Friday, December 21, 2012

McNenny State Fish Hatchery

A lot has changed in the last year. Not only did we become parents, but also both Josh and myself have changed jobs. We thought we would take a few minutes and show you the places where we spend so much of our time and efforts.

8.12 Working hard.
As part of my outdoor education degree I needed to do an internship. I landed the most fun internships I could have imagined, at McNenny State Fish Hatchery. There is so much going on. Rearing fish, research, and visitors!!

McNenny is a cold water hatchery and rainbow trout and fall chinook salmon are the resident species. Lots of species have been raised there but these two seem to do remarkably well.

Very rarely are two of my days alike. Usually, I get to feed the fish in the morning, but after that I could be doing a myriad of things. I could be helping to cut metal for a project or spray painting them. I could be inside washing rearing tanks or outside sweeping the raceways clean. Sometimes the lawn needs to be water or mowed and I may be doing that. We move fish around the hatchery and I help out with that.

8.12  1 of 4 raceways at McNenny
Two things make working at a hatchery incredibly fun; stocking fish and visitors. If I go stocking that means part of the day is spent in the Black Hills delivering fish to lakes and creeks. Doing this completely makes my day.

Visitors are mostly around during the summer months. When I first started I was overwhelmed with the great questions that they had to ask and realized how much I had to learn. Now, I am confident in answering their questions and get excited when they ask something I'm not sure about. People from all over stop into the hatchery (it is located just off I-90) and it's nice to tell them about what goes on at a hatchery. McNenny is so unique in its rearing techniques and the amount of research that's done.

12.12 McNenny's Display Pond
One of the tasks that I've done this summer is to work with another intern (a great friend of mine) to create interpretive signs for the visitors. The signs cover topics like hatchery funding, fish identification, local geography, and the history of McNenny. I've really enjoyed this and it's influenced what I want to do in the future.

I have been really lucky to find a job that I enjoy going to everyday. When I leave for work, I know I'll have a great day, it'll be fun and I'll learn something.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bear Lodge Cruise

6.12 Bear Lodge District
Getting out and about with a Little One isn't as easy as we thought it was going to be. We thought we'd try our first outing today and head into Wyoming to the Bear Lodge District of the Black Hills.

It's an area that's quite close but far enough away that we haven't explored it like the Northern Black Hills. We packed up and headed west. When we got to Sundance, we headed towards Devils Tower but instead of staying on the highway, we opted for the first dirt road we could find.

The sun was shining and it was a perfect day. Not too hot, no Wyoming wind. Sometimes we forget how beautiful the Bear Lodge District is. It seems that there are more aspens, more sunflowers, and somehow, just as much wildlife.

6.12 Bear Lodge Aspens
We took the road that goes to Cook Lake. Since we had never been there it seemed like the perfect time to explore. There were hardly any people on the road (most people prefer the direct route to the Tower) and we had all day.

We didn't hear a peep out of Eli as we enjoyed our ride. Eventually we made our way to Cook Lake. Not only is it a serene little lake surrounded by hills and forest, it has hiking trails and a campground. Since, our camping expeditions for the next few years will be predominantly front-country, we made a mental note and both agreed that we'd like to come back to this area. Maybe for our first family camping trip.

6.12 Cook Lake Campground
After stopping to stretch and feed Eli we jumped back into the Jeep and cruised on. It felt amazing to be on an adventure with our family. We couldn't help but reflect on how much we had changed and grown and on the fact that we now had a little person of our own.

The wildlife was on the move and there were more does with their fawns than we could count. It was spectacular. It has been a particularly good year for the deer and I've enjoyed watching them more than usual. 

After enjoying our time out on the dirt roads we decided to head back towards Sundance. It had been a successful first adventure with our little boy and it helped us to realize that we can still do what we love- it will just take a bit of adjusting. In all, it had been a memorable day.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Daddy + Mama = Eli

On May 11, we welcomed our little guy, Eli, into our family. All the preparation and anticipation could not have prepared us for the upwelling of love that we felt. Just a few days later, on Mother's Day, we brought him home.

