Saturday, June 30, 2007


Today was another perfect day. I knew it would be.

I let Sydney sleep in until nearly 9 this morning and we didnt leave the hotel until after 10. I changed our reservations and decided not to stay in RC another night. It would have been too much work driving to Devil's Tower and on to Sheridan in time to get there by 10:41am tomorrow. So I made a reservation for Gillette, WY.

We drove to Hill City, past my favorite lake, Pactola Resevoir, where we had lunch in the Hill City Diner. Afterwards we walked around and bought T-shirts for Noelle, Ryan and Chrissy. I bought myself two painting (prints) that captivated me when I first saw them. They are a winter scene of an old farm house. They remind me of MI and of something Gramma Sincler would have painted.

Then we were off to Mt Rushmore which always affects me. Im not sure if it is what the sculptor stands for or if it is because it reminds me of Gramma and Grandpa Willi or if it has something to do with teenage years.

When I was a teenager I would drive out there just because and did so often. Im always captivated.

We hiked the Presidential Trail and watch the movie that is presented at the museum. I took some great photos and the coloring is amazing.

We then drove to Pactola Res. Read all about it and talked with the volunteer rangers. Syd made out like a bandit... they gave her so much stuff. I love this lake, although it is down 30 feet. I didnt get any good pictures though because the clouds took over....

Our last stop of the day was Devil's Tower National Monument. We drove through Deadwood but were running late so didnt stop. The drive to the tower was about 1 1/2 hours. The ranger's station was closing in an hour so we had to hurry so Syd could fulfill all the requirements to become a junior ranger (which she did and got a patch). More great photos.. the color is amazing with this camera.

We are now in Gillette, WY for the night and tomorrow we pickup Sara in Sheridan.

Sydney is a dream. She is so smart and remembers everything I tell her about each place. She is learning so much and loves the quiz I put together for her for this trip. She loved getting the Junior Ranger patch today. She is appreciative and is having a good time... or so she says.

I knew it would be the perfect fit...

More tomorrow... we are on our way to Cody, WY... possibly seeing a rodeo. It will be an early day of driving.. HURRAY!

(WARNING... I just read this and my tenses are all out of whack... I should fix it but its almost 1am and Im tired)


After the disaster that was Thursday, all was rectified on Friday.

I canceled and changed our hotel reservations and worked out Miss Sara's travel arrangements. She is flying into Denver (through Los Angeles-go figure) at 9pm tonight (Saturday) and then leaves Denver via Big Sky Air at 9am Sunday for Sheridan, WY.

That means we have to cut our Rapid City stay by one day, upsetting as that is, it cannot be avoided and its no one's fault (well maybe American Airlines).

Yesterday we left Torrington, WY bright and early. I believe it was 6:15am. I hadn't slept most of the night for a myriad of reasons, one being the freight trains blowing their horns as they passed by the hotel. I may have slept 2 hours but at 5 I was ready to get on the road to the Black Hills - in my estimation, the beginning of our vacation. Syd got up and took and shower and we went down from breakfast then we were on our way.

I sang all the way from Torrington to the Black Hills and Syd slept mostly. She mentioned last night that she thought you slept more on vacations. Sorry sweetie... not mine.

The adrenaline started pumping when we crossed into South Dakota. Then we hit the Black Hills and I felt completely at peace and home. There is something about this place that I cannot explain. It calls to me in the summer almost as much as Michigan does. I love the mix or hills and prairie, the big bright sky and the available wildness.

We drove through Custer and I should have stopped but it was early. Then we drove by Crazy Horse Monument that has been under construction all of my life and hasn't changed much since I first visited the area in 1971. There is a fee to visit but we took some nice pictures from the road.

After that we were on our way to Custer State Park to see the free-roaming animals. We drove through the park for quite some time before we finally found the roaming band of wild (or not so wild) burros that occupy the park. There seemed to be fewer than normal but they were still as pushy as ever.

Prior to and after the burros there was the solo Pronghorned Deer here and there and single White-Tailed Deer. At one point we did glimpse in the distance a small herd of antelope or deer, and even one mammoth buffalo alone on a ridge.

A few miles later we found the first large herd of mature buffalo grazing with their babies. It seemed for each adult there was a calf - but there were bulls in the herd as well. We hung around for awhile watching and took some good photos and continued on and a few minutes later came across an even larger herd on the move. There were several hundred and they were all moving in the same direction.

Just as we got to an intersection the lead bull started crossing the road. Anyone behind us surely had to wait at least an hour to continue as there were that many bison crossing the road.

