Saturday, July 5, 2014

Devil's Tower, a buffalo jump and the geographic center of US

Wednesday July 2,2014
Devil's Tower in Wyoming was our main excursion for the day.  It was full of tourists like us, but we still managed to find parking and then do the hike around the base, about 1.4 miles.  Many folks start the hike, but not all complete it.  The hike around the base is thru large boulders, parts of the tower which have broken off with time and pine trees.  A really nice hike.
Devil's Tower Wyoming

two climbers

more climbers

wednesday July 3

While still in Wyoming, near Sundance (namesake town of the Kid),  we stopped at a buffalo jump.  There are apparently many such sites in the Black Hills of South Dakota which were used by multiple tribes over time.  The site we visited was found when I-90 was being constructed.  it is estimated that starting in the 1500s-1800s probably 15,000 buffalo were "persuaded" by Indians to jump.  The University of Wyoming is involved in the project of digging at this particular site.

Buffalo Jump

buffalo jumped into this deep pit. bones found in white building seen in right corner of picture


more bones, at different levels in pit
Back again in South Dakota, we had to stop at the geographical center of the US, in Belle Fourche.  We were intrigued by this and it was on the way back to our RV park "home". We can now say we have been to the furthest point south, Key West and now the center.

Stay tuned for more travels.
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Deadwood and Sturgis South Dakota

We loved the HBO show Deadwood, so had to go visit the town and see what it was like today.  The drive to Deadwood was thru beautiful woods.  The movie "Dances With Wolves "was filmed in the woods here.

I was a bit disappointed in that Deadwood no longer had much of an old western town look to it, instead it was full of casinos. Fred seemed to feel it was as he expected, a town full of tourist and rich with history hiding under a vener of tackiness.  The town needed somehow to pay for bringing Deadwood back to life for tourist such as us to flock to it.  Deadwood and the little towns nearby were originally all about gold mining.  Seems to have been a good area for mining for a long time. Now you can take mine tours to see what it was like down below.


gold on display

seen in Adams Museum

Wild Bill Hickok final burial site

We visited both the Adams Museum and the Adams house  for local history. The Adams House, which had been built in the late 1880s still had most of its original furniture from the 1880s and on up to the 1920s, when a son made a few changes.  It had lovely  wooden floors, original china, silverware and linens.  Amazing considering at one point it was a B+B for a few years. Lots had been stored during those years.
The Adams Museum was another of those stuffed to the rafters local history museums.  Well worth the visit.

Adams house and museum


What I learned is that some of the characters from the show were real Deadwood people - Seth Bullock, Sol Star, Al Swearengen and Wong ( he ran the chinese laundry ).  Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed in Deadwood.  All of them are buried in the Mt. Moriah cemetary, above town. Calamity Jane is also buried here, since she wanted to be buried by Hickok.  She seemed to think they were sweethearts, though history seems to think that was wishful thinking.  Anyway, she did get buried next to him. oh la la!

Seth Bullock
Sol Star
Wild Bill Hickok

Dead mans hand - the cards that were in Wild Bill's had when killed

With tired feet, we got back into Mr B and headed for Sturgis, the town with the famous yearly motorcycle rally.  Next year will be the 75th year of the rally. There were lots of bikers in Deadwood and so we were not surprised to find more in Sturgis.  They vary from capable riders, to "look out that he doesn't fall in front of us" types.  Sad!  The rally is in August, but t-shirts are already for sale, so you can say you were there.  the town is really not very interesting, not very charming, not anything other than saloons and casinos.

Sturgis SD

We did stop just outside of Sturgis to visit the Ft Meade museum and get some cavalry history of the area.  It is now a VA hospital with living quarters for medial personnel and an officer training site.  We were done by the time we spent an hour in the museum and still had many more rooms on another floor and basement to go.  Thankfully, this is a self guided tour, so it was easy to say goodbye.

Ft. Meade Museum

It was a 120 mile day and our brains were now also tired.  Headed back to Spearfish and stopped at an Italian restaurant which had been recommended.  We both enjoyed a wonderful meal with some good wine.  Day was done.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Medora, North Dakota

The small town of Medora is the playground for North Dakota folks.  We were surprised to see lots of ND and Minnesota license plates in the campground.  After talking with different people, we learned that this is where ND folks like to come for a fun filled few days.  There is lots to do here, ND style.

Medora, ND

Medora Campground

The town sits at one of the entrances to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The park has a wonderful scenic loop which will give you a chance to see buffalo and wild horses.
TR National Park

Teddy Roosevelt's first cabin in this area

wild horse seen on hilltop

In town is the Medora Musical and the Steak Pitchfork Fondue, evening adventures that are very popular.  The musical is a song and dance show, supposedly with young folks from all around the country performing. We opted out of both due to being a bit on the expensive side and the weather (very windy and showers).

While in town we took a tour of the Chateau de Mores, built in 1884 by the Marquis de Mores.  The Marquis arrived to what was barely a town and built up the area with a meat processing plant.  He needed to ship the meat east with as little spoilage as possible, so started a boxcar refrigeration business. During all of this, he had the town named after his wife Medora and built a large house overlooking the town, nicknamed the Chateau by the locals.  What was interesting was the fact that the Marquis and Medora were married in and had a family winter home in La Bocca, right next to Cannes.

Chateau de Mores

Chateau de Mores
only smoke stack is left of meat processing plant

Also in town was a local museum, chock full of artifacts from the area and a Cowboy Hall of Fame.  Lots of tourist shops with stuff to buy and quite a few places to eat, but nothing outstanding.  During the weekend this town was buzzing.  When we left Monday morning, there was hardly a soul in sight.
The area around was stupendously beautiful!  This is the National Grassland and it was green as far as the eye could see.  Here also are the Badlands, which were beautiful, with great hills and rock formations.  We loved all of it.

The locals were all super friendly and chatty.  They all complained about the -54 degrees they had this winter, but only because it was too cold to snow.  They all wished it had snowed so that it would have insulated the ground and not caused their pipes to burst, not once but  two to three times during the winter.  They even closed the schools one day because it was below -50, which by state law is the lowest it can get before schools close.  Too weird, -49 is okay though!

Overall our first impressions of the Dakotas is very favorable.
Tonight we are in Spearfish, South Dakota.  We are spending a week here touring the area - Mt Rushmore, Deadwood, Sturgis, Custer State Park, Devil's Tower in Wyoming.
Stay tuned
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!