Friday, July 16, 2010

The Black Hills... my kinda place!

My mom and brother opted to stay back at the campsite for the day and relax. They would spend the day at the pool and playing board games in the RV. I grabbed the car keys and a map early in the morning and did not return until dark! I hopped back on 90 and went west and north into Sturgis where I was overwhelmed by the cheesy billboards that were begging bikers to buy every possible good or service on the planet. The infamous rally is coming up next month and it is the biggest money maker for this whole area of South Dakota with an average of 400,000 to 800,000 bikers participating. I like motorcycles, but I'm just not into the whole "Look at me... I'm a bad ass, because my mustache matches the handlebars on my Harley!" It seems so pretentious to me. I guess there was a time when being a biker meant something, but now every yuppie with an extra $30,000 has a Fatboy and a Peter Fonda starter kit.... and they are everywhere. Relax Easy Rider!! I can't deny that all the hub bub is good for Harley Davidson stock though.

From Sturgis I made my way to Deadwood. I like this town. It's a bit gritty still, despite the fact that they really play hard on the Old Wild West themes. I parked the car and roamed around Main St. which resembles what it looked like back in the 1880's. The gaming houses, some of them original, are impressive in architecture and quaintness and a few of them still have live poker rooms. I tried my luck on a $1 slot and came out $20 ahead. I turned around and spent it at the steakhouse in the casino on a beer and a nice meal. I was feeling fine.

I got back on the road after a bit and headed south on route 85 which skirts into Wyoming along the border of South Dakota. This is beautiful country... and full of the ghosts of the native people who made this place their home. The big valleys between mountains were the camping grounds of some of the greatest Sioux tribes that ever existed. Luther Standing Bear played in these parts as a youth, along with Black Elk and many other legendary native figures. There's was a life of enjoyment and off the land and following the game it provided. I stopped at an out cropping looking over a valley and imagined in my mind's eye the young scouts that would perch themselves on such rocks looking for animals below. It was quiet and serene.

I cut back into South Dakota via route 16 and snaked my way through the Black Hills National Forest. I stopped at Custer, Jewel Cavern, and finally at a small lake entrapped between granite peaks and pines where I blew up the raft and paddled out for a look. It was a beautiful little spring fed lake with a number of people fishing on the shore. I watched a little guy pull a big rainbow trout in, much to the delight of his grandfather. I would paddle to the windward side of the lake and then let the current drift me back while lying on my back and staring into the mountains. I did this for about 3 hours and got out of the water extremely relaxed and calm. I passed through Mt. Rushmore again and I swear those dead presidents were smiling at me!

On the way back to camp I stopped in Rapid City at a Border's book store. Anyone who knows anything about me at all will tell you.... I LOVE BORDERS. I practically live there in the winter when I'm home. I grabbed some books on the native history of the area and plopped my butt down for a few hours of quality reading time. It was about as perfect a day as one could have...

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