Posts Tagged ‘Deadwood SD’

Making our way through the wilderness

July 21, 2016

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Up early and out of our BnB (no breakfast: just a B, I guess) in Spearfish.

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Drove to Deadwood where we parked curbside, hoping to eat before the parking meter enforcement began. No problem. Pricey breakfast in Bullies hotel and casino, and we headed on south on the scenic route.

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Next stop was two or three points around Pactola reservoir, surrounded by pine forest, with a few boaters already out on the water. Pleasant place.

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Then a quick stop at Hill City to enjoy the trains. Big crowd already lined up waiting for the train ride in an hour. We don’t see any point in that kind of thing, but it’s fun to wander around and look at the  big machines.

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Further south, the map showed Cascade Spring and Falls as notable roadside stops. We didn’t stay long at the spring; signs warned of poison ivy right at the picnic area and more down along the water, and we believed them. Not the kind of adventure we need today.

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But we stopped longer at the Fall, a distinctly optimistic description of a few vertical feet of rapids. Pretty place.

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I like to view the texture in fast-flowing water by setting the shortest exposure possible.

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A family was there, also enjoying the water.

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Much of the Black Hills region is quite pretty, but as we got further south and into Nebraska, we got more into the long stretches of rolling grassland that don’t have much to offer. Stopped briefly in Crawford, where we talked with an Information volunteer for a few minutes, and then we went on to Fort Robinson.

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The fort is back into the pretty country, probably as much because of water as anything else. Cavalry and infantry, late 19th century. Brick buildings, many of them, some adobe, some wood-frame. Big (big!) stables, as would be expected for a cavalry base.

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And stagecoach rides. The employee hitched up the team while we watched, and drove the coach out. The girl got to sit up top with him, and on the way back, she got to drive.

And then, more long miles in the hot, until we reached Agate Fossil Beds national monument.

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Above the visitor center is a trail to a couple of the hills where the big finds originated. We hiked up in hundred-degree heat, glad that it crossed the green of the Niobrara river flood plain, and that the total loop was only a couple of miles.

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When seeing the name, I have always wondered why agate geology and fossils were compatible. Turns out they are not, of course. The ranch was called Agate Springs ranch because of what’s called moss agate found in the springs here, and the spring got lost from the subsequent name. No quartz around here anywhere.

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Gazillions of insects along the trail, mostly grasshoppers, but also those who are happy to prey on grasshoppers.

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Even grasshoppers can be interesting sometimes.

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I think this little guy is a robber fly.

Getting on in the afternoon, and we need to find our BnB in Scottsbluff.

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Scott’s Bluff is the left end of this ridge, and Mitchell Pass is the low point between. Why, we ask, did the pioneers not just go around the end of the ridge, rather than climbing the pass? Good question. Apparently the badlands and muddy terrain along the North Platte flood plain were more difficult than the pass. (But Google Earth shows that the railroad builders went level along the river instead of winding back and forth up the grade.)

Our B&B is the Barn Anew, an old horse barn (percherons: big rooms on the ground floor!) that has been rebuilt for lodging. We’re told that the framing is original, but I imagine that the rest of it was reconstructed. Picturesque.

Into Gering for an evening with Dorthey, another long day, happy to be out of the car.

California snobs

July 19, 2016

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

We drove north out of Casper to Buffalo, where we stopped and wandered around for a few minutes, then turned east on I-90 toward South Dakota. We had talked about going to Rapid City today, but decided to make today a bit shorter and do some extra miles tomorrow. So I reserved an airBnB in Spearfish. To avoid arriving too early, we overshot Spearfish on our way into the area, went to Sturgis, the home of the world’s largest motorcycle rally, the first week in August.

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I got a Sturgis baseball cap for $5, a good price, considering that they usually sell for $20 and sometimes as much as $30. Mine always get sweaty and sun-bleached, so I always need more. And for that price, I don’t mind advertising Sturgis.

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It’s nice of them to invite me to enjoy the dog water, but I think I’ll pass, thank you very much.

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If any further evidence is needed that it’s a motorcyclist’s town ….

We drove on to Deadwood, but decided, rather than spending the afternoon wandering Deadwood’s tourist attractions, we’d go visit Spearfish Canyon, a highly recommended byway. And it was well worth the visit!

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We took a brief hike above this stream, but turned back when the trail got steep enough that returning downhill would become difficult.

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According to the description, some of these cliffs above the road are as high as a thousand feet.

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Just as we began to think we were not going to get our promised waterfall, we came to Bridal Veil fall. Yes, I know, this is a poor imitation of the one in Yosemite, but still, pretty nice.

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On into Spearfish, where it turned out that we couldn’t get into the B&B; the allegedly unlocked door was snap-locked. We perched on the porch until Chad came home, riding up on his mountain bike. Nice place.

Of course, we immediately went out again, wandered a bit until we came to the Bay Leaf Cafe, which caters to yuppie tastes. We thought it might also have good brews, and indeed it did. They had Moose Drool, which we skipped this time, because we already know it’s good. Jacky had A Pile of Dirt (locally brewed porter) and I had a pint of Buffalo Sweat (oatmeal stout). Pretty good, along with our seafood dinners and decadent desserts.

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The official pictorial emblem of Spearfish suggests a catfish (whiskers), but this model looks more like a trout. Hard to say.

We wandered off to find a drugstore after dinner, then returned on the rec trail along the creek. Nice town.