The Crazy Horse Sculpture….. and Mt. Rushmore

We cut down off I-90 to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We couldn’t just drive by so we paid our entry fee and drove up the long road to the parking area, got out, took some photos and went into the huge visitor complex. After all, this project, The Crazy Horse Memorial, is the world’s largest mountain sculpture.

In 1939 the sculptor won first prize for his entry at the New York World’s Fair. The Lakota chief Standing Bear learned of this and wrote a letter ……”My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes also..” He invited Korczak Ziolkowski to the Black Hills to carve Crazy Horse. The first blast of rock occurred in 1948. It took off just 10 tons. Millions of tons have been removed since… it is today…


The brochure I have says the horse head is 219 feet high…here is a close up of some equipment at the base…


When Brad and I were there in 1977 I took this slide ….sorry about the color. I believe there was scaffolding below the face..

66 Crazy Horse monument started in 1948

Today the same view……




67 still a ways to go



Will it ever be completed?

No trip to the Black Hills is complete without a visit to Mt. Rushmore…I love the view now as you walk up through  the memorial columns to each of the 50 states….


But I loved this sign which was there in 1977…of course it is long gone…

68 Mt Rushmore sign


A Day at Hidden Valley Lake

Ronnie and I lived here for 4 years from summer 2003 to summer 2007. Our friends Lynn and Eric still live on the lake so we diverted there on Tuesday for a boat ride, dinner and  then spent the night. They live right on the main lake which you can see here on the left over Ronnie’s shoulder… P1030822   Here is a lake view from their house… P1030834


Our old house is back in a cove on the other side of the lake. It’s the one hidden in the trees…P1030831  This is still our favorite house. We had  some great times there with family and friends from Caesar Creek. We only lived there 4 years but looking back at the total redo of the house and all the family gatherings it seems much longer.

Here is a slideshow of some scenes when we lived here.

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Going through all those photos from 10 years ago brought back some great memories….and some of the grand kids have since grown up

Wood Storks and Spring??

This morning, driving to the Marina to get a newspaper, I noticed a lot of pine pollen by the puddles . It had rained during the night and the green stuff was everywhere. Could spring be just around the corner? Seems a bit early and we’ve hardly had any winter weather yet.

Driving back I noticed two large birds in the marsh along the road going over to Sawgrass Bluffs. Could they be Wood Storks (also called Wood Ibis)? I turned onto Marsh Dunes Road to get a better look.They were; a pair, feeding in the tidal marsh. Ronnie and I saw a pair along the 13th fairway at Ocean Creek last week. I was quite surprised at the time because I don’t remember ever seeing one on Fripp Island. They are very large  and unusual in appearance. They looked strangely out of place with the white marsh waders that live on the lagoon there along the fairway. I looked at the Fripp Audubon Club website and found this reference:

In lower left see comment about "Infrequent Visitors"

Since, these birds are “infrequent” if not rare visitors to Fripp Island,  I must think the pair this morning were the same ones we saw last week.  Wood Storks are very large, standing 3 feet or more tall, with a wing span of 4 to almost 6 feet. I have been joined in thermals with them while soaring at Seminole-Lake in Florida. On the ground they are not very attractive but spectacular when soaring.

Wood Stork Soaring

Wood Stork Feeding

Speaking of bird behavior, we have seen sea gulls flying in very large flocks behind our house several times in the past two or three weeks.

I can’t remember seeing this before. As far as I know these shore birds normally  stick very close to the shore so flying around in a huge flock away from the shore must have some purpose. But what? I’m aware that birds form flocks to migrate like this flock of Black Skimmers. I shot these on the beach here in late fall a couple years ago.

Black Skimmers flocking on Fripp Island seashore in late fall

So, is spring on the way…. I really don’t know…… so I’m going to Florida next week and fly gliders.

The Barron Hilton Cup – Our greatest soaring adventure

Ronnie said I should do some blogs about our soaring adventures. We’ve had so many great soaring experiences that I didn’t know  where to start. I decided, finally,  to begin with the very best one. Getting there took years of trying and it is my ultimate achievement in soaring. The Barron Hilton Cup is no longer awarded but for over 25 years, it was a once in a lifetime dream for glider pilots the world over.

-But wait, there’s more!

The Clifton Gorge of the Little Miami River

This is a real treasure for hikers. In 1851,  Robert S. Duncanson  created an oil landscape there which he titled “Blue Hole, Little Miami River”. This classic painting now resides in the Cincinnati Art Museum. When Ronnie and I lived in Loveland, Ohio we sometimes  went there to hike in the winter. For us, part of the fun was  “getting there” from Loveland to Clifton. It was only about an hour’s drive and we had the option of going through the small town of Yellow Springs which is the home of Antioch College. This small village with its tiny college is worth a visit. It was founded as a utopia and that seems to be present in the culture even today.

But, back to hiking. All of the various trails here are contained within John Bryan State Park and the adjacent Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve. The Little Miami River flows south  through the tiny village of Clifton. Here there is a historic grist mill just before the river starts through a very narrow gorge. The old Clifton Mill, built in 1869 is open to the public.   Here the river channel narrows to a deep gorge carved out of stone and for the next two miles the scenery is spectacular.  The hiking options are many within these two natural areas. They are all beautiful but I think the eastern end where the gorge is narrow is the most impressive. Walking from the parking area in  the village of Clifton you  follow along on top of the gorge with occasional overlooks. Then, after a bit  you have an option to stay on top of the rim or go down steps to the river below. These beautiful spots,  for me, are  most inviting  in winter. The trees perch like skeletons on the tops of ridges, all the craggy overhangs are visible, very few other hikers are  there with you and if you are lucky enough to have fresh snow  it is really special.

We also came into the area on more than one occasion from the western end in the John Bryan State Park. One of the trails following the north side of the river is on the old stagecoach road between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The vistas here are more tranquil and the views are broader. Here are some photos of us in John Bryan State Park

You can click on the Google Map below and check out the area:

My Favorite Hiking Places in Ohio

Last evening I was seated at our monthly community dinner between Ronnie and another woman who had grown up in Hillsboro, Ohio. She was surprised that I had even heard of HIllsboro. That got us talking about how beautiful southeastern Ohio is. From there we got to our favorite hiking places. One we both know and love is Ft. Hill.

Ft. Hill is officially called Fort Hill State Memorial. It is one of several pre-historic earthworks in Ohio, thus the “State Memorial” part. Ft. Ancient (much better known) is another of these massive earthworks. It seems well established that both were constructed by the Hopewell people who lived in Ohio between 100 BC and 500 AD. These “forts” are both massive hilltop enclosures (believed used for ceremonial purposes not military) constructed by carrying baskets of dirt to the top. The Ft. Ancient enclosure is much larger but the climb to the top at Ft Hill takes some effort. It makes you appreciate how difficult and long lasting the building process must have  been.

The setting there is hilly, rugged and exceptionally beautiful. I don’t remember ever seeing anyone on the trails there, although occasionally there might be one or two cars in the parking area. Once out there walking, you are alone with nature. Here is a slideshow from a five mile hike around the Gorge Trail on April 14, 2011

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Ronnie and I walked there together a couple times in winter and here are some winter scenes from January, 2001

I will be posting more of my favorite hikes around Ohio (and other places). Ft. Hill is here on Google Maps: