Sunday, July 30

Got up this morning in Rapid City and checked out of the Alex Johnson Hotel in downtown and drove to very nice local coffee shop called the Pure Bean. Nice space with just a good vibe a good feeling about it. I did my daily Wordle game, journaled and updated this blog while relaxing there. I checked in with Bruce to see if they needed anything from Rapid before I drove south to his ranch on the south side of the Black Hills. As usual he needs nothing from me! So I pressed on toward their home. I stopped in for a pie so I wouldn’t go empty handed.

View from the guest house on the ranch property.

Got there and had a good visit with Bruce and Jen for a bit and we planned to have a cookout at the house that evening. I bothered Bruce enough that he relented and agree to let me help with some chore. He usually, wisely, does not, assuming I could be of very marginal help! Bruce asked if I have ever operated a zero turn machine? Uh, no, but that won’t stop me from trying to learn. The grass around the guest house needed cut but Bruce was pretty reluctant to let me try, thinking the teaching would be more trouble than it would be worth. Understandable.

He drove the John Deere zero turn mower over and showed me two or three important things and said don’t mess it up. Luckily he did not stick around long to watch. It was some slow going at first and I’m not going to say I didn’t hit anything, because maybe I did, but relatively very little (noticeable) damage was done to the fence and the children’s play set. Very little! I got better as I went along and kind of got the hang of it. Mind you, I am far, far from ready to cut the Queen’s lawn but I succeeded. I drove the mower over to neighboring house to cut some of the grass there and was moving right along until I stopped to move some water hoses out of the way. (No, I did not run over them!) Went back to the mower and for the life of m e could absolutely not get it to start again. Tried everything I could remember from my lesson from an hour ago, to no avail. Nothing. Only good thing is, later Bruce came over and he also could not get the darn thing started. So it was not just me!

We decided to go out for supper instead of cooking on the grill at the ranch and drove north into the Hills to a not that fancy place that might just be open on a Sunday evening – the Hitching Rail in Pringle, SD. Bruce warned me to be prepared for a bar fight (or two) and offered to simply yell out once we walked in that “Steve, here, is ready to fight any two or three of you nasty dudes on motorcycles!” I respectfully suggested he not. Maybe lucky for me it was not open after all. We were ready to turn around and head back to the ranch for our cookout after all when I said let me see if restaurant they like in next town north, Custer, was open. They said there’s no cell signal here, but I shocked all by getting a signal and calling the place – they’re open until 9pm so off we went. I guess my having AT&T has finally become helpful.

Had a good meal together and good talking and catching up. The weather started to turn a bit and there was a very light rain while we were in Custer. and it sprinkled a some as well on our 20 minute drive back to the ranch. It then started to get more and more windy. Saw a thunderstorm warning come over my phone as the winds were noticeably picking up.

The winds are picking up
Weather in the midst of changing at the ranch.

Then I started watching quite a light show as the lightning just lit up the night skies. Took a video from the porch of the guest house in pitch black night sky that does show some significant flashes of lighting. Then the rain and really high winds started in. Glad I was not having this weather back in our pop-up camper where we are digging. And I hope the Baker, Montana area is not getting this storm wether I’m thee or not; the sweet, durable and loyal camper is there all alone!

Nighttime light show from all the lightning.

The storm is starting to subside a little and all is in tact still here. The lightning does make every rancher I’ve ever met very nervous; lightning strikes often start grass fires, which can grow and become a significant problem to animals people, houses and the grass, which is the lifeblood of the cattle ranch. I hope no fires start tonight.