I don't have my own photo of the Crazy Horse Memorial volksmarch in South Dakota, but I remember it well. You could make your own memories in a first ever fall volksmarch on Sept. 29 and 30. ONLINE PHOTO FROM WWW.AMERICANCLARION.COM
I don't have my own photo of the Crazy Horse Memorial volksmarch in South Dakota, but I remember it well. You could make your own memories in a first ever fall volksmarch on Sept. 29 and 30. ONLINE PHOTO FROM WWW.AMERICANCLARION.COM
Today an article on an upcoming event made me think about perceived "once-in-a lifetime" experiences.

If you miss it, or blow it, or lose out, will the same opportunity present itself again? Will you be there if it does?

It seems my "once-in-a-lifetimes" often deal with photos and the related events, people and locations.

The first time I really felt like I'd messed up and missed out was at the summit of Pike's Peak in Colorado, back in the early 1980s. It was my first time on top of a "14er," as mountain peaks of 14,000 feet and taller are called.

The diesel car driven by my ex-husband had a vapor lock in the lower amounts of oxygen. Who knew if it would ever start without a service call?

In the meantime, I must have taken 200 photos with my 35-mm SLR camera back in those pre-digital days. I so looked forward to getting the prints developed at home and perusing them.

I hoped for the best. They simply had to be great shots. After all, what were the odds of ever being on top of Pike's Peak again?

Well, when I got to the end of that 36-exposure roll of film and was ready to put in a new roll, I got a rude surprise. There was no film to rewind. There had been no film in the camera!

I was just sick about it.... Sick! I mean, I would never be there again.

Fast-forward around 15 years. I'm vacationing again in Colorado. The ex is by now an ex and I'm with my then-boyfriend. It's September and an early snowfall has quashed our plans to drive up the Pike's Peak toll road.

Not to worry. The cog railway to the top is running. The guide/conductor has an ear-to-ear grin as he tells all of us we never need visit the peak again. We have the perfect day with pretty white snow and stunning fall colors in the trees.

I shoot a lot of film, making sure there actually is film. The summit is a windblown experience, but there are no heavy clouds to obscure distant views.

It was perfect... and I had made it back despite my concerns.

The reason I'm thinking about all this is a 6.2-mile volksmarch at Crazy Horse Monument between Hill City and Custer in South Dakota. It's always held the first Saturday and Sunday weekend of June and attracts throngs of people.

Guess what? For the first time ever, a fall volksmarch will be held. Here's information from the Crazy Horse Memorial website.

"New in 2013, the autumn hike on Sunday and Monday, Sept. 29 and 30, will be the public's second chance of the year to walk up the world's largest mountain carving in progress.

"Admission to Crazy Horse Memorial is free to hikers. The hike is $3 per person, charged by the American Volkssport Association for the 10K (6.2-mile) round-trip hike from the visitor complex.

"This hike does NOT replace the Crazy Horse Volksmarch in June."

It sounds like a super opportunity for a fall getaway.

Back around 1999 or so I made my first trip to South Dakota and participated in the June volksmarch. To stand beneath the huge nose on the outstretched arm of Crazy Horse was a thrill.

Once more I took lots of photos while posing for a couple. Yes, the camera had film in it. But - oh no! The film got ruined when it was processed. All the photos - gone!

It was my first trip to South Dakota in my 40-plus or minus years on earth. Would I ever visit again? We all know the answer to that one. However, I have not returned to Crazy Horse and with the accident I had last fall, the hike now looks pretty unlikely.

I've come up with a few points to take from these incidents.

If you have access to what appears to be a "once-in-a-lifetime" event, try your darnedest to make it. For me these include covering a local visit by the President of the United States a couple years back, as well as interviewing author Stephen King when I was a University of Iowa student. It would be a fluke to have either happen again.

If something happens to foil your "once-in-a-lifetime" and you're able to plan a second chance, certainly do so if it's that important and is within your means.

As to cameras, let's all be happy that digital models and even cell phones allow us to take umpteen photos and actually see what we've shot immediately. Is a photo blurred? No problem. Take another.

Make sure to have ample memory cards for the photos, as well as charged batteries.

Finally - and perhaps most importantly - be sure to savor all the sights, sounds, aromas and more to make a multi-dimensional snapshot or video in your mind. It's the memory that in the end counts.

Lisa Brainard is recovering from injuries suffered in a fall, followed by a stroke, in September of 2012. She can be reached at lbrainard@bluffcountrynews.com.