Undaunted, we pressed forward. The entire trip had been accomplished safely with no incidents, until about 20 miles East of Rapid City, we sort-of blew a tire! I say "sort of" because all that happened was ALL the tread came COMPLETELY off the tire without ceremony! There was a big "WHOMPH" sound accomanied with a nearly alarming swerve and jerk and bump of the truck. I quickly looked around to see a motor home behind us, straddle what was left of the tread on our tire. We knew it wasn't blown because the truck was still riding smooth. We slowed down, and took the exit which was fortunately only a half-mile away!
We stopped, and proceded to find the various tire changing instruments, that the truck carries.
Lug wrench? Check!
Long pole that operates the jack? Check!
Key that lets the spare down? MIA! (Missing In Action!) Ohhhh BUMMER!
Sure thing, we got the bad tire all of the way off, and couldn't get the spare out from under the truck, because the spare tire key was nowhere to be found! But, hey we were a truckload of blacksmiths. So, we got a hacksaw, cold chisel, and hammer, and just cut the cable that held the spare.
Here is the bald tire!
Here is the "new" tire!
Here the Young Smith mentor and Alec, getting some air while Lyle and I were changing the tire!
Like I said, the view out there is all the same! Here is the road on the exit we got off on to change the tire! Ohhh and this is with 100% zoom on the camera!
So we finally made it to Rapid City and the National ABANA conference! Shortly after we arrived and unloaded the gentleman who ordered the 5-pound hammer that all four young-smiths made and signed, showed up. Here is a picture of him with the hammer and the four young smiths!
Here is the view from our hotel...overlooking Rapid City!
Before I arrived in Mississippi, the other three Young Smiths made a hammer and drift nail, for the ABANA nail stump. Here is a picture of it! If it is any consolation, I did help nail it in. I might have helped if there were some brains present, as it seems that the Young Smith that started the nailing process nailed it in UPSIDE DOWN! I will not mention names, but it wasn't me!
Here are some pictures of interest!
First, a really neat nail in the nail stump!
A steel buffalo that looks like it was made from a scrap pile! Neat though!
And a stunning steel saddle!
We got there a day early, and set up on the evening of our arrival. The next day, we completed our preparations, and had most of a day to burn until we the opening ceremony and demo! Well, we thought we had most of a day to burn. Kainon and I decided to go on a little walk to see what all was there at the conference. In our defence, our understanding of the set up was, "make sure all of your tools are ready," which we did! Well, as we are walking around, we got a call and were asked to return to our demo tent. When we got there, confusion reigned. Out of nowhere, we got permission to light forge fires and demo for a Fox News crew. Somewhere in the confusion, dissorganization, and at times figurative crucifying of each other, we managed to the fires lit, and forge a thumb-tack out of 1.5-inch solid round 4140 tool steel, incorporation the use of four strikers.
Here is a set of pictures from that unschedualed demo slot.
That evening was when the conference really started, beginning with the opening ceremony presentation.
This is the president of ABANA, Mr. Peyton!
Here is a panoramic set of pictures, of the opening ceremony!
Imediately after the opening ceremony speaches, Mr. Brian Brazeal (our mentor,) started the "first" fire and then the Young Smiths 2012 were turned loose to perform for three hours as the opening demonstrators of the 2012 ABANA conference. There were probably 200 people standing in a huge circle to watch our opening demonstration. We demonstrated for three hours each day at the conference, and at any given time there was usually 50+ people watching. It was an amazing experience to be able to demonstrate at such a well known event to some of the best known blacksmiths in the country. Here are some choice pictures!
And yet another fine collection of hammers!
Here is Mr. Brian (our mentor,) working!
So what did we make all this time demonstrating. Well, we did several hammers, several hot cuts, several punches, several other tools, several "thumb tacks," a ginormous nail, and a 2x3-foot frame with a bird and cat-tails!
Daniel and I were asked to make an axe out of an 1800's leaf spring. Daniel did the directing and I did the striking!
Horse head letter opener I made.
We had quite a few people support the Young Smiths 2012 effort. I gave the above letter opener to one of our lead supporters! This lady and her husband helped the Young Smiths GREATLY and their support is GREATLY appreciated! Thanks folks!
In addition to the great fun it was demonstrating and talking to people, I got to meet several reknowned blacksmiths in person, that I have talked to over email in the past. Here is Mr. Glenn Gilmore and myself. Check out his website! http://www.gilmoremetal.com/
I also got to meet Mr. Timothy Miller. I know Mr. Timothy through www.iforgeiron.com, and he was kind enough to offer me a journeyman position working in his shop, a couple years ago. Unfortunately it didn't work out, but it was great to put a face to the name, and I had lots of fun talking to him. Check out his website! http://www.spiritironworks.com/
I also got to meet Mr. Mark Aspery. Mr. Mark is a California blacksmith, who is very active in teaching through ABANA. http://www.markaspery.com/School_of_Blacksmithing/Home.html Y'all keep Mark in your prayers, as he was in a motor-cycle wreck a few days after the conference and got banged up pretty bad!
