Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Sunday in South Dakota: Journey of Friendship

February 11th, 2018

The dictionary’s definition of a good friend is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. A real friend is there when you are struggling and need someone you can count on when times are tough. A true friend is someone difficult to find. I am incredibly fortunate to have such people in my life and I can only hope I’m as honorable of a friend as they are to me.

My friends are in various places, both geographically and economically. What makes these friendships so rare and precious is that they are trustworthy people, we’ve listened to each other through the years, we’ve offered good advice and support to each other when needed. Most of all we eat until stuffed and laugh until we cry together.

With technology today, I can keep in close contact with my friends. I deeply appreciate that while saying “goodbye for now” they demonstrated our friendship in special ways, each giving me their hearts, without resentment of my excitement over moving to Rapid City, SD and all the fresh opportunities that come along with the move. I know that they miss me as much as I miss them, but they want me to do well and will always be looking out for me. I am honestly humbled in this moment. (PS: I’m sorry I didn’t get photos of my neighbor John the best neighbor I ever wanted, Pam who has been a longtime friend and took sure good care of my things, Bob my mailman who has also been my personal favorite baker, Lenny who I always enjoy visiting, Andrea who I unexpectedly ran into at the Morikami, Valli & Paul, Bridget & her family, and Jack all of whom I wasn’t able to visit with for different reasons, Howard my movie buddy and Maria whose photo I took and lost. I also failed to photograph my Sisters & Brothers at St. John Missionary Baptist Church and the folks at the YMCA that opened their arms and welcomed me as if I’d never been absent. I thank you all.)

Take care of your friendships and commit to love them and hold them close as a most precious jewel.  

Bill Ross

Irina Veselovskaya

Jodi Pascuzzi: recruiter extraordinaire

New friend Mark Laliberte

B. Michael Paschkeyes


Richie D’Angelo

William Murry

Last look at Atlantic Ocean

New beginning – thank you for all your well wishes

Dear friends Alexandre & Elaine

Sunday in South Dakota: Black Hills Stock Show

January 28th, 2018

Sunday in South Dakota: Black Hills Stock Show

Rapid City became home to cowboys, horses, and wild western action during this weekend’s 60th Annual Black Hills Stock Show and Rodeo. Some people might have hopped  a plane for Florida uesterday, but I’m sorry, I was NOT going to miss the Stock Show. The stock show is the 2nd largest event in the state of South Dakota behind the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Did I mention there are cowboys & horses involved?!

During the Stock Show weekend the Old West comes to town when area ranchers and cowboys came to town to compete in ten different breeds of cattle shows, rodeos and 14 different horse events. Honestly, I swear there was something for everyone and all ages including concerts. In a town who’s motto is “Do Big Things” this stock show is a BIG thing! And I am already looking forward to next year when I have more time to browse the booths and see more shows. A person could buy everything from chaps to saddles to full length ranch coats. So interesting.

In 1958, members of the Rapid City Chamber Ag Committee had a meeting at Rapid City Laundry to discuss a plan for a stock show that would incorporate rural lifestyles into the urban community of Rapid City. At that time only 12% of the population lived on farms or ranches and locals feared that someday ranchers would be an endangered species. With the hopes of protecting agriculture communities and lifestyles, planners made a commitment to preserve the western heritage in the state of South Dakota.

There was plenty of excitement, after all people needed something to do during the winter. Ranch wives shopped the vendors, along with demonstrations on cooking and sewing. The men were able to look at quality livestock and socialize with other people in the industry. Over 140 head of cattle were shown in the unheated buildings.

Today, the traditions of the Black Hills Stock Show continue with 10 breeds of cattle sales, a Truck Defender 2-day horse sale, the Hutchison Western Stallion Row along with over 300 vendors, and seminars to encourage both livestock producers, horse enthusiasts and the city folk to enjoy the western extravaganza.

I think ranchers are here to stay!

Look at the boots

2009 Rapid City Stock Show

Sunday in South Dakota: Custer State Game Lodge Hike

January 14th, 2018

This weekend guided hike started at the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center at Custer State Park. It was meant to be a snowshoe hike, but there wasn’t enough snow. No worries, I still looked forward to experiencing the solitude of winter in Custer State Park However there were approximately 100 others as we hiked on a trail overlooking Game Lodge Campground. The hike was a two miles long trail that parallels Grace Coolidge Creek and is geared toward the basics of identifying bobcat and mountain lion tracks in the snow.

The trail took us to the eastern limit of the Custer fire where we were given a lesson about the recent fires which were still smoldering and smelled horrible. Sadly 10 Bison had to be put down due to burns to their eyes and mouths. The remaining herd is being fed hay since the grasses they normally forge was burned by the 12 foot high flames. They require 20 large circular bales a day! Did I mention the area still smells? It’s an awful stench that is expected to be around until Spring revival. While the fire was devastating to the landscape, renewal and regeneration is at work under a blanket of healing snow.

