Django Reinhardt would have been 113 today. Fact is, he died at 43. With his left hand badly burned at age 18, his chording ability was limited, but he taught us a lot about lead guitar playing and the ability to re-invent oneself when life gives one lemons.

His band with Stéphane Grappelli, le Quintette du Hot Club de France, was one of the best bands that ever played. The personnel at times included bassist Louis Vola (in whose band Reinhardt and Grappelli met in the 1930s), and rhythm guitarists Roger Chaput and Joseph Reinhardt (Django’s brother), along with Reinhardt on lead guitar and Grappelli on violin.

During WW II, with Grappelli in England, the band added clarinetist  Hubert Rostaing, along with drums. The French film “Django” (available on the Kanopy streaming service, which you may be able to use through your public library), released in 2019, deals with Reinhardt’s time in Occupied France, the round-up of the Romani people in France, and Django’s attempt to escape across the border to Switzerland. An estimate 0.5 to 1.5 million Romani were slaughtered by the Nazis. While the film is fictionalized, the genocide was real. Reviews of the film were mixed, and the music is by the Rosenberg Trio, not actual historical recordings.

I find lots of audio on YouTube. This is one of the few with video. Note the run from 2:52-2:54.
The Rosenberg Trio – starting with Concierto de Aranjuez but not staying there.
For a local angle. Check your area for your own local angle on this music.

Bastille Day

For the grandchild who will have no idea who I am when I get back from this trip.

The Magic Kingdom AKA Needles Highway

We left Custer in the early morning chill and climbed Sylvan Lake Road through mixed pine and birch forest, headed for Custer State Park and Needles Highway. My YouTube uplink is not working so still pictures may have to suffice until I can upload video.Words alone do not suffice.

First view, entering the Needles
Needles Eye Tunnel
The Needle’s Eye, for which the tunnel is named
This is their tunnel – we’re just visitors
Mountain kid
Beginning the descent

Once out of The Needles, it was a beautiful and swift descent back to earth on perfect asphalt and banked curves. From there it was on to Iron Mountain Road and views of Mt Rushmore. There were not a lot of opportunities to stop and take pictures, as this sign may explain:

It was a slow but beautiful climb (900 vertical feet) to the Norbeck Overlook, where I met two families from Wisconsin. I followed one of them down the other side and they were kind enough to pull over and let me pass when they realized they were slowing me down. I had earned that descent and didn’t really want to ride the brakes all the way down.

I had stopped for snacks a few times on the way, as our picnic was not until mile 48. We sat in rockers on the porch of a store just uphill from Cripple Creek Ranch.

This was my stop for a cold bottled coffee drink and a bar I was carrying.

As usual, the ride changed after picnic. We rode on fresh chipseal. Climbing on fresh chipseal is not fun; descending is worse. You pick your line, avoiding the loose gravel. generally there are two lines available, where car tires have beaten the gravel into the surface. Sometimes only one works, so there is some moving back and forth through the danger zone of loose gravel between the lines. Our cue sheet said we would turn onto “fresh blacktop”. A number of people let the router know that freshly-oiled chipseal is not the same as fresh blacktop. I decided I did not need to add my voice to the chorus – especially since the Trail Boss was one of those voices.

While we ended the day 1700 feet lower than we started, we climbed 5600 feet in the process. The day ended with an ugly ride into Rapid City – first a steep climb on a busy freeway, then a long ride into town through sprawl, followed by a busy multi-lane urban street with no shoulder. With a tailwind I was almost able to keep to the 30 mph speed limit to feel safe. Once the limit dropped to 25 I held the speed limit into camp. Riding at 25-30 mph in urban traffic after riding through paradise and climbing 5600 feet was one way to cap off the day.

in honor of Bastille Day and Mt Rushmore, a word from our sponsor.

It finally worked!

Sugar moon/Purim/Equinox

Here is my St Patrick’s Day Black and Tan, which I should be drinking with hamantaschen. Alas, I made no hamantaschen. A good thing, since I may fail a random drug test after eating too many poppy seed ones.

Image from Cheftimestwo

Also this week, the full moon known by many names arrives. The Ojibwe call it The Sugar Moon for the obvious reason noted in our last post – the maple sap is flowing. The Dakota call it The Worm Moon, as beetle larvae appear out of thawing tree bark. It might also be The Crow Comes Back Moon (northern Ojibwe) and several other names.


Spring arrives Sunday morning (March 22); unless you’re in the southern hemisphere, in which case fall arrives. Along with the previously-mentioned signs of spring, the lakes melt. In early winter, as the lakes freeze, they give up large amounts of heat for the change of state from liquid to solid, resulting in fog. In late winter, as they thaw, they absorb large amounts of heat for the state change from solid to liquid, with the same result.

Fog forming across the lake as it thaws. Ice remains in the foreground, but I wouldn’t want to walk on it.

In other weather-related news, the Good Weather Bike made its first appearance. The studded tires remain on the Bad Weather Bike, anticipating the spring snowstorm.

My local paper runs a list of celebrity birthdays every day. Tuesday, March 15, was a banner day. Saxophonist Charles Lloyd is 84. Bassist Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead) is 82, Singer Mike Love (Beach Boys) is 81. Bandleader Sly Stone is 79. Guitarist Ry Cooder is 75. Drop down a generation and rapper (Black Eyed Peas) is 47.