I also got to see Mr. Clay Spencer who I have had the chance to take several classes with. It was good to see and talk to him again. Mark and Mindy Gardner were there! (http://www.floodplainforge.com/) I've taken their class at John C. Campbell in the past.
Last, but certainly not least, is Mr. Eddy Rainy! It's been several years since I've seen him. I used to live only just down the road from him, and got to work with him on a couple of occasions.
Here is a run of random pictures from the conference. First, here's the Italian smithing team.
The Italians got to work all day, every day of the conference and this is the sculptural piece they turned out! It was massive, beautiful, and well done! (Someone thought so....it sold for $12,500 at the auction.)
Here is the kid that got the bird and cat-tail picture frame the Young Smiths made. It looks like we have a future "young smith" in the making!
Here is a facinating set of hardware a group made!
So after the ABANA conference, we hit the road, heading up to the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments! Oh yes....and we had to check on my state park!
If the truck had been big enough and if we hadn't been so crammed into it, we would have been on the edge of our seats as we caught our first glimpse.
AND DRUMROLL PLEASE!
Now I'm a stout-hearted southern boy, grey all the way through and through, Confederate Civil War buff and reenactor, and dubbed Confederate Drummer Boy and Naval Historian. However, I'm not even going to say anything about that sorry, no-good, rotten, lying, criminal, politian Lincoln! Oops! Well I tried!
And DRUMROLL PLEASE! Crazy Horse!
Sorry! That's the best shot I got! We didn't stop here, we just sort of drove past!
From Crazy Horse, we decided that on the way to Billings, Montana, we would "swing by" yellowstone. You'll need to look at a map to understand the "swing by." Just look at the location of Yellowstone National Park in relation to the most direct route from Rapid City, SD to Billings, MT, and you will understand!
It ended up being a gruelling 18-hour, straight-though trip, with 4 kids, 14 and up in the back seat of an extended, NOT A FOUR DOOR, cab truck! One word! TORTURE!
The scenery was nice though......very VERY nice!
Here is a run of photos of the variation of scenery on the way to Yellowstone!
The idealistic North Western ranch setting!
The change from the above to this was literaly instant! It went from huge mountains, towering canyons and cliffs, beautiful rivers and streams flowing over huge boulders, and lush green forest, to complete and utter desert!
As fast as it changed from huge mountains to desert, it change back to this!
And it wouldn't be a complete North Western road trip, if there wasn't some section of a mountain pass undergoing reconstruction! Several miles of the road here were dirt.
And DRUMROLL PLEASE! Yellowstone!
View over Yellowstone Lake!
Bathroom and stretch your legs stop! Man the truck was TIGHT!
Alright, here is a run of pictures from the Yellowstone Lodge area! This is where Old Faithful is along with a BUNCH of other boiling pots, and really neat things! I'm just going to post the pictures and not bother trying to comment on them. If you want to see the grandness or magnitude of any of this, go there yourself. It is well worth it, and pictures simply cannot capture it all! It is places like this that make me wonder how in the world people believe this stuff just came about by accident! Can you seriously see the caption over any of the following pictures being "Oops!"?
Here are some pictures as we were heading out of Yellowstone towards nightfall.
A beautiful hill of flowers! Ohhh I wanted to climb this SOOOO BAD!
We took the Beartooth Highway out of Yellowstone. This is a road that goes high up in the mountains and has some beautiful scenery! Well at least that's what I hear. It was dark when we were riding on it! Oh well! We got a good laugh out of this next picture though! We were using a GPS and all through the mountains it had shown curvy roads ahead. We had just come off a big mountain around 10 P.M, things were leveling off, and were were finally getting back to the straight stuff and out of the mountain ranges. Then we looked at the GPS and this is what lay ahead! The purple indicates the road we were traveling!
So much for getting on the straight stuff! As you can see, we were at 9300 feet at this point. The highest point in the whole trip was 10,996 feet and that was just prior to the above picture.
We arrived in Montana about 2 A.M. in the morning after 18 hours of travel! We caught some shut eye, and then in the morning, hooked up with the coordinator of the class we were teaching in Billings. We got our equipment set up, got a meal, and got our tents set up at our host's house. Our first morning camping out in Billings, looked like this!
Hard to beat that right there!
The class in Billings was taught by Brian. The four young smiths along with Mr. Lyle, acted as assitant instructors, which basically gave everyone in the class, constant, one-on-one instruction.
Once again, I'm just going to post the pictures! It was primarily a tool making class and the pictures speak for themselves!
Well this next picture will need some explaining! The class was in a zoo! Not just any zoo though, it was in Zoo Montana, and as I understand it, that is the only zoo in Montana! Here is one of our most faithful students!
Here is Dave and Kainon being Dave and Kainon!
Here is Daniel being Daniel!
Here is Alec being Alec!
Helping with the auction at the end of the class!
And that's all folks! I'm going to conclude the young smith's journey in the next blog where I will cover the Texas leg of our travels and work.