Dakota, The Weather and other Thoughts has changed to

Our Second Last Place

The reason for the change is that we have relocated to Vermont. We were sure that we would spend the rest of our lives in South Dakota, but we decided after nine years in SD that we needed to be closer to our kids and their families so here we are.

This is the story of, depending on who you are or how you look at it, a journey, the start of the fulfillment of a dream, or just plain wackiness.

 The characters in this story include us, Ross and Kathy, along with Ross’s two daughters Torey and Leigh and Kathy’s son Neil.  Also there are 3 cats, Raji, Rachel and Montana and a dog named Whiskey.

For me, Ross, the dream started in September of 1991 after a two-week trip Kathy, the 3 kids and I took to Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana.  It was then that I decided I wanted to live in the West before I was to old to enjoy it.  I think Kathy began to have the same thoughts about the same time, but I’ll let her tell her side.

The journey or, as some say, the madness started in October 2002…  It was a dark and dreary night… sorry, wrong story.  Kathy came home from work one night and I joined her for dinner at her house.  It was during dinner that she announced that she was going to leave her job, she had been there 26 years, sell her house, buy a motor home and move to South Dakota.  I started thinking this sounded pretty good, but that we should wait until I was 62.  As the next week or so went by the 62 changed to I could put my house on the market in July of 2003.  It did not take much longer for me to change that to April.

A lot happened between October and April, Kathy sold her house and moved with her stuff and animals to my house, we got married, and Montana learned that he was not the only cat in the world.  In February we flew to South Dakota and drove to Lead/Deadwood to look for a house.  Why Lead you ask…  Kathy has a friend from work who owns a spread in Hill City, SD and recommended Lead for its affordability and potential.  Lead is located in the Black Hills and sits at about 5,200 feet.  It is a small town built in a small valley and on the two hillsides that flank it.

The house we found was a story and a half with, by Lead standards, a fair sized lot. The house is 102 years old and is located in what was once the Italian neighborhood of this historic mining town. The house has been described by us as funky, eclectic, great, and in need of some (lots of) attention.  It was at this point that I think some people began to think Kathy and I were just plain nuts.  The idea of going to a state and town you had never visited before, spending 4 days, buying a house, and preparing to move, apparently to some, is a somewhat less than sane thought.

About this time a few things hit home…  We would miss our children greatly.  I had spent the last 29 years speaking to or seeing one or the other of my daughters almost daily. Also, there were friends I had known, some for over 20 years and others at work that I had eaten lunch with close to daily for 4 years.  These were friends who knew our children and animals and whose children and animals we knew.  We knew their good points and bad, their ups and downs…we knew them and leaving them was difficult.  We are grateful for the many well wishes from our friends who supported us even though they were (are) sure we are in the throes of a mid-life crisis!

Reality really hit on May 22, my last day at work. By then my house had been sold and the closing and our departure were set for May 27.  We had those few days to finish packing, say goodbye to friends and load the truck.  We picked up the 25-foot, actually with the cab it was about 33 feet long, truck and tow dolly on Saturday, May 24 and started the job of loading our life into the 25-foot box of the truck.  Once loaded my car would be put on the tow dolly making the length of the truck and car around 50 feet.  Kathy’s car would carry the 3 cats, dog and provide refuge for one person to drive at a time.   If you can call driving with three cats meowing from their travel cages in the back and a dog in the passenger side up front a refuge.  Actually for me driving the truck proved to be more of a refuge.

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