Monday, June 29, 2015

Montana History & Culture

I'm traveling the U.S. with my husband and we're in southeast Montana now. This is my first trip to Montana and since we've been here, I've done a couple of things I've never done before.


I went to my first rodeo, in Hardin, where we saw barrel-racing, team roping and mutton busting where little 5 and 6 year olds ride sheep in a timed contest (like this video).


I saw my first pow wow, which was held in Garryowen. They danced in the center and around the outside, they sold food like fry bread Indian tacos and kidney-on-a-stick.


I like the birdhouses on the fence posts and the Montana made huckleberry ice cream sandwich they give you when you arrive at the 7th Ranch RV park, in Garryowen, where we're staying.


From our campsite, I ran 6 miles on some hills dotted with pink cone flowers yesterday. Today, I ran 8 miles and saw prairie dogs and a loose white horse on the road. That horse looked so big so I u-turned - didn't know if he'd want to befriend me or what. After the run, I sat outside and finished off my ice cream sandwich with some milk for a perfect 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.


Last night, we drove through the battlefield of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument where there are miles of tombstones on the hills that show where the soldiers died.



We heard it was a good one, so today we visited the Big Horn County Museum in Hardin where you can walk inside the old buildings that were relocated to the museum. I don't have running shoes to sell, but how about some dress fabric?


Yesterday, we saw a battle reenactment of Custer fighting the Indians at the real battle location on the banks of the Little Big Horn. They played the Garryowen tune you've probably heard before (hear it here). Garryowen is the town where we're staying now. After 2 hours in 95* heat, I was drenched, but it was worth it.

Coming up on our RV trip from Texas, we're heading towards cooler (I hope) Canada!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Running in the Black Hills & Wyoming

Mickelson Trail Flowers & Creek
Base Camp

We're in Deadwood, South Dakota, in the northern part of the Black Hills National Forest. My husband and I have been heading north in our RV since June 10 from Texas. This week, we've seen canyons and visited Wyoming. Plus, I've continued to train for the Missoula Marathon, which is on July 12.


Deadwood

We spent some time working at the RV (RV upkeep, laundry) and the RV Park is close to places we wanted to see. We watched both a dog competition and a gunfight on Main Street in Deadwood. At a restaurant in nearby Lead, I ate lavender honey ice cream from a Rapid City, SD, ice creamery that tasted like eating flowers dipped in honey, which maybe doesn't sound pleasant, but it was delicious.

More Mickelson Trail Running This Week

Last week, we stayed near Mt. Rushmore (we both liked that area even better than up north where we are now) and I ran on the Mickelson Trail near mile marker 57. This week, I ran near mile 107. One day, I waved away a group of four deer to get them to run away from me instead of coming towards me. I ran by a grassy place always flooded with about 10-12 fat rabbits, too.

Bench Dips at a Trail Head? Sure!

Since I'm from flat and low Texas, I've slowly increased my hill distance to about 5 miles straight up a gradual hill for my last few runs. I want to be ready for the mid-point hill at the Missoula Marathon. Deadwood has an elevation of 4531' and Missoula's elevation is 3209'. Train high and race low!

Sun: 8 miles easy at 12:48/mi with sprints
Mon: 12 miles at 11:51/mi (hard effort down hills)
Wed: 10 miles at 11:33/mi (hard effort up/down hills, my max up a hill was about 5 miles)
Fri (Today): 16 miles at 10:48/mi, 2 hours 52 min. (my max up a hill was about 4 miles, happy to see that the hills and elevation didn't slow me down as much today, felt good at the finish)
Total Running: 46 Miles

Across the street from the Mickelson Trail is a truffle store. I bought a delicious dark chocolate raspberry truffle to eat after today's long run. They even have a truffle vending machine out front for truffle emergencies!

Spearfish, South Dakota

It's hard to pick a favorite, but the Spearfish Canyon Byway was my favorite drive of the week.

Spearfish Canyon: Bridle Veil Falls

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Devils Tower
We headed to Wyoming one day to see America's first national monument, Devils Tower. We walked and ran a little on the mile long trail around it. We stopped for a good chicken lunch at The View.

Our View of a Wyoming Canyon at Lunch
Next up, we'll be driving through Montana to Canada, two places where we've never been before. It's taper time for the Missoula Marathon. This is perfect timing because we'll be so busy visiting new places, how can I possible get those taper crazies?!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Black Hills of South Dakota

View from my Run on the Mickelson Trail 

In one week, we traveled 1600 miles from Texas and now my husband and I are in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I'm loving it!

Yesterday, I ran 7 hilly miles on the 109 mile long Mickelson Trail and then I ran 10 miles there today. I did long stretches of gradual hill work like 3 miles downhill and 2 1/2 uphill. I'm running Montana's Missoula Marathon (July 12), which has a hill midway through and I want to be prepared. The 5159' elevation makes it a little hard to run, but the wooden bridges, creek and rocky mountainsides make it worth it. 

