Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Home Town Happenings

I left Yankton, South Dakota in September 1965 and moved to Los Angeles, CA, where I met my wife, raised our children and enjoyed an interesting career.  I didn’t return to Yankton much over the first 30 years, but my visits have increased over the past few years.  I have two brothers, a sister-in-law, and a niece and a nephew who still live here.  My mom passed away two years ago, so that reason for returning has gone away.  Over that last 4 or 5 years, we have made a practice of stopping here on the way to, or way from, the Amick family reunion in Colome, only about 135 miles away.  Rosie and I also both enjoy the campground we stay at; Chief White Crane Campground, which is part of the South Dakota State Parks system.  The sites are spacious with long, level parking pads.  This year, like last year, we invited all of my local kin to the campground Monday evening for a BBQ and evening of family visiting.  This time, my sister, Marla Sathe, drove all the way from Omaha, Nebraska to join us.  

Here are some pictures from the evening.
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  Family visiting                                                                                 Niece Jill and Sister Marla
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Nephew Chad, me, Brothers Larry and Danny                           Group photo

Tuesday afternoon I picked up Larry and we went out checking potential fishing holes for our planned Wednesday fishing outing.  We drove out near the farm where we grew up and went to Lake Marindahl.  The lake was much larger than I remembered it, but it has been at least 50 years since I was last there.  Then Larry tells me that an old high school friend, Jim Starr, has been bugging him to bring me by to see him the next time I was in town.  Now Jim works Mondays and Tuesdays at The Ice House, an institution in Yankton going back to my childhood and perhaps before that.  It is a Drive In Beer Bar.  Yes, that’s right; a Drive In Beer Bar.  You drive up to the loading dock in front of the building and someone comes out and takes your order and brings you the brew of your choice.  As a kid, I remember seeing on duty Yankton Police Officers sitting a in squad car taking a beer break.  So Jim Starr comes out to ask our choice of beverage and recognizes Larry and says hello to him.  He looks at me and I say “I hear you been looking for me”.  He reaches out to shake my hand and says “My God!  I would not have recognized you walking down the street”.  Of course, the last time we saw each other was 1962.  So he waves us into the building (I have never been inside the building before) and he gives me a Bud Lite on the house.  We yakked for an hour and a half about the old days and the current whereabouts of friends from High School.  It was an interesting afternoon.

That evening Rosie and I attended the Yankton chapter of Drinking Liberally’s weekly meeting.  We are full time attendees of the Idaho Falls Chapter of this national organization and it was great to meet people of like political  persuasion in my home town.  It was a small group, but we had a great time.

Wednesday morning we awoke to a new phenomena, a May Fly hatch.  The camper was covered with May Flies.
Fortunately, they were almost all on the outside and only one or two on the inside. 

I drove up to the local convenience store to get some fishing bait (worms) and a couple of newspapers.  After breakfast I drove about a 1/4 mile to the Missouri River and settled in for a day of fishing.  The River is at near flood levels.  The spot I was at is about a mile from the dam where the Corp of Engineers is letting out record amounts of water.  The water level is easily 10 to 12 feet higher than it was last year when we were here.  In the first 30 minutes I had a good hook up with something really big.  After about 10 minutes I could see that it was a good size catfish, about 24 inches long.  To make a long story short, I managed to lose it trying to land it.  So I chalked it up to my notoriously bad luck with fishing.  My brother, Larry, came out about noon and joined me for the afternoon.  He caught several fish and I caught one more, none worth writing home about.  Then about 3:30 I had another good hook up.  Whaddya know, it turned out to be the twin of the catfish I had lost in the morning.  This time Larry was going to make sure I didn’t lose this one, so he goes out into the water a bit and scoops it up onto the shore.  What a guy.  So my day was not a complete loss.  

Here is me with my 5 and 1/2 lb., 26 inch channel catfish.

Rosie and I are not fans of catfish for eating, but a friend of hers in Colorado loves catfish.  So I have two nice catfish filets for her.  The only other noteworthy event for the day was that I sunburned the heck out of my feet and ankles.  I normally wear socks and sneakers.  Today I was wearing sandals and my lily white feet and ankles got really red.  It will be a few days before that pain and itch subsides. 

