Black Hills, Sites Less Visited

Alright, so nothing ever goes as planned.  The best laid plans of mice and men…are always squashed by mechanical issues. 

So that might not be true, but picking up Ryan at the Rapid City airport didn’t work because the car had been acting up the day before, RPMs being too high.  We had talked about getting a rental to caravan out to Rapid, just in case the car did break down, but that morning, being as impatient as I am, I decided it would be best to just hoof it to Rapid on my own, pick him up at the airport, and then go to the dealership. 

I drove up to the interstate and back just to see how it did with high speed, and at 55 it was at 2.5 RPMs, which didn’t seem bad to me, so off to Rapid I went [70 miles, by the way], and at Conata Basin I stopped.  The RPMs flailed all over the place and I was only going 30, so I pulled off the road, called Ryan and waited for him and the tow truck.  We got to watch the car bounce all over the bed of the truck, but it made it to the only dealership that works on Saturns in western South Dakota [that’s my guess] and they said if they couldn’t fix it by replacing the torque converter, then it would be a clunker because they didn’t have the software to fix any computer problems….Saturns are definately large urban dwelling cars.  Not that great for the middle of nowhere. 

Anyway, we started out our adventure in the middle of the Hills practically, at Deerfield Lake.  Just NW of Hill City, this lake is pretty quiet and really rather beautiful.  I went here last year by myself, but was a little spooked at the thought of mountain lions, so I hiked looking over my shoulder the whole time. 

We saw something that looked like it might have been a marmot, and a summer tanager, and some whitetails.  Lots of wildflowers, too.  There is a loop, distance unknown to me, that goes around the Lake called Dutchman Loop, or something very close.  The trail is well-defined in areas, and others you have to guess, but the whole area is pretty hikeable.  Just a little steep in places. 

A terrestrial garter snake somewhere in the Hills.  I forget where.

After that, we went up to Deadwood.  I’m not too impressed with the hoaky aspect of the town, but there is a lot of history that I am sure is interesting, if not from an entertainment perspective, then at least from a socialogical point of view.  Such a young town that popped up because of mining and then exploded into a collection of filth, crime, gambling, and guns.  Yozers.  You can’t go into any building without running into slot machines.  The bar we ate at, since we couldn’t really find a restaurant that wasn’t buffet [I can’t eat 8.99 worth of food for lunch], was named the ‘Double D’ and the lady serving us probably fell into that category. 

We went on to the DC Booth Fish Hatchery.  I think it was close to the first in the country.  I might be wrong.  But it was a very neat place.  And free.  Did you know trout grow their entire lives?  You can buy food and feed them until your heart, and their stomachs, are content.   It was a pretty area, too, with a lot of historic artifacts about.  They have a train car that they used to transport fish and an area where you can watch the fish swim past you–a viewing window essentially.

We also took a tour through Jewel Cave National Monument.  The Historic Lantern Tour was really fun and only a little rough.  The fellow who gave the tour was working on giving it in ‘first person’, where you pretend to be from whatever time period.  He took us through the ranger house that was built by the CCC and then down into the cave by lantern.  Flashlights work better, by the way, since you can direct the light better.  Otherwise, you are just blinding yourself the whole time.  But it was still neat, and the novelty of it helps take it beyond a normal cave tour. 

Alright, I think I’ll stop here.  Part two will come soon.

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