From the Wilderness Loop we drove the Needles Highway and stopped several times to take in the breathtaking views - many of which I have enjoyed several times when I lived here as a teenager.

After filling up the mini-van in Hill City (I dont remember this town) we decided we would go to Mt Rushmore the next day and would instead go into Rapid City and have lunch, walk around, check into our hotel and take a nap. I was exhausted. Exhausted isn't a good thing when you are driving the Needles Highway.

As we were approaching Rapid City I checked my voicemail and called Kevin. My connection was horrible and kept dropping but during the conversation we both expressed our fondness for this place.

Then we descended into the valley and it all became so familiar. Its been 12 years since I was last here and 16 prior to that but it instantly feels like a homecoming. We drove into town then I took a right and found the place that mom and I lived. It was a dump and probably was back then too since mom never had more than a minimum wage job and dad didn't contribute. I remember it as being older but the owner had just renovated the building and it was nice.... its not so nice anymore.

From there we drove downtown (5 minutes away - if that) and parked in front of the old fire station which is now a popular restaurant. We walked around downtown, finding the Elk's Theater where I worked while we lived here.

The oldest theater in South Dakota, still in business after all these years and the memories of my life started flashing before my eyes.

This is no exaggeration. I started seeing my 17 year old self looking out from behind the ticket stand and the concession counter. I could see the girl's I worked with.. Lynette Fink and Diana (I cant remember her last name or the name of the third girl). Behind my sunglasses my eyes teared as my heart swelled with emotion.

I realized that this is the place I left Chris. This is the last place I saw myself as a child, as an innocent. It was after leaving here that I took on the role of adult, a role I took on way too early in life.

Rapid City is that last place I was a child and the last place I knew innocent pleasure. Here, I was a kid with pure joy and happiness in my heart and mind and I cant say Ive ever had a sustained period of either since.

At 17, a senior in high school, Mom and I left Rapid City and within two months I was an enlistee in the United States Air Force, and less than two years later was married to a woman with two children.

It is little wonder why this place holds such magic for me. I had never thought about any of this before. Being here it is all I can think about. Im very happy but really miss the innocence of that beautiful blond boy. Unfortunately, he is gone...forever.

After walking around downtown and eating at the Firehouse we checked into our hotel (a two room suite) and I took a long coming 3 1/2 hour nap. After which we went downstairs to walk around the Black Hills Heritage Festival being held directly in front of the hotel (as the Civic Center). We then walked across the street, split a fajita and came back to the room and crashed.

I told Sydney we were going to get up early in the morning to go to Mt Rushmore before the crowds but she needs her sleep so I will let her sleep for another hour (9 hours).

I gave been sitting here looking out the window which overlooks downtown. I want to get out there and look around. I want to go to my favorite lake, Pactola Reservoir and walk among the trees.

I'm so happy today. I slept better than normal and I am in a place that brings me complete happiness... just for being... not any other reason.

Today is going to be a great day.

Friday, June 29, 2007


I cant sleep tonight. Its 2:30 in the morning and Im in Torrington, WY., a town Ive seen though the night lights.

There are many reasons I cannot sleep. One is the blast of the train whistle that travels by every 15 to 30 minutes. I sure wish I had been warned about that. The hotel I say in at the Edmonton airport has the same problem, but there they supply earplugs. Not this one.

Probably the main reason for my sleeplessness is that my vacation plans (here comes another train)are disintigrating before me.

Last night (or four hours ago) Miss Sara was suppose to arrive at Denver International Airport. Instead I started receiving (another train) frantaic phone calls from her telling me that her plane was delayed two hours and she probably wouldnt make her connection, and then that the flight was cancelled all together and that the earliest she could get to Denver was Saturday night at 9pm.

WHAT? Thats two days away!!!!!

How was/am I suppose to respond to that? I put my vacation on hold for two days as it was staying in Frisco, CO awaiting her arrival. I certainly am not expected to waste two more days.

After the first call, while I was killing time in Central City, CO - a quaint old mining town revitalized by gambling - I cancelled our hotel reservations so we wouldnt be unnecessarily charged. In the end I could have used mine.

So I arrived at the hotel in Torrington, 77 miles northeast of Cheyenne, and started trying to put back together the pieces of this immaculately planned vacation.

It looks like we will have to cut the Black Hills portion of the plan by one day so we can pick-up CW In Sheridan, WY or Bilings, MT.

