Friday, October 2, 2009

Custer South Dakota: French Creek Camp

It is pretty tough to turn a relaxing time at an RV park into an exciting bit of writing, so I will summarize as best I can...

Custer was our first stop last year when we came through; we wondered if the welcoming and sometimes raucously entertaining ambiance was simply an anomaly or if round two would be more of the good stuff. We arrived later in the evening around 10 due to some impromptu climbing in the state park as we made the arduous 15 mile trek from our previous camp at Rushmore into Custer. Chalk it up to friendly locals and our inability to resist classic routes. For the sake of brevity, I will limit the climbing discussion in this posting and elaborate in the next...

Anyhow...we pulled up in the parking lot and I sat there behind the wheel, pondering how we would be received. Correction: I pondered how we would have been received had we gotten there at a decent hour, and not after bed time. As we had discovered last summer, this facility was anything but conventional and that, anything but accidental.

We had to knock several times and eventually walk in upon no response from the inside. It turned out that we made the cutoff time by a short bit; Rock and Diane (owners and hosts extraordinaire) were thrilled to see us and invited us in to catch up on our last year or so and to talk about the future--perhaps one that would see us in South Dakota...

This summer, the Coonass Convention --you may recall it from last summer's account-- did not happen so we didn't miss any major events, so to speak but business was still booming and the camp was full of many new rigs, mostly RV'ers and several folks who were in town for the Mickelson Trail Trek- a 100 mile bike tour that is a local fixture in the fall. We, however, got the coveted tent site just to the right of the office- which apparently is quite an honor. We were the first to occupy it in about a year, we were told.

The second time taking a trip of this scale gave rise to the questions of whether it would simply be a re-run. Based on our stay at Rushmore, we knew the climbing was definitely at a higher level, but the real surprise was the fact that we made so many friends. The people we have met continue to be an ongoing revelation of how connected we all are when we share the toils and wonders of the road.

As some of you may know, we have our eyes and ears open for an opportunity to relocate and while many of you reading this might be scratching your respective heads, thousands of miles away, wondering what could possess seemingly sane and competent folks such as Stef and I (if I may take that liberty) to move to a place that seems so distant, so nebulous and so far from the cradles of modern civilization that comprise normalcy for most people. No words and perhaps no pictures even, can capture a feeling of being welcomed and belonging. Not simply friends and peers but an electric feeling that you are wanted in a place that emanates from perfect strangers, who rarely remain strangers for long.

Another treat during this visit was an opportunity to shoot some photos of the interior of Rock's leather shop. The man does some quality work in leather and taxidermy. Have a look.

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