The days of summer are winding down here in the Dakotas. The sun has finally started setting at a time that I’m accustomed to and I’m pretty sure we’ve seen the last of the 90-degree days. At least a third of the seasonal employees have already checked out of their apartments to return to school or other jobs and the rest of us are going to hang on for another month. I still can’t believe how much I’ve been able to see and do in the short amount of time I’ve been here. From riding horses to flying over the park to hiking new highpoints; I simply could not have asked for more adventure this summer. And to add to the list, Jacob and I plan to get another highpoint point this weekend on our way to Minneapolis where we’ll watch a Twins game. Anyway, here are some photos from the last few weeks.

A pronghorn (often mistaken as antelope) let us get close and personal during a hike.

Gelatin, anyone?

Dave (left), Sam (middle) and me on a long hike.

An area in the park called Wind Canyon has formations that look like a giant brontosaurus jaw bone to me.

Unfortunately, Fantastic Mr. Fox (my car) is out of commission for a while. His CV-axles ‘fell off’.

I finally made it back to the Rapid City area in SD to hike the highpoint. We chose the long trail from the north side (a 10-mile yo-yo that left from a horse camp in the Black Elk Wilderness). The weather was perfect and we only passed one other hiker along with some people on horseback.

When we stopped for a water break a deer buck wandered right up our path and passed within 10 feet of us, completely unafraid.

The first thing the boys did when we reached the summit was crack open a couple of beers.

Highpoint #25: Harney Peak, SD on July 30, 2010

Some photos of us hanging out on the lookout tower.

After descending the highpoint, we headed to Mt. Rushmore to park the car. Cody guided us to his favorite camping spot in the wilderness about a mile from the monument. We actually had a nice view of the heads between the trees there at camp. We got up early the next morning, packed up, and I snapped this before leaving the boys to get a head start on the hike back to the car.

While I was waiting for them near the car, I spotted a beaver!

Later in the evening we met up with Cody’s friend for beer and pizza. We were able to sleep on the floor at his place before heading back to ND.

We get some pretty crazy storms out here and sometimes they are followed by rainbows and sunsets!

This is just before Jacob took us flying.

We flew over the town that we live in.

And we managed to find a herd of bison (black dots) hanging out on a prairie dog town (white patches).

Highpoint #26: White Butte, ND on August 27, 2010 (It was really windy and you can see my hair flying everywhere!)

Here are some views from the highpoint.

I’m no geologist, but I’m pretty sure all that white stuff is sandstone and you can see where this butte gets it’s name.

An abandoned farmhouse near the trailhead.

That’s White Butte in the distance. I’m standing in a field of alfalfa.

That’s it for now! I should have more to share in a few weeks.


I realize I’ve been here a whole month and haven’t really shared any photos of the amazing park I’m working at, so here is a large group of random ones.

The second week I was here, the park superintendent took us for a short hike around the Elkhorn Ranch site. This is where T. Roosevelt had an 8-room cabin built and tried his hand at ranching. The cabin is gone but the Cottonwoods are still around.

A wooly bully!

My buddy Sam and I went camping and hiking at the north unit of the park. I love cooking gourmet food over an open campfire.

We only got lost a few times…most of those times were spent wandering around in big grassy fields looking for the trail.

Sam was so proud that he could make us a bridge to cross the creek.

I made my friend Joe go on a treacherous climb with me and about halfway up the face of a butte he informed me of his fear of heights. This is a view of our apartment buildings from the top of the butte.

We scared up a few owls when we were climbing around here.

Some of the park’s native flowers.

I always manage to get muddy.

The clover has grown up to my elbows on some of the trails.

I finally saw some elk in our park! There were 2 separate groups of them.

I ran into a band of 9 horses.

Bison bones.

I camped and hiked with Jacob along the Maah Daah Hey Trail.

It’s a horny toad!

One of the locals let us borrow his kayaks so we took a 2-hour paddle down the Little Missouri.

We’re a bunch of misfits.


When we pulled the kayaks up, the boys discovered a big mud pit next to the river so we returned the next evening so they could roll around in it.

