Jess, our Illinois sister, and her fiance Nick were here this past week, and it was fun getting to know the two of them as a couple. Nick has been a family friend for years, and I guess it suddenly just dawned on them that each of them existed and they weren’t as obnoxious as each of them remembers the other being. Something like that. Anyway, they are getting married this year! Just when we think things are settling down, more change happens! Exciting.
Since Nick hasn’t ever had the pleasure of exploring the Black Hills, we made that a priority. We drove Iron Mountain Road, made a pit stop at the ghost town of Spokane, visited Mt. Rushmore, and did the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. The weather was cooperative, the traffic was nonexistent, and the burros were obliging. Even the buffalo graced the roadside with their presence. Lots to do that first day Jess and Nick were here! We were all glad to be home at the end of the day.
On Wednesday, we enjoyed 50 degree weather in the afternoon and three inches of leftover snow on the ground – What a wonderful combination! Perfect for a visit to our favorite haunt, the Hole-in-the-Wall, and then a walk up Battle Creek until we got to the Mountain Lion Cave. It really was perfect. No ticks, or spiders, or rattlesnakes to watch out for, so we scrambled over and under and around and through to our heart’s content. Jess got a giant clump of cockleburrs in her hair, which we thought would need to be cut out, but Nick and Sarah managed to rescue her. Nothing like a new pair of eyes along for the hike that renews my appreciation for the beauty I get to see every day. I’m looking forward to springtime, or at least more springtime weather, and watching the magical change from winter to spring.
We took a jaunt down to our property in Pringle yesterday, and the further south we got, the more wintry and windy it got. But we kept our hiking to the ravines and canyons, and managed to be out of the wind for most of the afternoon. We found the way down into Box Canyon, and the perspective was astounding. I’d never seen Box Canyon except from the top, and the size of the cottonwoods in the bottom of the canyon just about took my breath away. I’d love to know how old those trees are, and who saw them when they were just saplings, if anyone saw them. Custer himself might have seen them, when they were already magnificent trees.
Water seeping through the rocks, probably from the Spring-on-Hill source, but possibly from snowmelt, had created some impressive icicles on the underside of the canyon. Moss was abundant. An owl seemed to be living in one of the old cottonwoods, but I didn’t get a good enough look at him to know what he was.
Jess and Nick leave tomorrow morning early, in order to make it back to Illinois by tomorrow night. The next few months are going to fly by, with wedding preparations and planning and the actual wedding coming up in the spring. It was so good to get to spend time with them.
I love my family.