Black Hills to Devil’s Tower

devils_towerIt was a very busy day the day before, but we woke up early again at 6:15, had a cereal breakfast and were on the road by 7:20.  The day did not get off to a good start.  I was putting away a frying pan from dinner from the night before, and I couldn’t close the damn pot drawer.  I burned up almost a half an hour messing around with the drawer, which I was unable to fix, but did manage to close.

The problem with the drawers appears to be that the drawers are not robust enough to hold heavy items and then take a bouncing and jouncing on the highway.  Some of the Interstates are rougher than many of the dirt or gravel roads in rural America.

The drawer in question is a drawer for pots, but the drawer contents are too heavy, and the drawer is not robust enough with the load I put in it.  The drawer contains three aluminum frying pans, a quart pot, a two quart pot and a gallon pot, all with lids, additionally, there are some plastic strainers. The drawer is obviously supposed to be a pot drawer, it’s wide and deep and located under stove. I figured out how to get it closed, but I need to replace slides with something from a woodworking supply house and not Winnebago.

The country in the Black Hills is beautiful.  The fields are an unbelievable green, the trees are the deepest forest green and the trunks of the pines are cinnamon brown.  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky at the beginning of the day.  It was heaven driving down the road.  Then to add to the pleasure, while cruising down the road we spotted a mountain bluebird sitting on it’s blue bird house.  It was a brilliant blue like someone took a chip of the cloudless sky and let it flit around the green meadow.  It is worth the drive to come out west just to see one.  Many individuals with foresight have installed blue bird boxes. Hats off to them.  I appreciate the fruits of their efforts.

We cruised through Deadwood, South Dakota made famous by ‘Wild Bill’ Hickcock and gold mining, hoping that there was something of interest for us to see.  There were bars, steak houses, hotels and gambling halls, nothing that interested us at 9:00 AM.  The only thing missing to make the place interesting was the tough guys from one hundred years ago. Nothing today but soft tourists and bankers on motorcycles.

homesteadWe drove over to Lead, pronounced LEED, like a lead of ore. The ore leads you in a direction.  Lead is essentially the southeast side of Deadwood, but a nice town, with no gambling, no big saloons.  The famous Homestead mine is there, so we took a tour.  We had been there before and poked around, but I don’t think they offered a tour at that time.  They closed the mine around 2003’s and thinking that the price of gold would never go above the 2003 price of $300 an ounce. Then they closed and unfortunately dismantled and cleaned up the mine.  The ore body is still there, but the depth, 8,000 feet deep, and the cost of treating their miners well, made the ore too expensive to extract.  Now the cost of startup and rebuilding the infrastructure to mine again, makes accessing the ore unprofitable, even at $1,500 an ounce.  The mine is still being used for the investigation of neutrinos at the 4,000+ foot level.

spearfishWe apparently took a different route from the Black Hills to Spearfish, SD than last time we headed out from the Black Hills, so missed driving down the Spearfish Canyon. It’s a gorgeous place, one of the prettiest roads with spectacular tall yellow cliffs on both sides of the road.  A must see place. We found Spearfish Canyon Road just outside Spearfish, and drove up the canyon several miles .  We went as far south as the start of the catch and release artificial lure section of Spearfish Creek. We stopped at Bridalveil Falls, where we had a nice lunch, and then we drove south to the end pool of the catch and release section. Holy Cow! The pool at the start of the no bait, catch and release section of the creek were filled with BIG trout.  I didn’t purchase a South Dakota fishing license, and I didn’t want to be embarrassed when I got caught fishing without a license, as I always get caught, so I threw bread in the creek instead, and had it gobbled up by a foot long trout. Sweet! I had a rod and reel and a lure ready to go in the RV, but you have to do the right thing.

We drove back down the canyon, and got onto Rt 90 and drove to Sundance, Wyoming.  I was surprised by the town, as it looked like any of the South Dakota towns that we drove through coming up from Blair Nebraska.  There were no artsy fartsy businesses, just one ying yang holistic counselor on the west side of town. It was just a regular Wyoming farming town.  It wasn’t until we were well on our way to Devil’s Tower that I realized that the festival is held at the Sundance foundation, which is outside of town.  Then, I checked,  it’s held way outside of town  – in Sundance Utah. Gee whiz!.

The drive to Devil’s Tower Monument was great as it went through beautiful country. And eventually, there were great views from a distance.  We stopped and took lots of pictures. We went to the campground and selected our site after careful consideration.  There were a handful of campers there and at 9PM there were ten of us in the entire campground lots of room still left.  It’s like being alone with the Tower.

We drive to the visitor’s center, looked around, met some people that we had previously met in Lead and then took walk around the base of Devil’s Tower on the inner trail.  There were a number of climbers, all in the process of rappelling from the top.  We sat in the same seat we sat in last time we were there and watched the climbers come off the mountain while a cool breeze danced around. While we were sitting there, we saw a female doe that appeared to be in labor.  She was eating and snorting and walked on by.  Obviously a resident used to tourists.

There were several different types of hawk like birds soaring, diving and flying around the Tower. I thought that they were Falcons but the rangers were long gone when we arrived and there was still no rangers in sight, when we got back from the walk.

It’s definitely the start of the spring season here, as the oak leaves have just emerged.  They are only a couple of days old. The tour guide at the Homestead Mine said that they has significant snowfall a week or two ago.  The seasons are messed up out here this year. The aspen leaves were a day or two ahead of the oak leaves and they have been open less than a week.

dt_dinnerWe returned to the campsite, and met a fellow with another new Winnebago View that we met in the Badlands. We filled the RV with some water, as we were dead out. It was a nice dinner of breaded pork chops, mashed potatoes, green beans, sauerkraut, and white wine.  The best part of the dinner was enjoying the view of Devils Tower out of the dining room window. Dinner was interrupted by a small thunderstorm, which only changed the view of the Tower.

I’ll spend the evening trying to catch up on the postings.  We had a  great day, tomorrow is a commute day and we will be spending the night in Cody Wyoming.  After that, on to Yellowstone.