Custer State Game Lodge: https://custerresorts.com/lodges-and-cabins/state-game-lodge/

Bobcat Tracks

Fire scorched trees. Trees will be left if only 70% burnt.

Our guide for the day


Sunday in South Dakota: Badlands in Winter

December 24th, 2017

The Badlands of South Dakota are a winter playground that drew me in for many reasons. I quickly realized it’s a great time to experience another side of the region, an all-seasons wonderland. The beautiful natural landscapes were made breathtaking with a light dusting of snow. What could be better? Having the entire park almost completely to yourself! The serenity of this magical landscape resting beneath a clean blanket of snow creates a passion for a Black Hills winter.

Several lookout stops gives a great view of changing scenery. There are trails to walk through the formations. Take as much or as little time as you like, it’s gorgeous either way and any season.

Keep Calm and Love the Winter – Merry Christmas!


Sunday in South Dakota: Christmas Cantata

December 17th, 2017

A cantata is choir music that tells a story in sections. The Christmas cantata, first performed in Italy, tells the music of the angels, shepherds and cradle songs of Christmas.

If you haven’t experienced a Christmas cantata, many incorporate narrations connecting the songs to create the whole story. Christmas cantatas are popular across Italy, France, Germany, Romania … and in America this 3rd week of Advent This weekend I spent time practicing for our annual cantata performance.

The most well-known cantatas are those of Johann Sebastian Bach. However, we are singing Lloyd Larson’s “Sing Joy to All the World” with the theme of “Come, Lord Jesus!” It celebrates the promise of joy that comes to those who wait, following the long dark night, the breaking of dawn brings joy for the new day. The music incorporates original melodies with familiar carols in a work that ranges from contemplative to celebratory that I hope everyone enjoys.

Invite the presence of God into your heart this season as you sing and celebrate with family and friends.

Sunday in South Dakota: Christmas Caroling

December 10th, 2017

Listening to Christmas music is one of the iconic ways to celebrate the season.  And families get jolly by singing Christmas carols, so I couldn’t think of a better way to get into the Christmas spirit then by singing and listening to Christmas music. This afternoon I gathered with church friends and went to a local nursing home to sing Christmas carols.

The aides and nurses wheeled the residents into the lobby where we were going to sing.  It was just a lovely holiday experience.  I especially enjoyed seeing a few of the residents sing with us.  There is something about singing while someone is singing to you at the same time.  Combine that with the fact that they were songs about the birth of Jesus, what a marvelous feeling in that room!

After caroling I attended a Christmas dinner and Cantio Flute Quartet concert at St. Andrews Episcopal with friends. What a distinctive Christmas gala of lively conversation and favorite Christmas music. http://cantioflutes.com/

I hope you find ways to enjoy this luminous Christmas season.  Let Christmas be a happy time; let music fill the air with chime and joyful songs galore.

Sunday in South Dakota: Homestake Opera House Festival of Trees

December 3rd, 2017

Lead’s historic Homestake Opera House invited the public to attend the kickoff event of the Christmas season – the 2017 Festival of Trees Vintage Holiday Celebration. This event is the oldest of its kind in the Black Hills, the original festival was hosted in 1982 in the “Theater Built by a Gold Mine.” It didn’t take long to see why it has continued as a popular Christmastime event in the mining community.

The Lead Opera House & Recreation Center was built in 1914 as a gift from the Homestake Mining company to the people of Lead and the surroundings communities. Phoebe Hearst, widow of Homestake co-founder George Hearst, played a major role in the facilities conception. Once a useful public entertainment and cultural center, the Opera House was hit with a disastrous fire in 1984. The beautiful building is being resurrected to productive use for the enrichment of the community at this time.

Spirits were bright amidst the charmingly decorated theater, while visitors enjoyed free cocoa, hot apple cider and cookies while touring the heavily decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and unique items for auction. The trees and wreathes were donated by opera house supporters from local Black Hills communities. http://www.homestakeoperahouse.org/

Cowboy and calf photo on canvas auction item.

Restored area of lobby

Horses in winter painting in auction. Beautiful

Homestake Opera House lobby

Homestake Opera House

Historic piano and instruments used prior to the 1984 fire that destroyed the opera house

Homestake Opera House lobby

May your season be festive and bright!

Sunday in South Dakota: Hiking Spearfish Canyon

November 26th, 2017

Some people like to wear masks and hit each other with sticks and call if fencing. As for me, I am enjoying hiking. Hiking is an excuse to be outdoors surrounded by the smells and sounds of Mother nature. There’s something about being on the trail wherever I am, feeling the wind brush against my skin and the world seems to come to a standstill, that keeps me going back outside for more. This weekend I found a couple great local hikes near Spearfish, South Dakota.

