extended 8 weeks here in Rapid City. Partly because we could not find an assignment where we wanted to go and partly because we were concerned about the weather and traveling. Man, are we thankful we decided to stay. We have had 3 major snow events in the last 6 weeks.

Between the snows we managed to do some stuff in the area. First was the visit of my cousin Rick Summerton and his family. I had not seen Rick since the 80s. He and his family live in Wyoming, just a few hours away. So Easter weekend Rick, his wife Stacy and their children Hunter and Emilia came up from Casper and spent the weekend here. Friday night we met up for dinner and caught up. Great time and it was like we have been hanging out since 1987. Rick’s kids found humor in the similarities we have. Saturday we went to check out a couple cool sites near Rapid City. First stop was the National Park Delta-09 Minuteman II Missile Silo Launch Facility. Having grown up during the cold war, the threat of a nuclear attack was part of my growing up. I even remember watching the movie The Day After and the feeling that I had afterward.

We then traveled to Wall, SD and visited the Famous Wall Drug Store. Wall drug has been around since 1931. It is a shopping oasis, tourist exhibits and eatery surrounding a drug store. We all had a fun time.

That evening, joined by a fellow traveling nurse from Dianne’s work and his family, was time around the fire making Smores, pie iron fruit pies and more catching up.

Easter Sunday we met up after church at the Reptile World. This was a super cool place. Lots of exhibits and shows. I personally liked the tortoises.

I truly had a great time catching up with Rick and meeting his family. Look forward to seeing them again.

Dianne and I also have done a little sight seeing, now that the weather has gotten better. We drive through Spearfish, Deadwood and Sturgis, yes motorcycle Mecca Sturgis. We got to see some beautiful falls in Spearfish Canyon, absolutely stunning scenery and some cool wild west history.

We are planning on visiting a few more places here before we pull out May 19. We are headed to Westerville, Ohio, just outside of Columbus. Dianne has taken an assignment at the Ohio State University Cancer Center. This will be a fun 13 weeks.

Well friends and family that is all for now. May the Force Be With You!!!

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Full-Time RVers, Travel Nursing

Blizzard Of 2019

Greetings y’all!! The last few weeks have been a blast. Between some great eating, a Blizzard and warmer weather we have had a great time.

The Blizzard of 2019! This fun weather event found Dianne working 38 hours straight at the hospital and me at home taking care of the hounds. And the snow, lots of snow, blowing drifting snow. Took me a day to get the dogs to go outside to use the bathroom. The winds were ferocious and add the snow equals unhappy doggies.


We had a few eateries recommended to us, so we took a couple Saturdays and tried them out. The Alpine Inn in Hill City, SD was awesome. They have a limited dinner menu. This allows them to perfect the bacon wrapped steak. Add the baked potato and salad and you have a phenomenal meal. And the deserts are huge!! All this for less than 40 bucks. We highly recommend this restaurant.

Another Saturday found us going further up into the Black Hills to Custer, SD. There you will find the Black Hills Burger and Bun Company. This little establishment turns out some mouth watering burgers. We tried the Fried Pickles for an appetizer, fried pickles seem to be big here. They serve them with ranch sauce. They were AWESOME!! The burger selection is filled with selections like The Hot Granny, The Texan and The Black Hills Blues. They also have buffalo burgers you can substitute for the ground beef. The Granny’s Baked Beans were a great side to my Texan burger. Dianne enjoyed the sweet potato fries with her burger. It was snowing in Custer and made for a beautiful scene.

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We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with the usual fare of corned beef and cabbage. Dianne, once again, nailed it. 20190317_215511915_iOS

We extended 8 more weeks here. We will be leaving around May 18. Hopefully we will know, in a couple weeks, where we are headed to next. It rained last night. First rain we have seen in months. Temperatures have been warmer as well. That is a huge help to the propane bill. The kiddos are all doing well. Overall, things are going well.

Anyway, until next time, safe travels…..

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Full-Time RVers, Travel Nursing

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!!!

