Sunday, November 27, 2016

Touring South Dakota (and Wyoming) Day 3 - Devils Tower

The day after the Run Crazy Horse Marathon we had two flight options back home: take a direct flight home early in the morning, or connect through Denver and get home really late. We of course chose the second option. Why kill 1/2 a day off at home? We decided we would get up early and see Devils Tower in Wyoming.

The almost 2.5 hour drive took us through the Black Hills National Forest and through the town of Deadwood. Deadwood is famous for some western stuff like Wild Bill Hicock and Calamity Jane. We missed the turnoff for the historic downtown and decided not to turn back around in interest of time. On the way towards the tower we also passed a buffalo jump - an area used by Native Americans to hunt and trap buffalo. Surprisingly there is not a lot built up by the tower and much of the area is farm or ranch land.

The first view of the tower is pretty impressive since it just shoots up from nowhere.

Close-up it's also pretty amazing. It's not a perfect cylinder and it seems to morph shape and change color as you walk around. We got there before the place got crowded and did the 1.3 mile trail. The surrounding valley was also gorgeous.

We decided we'd have lunch in Sturgis at the Bare Knuckle Saloon. Decor was pure biker-meets-western, the food was good, they had their own beers, and the staff was friendly. Not sure it would be a place for us during Bike Week when they have bare fist-fights for charity.

Downtown was being ripped-up (literally the whole street was torn up) so our tour of Sturgis was short. We headed to the Rapid City airport and enjoyed two flights with no issues. We got home really late but we were happy we pushed our luck in order to see a truly great National Monument.


Side note: Check out Devils Tower on Google Earth. The 3-D is fun!


Saturday, November 19, 2016

Touring South Dakota Day 2 - The Badlands

Our wish/must-do list for this day was pretty aggressive: Change hotels, go to the race expo, drive to Badlands, Minuteman Missile Base, Wall Drug, and get back in time for dinner. We were happy to see Hill City seemed to offer a bit more vs. Keystone. Besides being a larger town, there was a train museum, breweries, wineries, and world record holding collection of teddy bears. Michael and Tara were going to visit Jewel Cave while Pam and Stan were joining us on our extravaganza.

We used the South Dakota tourism map to choose a route to the Badlands via Rapid City. We could go the highway, or the labeled scenic route. We took the scenic route. The traffic was very low and we got some pretty views of the Buffalo Gap National Grasslands and the backside of the Badlands. We were surprised to pass through the town of "Scenic, SD". We felt pretty stupid for our blunder but the drive was pretty darn scenic.

Once we arrived in The Badlands National Park we followed a similar pattern that we followed in Wyoming: See a parking area, scan the sourroundings, take a vote if we should stop, if we stop get out of the car, take pictures, get in the car, repeat. There were so many cool places to pull over and walk around you eventually had to pass some by.

Really need to clean that image sensor

Since we came in the back way our tour of the area was split up a bit. We saw a small portion of the park first, then exited to head towards the Minuteman Missile Base. On the way there was a sod home museum - 1850's South Dakota living. We visited the store and restrooms but decided not to tour the house. Visitors that do tour the home are encouraged to wear period garments furnished by the museum. On the grounds of the museum were white prairie dogs.

The sign makes us feel bad we missed it

We arrived at the Missile Base too late to get a tour of the control room. We settled for a few pictures and a tour of the museum. Michael and Tara were lucky enough to tour the base a few days later and said it was a really interesting experience. On the way back we stopped at a closed (for the season) tourist trap where visitors are encouraged to feed peanuts to the prairie dogs.


After lunch at the Cedar Pass Lodge we toured the rest of the park. At one stop some teenage girls found a rattlesnake in the bushes. Fun for all! Stan stood too close to cliff edges for Holly's liking but it made for some fun pictures.

This area had a cool little trail with fossils and drawings of what used to live here. There used to be rhino-like animals in North America.
Too coincidental for a rock formation in this area

The final stop of the day was the famous Wall Drug. This is a drug store that decided to also cater to the booming tourist traffic. They have everything you need from knives, t-shirts, Native American souvenirs, mounted jackalope heads, and any other tacky thing you can imagine. There was a cafe with great donuts (provisions for race day) and an ice cream shop. Really fun stop.

The YouTube video posted below (not from us) will give you a good idea of the experience.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

2016 Run Crazy Horse Marathon Race Report and Video

Here is Holly's Run Crazy Horse Marathon report with Dave's comments and video to follow:

My fellow 50 state crazy friend Michael had suggested this race for South Dakota. I hadn’t heard of it but it sounded like a good one to be able to see some more unique sites of the country. We had the race on the radar for a while and 2016 was finally the year we agreed to do it. Stan and Pam joined us for this one as well. They had been to the area before and were anxious to return. Dave is handling the pre race stuff, so I will just get right to the race.