If you don’t have much time to hike while you’re visiting Spearfish Canyon, I would like to encourage you to put Spearfish Falls on your list. At only ¾ mile long it isn’t too strenuous. The hike descends 110 feet of wide pathway. It is a wonderful place to stretch your legs while soaking in the beauty of the canyon floor. And this is just one of the waterfalls of Spearfish Canyon.

Across the street is parking for Roughlock Falls 1-mile Nature Trail that I took after getting warmed up on Spearfish Falls. (Warmed up is a relative term when the temperature was 28 degrees F.)

Roughlock would be a great place for wildlife enthusiast to hike. Located in Spearfish Canyon it’s considered one of the most beautiful locations in the Black Hills. This trail is easily-accessible and winds its way slowly to a breathtaking waterfall that flows into Spearfish Canyon from Little Spearfish.

Fun Trivia: Spearfish Canyon is where Dances with Wolves final winter scene took place. The site can be found just north of Roughlock Falls in the Black Hills National Forest.


Sunday in South Dakota: Lille Norge Fest

November 19th, 2017

Whether you’re a local, new in town, or just passing through, you’ll be sure to find something to pique your interest at this weekend’s Lille Norge Fest in Rapid City.

My high school years were spent in Jamestown, North Dakota where many of the locals were Norwegian. After arriving in Rapid City, it didn’t take long to realize that the Dakotas share that heritage and there’s a lot more to being Norwegian than just Ole jokes and Lutefisk.

This weekend the Sons of Norway hosted their annual Lille Norge Fest at the Borgland Lodge. Crowds of people wearing Norwegian sweaters and bunads (traditional Norwegian outfits) were savoring fresh lefse, krumkake, and rosettes. For a region rich with Norwegian ancestry, this annual festival is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season, featuring Nordic cuisine, cultural entertainment, dancing and handcrafted gifts.

The Rapid City Lille Norge Fest was founded in 1973 to promote and preserve Norwegian culture in America. It was an enjoyable way to spend a few hours getting into the holiday spirit with Norwegian flair and Lefse. (They ran out of Lutefisk before I went through the line. Maybe next weekend)


Whatever you do this week – do it with flair.

Sunday in South Dakota: Rapid City Powwow

October 8th, 2017

Colorful finery, elaborate feather work and intricate beadwork describe the visual atmosphere of a powwow. Spirited drumming and singing filled the air as dancers complete their fancy footwork. The Black Hills Powwow has become one of the premier American Indian cultural events in the United States and features competitions in categories such as traditional, fancy and jingle-dress dancing. 

Dances are either for men or women, with dancers moving in a clockwise direction which represents the circle of unity and the never-ending cycle of life. Singers are usually between the audience and the dance arena. Powwow singers and drummers play a very important part of the celebration, providing rhythm for the dancers. They sing many types of songs, including honor and family, war and conquest, songs of joy, encouragement, humor and mourning. Attire worn by a dancer is called regalia and often takes years to create and may include gifts which have deep meaning.

During this preeminent three-day event spectators can enjoy a fine arts show, He Sapa Win pageant, wellness symposium for youth, and tournaments for hand games, softball, golf, and archery.

Catch the spirit at the many celebrations across your state.

Sunday in South Dakota: Crazy Horse Volksmarch

October 1st, 2017

The bi-annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch is a rare chance to hike 10K through woodlands and scramble up hill to the world’s largest mountain carving in progress in the southern Black Hills of South Dakota. This is the most popular Volksmarch, attracting 15,000 walkers – including me.

The first time I went to Crazy Horse, I only viewed it from the visitor center. I didn’t realize how much I missed. Today’s hike was rocky, it was hilly and worth every strained breath, just to experience standing on Crazy Horse’s outstretched arm for a once in a lifetime view of his face.

Along the way hikers were teased by sneak peeks of the mountain carving through the trees, every time just a little bit closer. In the end, the view was outrageous. The level of detail put in his facial features we suddenly visible that can’t have been seen from the visitors center.

Cell phone tower in disguised as a pine tree.

Participating in the Crazy Horse Volksmarch as it is still in progress, is like wishing I could have seen the great pyramids being built. This is history in the making – and I was there. I stood on his outstretched arm! Even if you’re only able to ride up to the base, I highly recommend seeing the Crazy Horse monument from a different point of view, enjoy the fresh air and being surrounded by the natural beauty of the area.

View of Crazy Horse campus and parking areas from Crazy Horse

If Crazy Horse is ever completed, won’t it be amazing to see? And I’ll be able to tell the grandkids how I stood on his arm before he was finished. Amazing.


Sunday in South Dakota: 52nd Annual Buffalo Roundup

October 1st, 2017

“Feel the earth tremble.” People told me when I was encouraged to attend the annual Buffalo Roundup. The earth trembled as I felt I was transported to a scene from “Dances with Wolves” as the hooves of 1,200 massive buffalo shook the rolling prairie as they streamed over the hill while herdsmen on horseback spur them over the ridge, down the hill and into corrals for sorting.

