14 December 2016 – Cold and Sunny – High of 15°

The last time we were in Rapid City (or just “Rapid” if you’re a local) Dave and I stopped by the National Forest Service Office and applied for a permit to harvest slate from the forest.  The permit is good for one calendar year, it is free, and you are allowed to remove one ton of slate.  They give you a list of places you can take it from, and ask you to be honest about the amount as no one actually weighs what you remove.

We are planning on using the slate for the base of our wood burning stove.  Obviously, we can’t just set the stove on the floor and we thought it would be cool to use something we retrieved ourselves instead of just going to the store and buying some tile. We can also use it for walkways and landscaping around the outside of the house.

We drove up north towards Hill City and then drove around for about 45 minutes looking for the Forest Service Road that we were allowed to remove slate from.  The Forest Service, while extremely helpful, has some useless maps. They also do not mark their roads very clearly, at least not the ones that are designated for slate removal.  As we were driving about we discussed how nice it was for them to allow us to harvest slate for free, but then again, maybe it was just a big joke to get people to go out and get lost on the unmarked roads! We eventually figured it out and got to the desired location.img_2315

We took a sledge hammer, an axe, and a shovel and hiked up the hill to find some pieces that we thought would be useful.  It was cold, in the 20’s, but we both lost our winter coats pretty quickly from all the hiking up the hill and carrying slate back to the truck.  I forgot to mention, they don’t allow you to use any equipment to gather the slate, so you’re stuck with hand tools and/or buckets.  We stacked what we gathered in the back of Truck Norris and headed out of the forest.  On the way out we saw the biggest, most beautiful bald eagle circling very near.  I reached for my phone to snap a picture and Dave said, “No, just enjoy it!”  and he was right.  I could never have gotten a picture to do that bird justice and it was just a brilliant end to a morning of hard work and fresh air.  We watched him fly away.

Then we thought we would treat ourselves and go to lunch in Hill City.  Appropriately, we ate at the Slate Creek Grille.  Tourist season is long gone and we were the only people in the place, but the food was good and it was nice to sit down in a restaurant, even though we both looked pretty rough in our snow pants and dirty sweatshirts.  The locals didn’t seem to mind, as is typical of most people around here they were very friendly and didn’t judge our ratty appearance!

We returned to the Holler to discover that the guys have nearly finished the decks, the sheet rock and taping is mostly done, and we had several samples of wall texture to pick from. Ahhh, ,more decisions!

Today we are heading into Hot Springs to do laundry and load up on propane.  We are supposed to get an arctic blast again, and this time it is supposed to be accompanied by several inches of snow.  You never know when you may get snowed in so we are prepping in case we are stuck out here for several days. Wish us luck!