I guess it’s basically summer now. Maybe not from an astronomical standpoint—equinoxes and whatnot—but once Memorial Day rolls around, it might as well be. It’s when the tourists descend upon the Black Hills en masse.
Tara is not a fan of tourist season. From June through August, our normally quiet little downtown nearly doubles in size somedays with all the people and cars. I view it as a boon to the local economy, but yeah…it is a pain in the ass sometimes, trying to secure a table at your favorite bar or restaurant and having to fight for space with that yahoo from Yonkers and the dunderhead from Duluth. And when the Sturgis Rally rolls around, it’s even worse. We make it a point to either hunker down or get out of town. We become reverse tourists, if you will.
So, when I suggested we take a drive along the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park on Saturday morning, Tara looked at me askance.
“You want to go to one of the most popular tourist spots in the Black Hills during one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year?” she asked.
“Yup,” I replied.
At first she resisted, but then—much to my surprise—capitulated.
“You always agree to do the things I want to without complaining,” she said. “It’s the least I can do.”
Aww! That, my friends, is known as the art of compromise. I always knew being Mr. Joe Agreeable would pay off someday.
And actually, it wasn’t too busy out there. The crowds were tolerable, probably because we left pretty early. Granted, it was nothing like some of our winter visits where we might see five or six other cars the entire day, but it was a lovely day and we saw plenty of the usual wildlife. Including frolicking baby bison.
With plenty of recent rain, the park was nice and green, too.
After spending a couple of hours in the park, we stopped at the Firehouse SmokeJumper Station in Hill City for a bite to eat. We ordered a charcuterie board and a cup of beer cheese soup, washing the food down with beer (Tara) and wine (Mark). It was actually one of the better charcuterie plates I’ve had around here.
I might have ended up joining another wine club while we were there, too. Clearly I was swayed by their Frontenac Gris. I’m a sucker for a citrusy white.
All in all, it was a great day. We haven’t done a lot of exploring in our own backyard lately because we’ve been so busy with the garden, but now that the raised beds are built and everything is planted, we might actually get a little spare time during the weekend.
The rest of this holiday weekend has been much more laid-back. The weather has been absolutely ideal…sunshine, puffy clouds, low 70s, gentle breeze. Last night we did a beer butt chicken on the grill, and ohmygosh…it was so good! We brined it first and cooked it over indirect heat, using a can of peach radler beer. I also had a tray of soaked hickory chips to give it a subtle smoky flavor.
And then, when the sun went down? Check out the colors. It was one of those sunsets that brought the whole neighborhood out to look at it.
Today we are grilling sausages. And I’ve hauled out the corn hole set in anticipation of my parents’ visit next weekend. My dad is obsessed and makes us play every day. Usually kicks our asses, too. A little practice can’t hurt, you know?
Have a great week!