The entire Custer State herd galloped by only a few hundred feet from my seat. Can you believe it?! Once the buffalo are safely in the corrals, spectators watch as real-life cowboys sort, brand, test, and treat the herd. Certain animals were selected for the fall auction. This is a public event you can’t experience anywhere else – and attracts more than 17,000 people each year!

Custer State Park is home to one of the largest American bison herds in the world. The annual roundup was started 52 years ago as a way to manage the herd and ensure there’s enough grass for all the animals. This keeps the population in balance with the available land and resources. Most return right back to their home, the grasslands of Custer State Park. Once on the verge of extinction, today there are about 500,000 buffalo across North America.

First buffalo sighting of the morning while driving into Custer State Park.

This buffalo showed up early and wandered around the field waiting for his brothers

I don’t know how they managed to feed pancakes to this crowd! It was very well managed and the pancakes were huge.

Custer State Park’s rolling prairies are beautiful

The crowds were entertaining and jovial

This buffalo didn’t get counted.

Neither did this one!

As if a thundering herd of massive wild animals isn’t enough, an Arts Festival is held the same weekend at the Custer State Game Lodge offering food, entertainment, and art booths for the visitors.

This is a Western experience I’ll never forget and will provide great storytelling to anyone willing to listen. If you’re unable to make it, you can put on your hat and watch these short videos from last year’s roundup in the comfort of your home: 1 minute video https://youtu.be/61xtwlEkngQ  the 10 minute video is like you’re there! https://youtu.be/91JoWjpIZS4


Sunday in South Dakota: Homestake Mine & Tatanka

September 10th, 2017

High in the Black Hills, surrounded by Ponderosa pine forests, meandering trout streams and magnificent mountain meadows, are one of South Dakota’s most memorable twin cities: Lead & Deadwood.

Lead has been called the richest 100 square miles on Earth. Over a period of 126 years, miners pulled more than 41 million ounces of gold and 9 million ounces of silver from the Homestake Mine, the largest mine in the western hemisphere. Prospectors began arriving in the Black Hills in the mid-1870s. Very quickly, “Lead City” was transformed into a thriving community built around the gold-mining industry.  In December 2001, however, that limit arrived. Homestake mined its final ore and left behind more than 370 miles of tunnels from the surface to the 8,000-foot level. Today, those caverns house world-leading research by Sanford Lab that seeks to understand the riches of the universe.

The Sanford Lab Homestake Visitor Center now is a modern and dramatic facility providing public outreach for the Sanford Underground Research Laboratory as well as interpretation of the history and cultural context of the Homestake Mine and the new underground Lab. A short video history brings it to life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrJtG_jLptg

After a physics lesson in WIMPS and Neutrinos, I followed the Bison to Deadwood to study the story of Tatanka. Amazingly, 30 to 60 million Bison once roamed the Great Plains of North America. By the close of the 19th century, it was estimated that less than 1,000 bison survived. I was very impressed by the hands-on education exhibits and 14 larger-than-life bronze sculptures of bison being pursued by Native American riders. I could almost hear the shouts of the hunters and the thunder of the buffalo’s hooves. Neutrinos are basically nothing. Bison, on the other hand, are inspiring, full of life and passion. Make this special place a “must see” stop in the Black Hills. Watch Kevin Costner talk about his passion for the Black Hills: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgbaEzGIl2M

Sunday in South Dakota: Wounded Knee Museum

September 3rd, 2017

Wounded Knee, located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota, was the site of two conflicts between North American Indians and representatives of the U.S. government. An 1890 massacre left some 15 0Native Americans dead, in what was the final clash between federal troops and the Sioux. In 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied Wounded Knee for 71 days to protest conditions on the reservation.

Throughout 1890, the U.S. government worried about the increasing influence at Pine Ridge of the Ghost Dance spiritual movement, which taught that Indians had been defeated and confined to reservations because they had angered the gods by abandoning their traditional customs. Many Sioux believed that if they practiced the Ghost Dance and rejected the ways of the white man, the gods would create the world anew and destroy all non-believers, including non-Indians. On December 15, 1890, reservation police tried to arrest Sitting Bull, the famous Sioux chief, who they mistakenly believed was a Ghost Dancer, and killed him in the process, increasing the tensions at Pine Ridge.

On December 29, the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry surrounded a band of Ghost Dancers under Big Foot, a Lakota Sioux chief, near Wounded Knee Creek and demanded they surrender their weapons. As that was happening, a fight broke out between an Indian and a U.S. soldier and a shot was fired, although it’s unclear from which side. A brutal massacre followed, in which it’s estimated 150 Indians were killed (some historians put this number at twice as high), nearly half of them women and children. The cavalry lost 25 men.