Good for the skin!

That’s it for now! Stay tuned for more in another month or so.

I didn’t have any time to post the photos from the road trip earlier, so here they are with a few captions.

We found a good number of abandoned places along the way and this is one of the more interesting ones.

The clouds have much more character out west. Or maybe it’s that the view is unobstructed by trees?

A color-changing lizard I found on Black Mesa.

Black Mesa, OK, and the view to the south of the mesa.

Mt. Sunflower, KS.

Like I said, a lot of abandoned places, especially homesteads.

Panorama Point, NE.

A herd of bison!

I’m beginning to see why they call this area ‘Big Sky’ country.

Camping in Ft. Robinson State Park with some views from inside my bug tent.

Camping in Custer State Park with some large visitors.

Camping in Bear Butte State Park with a view of the butte.

The ‘buffalo’ toe.

Mt. Rushmore Memorial, SD.

Adam and I went to my parents’ house for dinner last night and I actually got all three dogs to sit still for a couple of photos. (Stanley is pre- and post-yawn in each photograph, but I can’t help laughing about the second photo where it just looks like he’s grinning like crazy.)

Yep. I’m one of those ridiculous new pet owners who buys too many dog toys, gives too many treats and dresses the dog up in outfits. I decided Oliver needed to be a dinosaur for his first Halloween and made the costume myself by hand. Surprisingly, he didn’t mind having to try it on endless times as I tailored it to fit him exactly and even didn’t seem to mind wearing it. And the costume gave him plenty of attention (which he can never get enough of).

I’ve been really lazy about my cameras lately and decided it was finally time to download all the photos from the last couple of months. I realized I have a bunch of cute puppy photos to share!

This is Oliver. Or little dude. Or sometimes little shit.

He’s not easy to photograph because he’s so dark and moves fast so I’m satisfied if I just get a few that aren’t a blur.

He was so little back then! Since we’ve brought Oliver home 2.5 months ago he has more than doubled his weight and has learned to sit, shake and roll over. I joke with everyone that I can tell he’s getting bigger because his poops are increasing in diameter. He’s a little stubborn sometimes, but generally a good little dog. He has recently been racking my nerves about not walking in the grass when it’s wet out (which is every morning) so it’s been tough to make him pee and poo in the mornings. We’re working on that. Amazing that he doesn’t mind getting bathed or getting sprayed with the hose, huh? Just doesn’t like his feet getting wet.

We left Angeles to stay our last few days with Angelita in a little apartment on the outskirts of Manila. While here we traveled into downtown Manila to see some historical buildings and also made a day trip to Taal Volcano.

A guy pedaling a bicycle taxi wouldn’t leave us alone about giving us a short tour around the city, so my mom finally hired him to point some things out and guide us around. He wasn’t accustomed to having to pedal around 3 fat Americans, though, and we even got a few laughs from his friends who referred to us as ‘caribou’. TJ and Mom decided they would help and pedal for a little while.

Lunch in the city.

When we got to Taal Lake we chartered a boat to take us to the volcano in the center.

We were pestered into hiring a guide with a horse to lead us along a very obvious path to the rim of the volcano. Mom rode for a little while and hiked the rest of the way. I guess most foreigners would rather pay the small amount for a horse so TJ and I were looked at like we were insane hiking the whole 1.5miles to the top.

Taal is an active volcano and the lake in the middle of the volcano is not swimmable, so we just looked at it from the rim.

This hike was less dusty than the hike to Pinatubo but we still managed to get really dirty feet.

This set of photos concludes the collection. So here they finally are, 5 months after the trip.

On the way to Mt. Pinatubo we passed a long set of steps that lead to the top of a hill that my mom remembered visiting. You are supposed to climb to the top, pay your respects and leave a donation.

There is a tunnel cut into the hill which deadends in a small cave with another shrine.

Lola called her friend over to give us all manicures to help clean up our filthy nails.

Red Horse is a pretty strong beer that feels like a punch in the gut when it hits your stomach.

We all helped Richard wrap soap – his community volunteer project.

And John Paul showed me how to fix broken flip flops.

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