Sylvan Lake
Yesterday we visited Mt. Rushmore (so many steps up to the heads!), drove through narrow tunnels on Needles Hwy., saw buffalo right beside our car (our dog kept on eye on them) and walked around Sylvan Lake.

You Can See Mt. Rushmore Through the Tunnel on Iron Mtn. Road
Today we visited the Crazy Horse statue and learned the inspiring story about the man who began the work of carving the statue out of the mountain and his family who keep his dream alive. Then we drove the Iron Mountain Road (see my favorite tunnel in the photo) and stopped for a bison burger (tastes a lot like beef to me, but has less fat) and to see quiet Lakota Lake.


Our Site
My husband and I are enjoying our stay at the Rafter J Bar Ranch, in Hill City, where the Mickelson Trail runs along the side of the campground (around mile marker 57). The internet is slow at our site so I'm glad that my husband installed Sky Ranger, which makes the really, really slow internet just plain slow.

Extra, extra! My husband's latest post is on all of the things that broke this week, something I try to forget. If you'd like to see where I run as we head north from Texas in our RV, I added a Strava gadget in my sidebar. Thanks for following along with our RV adventures!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

South Dakota Running: Badlands and Lewis & Clark Park


We're in the Badlands National Park today! It was overcast when I took that picture, but the dark skies didn't take away from the beauty of the layered rocks and canyons. We saw buffalo and antelope yesterday. Today, I saw a coyote during my hilly run in the rain that was cut short to 4 miles because of a lightning storm. 

Repairing the Awning in the Badlands
The camp sites at the Badlands are so cramped that an RV ran into our awning while driving by today. There doesn't seem to be a day that goes by that something doesn't break! Still, we're having a great vacation. Just look at the mountain views! 

Swim, Zoe, Swim!

I signed up for my 17th marathon - the Missoula Marathon held on July 12. I ran a 20 mile training run on Sunday at the Lewis and Clark Park on a 4 mile asphalt trail along the lake. Cytomax drink kept me going with no tummy troubles like I thought it had caused before. I was glad that my legs felt better than they did the day before when I ran 7 miles after riding in the RV all day. Afterwards, my husband and I took our Weimaraner over to the lakeside beach for a swim. 


My Husband (on left) Buying Tomatoes

One of the fun things about Saturdays is Farmer's Markets. We stopped at a small one in Sioux City, Iowa, on the way to South Dakota. We're looking forward to more of these as we travel this summer.

In case you missed the add-on to my last post, here's my husband's post about the alpaca farm where we stayed because we're Harvest Host members. Check it out if you want to see me shear a llama. That visit was on our second and third day of our RV trip from our home in Texas to Canada and it was truly an adventure.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Oklahoma: Blowouts, Running & Alpacas


Our RV vacation has begun! My husband and I are traveling from our home in southeast Texas up to Canada's Banff National Park. On the first day, we visited friends near Dallas for a grilled lunch (grilled pineapples are one of my favorites!) and then we headed to Oklahoma.

That afternoon, we saw a blowout on a big rig just ahead of us. I thought that was the end for us, but my husband maneuvered around the debris and we didn't crash after all. Right away, we had our own blowout, but it was a calmer ordeal. We smelled something, pulled over and saw that we had a blowout, too. So I got in a few more walking steps on my Fitbit with my dog while we waited for the repairman and then we were on our way to the Oklahoma City area.

First stop: Pops, in Arcadia, where they have tons of sodas. The waitress said that if the name of the drink sounds like something you shouldn't drink, then don't. We know from experience - bacon may be good, but not as a drink! I played it safe and had a cherry/raspberry cream soda.



Then we headed back to Walmart in Edmonds to shop and spend a free night in the parking lot. It was quiet there. The "no RV/big rig overnight parking signs" may have had something to do with that, but we asked and Walmart said that just one night was fine.

I woke up early for a two hour run through nearby Fox Lakes, a nice neighborhood with lots of dog walkers. I heard on the local news that it would be humid, but I wasn't able to wring any sweat out from my clothes after my run like I can at home near Houston so it was on the drier side for me.

After a shower and a stop to walk around the Round Barn in Arcadia, OK, which is just what it sounds like and built in 1898, we headed towards the Zena Suri Alpaca Farm in Jay where I did a little shearing and learned all about alpacas and llamas (who very rarely spit!), both of which they have at the farm. The farm is a member of Harvest Hosts where we pay an annual fee to stay at farms across the country for no extra cost except that we agree to purchase something. I'll wear my new alpaca socks on a run soon!

And now we head towards Nebraska for day three of our RV adventure.

Check out my husband's latest post to see a video of me shearing a llama!
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