The conflict at Wounded Knee was originally referred to as a battle, but, it was a tragic and avoidable massacre. Surrounded by heavily armed troops, it’s unlikely that Big Foot’s band would have intentionally started a fight.

The troubles at Wounded Knee are not over – the wounds are still open for many. It’s a painful part of history, but Americans must remember so this doesn’t happen again.

The Wounded Knee Museum doesn’t only focus on the destruction but about what was destroyed: the rich culture, the intellectual accomplishments, the colorful tradition that was Sioux life. Their heritage, their unique value system, their contributions to the world are what we must remember along with our troubled history. These are the memories that will prompt us to effectively engage in the revitalization of Native American life. http://www.woundedkneemuseum.org/

Notice the collection of nearly 300 simulated eagle feathers suspended from a Lakota Medicine Wheel. Each feather represents a one of the 300 men, women and children killed by Seventh Calvary soldiers on that day.

Remembrance is the secret of redemption.


Sunday in South Dakota: Hot Springs … Again?

August 27th, 2017

Gray dawn swallowed what little light the slowly rising sun was sending over the horizon. Then a silhouette – It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, wait, planes aren’t shaped like that. It’s a hot air balloon! If you were anywhere new Hot Springs Municipal Airport this Saturday, you couldn’t help but notice hot air balloons bobbing around the skies.

It was all part of the 2nd Annual Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival in Hot Springs. There were also glider rides and Sidewalk Chalk Art walk in the downtown area. It was a nice event for all ages that I hope will continue to grow with coming years.

But wait. There’s more.

I want you to imagine a place where as far as the eyes can see, miles and miles to the horizon, you can see the plains as it was when American Indians rode freely with manes and tails flying in the wind.

Now imagine this place is real just outside Hot Springs. After the Hot Air Balloon Festival, I drove to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary to experience this dream. I wanted to see the horses in their grassland home of rocky canyons, windswept prairie they share with rattle snakes, coyotes, deer and eagles. This sanctuary has given these 700 mustangs freedom in a place where the sky seems to go on forever. It was a very rare pleasure to have a few of these Cortez mustangs eat out of my hand. http://www.wildmustangs.com/

I hope you kick up your heels and let your spirit soar this week!

Sunday in South Dakota: Historic Hill City

August 20th, 2017

Keep Calm – We Have a Change of Plans. The fair wasn’t operating when I arrived so I drove to Hill City. Sometimes your day ends up different and it ends up (tasting) better that way.

I drove in search of scenic beauty, a bit of history and a good meal. I found all of those while strolling the streets of Hill City, the 2nd oldest town in these Black Hills. The “Heart of the Black Hills” is centrally located to Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer State Park within a scenic 15 minutes which is why it’s continued to flourish over the years. Location. Location. Location.

This location is home to many popular art galleries, wonderful restaurants, year round outdoor activities suitable for families and 3 wineries. Speaking of wonderful restaurants, the Alpine Inn, built in 1886, is the historic landmark I chose for lunch. The Alpine Inn has a reputation for ethnic European dishes, and the reputation is well deserved. My lunch was a delicious change of plans. http://www.alpineinnhillcity.com/our-history/

A short walk from the Alpine Inn and I hopped aboard the 1880 Train for a 20-mile ride between Hill City and Keystone. I’ve always been attracted to vintage train rides. The romance of the rails through the Black Hills was a special treat unlike any other attraction in the area, this railroad helped settle the West. Click to watch a short video: https://youtu.be/lonmaxco77Q

Eat, Play & Love the location you’re in.

Sunday in South Dakota: Black Hills Caverns

August 13th, 2017

It’s not surprising that prospectors in search of gold discovered many of the underground treasures of South Dakota: its caves and caverns. The Black Hills Caverns was discovered in 1882 by a very slender gold seeker crawling into an even smaller hole in the side of a hill. Lakota Indians had found centuries before. Even now the cave is actively explored revealing new wonders in the beautiful underground landscape.

The Black Hills region is famous for its caves. Fifty million years ago, the caves of the Black Hills were formed when underground water dissolved layers of limestone, resulting in huge passageways, spacious cave rooms, and networks of narrow tunnels. As groundwater flowed into the passageways, full of dissolved minerals. One of these minerals, calcium carbonate, deposits crystals onto cave walls and ceilings, resulting in spectacular cave formations. Black Hills Caverns is formed by the “Paha Sapa Limestone” and contains the most complete variety of formations that exist in any cave in the Black Hills.

Black Hills Caverns entrance

Panning sluice outside visitors can try their hand to find gems.

I enjoy exploring caves as nature intended. That means Black Hills Caverns were on my list because they are free of elevators or escalators spoiling its natural beauty like some caverns. While walking sideways, down steps using hand rails and shimmying through narrow crevasses, the caves were different on each level. The tour gave me an idea of what the original explorers experienced, with the cave pathways kept as natural as possible. The cave Temperature remains a refreshing 45-50 degree. It felt fantastic with a long sleeve jacket.