We stayed in Hill City, SD, which is at the race finish. This is a point-to-point course and it starts at the Crazy Horse Memorial and runs down to the town of Custer and then you turn around and run back up the Mickelson trail to Hill City. It was a quick twenty-minute ride down to the start and we met Michael and Tara inside the Crazy Horse Memorial Center. I was having a bit of a meltdown. No a major meltdown. I’m not sure what it was, but I was not ready to run, and was rather grumpy. I think I was still remembering West Virginia a couple weeks earlier. I had some more leg issues since then and didn’t run much so I didn’t feel prepared, mentally or physically.

This was a small race, only 140 in the marathon. We walked outside at the last minute for the start. It was a beautiful morning, crisp blue skies and the memorial was our backdrop. We were soon off and running, down a huge hill and then up a bigger hill. This didn’t help my mood much. Also the surface was a dirt road with large rocks that you had to watch out for. We circled the memorial and were able to get closer than most visitors can get. We soon left the park area and hit the Mickelson trail and headed downhill to Custer. I was feeling good, we were going downhill and the trail was really pretty. Our cheer squad of Dave, Pam and Tara were doing a great job of tracking us.

We get to the town of Custer and turn around and start heading back uphill. It was uphill from mile 10-15. This is when I started to lose it. This race is also at elevation, 6000’ so I was really feeling it. I pretty much checked out around mile 13. Stan and Michael and our cheering squad were trying to get me back in the game, but I was pretty miserable. Finally we got towards the top of the hill and would now have a pretty much downhill route to the finish. Michael also broke out his portable boom box and started taking instant requests. This was a LIFESAVER. I have to admit when he said he bought one of these I was dreading it. I thought we would annoy people and also annoy me! But when he put on “Chicken Fried” and Stan and I started singing like crazy people, I was out of my funk. We had a really great time the last 10 miles. It was getting warm and we did slow down, but we were having fun. Our race chasers were doing a great job, keeping us supplied with water, oranges, cookies and popcorn.

We make it into to Hill City and ran into the finish line with the “Chicken Fried” song playing once again. So happy to be done and so happy to be able to run with friends who don’t give up on me and pull me to the finish. State 38 is in the books. Also a nice surprise was I won an Age Group Award. My first ever! 3rd place out of only 5 but I will take it! I would definitely recommend this as a great race. The scenery was spectacular and we were all surprised at how beautiful it was. Be ready for that uphill section and the rest will be fine. The medal is a great one as well.

Dave's Comments

Having the race start at Crazy Horse Monument worked out really well. We had clean bathrooms, a warm place to wait before the race, and we got to see the monument and museum. A new trend of mine seems to be missing our runners at the start line. They lined up left when I was on the right. We saw our runners three times while using the Crazy Horse museum for warmth breaks in between. The course was easy to navigate early with places to stop every mile or so to connect with the trail. In the town of Custer most businesses were seasonally closed but we did find a nice place for a coffee and browsed the local grocery store.
As we passed the half pulloffs were becoming difficult to find near the trail. Maps don't tell you the trail becomes elevated at points. We were a good thirty feet under the trail at one stop - no good. Another stop looked promising but it turned out to be a one way dirt road that took us way off into the forest. Finally we found some people on the main road watching runners pass as the trail went under the road. We stopped here and I went down the rocky incline (no cameras) to intercept and supply our runners.
Snack options were lacking. No food was available at Crazy Horse and the only places open were in Custer at Mile 10, then again nothing until the finish. We found ice cream and homemade chocolates in Hill City.
After the race we went to The Mangy Moose for lunch. We said goodbye to Michael and Tara as they were heading off for a few nights in The Badlands. Afterwards we did what we do best - tour breweries. First stop was Miner Brewing. They had a good variety on tap in a very pleasant setting. We spent some time out on the patio enjoying the pleasant weather. Our next stop was Sick-n-Twisted Brewing, which shared a space with Naked Winery. Sick-n-Twisted was in an old house and went for an eclectic cluttered design. We had dinner/snack at Bumpin' Buffalo on their last night of operation before seasonal close.
Here's the video


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Charity of the Month: The Sandals Foundation

Charity of the Month is a way Team Tizzel is helping to support some very worthy organizations. As part of this program, we will dedicate a post to a charity that we will sponsor through the month by donating Holly's training run money.

October: October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month so we sponsored a friend of ours in the Avon Foundation's Walk to End Breast Cancer. We supported Christine's efforts with a $125 donation. Even though the event is over you can still donate at Christine's page.