I should sleep but I cannot. I may awaken Sydney in an hour so we arrive at Custer State Park in time to see the early mornig feeding of the animals.

Oh... and I had a very nice dream about Broadway performer Marty Thomas. He was burned out on the Broadway life and came to Torrington to rejuvinate. I wanted to help.

I should just shower now.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Inspired by the short films on I created the movie (PREVIOUS POST). I found it rewarding to make and each time I watched it in the beginning I couldnt help but get choked up.

Its far from perfect, being one of my first "productions" but instead of letting it sit on my computer and not share it with the world I thought I would include it here.

I hope you enjoy.....



San Juan River (West Fork) Colorado



Two days ago I started on my journey through New Mexico and Colorado on the way to the Black Hills of South Dakota and Yellostone National Park.

I have been looking forward to this trip for a couple of months, when I first decided to do it.

Several months ago I approached my friends about doing a trip to Yellowstone and everyone sounded excited (it may have been the alcohol) but two weeks later I had so many road blocks thrown at me I decided that it was my passion trip, and it didn't have to include everyone.

A couple of months later, upon hearing that Kevin would be bringing his grandchildren to Arizona for a vacation, I had an epiphany.... see if Sydney (Kevin's oldest grandchild) would be interested in staying on longer in Arizona and then I could take her with me.

She agreed

Then I told my CW about the trip and she expressed interest in joining - we worked it out and I am picking her up tomorrow night from the Denver International Airport. She arrives at 10:15pm.

Sydney and I left Monday at 3pm and eventlessly drove to Gallup, NM. After an unremarkable dinner at what appeared to be the nicest restaurant in town (the local sizzler) we retreated back to our Hampton Inn and soon after went to bed.

We rose early and got on the road at 7am the next morning for our roughly 450 mile trek to Frisco, Colorado.

Desert gave way to verdent valleys and majestic mountains as we entered Colorado, Syd and I ate a sandwich next to the rushing west fork of the San Juan River. A mile up the road we pulled over and hiked 15 minutes up a mountain to view Treasure Falls up close. From there we crossed the Continental Divide and I explained what it meant to Syd.... do you know?

We arrived in Frisco at 4:30, checked into the Holiday Inn, and later walked the spotless and quaint downtown of Frisco before settling on the Sampler restaurant and Wine Bar. The food is served in small portions and I ordered the nightly special which was their variation of salad, petite baseball cut sirloin and a desert. Each course was paired with an appropriate wine. Syd had the garlic and leek soup.

It was a wonderful restaurant... highly recommend it!!!

The hotel on the other hand... NOT SO MUCH.... This Holiday Inn is old and needs updating. After checking in the front desk clerk gave us directions to the elevator to get to the 3rd floor. Once there we realized that our room number didn't exist.

Turns out the 3rd floor that we were assigned to doesnt have elevator access. Luckiy for us, we met a hotel employee in the hallway who helped us carry up our baggage (also consisting of a cooler).

In the morning there was no USA Today waiting at my door, which is customary. We went downstairs to the hotel restaurant which was also a fiasco. I waited 25 minutes to get my first cup of coffee, the order came wrong, the manager was not attentive. The only one who semed to care was a server who was not our server. In the end I tipped him.

Late in the afternoon we walked over to the Hacienda Real Mexican Restaurant. I had a wonderful HUGE Cadillac margarita and enchilada's and chili relleno. Syd had a taco. The food was authentic and the margarita was strong.

Tomorrow, as mentioned before, we drive to Denver to pickup Miss Sara then onto Cheyenne, WY.

I am only two days away from seeing Rapid City, SD - a city from my past. I went to a semester each of my junior and senior years of high school here. It was brief but I can never forget the mystery of the Black Hills and how I enjoyed them with my mother and brother Frank, who was stationed at nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base at the time.


Someone needs to close this woman's mouth. She spews nothing but hate
and adds nothing to the national debate.

When are the newspapers she is printed in going to drop her column?

In my estimation, she represents know one of consequence and anyone
who reads her is doing so out of curiosity... Is it possible she represents
part of America? Who? hood-wearing klan members?

Is this someone people really want representing their thoughts and beliefs?

She spat her hate at the 9/11 widows and spoke disparagingly regarding John
Edwards and his deceased son.

She doesn't know when to draw the line.

Prominent republicans need to publicly denounce her and shut her up.

I cannot think of any liberal who deals in the politics of hate.... debating the
issues is one thing, inciting hatred is another!

Put the Hilteress in her place!