We pulled into Fairchild AFB, Spokane, WA earlier than we planned, so we were able to unpack, get settled, and meet up with Tori after work on Wednesday, May 19th. We had dinner at her favorite Greek Restaurant downtown Spokane, just a short distance from her office building.  Not only was it great home cooked Greek cuisine, but the relationship built between the owners and Tori caused us to realize that she had made an impact on Spokane as well as the other way around. We were treated to the most wonderful “Chocolate Baklava “ by Sally, our personal waitress and one of the owners.

The next several days were a mix of packing, good-bye get-togethers, cleaning, sorting and down-sizing, which all lead up to the final “walk through” by the rental company lady.  The little “Condo/house” sparkled when we were done… at least that is what we thought.  Little did we suspect that we were facing the “White Glove Test”!   Could your living domain pass that?   Mine surely couldn’t!  The lady representative from the company, got out of her car, smiled, and put on white gloves… and went over that place like a drill sergeant at boot camp!

 She was not upset about the 3 little scrapes on the wall from a chair that had backed into the wall – she said that could easily be fixed.  Her main concern was a  quarter- sized area behind the toilet that needed attention!  She asked if Tori wanted to take care of it or did she want the cleaners to do it. At that point…. It was decided to let the cleaners earn their money.

Our last night in Spokane, we  were invited to dinner with Angie and Dave who were the couple from back home who inspired Tori’s move to WA 3 years ago.

It was a wonderful evening, even though Dave got home late from his job, we were kept in stitches with Tori and Angie digging up old tales, and commenting on current events! It was a sweet & sad parting for the girls. They met the 2nd year of college and have been close  friends ever since. They both lost their Dad’s suddenly, within 8 months of each other, and their bond is as strong as sisters in many ways.

DEPARTURE: We pulled out of the AFB at 11:55, Saturday, May 29th, 2010 hoping to  avoid some of the holiday traffic. We made it to Missoula to “Jim & Mary’s “ RV camp…. Hooked up the RV and let the cat out of the box and made ourselves at home. It is really nice having all the comforts of home and only costing a fraction of the price of a motel. The best part, is not having to drag everything into the room and out again in the morning. We have the “setting up” and the “unhooking “down to a system now, so it takes only a short time to get everything where it belongs.

The second night was at Bear Canyon in Bozeman, MT … in the exact same site we had on the way out. The view was just as breathtaking as the first time. We did manage to leave earlier the next morning by at least 25 minutes… however, it really was an hour and 25 minutes since we lost an hour as we entered Montana. Tori says they should rename the state to “One Lane State” due to all the road construction.

 We had one incident that backed us up for half hour…. Since we have CB in the truck and Glenn hooked one up for her in her car… the chatter on the air kept us entertained for most of the event! The traffic had been backed up into one lane, but the impolite drivers (for lack of a better word) decided to make 3 lanes…. One on the left, in the lane that was closed and the grossly impolite drivers made another lane to the right on the side of the road that really was part grass. Of course, that got the CB’s burning.. And there were some really impolite words flying around … but most of us in the real traffic lane had to agree with their descriptions…. We also learned that a hot electrical wire was down, causing the interruption in traffic. Many of the impatient drivers did not know this.

It is what spills out when your cup is bumped that shows what is inside…. And that was a bumpy ride!

Finally….. I get to the part that refers to the title!!!     Home on the range…

Not only have we traveled through 1000’s of acres of green pastures, and hills full of cattle… but we have also seen groups of antelope … some near the cattle, some by themselves, many in groups of 4 to 6.

 We pulled into 7th Ranch RV Campground Monday afternoon to stay for the night. It is an actual working ranch, horses, corral, pastures, streams….and RV sites that are “level” with all the hookups, your own charcoal grill and picnic table and another incredible view.

We made it to back to Custer, SD, to the French Creek Campground and were warmly welcomed by “Rock & Diane”, our hosts…. from our stop on the way to WA. We registered for a week this time.

We have been to 2 BBQ’s with Rock as the chef… Steaks, chicken, and all kinds of potluck from the campers here. Rock has a BBQ every Friday and all are invited.

We have met such interesting characters: first, a fellow named Russell. Some called him a “homeless” man…. Russell travels all over these western states with only a backpack. He probably is somewhere between 50 and 55. He sleeps in a tent in all kinds of weather, works as a ranch hand when he can find work, stays in the mountains, or campsites… and has more stories to tell than an old Indian Chief.

Then, there was Dennis, the big man wearing a Harley shirt and blue jeans who sat down at our table during the first BBQ. After a while, we learned that not only was he the owner and chef at “The Hitchrail” (a restaurant the everyone we met at this place has recommended), Dennis is a class A chef who has cooked for Julia Child, Queen Elizabeth, the G 8 Summit and more. The questions started popping out of our mouths so fast, Tori & I had to take turns asking.

Tori had just watched the Julia/Julie movie the night before, so we had to ask Dennis about Julia … was it at all intimidating to be cooking for Julia Child?   Dennis just grinned with a twinkle in his eyes and said,” Aww, I just gave her 2 or 3 glasses of champagne and she loved everything!!

As for the G 8 Summit, Dennis was one of four chefs chosen to cook for the “Big guys”, but every ingredient, temperature, and morsel was checked and rechecked by the SS and the FDA! We hope to stop and eat at his restaurant before we leave Custer. We did pass by the other day… and it looks straight out of an old western movie and more like we should ride in and tie our horse up to the rail than show up in a truck. Dennis did say that some folks do come by horse and do just that!

Today, Saturday… the day before the Volksmarch up to Crazy Horse, we were totally intrigued by our guide, “Darla”, who took us on a personal tour of Pine Ridge Reservation. Darla, had taught in Pine Ridge for 3 years, so it was like coming home for her. She introduced us to the fragrance of “prairie grass”. Just breathing the fresh air, it is similar to fresh mown hay… but sweeter. The four of us traveled miles and miles to get to the Red Cloud School where we met up with “Ron Kills Warriors“, who was one of her students. He guided us through the entire area, including a walk up to the cemetery and Red Cloud’s grave.

Darla made history come alive for us today…. she knew every mile of the trip as she traveled these miles every day for 3 years. When she taught in Pine Ridge, there was not housing for the “white teachers” on the reservation, so she was used to all the driving. Today was a break for her since Glenn drove the truck. We were able to see the Buffalo, Prairie dogs, more antelope… and some of the most beautiful scenery you could imagine.

There were also the Native American homes…. Sadly, I cannot describe some of the poverty we saw…. the result of our government giving the Native Americans land that could not be farmed, most of the soil is sandy only allowing prairie grass, sage and prairie flowers to grow mostly in the spring due to rain. There is no water to irrigate the land even if you could grow anything… so you see old trailers (hot boxes in the summer) with broken down cars( referred to as Indian ponies) in the yard . In the summer the Indians camp outside in teepees or tents, because the trailers have no A/C or even electricity and the heat inside soars into the 100 degrees. There are some houses with no windows or curtains, some have dogs in the yard, many of which get killed on the highway as they run free to hunt much of their own food. You must watch the road closely, in some areas a cow or horse may wander onto the road.

I will close for tonight… and I will refer you to Tori’s blog at:


You will need to cut and paste. Tori can tell you about the Casino we stopped at today for lunch. She writes better than I and she has beautiful pictures. God bless you and keep you safe.

Just Mimi


One thought on “HOME, HOME ON THE RANGE

  1. Dawn Olmstead says:

    Wow… It sounds like the trip of a lifetime.. filled with all sorts of excitement and discovery! Keep soaking it all in! Thanks for sharing!!!

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