Monday, June 18, 2018

Part Two

As I sit here and think of how I should write this, certain things come to mind. I could fill it with lots of embellishments like some other bloggers might. But I have decided to speak the truth and let the facts speak for themselves. Let the adventure begin.

Traveling west, we climbed the Wall and saw our final destination in sight. A mystical land held sacred by the native tribes for thousands of years. Somewhere hidden in the Black Hills of South Dakota was our next undisclosed location. We arrived to much fanfare and revelry. Now I know how Patton felt when he conquered Paris. Hugs and handshakes where plenty and tears of joy where flowing freely by our hosts Jim and Barb. Yes, Jim and Barb.

They were gracious enough to give up their spot with full hookups to us.
Our spot.

Our morning coffee view.
I think he did that so he wouldn't have to listen to my generator run for days on end. We quickly got set up because of what was waiting for us. Jim brought over drinks and Barb whipped out her endless succulent taco bar and the laughter and commraderie began.

"What is with the urgent distress call?" I asked.

Jim said "I have run out of free labor and I have all of this work to do, Thanks for coming." Snicker, snicker. "So get some rest, you will need it."

Day One: Jim said that he had a few "chores" to do. First off, we were going to replace the water in the deer watering tub. So we filled a barrel and off we went into the wilderness of his property. We emptied the tub and filled it with fresh water. We wouldn't want the deer to have stagnent water now, would we? While that was filling he wanted to change the SD cards in his trail cams. So we went trudging through the under brush to find those. He did give me a nice tour of his land or rather the ranch, which they named "J bar B". (I knew drinking had to be involved somehow, you know they are from Wisconsin. A state with more bars than people). He even suggested that we could buy the parcel behind theirs so that we would be able to work for him all the time. How nice.

That brought us to lunch. One thing nice about this visit is that we discovered something new about Jim. That is his love of finger food. He loves to snack and snack on little finger foods.  After lunch it was back to work.

Jim said "Have you ever driven a skid-steer before?"

Before I could answer a scene from a movie popped into my head. I don't know why.

I climbed into the cockpit of the thing and he quickly gave me some instructions. He then said that he would like it if I went to the front of the property to level all of the prairie dog burrows so that he could take a nap in his hammock. "It will be fun!" he said. So off I went, lumbering along, only to return several hours later. There where a lot of burrows. I did enjoy learning to use the skid-steer. I quickly got the hang of it.

With the work day over he said that we were going to have dinner at the local Pringle bar. (big surprise there. A bar.) We were meeting his neighbors. Also Richard Raab was going to join us. Richard is a fellow RV-dreamer that we had met out in Quartzsite 2 years ago.

Day two: Jim had to run to Rapid. That's what the locals call Rapid City to be cool. He was going to leave at 5:30 in the morning to get a few things needed for other projects. So we had our morning coffee and cooked breakfast for Barb. Jim got back just in time to have some also. The rest of the day was going to be a play day. We were going to go to Hot Springs to a brewery for beer tasting. (again with the beer.) They took us to the Highway 79 brewery which boasted 32 taps. However they were only using 18. A little disappointing but we made the best of it. Then chinese for lunch and a quick stop at the grocery store for, yep you guessed it, beer. Richard was having to leave his camp ground so Jim offered him a place at his ranch. Plenty of room and "chores" for everyone. Richard cooked the evening meal which was pulled pork and plenty of fixins that was very good.

There was still some daylight so Jim wanted to drill a few more post holes. Jim got in the skid-steer and Richard and I got in the UTV.
First time driving a UTV.
We followed Jim out to where he was going to dig and neighbor Jim came out also. Which was good because I have never drilled holes with an auger before and I hope Jim wasn't relying on my advise too much.
This looks like a government operation. One worker and 3 people watching.

Very rocky soil which needed a special auger bit to get through it.
The sun was setting so the beer came out.