That was when our real adventures began...


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rephotography in the Black Hills

Recently, we were introduced to rephotography. 

Re-what? Re-photography!

It's a movement that asks people to seek out locations and landscapes that are documented in historic photographs and attempt to photograph them again trying to get the angle and distance accurately. It sounds easier than it actually is.

In the Black Hills there are lots of photos of historic mines and early settlements. It's really quite amazing since the history here is so young. I was able to locate some photographs of a homestead that is located along the old highway between Whitewood and Deadwood.

It's been renovated but not remodeled and today, it sits empty with the exception of the cattle who graze the fields.

The first step in the process is to print off the historic pictures- these serve as a reference.

Then I walked around and compared the building that stood before me and the image I was holding. I tried to find the location that the photographer was standing at when he snapped the first photographs. This is much harder than you'd think. And frustrating, too.

I had three photographs to recapture and I repeated the above steps with the next two. The whole process took me about an hour.  

At home, I uploaded the photos and started to look at my work. It hadn't gone as well as I'd hope, mostly because it was far more difficult then I had anticipated.
The next day, I drove into Lead to try it again at the Ft. Pierre Black Hills Roundhouse. They aren't so bad for a first attempt!

Once the new place has been photographed then it can be contributed to an online archive which specializes in rephotography. If you would like more information about Rephotography please follow these links: Third View, and Where in the Hills? These photos were submitted to Where in the Hills.

This was a fun first attempt. While searching the archives I came across a number pictures of places I am familiar with. Now that I've learned a few things I think the results will be better and it will become another hobby of ours. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Nemo 500 Outhouse Races

This weekend we attended our first Nemo 500 Outhouse Race. Usually the event is held out in Nemo but over the last couple years it had outgrown it's venue and this year was moved to the Day's of '76 Museum and Rodeo grounds right here in Deadwood.

Since we moved here we'd heard a lot about what these outhouse races entailed but until today we had no idea of how much fun it could really be. There were events planned all day long. There were two auctions, a few raffles, a chili and rib cook-off, live music, drinks and food and of course the outhouse races.

Josh enjoying the ribs 2.12
We arrived around noon and immediately set upon the chili and rib cook-off. I tried every chili I could and was surprised and inspired by the variety. A couple had quite a kick and one in particular was almost sweet and had pineapple chunks. I voted for the one with the best kick. Josh set upon the ribs. There weren't too many choices but he tried a few and was impressed (which isn't easy to do). After placing his vote we decided that next year we would definitely want to be competitors. I know we can make a darn good chili and I have no doubt that with his southern blood his ribs would be top-notch.

The crew of "The Wizzer" 2.12
After eating our share of food we made our way to the 'outhouse' area. There were roughly 14 teams competing and each had their outhouse on display. We were blown away by the creativeness of the designs. Each team was dressed thematically to match their outhouse. It's amazing how many puns and witty jokes about poop we heard. People are so creative.

Competing Outhouse 2.12
Of all the teams our favorite was 'The Wizzer of Oz". Their team members were dressed as the main characters from the Wizard of Oz and there must have been 40 people in their entourage. That is, 40 people dressed up as citizens of Oz. The Wicked Witch was there and so was the Witch of the East. They even had a 6-8 piece band that struck up "We're off to see the Wizard" every now and again. It was a fabulous display.

After touring the museum and checking out the silent auction we watched the live auction in anticipation for the races. I mentioned to Josh that I was surprised that they weren't taking bets on the various outhouse teams and about 10 minutes later the biding started up. I love Deadwood.

The Litter Box, 2.12
The official start of the outhouse races was at 1:45. Each team was to pull or push their outhouse on a track that looped around the football stadium at the '76 Rodeo Grounds. Most teams had at least 4 people. Three to push and one to ride inside (this was an official rule). About 3/4 into the loop the team members had to do a fire drill of sorts and run around the outhouse while stacking colored toilet paper onto plungers stuck to the ground. It was incredibly silly.

