Fruit Loops

Published: June 13th 2017
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Geo: 44.0812, -103.231

Day 7

After breakfast at the Cody (hot complementary buffet), we checked out and were at the BBC Museum again when it opened at 8. Last night we did the Western Art and Plains Indians. This morning we did the remaining three (Buffalo Bill, Firearms, Natural History). Not quite as interesting, but definitely worth the time. We devoted 4 hours in all, which was plenty if you aren't a gun aficionado. I have heard others who spent 2 days. You decide.

We did a little shopping on Sheridan Road on the way out of town, including the Sierra Trading Post outlet.

We took the Big Horn Scenic Byway (US14) east thru Greybull and Bighorn National Forest to Ranchester. Once again, AAA marked this route with dots, meaning "scenic", but the road didn't get scenic until we entered Bighorn. Then it climbed through red rocks and climaxed at Shell Falls. Don't be confused by the travel books listing the Shell Falls in either Gillette or Shell. We kept an eye out for them for a long time and they were almost an hour east, up in the red rocks, tumbling down to those areas.

We traveled I-90 southeast to Sheridan, where we toured the
historic district (not worth the stopover) and grabbed a bite to eat. We ventured through Buffalo and Gillette to the Moorcroft exit, then north on US-14 to Devil's Tower National Monument. This is the spot where the craft landed in “Close Encounters”. Interesting to see; however, we weren't among the 5000 who scale it each year.

NOTE: We didn't stop at Mitchell, WY to see the Corn Palace. We have since been told by many that we missed a sure thing.


We crossed into South Dakota on another road marked “scenic byway” (WY-24/SD-34) near Belle Fourche. Only the area near Hulett, WY was indeed scenic. We then took US-85/14A south to Deadwood (Black Hills Scenic Byway). Again, some not at all scenic roads. Would have been easier to stay on I-90 and exit at Deadwood.

Deadwood is where Wild Bill Hickok was shot and killed while playing poker in Saloon #10 in 1876. (His pairs of Aces and 8's is still referred to as “Dead Man's Hand”😉. The downtown area is an historic district, which is now a front for gritty museums, casinos, monuments and grave sites of Wild West legends. We actually visited the Mount Moriah cemetery and saw the graves of Wild Bill and Calamity Jane.

We headed out of Deadwood on US-14A toward Sturgis, famous for being the location of one of the largest annual motorcycle events in the world. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world flock to this usually sleepy town during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. Not my kind of spot – more biker bars than you can imagine. And home to the Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame. A pilgrimage spot, to say the least.

As much as I hate the long drives, and the endless miles of prairie and plains on this trip, they are no where near as loathsome as the WaTiki Indoor Watersport Resort at the Rapid City LaQuinta.

We are normally fans of newer LaQuintas and belong to their loyalty club, LaQuinta Returns, mainly because they are dog friendly. But the Rapid City version of this chain was not just a disappointment, but the poster lodging for what NOT to book when traveling as a retiree. This facility just wasn't what we are used to.

1. Rate was outrageous. $239, with a search of multiple websites and a AAA discount. For Rapid City? OMG.

2. Check-in was awful. One person on desk at 8 pm. Five people in line. And receptionist was also answering outside calls and inside calls to the front desk. I was in line 20+ minutes. I should have taken it as a sign when one gentleman walked in and asked if there was a pool besides the one in the circus tent. When told “no”, he spun on his heels and left. I should have followed.

3. I realize it's summer and families travel to places like national parks. But this property was packed to the gills with little people. It was noisy and chaotic. And sticky.

4. A reason it was packed is that the LaQuinta and the Fairmont are attached to a WaTiki Indoor Watersport Resort, with slides, lazy river, 30 arcade games, food concessions and more. Nice if you are traveling with youngsters; not so nice if you are two adults trying to get some rest after a long travel day.

5. Breakfast was less than we are used to. Cereal, rolls and waffle mix, along with juice and very rancid coffee. There were two eating rooms, and a “sidewalk café” in the lobby and STILL there weren't enough seats. Too many families with too many kids. And abundance of fruit loops underfoot. Sugar and syrup everywhere. Loud, and sticky. VERY sticky.

6. Location wasn't good. Very east end of town, very far away (in Rapid City terms) from everyplace you need to get to.

We checked into our rooms and got out of Dodge. We headed back downtown to the Firehouse Brewing Company, a cute place located in a former firehouse. Menu was clever and food was tasty. Not award winning, except in comparison to other meals this trip.

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