The Black Hills Cavern is as majestic as it is huge with millions of rock formations that can be seen on one of their cave tours. The cavern offers many different types of crystals and formations to see — Popcorn Crystal, Frost Crystal, Stalactites, Soda Straw Stalagmites, Columns, Box Work, Cave Bacon  Dolomite, and the River of Ages is uniquely beautiful Flowstone. There are also fun natural formations that look like a chicken leg, a buffalo, even an alligator… so much to see! The Black Hills Caverns are well worth your time if you’re in the Black Hills area, are capable of climbing 250 steps and are wearing good shoes.

Forming Stalactites and Cave Bacon

Soda Straw Stalagmites

Dogtooth Crystals

Slippery, narrow passageway

Cave Bacon hanging from ceiling

Buffalo formation. The “eye” was created by early miners lantern soot.

Dust covered Frost Crystals

Wishing well near entrance of cave

Alligator rock

Example of early miner graffiti. This shows Ellis and his friends in 1937 prior to Ellis breaking both legs in the cavern. It took his friends 7 hours to get him out. He returned years later at 85 yr-old for a tour.

River of Ages formation created by Flowstone.

Chicken Leg rock.

Fun Facts: The Black Hills Caverns have a room called the chocolate room which is full of dolomite. Dolomite is a chalky natural substance used in Hershey bars. Also, due to the great flood of 1972 the crystal formations are covered in clay dust and not bright white as in the nearby Wonderland Cave. http://www.southdakotacaves.com/


Sunday in South Dakota: City of Presidents

August 6th, 2017

Downtown Rapid City challenged notions I held of small town middle America. At the heart of historic downtown Rapid City, visitors are greeted by the City of Presidents, a series of life-size bronze statues of our nation’s past presidents along the city’s streets and sidewalks. I discovered the free art display while enjoying downtown shopping. A tour around downtown Rapid City is a tour through America’s history, with a president on every corner and stories of the Lakota told through commemorative plaques and statues.

Part of the Rapid City Historic District Tour, the City of Presidents project began in 2000 to honor the legacy of the American presidency. I find it impressive that each of the sculptures is 100% privately funded, and the pattern of placement was chosen to maintain a coherent structure and eliminate any sense of favoritism or political gain. (To view a map click here: http://presidentsrc.com/map.html)

Twelfth President. Zachary Taylor was not known for his education and he had no political background. He was elected solely on his reputation as a war hero. As such, his short time in office was not one full of major accomplishments.

Twenty-Eighth President. Woodrow Wilson played a huge role in determining if and when America would get involved in World War I. One of the first events of Wilson’s presidency was the passage of the Underwood Tariff. This reduced tariff rates from 41 to 27%. It also created the first federal income tax after the passage of the 16th Amendment. During Woodrow Wilson’s presidency women received the right to vote with the passing of the 19th Amendment, the Federal Reserve System was established, income tax was initiated with the birth of the Internal Revenue System, World War I broke out in Europe between 1914 and 1918, sheep grazed on the White House lawn to help the Red Cross raise wool for the war effort and the national observance of Mother’s Day was established.

Twenty-Fifth President.
During McKinley’s time in office, Hawaii was annexed. McKinley was shot two times by anarchist Leon Czolgosz while the president was visiting the Pan-American Exhibit in Buffalo, New York minutes after giving the lucky scarlet carnation from his lapel to a young girl who wanted a souvenir. To commemorate his tragic death, the sculptor gave him a red carnation.

Twenty-Seventh President. William Howard Taft holds a unique position in American political history. He is the only president who also served on the U.S. Supreme Court. He was America’s 27th president as well as the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was the first president to throw out the opening pitch of the major league season. The artist, Lee Leuning, shows him, ever the competitor, shaking off the catcher’s sign and preparing to throw the “heater”.

Ninth President. When Harrison took office, he gave the longest inaugural address ever talking for one hour and 40 minutes. It was delivered in the cold during the month of March. He then got caught in the rain and in the end came down with a cold. His illness got worse until he finally died on April 4, 1841. He only served one month, from March 4 until April 4, 1841. He was the first president to die in office.

Twenty-Ninth President. President Harding’s time in office was marked by some major scandals. Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall secretly sold the right to oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming to a private company in exchange for $308,000 and some cattle. Other officials under Harding were also implicated or convicted of bribery, fraud, conspiracy, and other forms of wrongdoing. Harding died before the events affected his presidency.

Eighteenth President. Grant is considered to be one of the worst presidents in America’s history. His time in office was marked by major scandals. Grant as president accepted handsome presents from admirers. Worse, he allowed himself to be seen with two speculators, Jay Gould and James Fisk. When Grant realized their scheme to corner the market in gold, he authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to sell enough gold to wreck their plans, but the speculation had already wrought havoc with business. This was the cause of “Black Friday”.

