WOW!  The corn and soybean fields and farming communities are gone, as is the humidity and flatness of the Midwest. We are in the West, Baby!  Proof? “Mountain Time Zone”, and cracked, dry lips! This corner of South Dakota is filled with ponderosa pine, bison, prong-antlered antelope, elk, prairie dogs, and lovely Sylvan Lake, below.


The land surrounding Custer State Park is pastureland, small ranches with appaloosa, paint horses, and range cattle grazing, including some Texas Longhorns; ornery and ornamental, no respectable rancher chooses this breed when there is ample green pastureland. I grew up spending weekends and holidays on my grandmother’s cattle ranch in Beaumont, CA so it feels so welcoming to be back with horses, cattle, and ranchers. It has been unusually wet here this summer, providing sufficient range feed; the ranchers have not had to begin”haying” the cattle as they usually do in July. Of course, the cowboy theme is starting to surround us, as bars welcome “Cobs and Hogs”…horse and Harley Davidson riders. Thanks to the Harley riders, we got our broken vehicle diagnosed and a referral to their local mechanic. This guy was a F#&%ing  people person, despite his protestations to the contrary.


There are also real mountains, like Mt. Rushmore…


 …and tortuous roads cross this state park with apt names like the eponymous “Needle Highway”, “Wildlife Loop”, and “Tunnel Road”. The tunnels are only 12 feet high and 8 feet wide so we breeze through in our tiny RV. We were surrounded by bison at one point, driving Lety insane with joy, and allowing us to shoot photos 2 feet away from these gnarly creatures.

imageIn Rapid City, we got a kick out of the “Presidents”, sculptures of the U.S. Presidents in casual poses, especially Harry Truman laughing as he displays the newspaper that erroneously reported his demise to Dewey in the election.


With abnormally high temperatures for the last two weeks, the locals and our friend Leah directed us to “The Plunge”, where 5,000 gallons of water an hour gush up through the rocky floor. Recently, the City of Hot Springs bought this business to keep it open, so it lacks renovations and likely always will. It will likely continue to resembles this old-time photo. The water replaces itself 16 times a day so there is no chlorine smell. If my eyes were closed and I tuned out the sound of kids enjoying the water slides, water volleyball and basketball, I could imagine I was in one of Florida’s Warm Springs, basking in 87 degree water…minus the alligators and manatees, of course.


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About Sally

A Studio Artist and painter trained at Stanford university, Sally has since then graduated from a long career as an Attorney with the Public Defender, and returned to painting. Living in Mexico with her son for a year, they adopted a feral dog, Lety. Sally's son left for college and their dog adopted her new best friend, Steven.


  1. Calista

    Must get that tshirt for Marty. Thanks again for the owl, I sent you an email.

    Did you know the address in your blog says San Francisco, not Albany?

    1. Steven

      We live in Albany…and left our hearts in San Francisco. We may live on my mom’s houseboat in San Francisco for awhile when we get home if she has room for us. We have to do some re-thinking/redesigning of our 350 sq. ft. art studio in Albany to make it home for my 19 y.o. son, Steven and me as we will all end up there together on occasion. Living off-site in S.F. while we renovate will make it a little less crazy.

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