Day Three: Original plan was to go on a Jeep tour but then that turned into a hike. Barb researched this and it said that it was "Strenuous, that it would take about 3 hours to complete". It was supposed to be a 2.8 mile hike. But they don't factor in the mile hike to get there and when you are done the mile hike to get back to the parking area. Don't believe everything you may read in other blogs.

It was a nice hike though. When they say 3 hours to complete, that means that you can take time to look at the scenery also. Some people hear 3 hours to complete as a challenge. Like."I bet we can do it in half that time!" So I will include some pictures. You will notice that all of the pictures are of their backs as they run down the trails and I try to catch up with my arthritis acting up. Which I didn't complain about once.

Now a couple of pictures of the scenery they didn't see because they were too busy racing each other.

After the hike we were thirsty. "Hey lets go see Harry at the Prairie Berry Winery!" (Yeah! More alcohol). The wines were good and it was nice to see Harry again. He is a slick salesman and he knows his stuff. Like we say up north, "He could sell ice cubes to an Eskimo". We left with a couple of bottles for a later date. As we were pulling out of the parking lot someone noticed a brewery next door. What a coincidence. I ordered an Irish Red beer with a new liver because I am Irish. It was very good.

Dinner time and Lisa didn't want to be out done by Barb's taco so Lisa whipped out her endless taco bar made of chicken tacos. Mmmm, mmmm. 

Day Four: We had originally planned to leave but decided to stay an extra day because we were having so much fun. Jim had plumbing to do in their new build site and he had a new free laborer with Richard there, so I decided to escort the ladies on a 10 mile bike ride. Jim dropped us off 10 miles from their ranch and turned us loose. It was an old rail trail so it was fairly flat and smooth with crushed gravel. I heard Barb say that it goes through Pringle so we could stop at the bar on our way through. But that didn't happen because once the ladies got going they were not going to stop for nothing.
This was the only photo I got. I had to race a mile in front of them to just be able to turn around with my camera as they raced on by. We got back to the ranch to Jim and Richards reply, "Wow, we didn't think you would get back that fast?" Me on the other hand had to point out all of the nice benches and picnic tables the state went to all of the trouble and expense to put on the trail and we just past every single one of them. What's that saying about smelling roses or something?

Barb wanted a hole drilled for putting a pole in it for bird feeders. So back to work we went.
Jim drilling Barb's hole.
The rest of the evening we relaxed because we were leaving in the morning. Duties call us else where.
Now that the work was done, Jim could finally put his rifle away.
Barb playing hid-and-go-seek with Dakota.
I wanted to include a photo of my little mountain goat. Because if it wasn't for her laughter, life wouldn't be fun. Or maybe she is just laughing at me. Not sure.

All kidding aside. It was a great visit with great friends. Laughing comes so easy when we are together or maybe they are just laughing at me. Actually there are so many opportunities to laugh at each and every one of us. And the secret to keep them happy is plenty of beer and finger food. 

Thanks for the fun filled days.

Until we can do it again.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Part One

Securely holed up in our fortress of solitude in Minnesota, we get an urgent comunique via satcom transponders and cellular airwaves that our help is urgently needed in another part of the country.

"We need to see you" it said. And to make sure that we would arrive for sure it also said "Free beer and tacos!" We fell for it hook, line and sinker. With a quick download of the Global Positioning Satellite data, our slides went in and our anchor came up and we were moving towards the urgent distress call.

However, before we could head west, we had to go north to take care of some unfinished business. We finally sold Lisa's father's fifthwheel so we went to Moorhead to turn over the title to the new owners. Now his trust business can move forward finally. With that taken care of we headed south to start our journey. Our first day took us only 139 miles from our original starting point. Although it seems like we were in the truck all day because of our detour to Moorhead.We stopped in Watertown, South Dakota at a nice city park. That left us a long travel day to get to our next super secret undisclosed location.