Third President. In 1803, Jefferson purchased the Louisiana territory from France for $15 million. This is considered the most important act of his administration. He sent Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition to explore the new territory. Jefferson was the most gifted writer of his time and is displayed during the most important event of American History; the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

Twenty-Sixth President. Roosevelt was a fiery individualist who embodied American culture of the early 1900’s. His conservationism and willingness to take on big business are examples of why he is considered to be one of the better presidents. His progressive policies set the stage for important reforms of the 20th century.

Nineteenth President. When doing the recount, many Democratic ballots were ruled invalid in Florida and Louisiana. An investigative commission voted 8-7 along party lines to give all the electoral votes to Hayes allowing him to win against Tilden. Hayes began his administration with the Compromise of 1877 by which military occupation of the South ended. This helped satisfy Southerners who were upset over the results of the election.

Fortieth President. One of the most important events that occurred during Reagan’s administration was the growing relationship between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Reagan created a bond with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Thirty-Seventh President. While many important events occurred during Nixon’s administration including the end of the Vietnam War, his visit to China, and putting a man on the moon, his time was marred by the Watergate Scandal. Faith in the office of the presidency declined with the revelations of this event and the way that the press dealt with the office changed forever from this time on.

This sculpture represents hope for reconciliation, dignity and respect for all the human race.

Thirteenth President. Fillmore succeeded to the presidency upon Taylor’s death. Millard Fillmore established the White House library. Fillmore was a sullen, introverted man and the sculptor chose to depict him with an expression of slight annoyance as visitors interrupt his reading.

Eighth President. Van Buren’s administration began with “The Panic of 1837”, a depression that lasted until 1845. To combat this, Van Buren fought for an Independent Treasury to help ensure the safe deposit of funds. Texas applied for statehood after gaining independence in 1836. If admitted, it would have become another slave state which was opposed by the Northern states. Van Buren, wishing to help fight against sectional slavery issues, agreed with the North.

Thirty-Sixth President. Johnson took over as president after JFK’s Assassination. Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam and eventually had to turn to peace when the U.S. was unable to achieve victory. He is also remembered for his Great Society policies where Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were passed among other programs.

A Lakota grandmother placing a feather in grand-daughters hair.

Tenth President. Although John Tyler became our tenth president, it was not his first choice of careers. As a young man, Tyler dreamed and studied to become an accomplished concert violinist. In 1841, all the Cabinet resigned but Secretary of State Webster. A year later when Tyler vetoed a tariff bill, the first impeachment resolution against a president was introduced in the House of Representatives. Tyler had to operate as president without a party behind him.

Sixth President. During John Quincy Adams’ term, the Erie Canal Opened. One key event during this time was his role in arguing before the Supreme Court to free the slave mutineers aboard the Amistad. He died after having a stroke on the floor of the US House.

Thirty-Fifth President. His moral leadership of Civil Rights was an important part of the movement’s eventual success. Kennedy had a tough time getting many of his domestic programs through Congress. However, he did get an increased minimum wage, better Social Security benefits, and an urban renewal package passed. He created the Peace Corps and his goal to get to the moon by the end of the 60’s found overwhelming support. His assassination has taken on a mythic quality

Second President . As our second president, John Adams was known for his ability as a great orator. During Adams’ term, the Navy Department and Marine Corps were Created (1798), the Capital moved to Washington, D.C. (1800) and the Library of Congress was established (1800).

Thirty-Ninth President. Widely known as a peanut farmer, on Carter’s first day in office, he issued a pardon for all those who dodged the draft in the Vietnam War. On November 4, 1979, the U.S. embassy in Teheran, Iran was seized and 60 Americans were taken hostage. Fifty two of the hostages were not released until after his left office.

Eleventh President. James K. Polk increased the size of the United States more than any other president through the acquisition of California and New Mexico as a result of the Mexican-American War. He also claimed Oregon Territory after a treaty with England. He was a key figure in Manifest Destiny. He was also an extremely effective leader – considered to be the best one-term president.

Fifth President. Two major developments during Monroe’s presidency were the Missouri Compromise (1820) and the Monroe Doctrine (1823). He was known to be a very cordial man, a man of charming demeanor who always carried a cane. He is shown tipping his top hat wishing passers by a “good day.”

Fourth President.
Madison wrote most of the U.S. Constitution at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. As the author of the Constitution, decisions made during his time as president were based on his interpretation of the document. He was well respected in his time for not only authoring the document but also administering it.

Twentieth President. Garfield was only in office for a little more than six months. The one major issue that he dealt with was an investigation of whether mail route contracts were being awarded fraudulently with tax money lining the pockets of those involved. Charles J. Guiteau, a mentally disturbed office seeker, shot President Garfield in the back, the wound from which he died.

