Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spearfish Canyon, Bear Butte, and Pierre, South Dakota

Friday, September 14, Two Days Behind

Our enormous bed was so comfortable that it was painful to get out of it.

We walked across the street to the Latchstring Inn, which has a beautiful view, for breakfast. I ordered sourdough French toast with maple syrup, and Randy had trout with eggs and red potatoes. It seemed like a very woodsy breakfast, and was delicious.

After breakfast, we went back to the Lodge, and I sat in the huge lobby with my computer and tried to get caught up on my journaling. We drank coffee and looked out the window at the rock mountains and the white-trunk birches whose leaves are yellow already, for fall. We sat there until 11:00, which is check-out time, savoring the beauty and the peace.

Once our “stuff” was in the car, we hiked the path near the Latchstring Inn that leads down to Spearfish Falls. We didn't know what to expect, but the walk was ¾ of a mile, up hills, down hills, and across a bridge. The falls came from a high rock wall. It was breathtaking.

Once the hike was over, we drove 2 ½ miles into the canyon near the falls we'd visited yesterday, to see a place that was a site for the movie “Dances With Wolves.” A sign marked the area, and our understanding is that many scenes in that movie, one of my favorites, were filmed in Spearfish Canyon.

South Dakota has many places where the movie was filmed. If you remember the last scene, where Kevin Costner and his Indian family are riding horses up into the Black Hills, I am sure that was filmed in Spearfish Canyon.

We then drove the remainder of the scenic byway, which took us awhile, as we kept stopping to take pictures. We saw Bridal Veil Falls, some fly fishermen, a few motorcyclists, and relatively few people. It was peaceful and beautiful. Somewhere in the middle of this, we made peanut butter sandwiches for our lunch, and ate them while we watched a rushing creek. When we reached the end of the byway, near Spearfish, we wished it were not over.

We drove to Sturgis, home of the motorcycle rally that is supposed to be for a week in August, but seems to last most of the summer. We've been to Sturgis during the rally when the bikes lined the streets, and vendors were selling things all along the sidewalks. Today there was none of that. We couldn't help but think that the town residents are probably glad when the rally ends each year.

Bear Butte
East of Sturgis, is old Fort Meade where there is a VA hospital and some other army buildings. We drove a few miles up a mountainside to visit the Fort Meade National Cemetery. From there, we could see Bear Butte, which is a mountain that is held sacred by Native Americans. Tribal ceremonies are held on Bear Butte. The cemetery was fenced and had headstones for cavalry soldiers and others, totally 188 graves dating from 1878.

We have turned east, you note.

We'd decided not to cross over into Wyoming, because we'd be opening up a can of worms. We wouldn't be able to stop with just one place to go. We'd be there for over another week if we let ourselves go there. So east we're heading. We will be stopping along the way, don't worry..............There's plenty more to see.

Almost suddenly, the mountains gave way to prairie, with rolling hills or miles of flatness. The fields have been harvested, and they're all golden brown. It is a different kind of beautiful. We saw herds of antelope, deer, and one wolf stalking something in a field.

Tonight we're in Pierre, South Dakota, the state capital. I think they have the most beautiful capitol building of all the states. There is a lake around some of it, that is lit up at night. Six statues, each representing a difference branch of US Services, stand on a stage-like thing in the water, saluting the flag. We walked around the lake on the capitol's grounds tonight, visited the statues, then ate our very first Taco John dinner at this fast-food Mexican chain.  More than likely, our last. 
Tomorrow we will find the old St. Charles Hotel, where my Aunt Angie Pierce Warren lived for many years, then be on our way to see what else South Dakota has to show us.

As I said before, I am in love with South Dakota.