Thursday, June 30, 2016

the red road in our backyard

I'll just say it: We lucked out with our house...rather, we were blessed. It suits us and our needs perfectly. As Noah says after a long (or more often than not, a short) time away from home, "I can't wait to get to home sweet home." We love everything about it... Until now:

The day the bike trip began, Monday, June 13, I came home after running some errands to the sound of chainsaws. It didn't really register in my brain to think anything out of the ordinary was going on until I went upstairs to my room and saw this out of back window - the National Guardsmen cutting down the beautiful pine trees from from the small hill behind our house. Our back yard backs up to the National Guard land and even though we can't go back there, it was just lovely to look at and amazing not to have neighbors behind us. 

Once a year in June the National Guard hosts a Golden Coyote Exercise in the Black Hills and, essentially, our backyard, across the barbed wire fence. It's always been fun to see the Guardsmen landing helicopters back there, or walking/crawling around the hill playing their war games, or even hearing their artillery. 

These helicopter photos are from mid-April and we had wondered if our new friend Josh was one of the pilots. Tragically Josh died on Ezra's birthday this year. We will never forget him when we see those helicopters landing and taking off from there.  

So, I texted photos of the trees being cut down to my family and wondered what on earth they were up to. I was saddened that they would cut down our own little beautiful piece of the Black Hills. This is what it had looked like before... :(

After lunch the chainsaws stopped and I heard a different sound: Large machinery. I looked outside to see them bulldozing the entire hill!!

By the end of the night, after Terry and Noah had left for the bike trip, our little idyllic hill was there no longer. This was our new view... 

I went out to the barbed wire fence beyond our pine trees and took this shot

Then I hiked up the hill along the easement and took in the full view of my poor demolished hill. I wondered what on earth they were doing?!

It got worse. By the time the bike trip was over and we all returned home, it was to see them extending the dirt further out behind our house and even up the hill beyond our neighborhood.

I was taking photos when these Guardsmen spotted me and came to talk. They asked if I had any concerns and apologized for the mess (our house, cars, everything is covered with red dirt). I didn't want to seem to seem ungracious but I blurted out my concern over what they were doing. They said they were building a road! They didn't know why but our neighbor said one Guardsmen had told her that they wanted access to a neighborhood up Nemo Road, Westberry Trails, that had only one way in or out, which had been a problem when there was a fire up there a couple years ago. I'm not sure how accurate that is though. These guys seemed to think this road might be accessible to the public and some of the land would be for sale. Again, not sure if that's accurate. I should really call someone. They already have a road out there that is parallel to this one and goes up the hill so it seems unnecessary to me. I did find this post online and it seems like the information I learned is at least partially true. So much for our private backyard.

"The projects include constructing a parking lot for the obstacle course, building a new road for civilian use and clearing a gulch to provide better vehicle access to training sites."

All this to say, our backyard view is now this:

When it used to look like this:

 Last summer this was our view beyond our trees.

And today this is what we see.

It had been such a pretty little hill, hiding us behind it like we were a part of a secret garden.

I guess we are still hidden, except we're behind a road three levels high of red dirt.

The road stretches up beyond what I can see. On the right you can see our gray house and how we are situated in the lowest part thereby giving us the largest view of red dirt.

I know it's not a huge deal and there are bigger things to worry about in the world and I don't mean to complain, but I'm bummed out by the changes.

It had been beautiful in the winter... the spring...

...and summer.

But this is our view now and I wish I could change it. I hope they will improve it at some point in the near future.

Such a bummer! Ever since the Golden Eagle Exercise ended our part of the road has had no more progress. I can only hope they finish the job and plant something in all that dirt. 

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