Half way there we stopped in Pierre SD for lunch at the local Wallyworld parking lot. With vittles consumed we started to get moving again and I felt and heard a "thump, thump, thump". "Lisa we have a flat tire on the truck. One of the duals" I said.
To which she exclaimed, "Heavens to Betsy! I feel faint! However shall we proceed?"(really it was more like "oh shit!")
Taking the weight off of the truck.
I have never changed a tire on my truck before so this will be the first. I get the lug nut wrench out and start to apply the proper technique to remove them. It goes like this. Put lug nut wrench on, stand on lug wrench, push or jump down with all of your weight and wallah! Move to next one and repeat.
Getting dirty now.
I get all of the lug nuts off and have it jacked up and pull on the tire. It won't budge. So as I contemplate why that would happen, a couple pulls up next to us and asks if we needed help. Normally to change a tire I would say "no" but this time I said "yeah, maybe". The couple was Bill and Maria of Pierre SD. They plan on fulltiming in the near future.
Our saviors Bill and Maria.
Bill went to get some pry bars and bigger hammers while Lisa opened the slides and gave Maria a tour. They had lots of questions about fifthwheels and fulltiming and places we've been. They were even nice enough to offer us a place to stay if we didn't have to be somewhere else. With the help of Bill's pry bars and hammers we were able to get the tire off. It turns out that they rusted together and needed a little convincing to come off. I would not have been able to get them off on my own. So in the future I will have to get a bigger hammer and pry bar for the next time. Hopefully we have inspired them to go for their dream. They were very nice and helped a lot. Tire on, we said our goodbyes and headed west into the sunset.

Will we arrive at our next undisclosed location and where will that be? Stay tuned for the next installment boys and girls.

 To be continued..............

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Poineer's version 2.0

We are still here in Minnesota clearing our land. Well I have been clearing and Lisa has been on vacation in sunny Florida. I have been out to the land just about every other day and I have developed a new respect for pioneer's. I can't imagine crossing this country and to get to these Minnesota woods and decide that this is were I want to farm. To have to build a house and to clear the land with no modern equipment at all. It is amazing. I mean we are doing it with modern equipment and it is still hard work.

If you remember we bought an atv and a pull behind brush mower.
"Lil Burro" clearing brush.
It worked great clearing large areas of land until nature killed the atv by sending a mouse infiltrator into the atv and disabling it. It has been down for 3 weeks now. So in that time I have been doing many other things out there. I have been using our new chainsaw to down many trees that need to be removed. We have an over abundance of firewood now which will be handy in the future. With downing trees you get all of the unwanted branches that you cut off. So we have been making many, many brush piles all up and down our road. I am talking about big piles, 5-6 feet tall and 30-40 feet long by 6 ft. wide.

Our original plan was to get a fire pit and burn the brush when we were out there. Well we quickly got behind on that. So we had a wonderful idea of renting a wood chipper. Why not, we are near "Fargo".

This was a heavy duty wood chipper and we are thankful for that. It went through the brush as fast as we could feed it and we were very thankful for our daughter Kendra's help. There was more brush than we had imagined and we would not have gotten through it with out her.

Our biggest piles of brush are where we were clearing out to make a road to an eventual campsite.
Everything behind this brush pile is stuff we cleared out of that area behind it.
Kendra was a great help. I of course did the best I could with my arthritis acting up. And Lisa was a wood chipping animal.
We finally got through that pile and we were nearing the end. We started at a quarter to 11 and ended up close to 5. But we got it done. Now we can see where more trees need to be removed and more brush cut back. The stuff we cut with the mower is already growing again so we need to get our atv working and it is in the shop. We can't wait anymore so I would like to introduce "Bluetus".
We bit the bullet and bought a brand new one. It is bigger and more powerful than "Lil Burro". 

Also on a side note, Lisa got into the poison ivy. She got it before her vacation to Florida and it kind of got worse while she was there. So much so that she went into the clinic when she got home for meds to help take care of it.

So back to the pioneers. I don't know if I could have been one in the late 1800's.  I was probably more suited to be a dapper gambler and Lisa a saloon girl or school marm. Who knows?