So the last couple of weeks have been a mixed bag of weather. It can be sunny and in the 50’s one day and a cold snowy day the next. Of course the last few days and the next 10 days look to be highs in the teens and lows in the single digit to negatives. Been awhile since we have been in temperatures like that.

LET IT SNOW, (JAN 18, 2019)

LET IT SNOW, (JAN 22, 2019)

LET IT SNOW!!! (Feb 7, 2019)

We have not done much the last few weeks. Did visit a local candy maker Mostly Chocolates. They have some delightful selections there. We bought some to sample and they did not last long!!! We also found a pizza buffet, Pizza Ranch. Good pizza for buffet pizza, plus they have salads, hot veggies, various potatoes and chicken on the buffet as well.

Dianne flew home to Georgia January 25th to the 28th. She got to see family and friends. It had been for years since we left so it was awesome for her to go home. She had a good time and thanks everyone for the visits and meals.

We had a good snow over the last 36 hours. Most snow I have seen in years. Been pretty cold too, -11 degrees this morning and only warming up single digits. Life Lessons learned over the last few days, car batteries that are cheaper work in Georgia and the Pacific Northwest, but boy do you want those cold cranking amps in negative weather. Hoping to not have to buy a new battery to deal with the cold, we shall see.

RVing in the cold has a new set of challenges. Under-skirting the RV has been a huge help. The heated water line has also been an asset. The metal door frames and window frames frost over every night. Had to install a heat lamp to keep the black and gray valves from freezing closed. For anyone who does not RV: the black valve empties your black tank, the tank where all your toilet water goes and the gray valve opens the gray tank where all the sink water goes.

Anyway, a few more pics from the last few weeks. Until next time, stay warm!!!!

Mahana and Monty
Squirrels, Deer and the Neighbors Dog Scents
All 3 that close together, MIRACLE!!!!
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Full-Time RVers, Travel Nursing

East Bound and Down, Loaded Up And Truckin’

Happy New Years!!! It is 2019, and I thought I would write a Blog Update!

Well, we have been in South Dakota for a couple of weeks. It has been interesting to say the least, but more on that later.

As we packed up the boys and got them moved in to their own apartment, the realization hit us that for the first time in our marriage it was going to be just Dianne and I and the Hounds. On one hand you are glad to see your kids do their own thing, but on the other it means not seeing them everyday. Compound that with the fact that travel nursing took us to South Dakota, leaves us about 9 hours to our closest child. We shall see where this exciting new chapter takes us.

Dianne’s work in gave her a pretty nice send off. Everyone met up at a local restaurant called the Ram. Fun was had by all. Dianne received numerous going away gifts and is going to be truly missed by the staff at Good Sam in Puyallup.

With the boys working retail, we had to do some finagling to get a night together. It worked out and we had some Christmas fun. We did finger foods and made ugly sweater sugar cookies. We had a little more time with them before we left. We helped them get moved in their new place. It was bitter sweet, leaving our youngest behind. He has been in our home for 21 years. We knew the day would come, but we did not imagine it would be this hard.

And so the road trip to South Dakota began. With Dianne in the Trailblazer with Morgana and Mahana following Monty and I in the GMC pulling the RV. Day 1 was fog, like hours and hours of fog. And not just fog, but fog and twisty mountain passes. And then there was the rain as well. We made it to snowy Spokane. Next day was travel across Idaho and into Montana. Other than a little snow, it was a pretty good drive. We arrived at our stop from the night and the wind and snow was intense.

Day three was extremely challenging. The wind was horrid. In the four years we have been doing this travel nursing, I have never been as challenged towing the travel trailer as I was this day. When we finally stopped in Wyoming I was ready to be out of the truck. The last day was sunny and cold. We had a little wind at times and I90 in Wyoming was snow covered in several places. But by early afternoon we were safely in Rapid Safety and setting up the house.

Dianne is doing well at the hospital here. A lot of the staff seems to be Travel Nurses. This assignment has her doing call. It has been awhile since she has done call. Her first call in on a Saturday she ended up being there all night, 12 hours! She slept good on Sunday.

