I always tell people that in our 36 years of marriage, we’ve been in some kind of construction project 33 of those years, or so it seems. I will say that as we’ve aged things have NOT changed a lot ! We are currently in the throes of a sunroom project that will give us a relaxing view of our pines, wild life, and sunsets. What has changed as we’ve aged is that every once in a while I can talk Ernie into paying someone else to do the work! Emphasis on “every once in a while.”
Some of Ernie’s bigger projects have been building a barn and house, remodeling two 100+ year old houses—one for us, one as our former B&B, and beginning the restoration of an 1800s log house in our home area of central Pennsylvania.
Things have definitely slowed down in our life in The Black Hills. But not to a standstill! During our time in SD Ernie has built me a sewing studio in the back of our garage, finished the inside of our little log guest cabin, built a roof over our back deck, using log posts that he harvested from our property. In 2015 Ernie's project list focused on our daughter's wedding which was held at Dakota Dream. He built farm tables and bars from hundred year old barn wood for the reception along with some other unique special requests from the bride.
But Ernie's favorite pastime at this stage of life is “putzing” in his workshop. He can spend the day whiling away the hours working on one or more of his fun projects.
One of the many perks of being married to a woodworker is that no matter what project I dream up, he’s always willing to oblige. Sometimes it gets “put on the list” and sometimes it’s tackled right away. But either way, it gets done.
As I walked around the house today taking photos of the many treasures Ernie has made, I was once again in awe of his craftsmanship. I often tell him he is a master carpenter, but he declares that no one is a master at anything--a testament to the humble man that he is.
Our daughter has created an Instagram account for Ernie.
Follow him @custer_wood_putzer.
(Don’t you LOVE it?)
Think there’s nothing to do in Custer, South Dakota in January? Well…think again! We burn a giant wooden beetle! Sounds crazy, right? Far from it!
The real mountain pine beetles have attacked and killed thousands of our beautiful Ponderosa pines here in the Black Hills. Visitors cannot help but notice thousands of dead trees or logging trucks on the highway as they travel the scenic roads and visit area attractions. The beetle has encompassed about 430,000 acres since the epidemic started in 1996, about a quarter of the 1.5 million forested acres in the Black Hills. Fortunately, there is some recent evidence that the rate of spread is beginning to decline.
We in Custer would like to think the decline might be due to the annual Bark Beetle Blues festival. There’s nothing quite like it! A huge 20 foot long wooden beetle filled with wood sitting atop a bed of Christmas trees is set ablaze for the perfect bonfire. There’s also a talent show, torch parade, fireworks and a pub crawl with live entertainment at seven locations around town.
Check out photos from last year’s Bark Beetle Blues here: http://blackhillstravelblog.com/4th-annual-bark-beetle-blues and get the latest news on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barkbeetleblues.
Watching guests interact after breakfast last weekend caused me to pause and smile at how many wonderful and unique guests we’ve had enter our doors in our 14 year inn keeping experience. This particular moment was definitely not uncommon, but it really made me think about why travelers should choose the bed and breakfast experience.
We had a couple from Germany who were wrapping up their trip in the US and heading to Denver for a few days. They wanted to immerse themselves back into the urban life after spending several weeks enjoying the beauty and nature of traveling through the Teton-Yellowstone area and our Black Hills of South Dakota. It just so happened that we also had repeat guests from the Denver area, and what was striking to me was the willingness of our Denver guest to spend over a half hour discussing ideas of things to see and do, going over maps, and virtually being a tour guide for the German couple. When they left the table, they had a three-day itinerary planned out! In addition, the Denver couple gave them their contact information and they were going to try to meet up for dinner one night! All this stemmed from them just sitting and chatting at our common breakfast table.
My husband and I used to marvel at how guests would come together and be a bit quiet the first morning, but after two or three days it was like they were old friends. In our former B&B life we were in Penn State University football country. We had a couple from Chicago who would visit 5 or 6 times during the fall season, and my husband dubbed them “house parents” at our B&B. They were amazing in that if any of the other guests needed parking passes, tickets, advice, etc. they would always be of assistance. On more than one occasion they even invited our other guests to join their tailgate party before the game!
The bed and breakfast “experience” is just that! An experience! You get to meet and enjoy breakfast with guests from all over the world and all walks of life. They’ve either been to or are headed to some pretty amazing places, AND they love to share their experiences!
Planning your next trip? Why not stay at a bed and breakfast? You’ll be sure to meet some of the nicest people!
We’d love to have you stay with us at Dakota Dream B&B!