We are getting ready for a big adventure so stay tuned.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Doing My Civic Duty

One of the many things that have brought us back up to Minnesota and keeping us here is that I have a 2 month stint of jury duty. I have been called for it before but usually get out of it, but not this time. The first summons I received said to call the night before, so I did. The case settled and a jury wasn't needed and that I would get another summons later. A couple of weeks later I got another letter listing a court date and again, call the night before. Hopefully this one will settle too. Nope. The recording said to report the next day bright and early. Dang!

There are no photos because our phones were the first things to be confiscated.

I report to the courthouse and sign in and then wait for orientation. I am looking around and count 34 people. We are in a courtroom so I look at the jury chairs and count 10. Odds are better than 66% of not being picked. I like those odds. After orientation we go to another court room and sit. They start calling names to go sit in the Jury box, however there are about 21 chairs. Dino Olivieri. Dang, they called me. The people that didn't get called are now alternates in case one of us gets booted for one reason or another.

Then the questions start. We were going to hear a criminal case. The judge starts with questions like does anyone know the defendant or any of the witness's being called. Have we been victims of a crime or been accused of a crime. On and on it went. Some peoples answers got them excused from the jury and an alternate would take their place. After the judge came the lawyers. They grilled everyone again. Finally it was time to pick 13 for the jury. Now it is about a 45% chance of not being picked. Dino Olivieri. Dang! That whole process took about 3 hours. So we were sworn in and then let go for lunch and the trial would start when we returned.

The trial was for a man that was accused of stealing a pickup truck from the parking lot of the local grocery store. The judge told us to remember that he is innocent until proven guilty and it was the states attorney's job to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt. The first witness was the man who had gotten his truck stolen. He said that he left his keys inside the truck and unlocked. He noticed some people in the car next to him but did not see the defendant. He knew who he was by the way. He goes into the store and about 5 minutes later comes out and his truck is gone. This happened Dec. 16th, 2016.

I wish the jury could ask questions because during the trial the attorney's could have asked better questions. At times I wanted to raise my hand but we couldn't.

6 days later they find the truck in another town. It was parked at an apartment complex that had 2 apartment buildings. It was parked at the building that the defendant didn't live in. The apartment manager called the cops because it needed to be moved for snow removal. So the local cop runs the plates and discovers it stolen. He has it sealed and then towed to Fergus Falls. The detectives photograph everything and they find a water bottle inside of it. They do a DNA swab and send it to Minneapolis to the BCA. Months go by and they finally interview the defendant because the apartment manager says she saw him near the truck. He voluntarily gives the police a DNA sample. So now his DNA matched the DNA on the bottle.

How ever there was more than one DNA on the bottle. According to the DNA specialist that did the sample she said there were 2 or more DNA profiles on it. But his was the only one linked because that was the only one they had.

They showed us the security footage at the grocery store. The truck was parked so far away that all you could see was a person in dark clothing get in and drive away with a mini van hot on its tail.

So with all the evidence presented and the closing arguments given, it took us about 20 minutes to determine that he was not guilty. Leaving us with more questions. Like the man that had it stolen from never recovered a briefcase and his wallet that was left in the truck. However the drivers license was found in another town but the lawyers never asked what town that was. Also, why wasn't the apartment manager called as a witness. She supposedly saw him near the truck. If she saw him near the truck, why didn't she just go to his apartment and ask him to move it? The lawyers should have asked the owner if he remembers the type of vehicle that was next to him. He said a car but the mini van left with the truck.

Another thing. Multiple DNA's on the water bottle? Who else drank out of it and who would have put it in the truck? Shoddy work by the Fergus Falls detectives. They didn't take one fingerprint at all from the truck. They thought the DNA would be enough. If they would have taken a fingerprint and the defendants fingerprint was on the wheel, that would have placed him in the vehicle. But they didn't. The video shows someone getting into the truck but you couldn't tell who it was.

Not Guilty. It was kind of interesting to say the least. Getting to play Perry Mason.

I thought now that we were on a jury we would be released from the list. But no, I still have another month to go and could be called again. This is being published without my editor's approval because she is on vacation.