Fifteenth President. The North and West were hit hard by an economic depression called “The Great Panic of 1857” but Buchanan took no action to help alleviate the depression. Buchanan is portrayed with hands held behind his back symbolizing timidity in the face of crisis.

Thirty-First President. Since President Hoover was a Quaker he did not take an oath of office, instead he affirmed his presidency. During his term, he approved the “Star-Spangled Banner” as our national anthem. Herbert Hoover was president during one of the worst economic disasters in America’s history. Hoover was one of two presidents who did not accept a salary for being president, instead donating his salary to charity.

Thirty-Third President. It was President Truman who made the final decision to use the atomic bombs on Japan to speed up the end of the World War II.

Twenty-Second & Twenty-Forth President. President Cleveland was the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. In 1893, Cleveland forced the withdrawal of a treaty which would have annexed Hawaii because he felt that America was wrong in helping with the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani.

Thirty-Eighth President. Gerald Ford was never elected to be president or vice-president but instead took office upon the resignation first of Spiro Agnew and then of Richard Nixon. As president, Ford tried to calm earlier controversies by granting former President Nixon a full pardon. Gerald Ford survived two assassination attempts.

First President. Despite being a member of the Federalist Party, Washington was immensely popular as a war hero and was an obvious choice as the first president for both federalists and anti-federalists. He was unanimously elected by the 69 electors. Washington was the only president inaugurated in 2 cities – New York and Philadelphia. Washington did his own bookkeeping and recorded every penny of expense or profit.

Forty-Third President. Bush took office in January 2001 and by September 11, 2001; the whole world was focused on New York City and the Pentagon with the attacks by Al-Qaeda operatives that resulted in the deaths of over 2,900 people. This event changed Bush’s presidency forever. Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban which had been harboring Al-Qaeda training camps. An important education act during his term was the “No Child Left Behind Act” meant to improve public schools.

Forty-First President. During his term Bush faced a dramatically changing world, as the Cold War ended after 40 bitter years, the Communist empire broke up, and The Soviet Union ceased to exist; and reformist President Mikhail Gorbachev, whom Bush had supported, resigned. He sent troops into Kuwait to help fight Iraq and Saddam Hussein in the First Persian Gulf War.

Fourteenth President . Pierce was the first president to put a Christmas tree in the White House. One issue that caused a lot of criticism against Pierce was the Ostend Manifesto. This was a document published in the New York Herald which stated that if Spain was not willing to sell Cuba to the U.S., the United States would consider taking aggressive action to get it.

Thirty-Second President. Roosevelt’s terms as president were marked by bold moves to fight two of the largest threats to America and the world: the Great Depression and World War II. Also during Roosevelt’s term, the Social Security Act was created and prohibition was repealed. Roosevelt is the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms of presidency. And assisted in founding the March of Dimes.

Thirty-Fourth President. He was then named Supreme Allied Commander in charge of the D-Day invasion. Eisenhower’s willingness to send federal troops into Little Rock, Arkansas to ensure that local schools were desegregated was an important step in the Civil Rights movement.

Twenty-First President. Arthur succeeded Garfield upon his assassination. He was significant for two important pieces of legislation that occurred during his presidency. The Pendleton Civil Service Act, stipulating that government jobs should be awarded on the basis of merit, has had a long reaching positive impact while the Chinese Exclusion Act which allowed the U.S. to suspend immigration.

Thirtieth President. Coolidge is shown with his big Stetson hat and cowboy boots and is standing next to a saddle that was made especially for him by Rapid City saddle maker Bud Duhamel.

Forty-Second President. During the administration of Bill Clinton, the U.S. enjoyed more peace and economic well-being than at any time in its history. An important protective bill that passed in 1993 soon after taking office was the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Twenty-Third President. In 1890, Benjamin Harrison sponsored a tariff that required those wishing to import products to pay a 48% tax. This resulted in a rise of consumer prices. This was not a popular tariff.

Seventeenth President. Johnson became president after Lincoln’s death. During his presidency, Even though many saw it as folly at the time, it was truly an amazing investment in that it provided America with gold and oil while increasing the size of the United States drastically and removing Russian influence from the North American continent. He became the first president to be impeached while in office.

Seventh President. Andrew Jackson was the first “citizen-president” representing the common man. He believed strongly in preserving the union and in keeping too much power out of the hands of the wealthy.

Sixteenth President. Abraham Lincoln is considered by many scholars to have been the best president. He is credited with holding the Union together and leading the North to victory in the Civil War. Further, his actions and beliefs led to the emancipation of African-Americans from the bonds of slavery.ravel

This walk gave me an inside look of the personal affection Rapid City holds for the men who shaped this nation. An affection that reaches beyond Mount Rushmore. In fact, Rapid City has been honored with the designation “Most Patriotic Town in The United States” partly because of this fantastic city tour. Rapid City is worth the gas to get here.

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.