November Charity of the Month:

The Sandals Foundation

If you've followed us for many years you know we are fans of The Sandals Resort chain. The rooms are very nice, dining options are varied and range from good to excellent, and the staff does everything they can to make sure you are taken care of. Sandals runs its own charity foundation to help Caribbean communities (from their website) in three core areas: community, education and the environment. All administrative and management costs associated with the Sandals Foundation are supported by Sandals Resorts International, therefore 100 percent of all funds raised by the Foundation go directly to programs benefitting the Caribbean community.

We had a trip scheduled to go to their Exumas, Bahamas property. Hurricane Matthew changed those plans when the Bahamas (especially the Out Islands) got hit pretty hard. The resort received enough damage to close for a few months. Rather than leave guests stranded, they offered options to choose another Sandals resort, cancel the booking, or honor guests quoted prices into 2017. We chose the option of switching to another resort on the island of Grenada (new country for us). Problem was our flights were booked to Exuma. Sandals paid the difference to change our flight - the cost of the incremental airfare and change fees. Six weeks out this was not cheap. Going this extra mile shows how committed the brand is to their guests.

We've supported the foundation for years because we have seen the impact first-hand on school visits in Jamaica and talking to students in their sponsored hospitality programs. Currently the Sandals Foundation is holding a campaign fund drive to aid the hurricane victims in Bahamas and Haiti (Sandals does not have any properties in Haiti). We thought this would be a good time to lend our help to those in need while recognizing a company that still takes the guest experience serious. Click the Donate Now to learn more about the foundation and to donate.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Touring South Datoka Day One - Rushmore, Needles, Custer State Park, Wind Cave

With Holly running a marathon in every state we get to go to some places we'd probably never plan to visit on our own. South Dakota was one of those places. Yeah we'd get there eventually to see Mount Rushmore but it really was not on the radar until we turn into full-time retired-persons nomading around the country. The Crazy Horse Marathon gave us a chance to almost break-even on the National Park Annual Pass we bought in Jackson, WY. We honestly had no idea there were so many attractions in this small section of the country.

A few weeks before our trip we caught an episode of Ozzy and Jack's World Detour focused on South Dakota. This History Channel show follows Ozzy Osborne and his son Jack on short road trips around the world. It has its bits of Ozzy charm, but overall this is a true travel/history program. We did not know about the missile silo or truly appreciate what The Badlands were until watching this show. We posted the trailer at the end of this post.

We landed early enough in Rapid City, SD to make it to the town of Keystone for lunch. Our race weekend partners, Stan and Pam, were all ready in town while Michael and his wife Tara would arrive late in the evening. Keystone is a one-street town near the base of Mount Rushmore. The sign says it has 800+ residents but they must all leave during the fall. Most of the area's businesses seem to only operate in tourist season (May - Sep).

As luck would have it our friends Tom and Sue (whom we met through travel to Jamaica) were in the area so the six of us met up for lunch at Ruby House Restaurant. The decor and "saloon" theme screams tourist trap with all its western art, old photos, swinging saloon doors, etc. The food was actually pretty good and the bar had a decent beer and signature cocktail menu.

Our first of many stops of the day was Mount Rushmore. The former tenants of our rental car left their parking pass in the glove box - saving us $11. Overall we thought it was smaller than we pictured it would be, but still very cool. We had a beautiful blue-sky day so we took our time walking the trails and checking out all the different angles. A person from Dave's office (sits 10 ft from Dave) was doing the same thing - small world.

After our mountain tour we decided to drive through Custer State Park toward the Wind Cave (a National Park). We were fiscally lucky again in the fact that we also had a Custer park pass in our car - a $20 value. Our drive would take us by the pretty Sylvan Lake and through The Needles. This route is very popular for its unique rock formations, winding mountain roads, and tiny tunnels that barely allow for one vehicle. Once we were through The Needles we were in the nature preserve of the park. We saw many deer, prairie dogs (a first for us outside a zoo) and a few buffalo.

Here is a short film driving through the narrow tunnel.

We reached Wind Cave about a half hour before closing. That meant we could not physically go into the cave, which is the 7th longest in the world. We spent some time looking around the museum and walked the path near the entrance. There was a sign letting us know that many Native American cultures considered this location the birthplace of humanity.

After a long drive back to Keystone we were pretty hungry. We decided on pizza for dinner because the "Open" sign was on when we drove by. When we walked over we found out that someone left the light on by accident and they closed up for the season. Our two choices were to go to the restaurant near the hotel (a BBQ place) or go back to Ruby House since we were right there. We chose Ruby House since we were familiar with the beer choices. We all enjoyed our meals, including the filet mignon Dave ordered for $18 with salad and sides. After dinner we lingered for only one more drink in the saloon. We had a long day planned for the next morning: The Badlands, Minuteman Missile Base, and Wall Drug.

Ozzy and Jack's World Detour trailer