Tomorrow we hitch up and head for Lake Maloney  near North Platte, Nebraska and on Friday we will arrive at my brother, Bill Sathe’s home in Eaton, Colorado.  We will catch up with more on our travels early next week.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Gathering Of The Clan

Reunions, especially family reunions can be joyous or dreadful, depending on the perspective of the participant.  My family reunion is clearly a joyous occasion.  For the last 20 some years, the Amick/Strochine clan has held their annual family reunion at the Roger Pochup farm near Colome, South Dakota.  Biologically, I am the son of an Amick.  However I was adopted at the age of 3 by Marvin Sathe, who married my mother in 1947.  I did not meet my biological family until 1993 when my father, Ivan Amick, reached out to contact me.  In 1994, I was invited to the Amick/Strochine reunion where I met a large number siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, and nieces and nephews for the first time.  That was an exciting and rewarding experience and I have returned every year since on the 3rd full weekend in August.  Sadly, my father died suddenly two days after that 1994 reunion, limiting the time I got to know him to a meager 14 months.  Through the stories told at the reunion and long conversations with dad’s sister, Rita Strochine, I have learned a lot about him and the life he lived before we met in June 1993.

This years attendance was light, primarily due to school years starting earlier and earlier.  Many families with school age children cannot attend because of the timing.  There were about 40 or 50 blood relatives plus their spouses and additional members of the local community are invited to participate in the Saturday night feast of a pork main course with a variety of yummy accompaniments.  There are hay rides on a flat bed trailer pulled by a farm tractor across the fields with at least one stop at the rock on Hoop Snake Hill, where Roger Pochup tells the tale of the Hoop Snake and how the snakes affected the lives of the settlers in the early days.  There is always a “posse” of young horseback riders trailing along.  There is a silent auction, and fireworks, and karaoke, and lots to talk and lots of eating.  I always weigh more on the Sunday departure day than I did on the Thursday arrival day. 
Here are some pictures from the event:
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This year some of us made a trip into Nebraska to visit an old cemetery where I have several relatives lying at rest.  The cemetery is located about a mile off the nearest paved road and is used infrequently these days.  Among aunts and uncles and cousins that are buried here, my great grandparents ( my father’s mother’s mom and dad) are here.  Here is a picture with me standing between their headstones.
After the reunion, we hitched up the camper and drove east to my home town of Yankton, South Dakota.  We are set up in Chief White Crane Campground, a South Dakota State Park.  We always take a day or two to adjust to the increased humidity.   For some meteorological reason that I do not understand, the humidity goes up dramatically as soon as you cross the Missouri River.  Anyway, we are here and comfortable with 50 amp electricity to run the AC and everything else we need.  Tonight, Rosie and I are hosting a gathering of the Sathe Clan, two of my Sathe brothers and my sister and a nephew will join us at the campground for grilled burgers and fixings.   After that we are headed for Colorado to visit more of the Sathe clan and our old neighborhood in Shawnee, Colorado.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chadron State Park, Northwest Nebraska

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We discovered this little gem quite by accident several years ago.  For a short while, about 10 years back, my mother lived a half mile down the highway from the entrance to this park.  I made a mental note of it when we made a trip to visit her.  After we got our first camper, we stopped here on the way from our home in Colorado to the family reunion in South Dakota.  We liked it a lot at the time and vowed to return someday.  Well, last Saturday was someday.  We have been here for 3 days now and it is as wonderful as we remembered it.  The sites are large and well spaced, with 30 amp electrical hookups.  There are flush toilets, showers and a laundry room about 100 feet from the campsite.  There is an extensive trail system; and we have taken the puppies on some of the shorter trails.  We may even try a longer trail before we head out of here on Thursday morning.
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Rosie is always happy at a trailhead.                                        Our camper is in the center of the picture.

The only thing that has me a little grumpy is no television.  There is nothing from the “over the air” antenna on the camper.  I spent more than an hour trying to find the DirectTV satellite; but there are too many trees and the hills to the south are too high to get a good shot at the satellite.  The access to the internet via my Verizon air card is spotty; sometimes good, most of the time not at all, and it is not predictable when it will be good or it will be bad.  There is a reliable good reception area in the park about a mile from our site.  If I absolutely must send/receive anything, I just drive up there for a few minutes to get it done.  However, I have been able to work from the site most of the time.