Along with a few hundred people we watched and cheered. One competitor lost his shoe halfway through the track and just kept on going. A few were bogged down by the slushy track and had to walk part of the way. The 'Wizzer of Oz' definitely stole the show (they did have a live band!). They ended up winning the entire event!

After watching all of our favorite outhouses race we decided to call it a day. It had been a long time since we had laughed to hard and had such a great time in Deadwood. And now the countdown is on for next year. Hopefully we'll have an outhouse to race and be in the chili & rib cook-off!

The Black Hills Pioneer wrote an article about the Nemo 500 which can be read here.

This is a short video of the Outhouses that we watched. They are each doing their fire drill so it's funny to watch. And make sure to listen for the band!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Eagle Cliffs Explorations

Today, Amanda, me and a friend, Michael, went on a snow shoe to Eagle Cliff Trails. Eagle Cliff is a great snowshoeing trail that we've been reading about on Leave No Trace South Dakota and really wanting to hit up. Michael works with Amanda and we've all been talking about going on hikes together since late summer, but we still haven't gotten a chance to go.

Yesterday, I went to Amanda's work to pick her up and while I was there we all talked and decided that it was about time we went out. It was an amazing hike and I'm really glad I'm lucky enough to have a wife that likes to do this kind of stuff. Michael just recently purchased a pair of snowshoes at the behest of Amanda. He was excited to get them out and take them for a spin. It's always better when you have friends to go with.

So, this morning we headed out early to pick up Michael and make a stop at our favorite breakfast place, the Hickok House. After getting a good meal we started out towards Cheyenne Crossing, just south of Spearfish Canyon. The Eagle Cliffs trailhead is 8 miles south of the Crossing and when we arrived we were full of food and ready to take advantage of the recent snowfall. We strapped up our snowshoes and started off towards the Lily Park trail.

At the beginning of the hike there is a gate that you have to go through in order to get to the heart of the trail. We went through and quickly realized that this was going to be a difficult hike. At first I was a little worried that Amanda wasn't going to be able to do the whole thing but not even pregnancy can stop my baby. She powered through the snow and then quickly let one of the guys break trail. She's also pretty smart.

Michael didn't have a hard time at all even though it was his first time out. We were making a good go of it until we sort of lost the trail. No one had been out to the trailhead since the fresh snowfall, so it was hard to find where the trail was. You'd figure it would be marked a lot better than it was, but apparently the people in charge of the trail thought it wasn't necessary.

After heading around a large hill we realized that we had to go straight up that hill in order to reconnect with the trail. Once we got up to the top it was amazing. Everything was so peaceful and the sun was shining so we took advantage of it and snapped a few photos then headed towards the second trailhead which was about a 3/4 mile in.

We headed down towards the valley where the second trailhead was. Instead of walking down the hill we more or less had a controlled fall down. The snow was deep and very powdery so even in snow shoes we sank and slid and cursed the idea of having to make it back up in order to get back to the jeep.

At the bottom of the hill we checked the maps and started up the next side to continue our hike. It was tough hiking and we stopped frequently for breaks, but at the top of the next hill it was all worth it. The trees blocked what little wind there was and the level ground was a welcome change. We followed the snowshoe trail, which was poorly marked, and ended up making a large loop back towards the valley.

Wu Bear was flying around us the whole time, but as we approached the valley for a second time, he started to slow. He chewed ice cubes off his paws and panted a lot but still refused to let anyone be in front. His bounds through the snow had turned into trots along the beaten path, but he was as happy as he's ever been.

Let me tell you, that hill that led into the valley was a pain in the rump to get back up and we were glad when we finally made it back to the top. And then came the next hill which we had missed on the way in because of the poorly marked trail. We decided we would have to come back out here and mark these trails a little better for the next people who were unlucky enough to follow in our footsteps.

All in all, we were out there for about 4 hours and when we got back to the jeep we were ready to get home for some food and relaxation. Michael was happy that his snowshoes held up well and will most likely be going snowshoeing with us again.

It was a great day and I can't wait to do another snowshoe next weekend. We're gonna try to make this a group outing from now on. So many other people want to join and it gives Amanda and myself some good experience for our business.

 Life is good to us.