We have had two snow events. The first was good snowfall, but nothing too bad. But this past weekend was a Blizzard. Several inches of snow with 40 to 60 mph winds. Been several years since I have experienced that. And then I had to drive Dianne to work, in the middle of it, at 0500 in the morning. No biggie. My daddy taught me well!!

Christmas was different for us this year. For the first time in our marriage we were alone. Just Dianne and myself with the Hounds. We enjoyed finger foods and Christmas movies on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day I spent working on skirting the RV. I was surprised to find how much of a difference skirting actually makes in controlling the climate in the RV. Overall, it was a really laid back and relaxing holiday. We did miss not being around family.

New Years Eve and Day was finger foods and BYU TV Relative Race binge watching. Great show. Very relaxing day. The afternoon was sunny and the temps got out of the single digits to the mid 20s so we took the dogs out to play in the snow. It was funny watching these short legged Basset Hounds running and romping through the high snow drifts. Their sweaters were covered in snow when it was all over.

We are enjoying the people here in South Dakota. The folks here are very friendly. Seen several cowboys here as well as lots of Native Americans. We are part of the Mount Rushmore Ward at church. The folks at church at super friendly. We are looking forward to seeing what the next 11 weeks holds for us here. Until next time, may 2019 be your year!!

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Full-Time RVers, Travel Nursing

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun!!

Hello family and friends!!! It has been a few weeks since I last updated the blog. We did some really cool things over the past few weeks. Starting with Brad’s Birthday. Brad wanted to visit Wolf Haven International. This is a wolf sanctuary. The work they do here is awesome. They have many wolves here that are not part of public viewing. The hope is to release them back into the wild with their pack. This is especially true of the protected and almost extinct Red Wolf. They have a large and growing pack at the sanctuary. The hope is to be able to release them back into the wild. But this will not be able to happen until people have been educated more on wolves. Things like wolves are nothing like you see on TV or in the movies. Wolves actually fear humans and will avoid us at all cost, except for protecting their pups. Wolves do like livestock and farm animals so many farmers have to be educated in methods and ways to protect their life stock without killing the wolf. Wolves provide a much-needed role of thinning the herds of deer, antelope, elk, etc. This was a great experience for us.

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Great Dane Skull on right, Wolf skull on left

Mahana celebrated her 1st Birthday October 18. She is a hot mess, but we love her!!!

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Then came the whirlwind trip to South Dakota. We established residency there. South Dakota is a full-time traveler friendly state. Many truck drivers, traveling nurses, construction workers and full time RVers use South Dakota as a home base. No state income tax, vehicle plates are inexpensive, drivers license are inexpensive and sales taxes are very low. Perfect for the Gypsies like us! So Dianne and I loaded up the 3 hounds in the Trailblazer and off we went. We traveled 2296.6 miles in 4 days. Drove about 700 miles on Saturday then got up and drove to Mt. Rushmore on Sunday.

If you have never seen Mt. Rushmore in person, you have to add this to your bucket list. I have seen pictures all my life of Mt. Rushmore. But to actually see it in person is absolutely humbling. For a person to even think up this concept is hard to fathom. But we are a better Nation for it.

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The Man Responsible For Mt. Rushmore. Thank You Sir!

Just before we turned in we saw a mountain goat with its baby.

Sunday Night we stayed in Rapid City. We got up Monday morning with the intent of driving to Sturgis, SD to get our drivers license and then head to Missoula, Montana for the night. We got to Sturgis to find that the website was wrong. The driver’s license office is only open on Thursday in Sturgis. Not good. The only drivers license office open on Monday in South Dakota is in Sioux Falls. Unfortunately, we would have arrived there as they were closing. So we decided to stay another night in Rapid City and get our drivers license there on Tuesday.

We had a day to kill so, on the suggestion of a friend Amy Lemley, we went to the Crazy Horse monument. Another impressive sight just a few miles from Mt. Rushmore. This is a tribal/board/private owned venture. It is still under construction. Work is done as funds are raised. It is a wonderful tribute to a great Chief.