Yesterday, I took Sammy and Annie for a ride into Chadron to run a few errands; refill one of the camper propane tanks, refuel the truck, pick up some groceries and go to the post office.  The puppies always enjoy going for a ride.  Of course, whenever I get a newspaper, I give it to Sammy to carry into the camper and he gets a treat.  Of course, it is only fair to give Annie a treat also, even though she didn’t “earn” it.  Typical female, living off the fruits of the labor of a  male Smile.

The weather here, for the most part, has been good.  We have had a few night time sprinkles.  Last night the wind blew hard enough to shake the camper for about an hour; along with some lightning and thunder.  Yesterday was hot; 97 degrees.  The camper AC got a workout keeping us cool.  We had a great moonrise on Sunday night.  A big, orange colored full moon rose out of the trees, keeping us entertained for about 20 minutes.
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It seems I will survive my mishap of last Wednesday.  The pain and tingling sensation in my arms has diminished and the dull, throbbing ache in my shoulders and neck has dissipated.  The only part that still hurts is my right shoulder.  That could be from driving (with my right arm) and/or the fall on Wednesday could have triggered a relapse of an old shoulder injury from an auto accident when I was 16 ( a bazillion years ago).  Anyway, Aleve seems to be handling that nuisance pain.

I got a fair amount of maintenance work done on the camper this morning while it was cool.  Cleaned off the bugs from the front cap and cleaned up the road dirt on the lower front that we picked up going through construction zones on Highway 26 in Wyoming.  Even spent about an hour tightening loose screws (not the ones in my head).

Thursday morning we hitch up and head east to my family reunion in Colome, South Dakota.  We always enjoy our reunion time.  I will blog again from there.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Our trip starts with a bang; and a CT Scan

The day before our departure date for South Dakota and Colorado I did a really dumb and clumsy thing.  I was walking around the camper parked in front of our house.  I had my gaze on the ground and my mind on my next task.  I ran my forehead smack dab into the open bedroom slide on the camper.  That knocked me out.  I fell backwards hitting the back of my head on the pavement.  I came to with one of my neighbors kneeling over me asking if he should call 911.  I said “No, I don’t think so, but let me lie here for a minute and think about this”.   I was dazed, numb and had tingling sensations in my neck, shoulders and upper arms.  He helped me to my feet and I went in the house and told Rosie she should drive me to the Emergency Room.   The first thing they did after giving me an initial evaluation and hearing my story, was to put me in a neck brace.  Those darn things are exceptionally uncomfortable.  I was in the neck brace for 3 hours; first waiting to get into the room for a CT Scan, then waiting for a doctor to come in and give me the results.  I was a worried dude.  Finally, a nice doctor walks in, reaches to remove the neck brace and says “I ‘m the good news guy”.  I did not have a concussion or a broken neck.  What a relief that was.  He also gave a full thumbs up to driving, even pulling a fifth wheel, the next day.  I had been lying there in Bed 16 of the Idaho Falls Regional Medical Center Emergency Room fully expecting that the trip was off; and my camping days were over.  So dramatic!  Anyway, my fears were not grounded.  I survived the experience with some shoulder and neck pain, sorta like whiplash, only whiplash while walking.

This morning we pulled out of Idaho Falls about 8:00 am.  We headed east for Jackson Hole and then north alongside the Grand Tetons to Moran Junction.  Then east over the mountains, with Highway 26 undergoing major construction, to Dubois, WY.


The Snake River south of Jackson


The Grand Tetons over the top of my truck.   Sorta goes with the Alpenlite decals, eh!


A buffalo next to the road on the way.  Rosie is getting to be a great wildlife photographer.

We arrived at the The Longhorn Ranch and RV Resort about 2:30.  This was our second visit here this year.  When we were here in June, the river next to the campground was rising.  Now it has subsided to something more resembling normal.  We really like this campground, but their rates went from $29 in June to $45 in August.  Ouch!  However the setting is great.  The dogs love it.  Rosie loves it.  What could be better?

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               The river.                                                               Our site in the shady trees.

I now have to show off our little Annie’s new look.  We took her to the groomer for a bath and a hair cut.  She is a different gal.


Tomorrow morning we continue east to Douglas, WY.  I have a couple of farm inspections for an insurance company along the way.  I will be back with you in a couple of days.