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Published: October 15th 2015
I didn't really get to do much today, since the drive was massive. But that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy what I did
get to do.
My day started off in Morrill, NE, where I had stayed at the Oak Tree Inn - a place I highly recommend if you ever find yourself in town. Next to it is Penny's Diner, and this thing is right out of the 1950s. Inside, it's like a Waffle House, but less grimy. The food was good, greasy, and quick to arrive. All things you hope for in a diner experience. The service was great, and I really didn't have to eat again until much later in the day.
I took my time this morning, since I knew I could get some much-needed sleep before starting the 4-hour drive to Devil's Tower. Always better to be well-rested before that kind of drive. I had been waking up around 4-4:30 AM and staying awake for a couple of hours for the past 2 days, which really didn't help at all. Maybe I still haven't got used to Mountain Time. I'll be leaving it tomorrow, so I guess it's all just as well.
drove for about 3 hours until I got to Sundance, WY. Along the way, the road was red - like brick red. And my eyes weren't playing tricks. I got a photo you can see. It was odd. The road was that color for dozens of miles at a stretch. Maybe it's coincidental, but there were also dozens of miles at a stretch when I had zero reception for my phone. Hey, Verizon, you're supposed to have it covered. Glad I didn't particularly need anything while I was in the area. When I got to Sundance, I was surprised to see that the town had a population of only 1138. And this was a "major" town in Wyoming? I walked around, found a statue of the Sundance Kid, and even a polite stranger who gave me some tips for a couple of places I might want to check out.
Then I was on my way to Devil's Tower National Monument. Now, you can take pictures of the massive rock, or with the massive rock, without actually going in the park. Entrance costs $10, so if all you want is a photo-op, then no need to pay. But after the
entrance, it's a 3-mile road that winds its way up to the Visitor's Center, where you are almost face-to-face with the tower. Along the way, about 1 mile into the park, there's a prairie dog "village" off to the left. I recommend waiting until you're leaving the park to stop, since there are places to pull off only on that side of the road. And the animals will be there at all times of day. The one thing I regret not having enough time for is to walk along the Red Bed Trail, which takes you further out into the park and along the river where you can see some fantastic red beds (old geological formations of exposed iron-rich material). The photos online were breathtaking, but the trail is 2.8 miles long. Plus, there are rattlesnakes, and after I walked about 5 minutes on the trail, I heard one; after that, I was no longer interested. But really, this site used to be a spiritual place for Native Americans, and perhaps it still is. I can see why. It's quite inspiring, and I'm sure the Oregon Trail folks could've used this as a landmark on their journey, too.
next stop was the Geographical Center of the USA in Belle Fourche, SD. I passed through Montana to get there, so check that off the list, too. This place is not the geographical center of the continental USA, which is in Kansas. Instead, with the addition of Alaska and Hawaii, the center shifted to this place. Just one of those curiosities that you never really expect to find until you're in the area.
And tonight, I'm staying at the Holiday Inn Express-Gold Dust Casino in Deadwood, another historic town. It turns out that basically all the hotels in town double as casinos. Of course, there are also casinos in town that are not hotels. It's on Main Street, which is still the same Main Street that was famous in the 1870s. Most of the town burned down in the late 1870s, so there's not a lot of original material left from that time period. But it still has a feel to it - the street is bricked, which makes for an interesting sensation to drive over. Casinos and bars line the street, as they probably always have. It's a pretty short street, so I went up one side and
down the other after I got to town tonight. And really, if you don't want to gamble, eat steak dinners, or buy souvenirs, Deadwood probably isn't the place for you. I've already called it a night and plan on an early start tomorrow. I've caught a glimpse of the Black Hills, and I'm looking forward to checking out the sculptures contained within them tomorrow.
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