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They also have a culture hall/museum there of Native American Culture. Beautiful exhibits and items.

Got up Tuesday morning – bright and early – so we could be at the driver’s license office when they opened at 7 AM. In and out of there in 20 minutes and on the road. We were thinking that we were going to drive to Spokane, spend the night there, then get up early Wednesday morning and drive home in time for Dianne to make her shift at noon. Well, got to Spokane and thanks to XS Energy drinks and XS Energize I decided to drive the rest of the way home. 1146.3 miles later we were home. Been a long time since I drove 15 hours straight. We all were ready for bed.

Here are some random pics from the trip:

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Are We There Yet????

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Wide Open Spaces In Montana

And then there was the Basset Rescue of Puget Sound Howl-O-Ween Pawtry!! This is a rescue that is near and dear to our hearts. We have been active with them over the 2 years we have been here. We have helped with events and been given the privilege to foster a couple of hounds during medical procedures. I cannot say enough about this group and what they do for hounds here in the Puget Sound and beyond. If you want to help BROPS with their work go to their web page and click on “Donate Now”. We had a super time. They even had a cake for us thanking us for our help. This is one of the reasons leaving here is bittersweet.

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Super Hero Dogs

Reggae Dog

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Shrek Theme with the hounds playing Donkey and the Dragon

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And then there was the Spider Hounds with their pet Bumble Pig Bee. Yes that is a pig in the bee costume!!!!

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And finally our clan: Monty Gene as “The Gangster” with his sisters as Flappers

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Well that about sums up things here! Until next time, one more shot of Mt. Rushmore….

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Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Travel Nursing

My Visit To Amish Country Ohio Part 2

Sunday morning was laid back and consisted of family time. Most of the family needed to recover from the wedding reception the night before. My sister Betsy fixed finger foods and her mother-in-law brought some killer Apple Crisp. We spent the afternoon catching up and laughing about those childhood memories. Sunday Evening it was off to my other sister Tami for more family time with her crew. Enjoyed some left over BBQ and fixins’ from the wedding reception.

Monday morning I spent an hour visiting with my “other” mom Joan Light. We had a great time catching up. She showed me around her new condo. It was great seeing her and catching up on her family. After her visit it was back to Tami’s house and off to lunch at Ashland/Wooster A&W Drive In for homemade root-beer and coney’s for lunch! This is a ‘must have’ anytime I go home in season, they close between late fall and spring.

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A couple of coneys later and we were half to the hospital for dads hip replacement surgery. And boy did we have fun in pre-op. Mom, dad, my sisters and myself were laughing our tails off at the silliest of things. We brought dad to tears at least three times laughing so hard. Even the pre-op nurses were enjoying the humor. It was great for the five of us to just let loose and forget life for awhile. Dads surgery went well and he was in a humorous mood when he got to his room.

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Dad Pre-Surgey!! I will probably get killed by my old man for posting this pic in my blog!!!! 🙂

Monday evening was spent at Tami’s house. The newlyweds came by to visit as did Blake, Dru and the baby. I was starting to feel that old pain in the heart that comes with leaving my family. I never thought I would miss my hometown of Ashland when I left for the Army in 1987, but man this trip left me longing for home and I had not even left yet.

Tuesday morning was busy. Mom came by to chauffeur me around and take me to the airport. Went up and spent time with dad. He had already been up and walking on the new hip and was walking farther than expected. Of course those that know my dad know he will push himself. He does not like being down for long. Left the hospital and made a quick stop to pick up some homemade chocolate peanut butter balls , or Buckeyes as well call them. Then off to the airport to catch my flight home.

Overall my trip home was pretty freaking awesome. I hated to leave, but knowing we are headed back East this December makes it a little better to deal with.

Things I did learn this trip about flying, 1) airplane seats are not made for big dudes. 2) Airplane seat belts are not made for guys with big guts….period. 3) Speaking of big guts, seat back trays don’t work real well if you have one. Especially if the guy in front of you leans his seat back. Otherwise I enjoyed my flights immensely.

I am off on another journey with the wife and family in Washington, until next time….