staying at the home of fellow moggers Bill and Cindy in Deadwood, SD,
we took several side trips to see the surrounding Black Hills and some
of the sights. From Deadwood, we headed west to Devil's Tower, SD.
The photos below are what we saw.
attempted to do the cave tour at Jewel Cave and were immediately asked
"do you have reservations?". We replied no. They replied no
tour slots were available that day, so we bought tickets for the
following day and decided to a bit of off-road to pass the time.
We headed north from the cave area on Forest Road (FR) 117 through the
Black Hills. From the top of the first pass, we could see the
extent of a recent burn. The photo above is looking to the
southwest from the high point. The fire generally cleared all the
trees in this area. One symptom of excessive undergrowth is a hot
fire that burns everything in it's path.
traveled north on FR117 and passed many awesome meadows with nice
of the FR117 route is "open range" which means that you may encounter
livestock on the road at any time. Above, a substantial herd
decided that it was time to cross the road, 1017 be damned. They
were not intimidated by the noise of the truck and I literally had to
gear down and push my way through the herd.
most of the length of the Black Hills took several hours on
FR117. We returned to our host's place and had a nice dinner in
Deadwood. Next morning, we left early for the 1.5 hour trip back
to Jewel Cave. Since we had both reservations and tickets, we
went on the tour. To be brutally honest, the cave was large, but
the tour was unimpressive. The cave was nowhere as decorated as
the name would suggest. I saturated on the tour guide droning on
and on about historical anecdotes that were not relevant. Then,
after having to listen to her inane rambling, I was told that we could
not take photos since that delayed the progress of the group through
the cave. I was tempted to advise her that a small reduction in
her dialog would go along way to solving the situation, but elected to
bite my tongue instead. The blood that resulted was bitter
cave had quite a bit of dog tooth spar, but little else.
were advised repeatedly not to touch anything for fear of damage.
Really not an issue since the NPS did all the damage themselves during
the construction of their stairs and walkways.
naturally broken section of the dog tooth spar.
of the passage ways were quite large.
stairs and supporting infrastructure.
some formations worth photographing, much to the chagrin of the
was some flow-stone formations, but they were not very large in
comparison to other caves.
reasonable bank of flow-stone.
stone over the dog tooth spar.
was one, precisely one, bacon formation visible on the tour. This
one actually looked like a slice of bacon.
waited a long time and drove a lot of miles for a somewhat
underwhelming cave tour. When we got above ground, we pointed the
1017 north and went through Hill City and had a great lunch. The
owner of the Desperado restaurant was totally impressed with the truck
and was surfing our site before we even left our booth. He
suggested that we visit the local railroad museum to see what was
there, so we followed through. Above is one of the rolling stock
museum had a large yard and several locos that were functional.
The museum restored the water tower and it is used for their steam
nice diesel electric loco. Kathleen, being a train buff, checked
on the availability of taking the steam train tour to Keystone and
found that the train was currently on a tour. But, she discovered
that the back road to Keystone crossed the tracks about 20 times and
there would be plenty of opportunities to see the steamer
en-route. So, we headed out to cross paths with the train.
one of the grade crossings we passed this road-railer that belonged to
the museum. This truck is used as fire control for the steam
fire control team knew the location of the train with great accuracy
and told us where to go. We reached the appropriate crossing and
parked the truck and waited.
only had to wait about 5 minutes until the steamer arrived. Since
the tracks cross the road multiple times, we heard him coming miles
away. Rules dictate that the engine must "signal" at each
crossing with the steam whistle.
run the engine backward on the return trip since there is no turntable
waves at the passengers on the train.
the way back to Deadwood, we passed this odd statuary. The
right item is some kind of Sasquatch thing, although not anatomically
correct. The smaller statue on the left is highly correct in an
anatomically sense. So correct in fact, that I elected not to
show the other photos of it. Lets just say that the sculptor's
imagination got the better of himself.
Deadwood, we headed west to see Devil's Tower. The tower is a
column of volcanic material that solidified under ground and was
exposed by later erosion. The material is similar to basalt,
which forms nice columns as can be seen in the photo above.
closeup of the columns shows the hard-edged nature of the large
spent the night at the NPS campground at Devil's Tower. The place
was clean and mostly empty. Next morning, we got a better view of
the tower from the south side. It is an imposing structure.
we left on the road to the south side, the exceptional shape of the
tower relative to the surrounding terrain becomes obvious.
traveled many, many miles on dirt country roads and came upon this herd
of antelope. Given their keen eye sight and the noise of the
truck's engine, I am shocked that we surprised the herd.
underline the fact that herbivores are not that smart, the herd ran
parallel to the truck's path and crossed the road in front of us
several times. I would have expected them to run radially away
from our path, but they did not.
the north, just below the Montana border, we passed huge fields of hay
being harvested and dried for the winter.
antelope buck was aware of our presence, but did not really care.
I think that he saw plenty of farm traffic on the county road and had
been accustomed to vehicles. That night, we did a
side-of-the-road camp at a Forest Service camp near U.S. 12. The
camp was unremarkable, but clean and we had the place to
ourselves. Next morning, we rolled out toward Helena, MT.
destination was Helena, MT and our friends Ben and Krista. We
failed to make it there in one travel segment, so we elected to camp
for the night at a reservoir near White Sulfur Springs close to the
highway. The place was essentially deserted, so we parked on the
edge of the water. The water was cool, but not so cold that it
took your breath away. We had a nice night, but the winds came up
our west were a range of mountains that still had snow. Recall
that the date is early August. We arrived in Helena the next
morning and hooked up with Ben at his shop, the "Hobby Garage".
Ben has the largest RC Hobby store in the state with an impressive
inventory of radio controlled toys and accessories. We spent a
couple of days with Ben and did chores. Sadly, Krista was out of
the state with the kids so we missed her.
is an 8-wheel drive "Land Tamer" owned by the Forest Service and was
spotted on a trailer at a fuel stop. This rig has both wheels and
a rear propeller to allow travel in water. The tank contains
herbicide. Why the USFS is doing weed control is a mystery to me,
but it is another likely case of the government doing things that it
should not be doing with the public's money. After some
reflection, I am pretty certain that the bark beetle crisis that we
have in our western forests is a direct consequence of fire suppression
policy implemented by USFS. Somehow, man thinks he can manage
things better than nature can. And in nearly every case, man's
"management" actions have resulted in a catastrophe.
is the rear of the vehicle. The bottom assembly is the propeller
that drives the rig while in the water. The engine above is the
pump motor for the sprayer. I wonder how much we paid so these
fellows could spray weed killer?
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Photos and Text
Copyright Bill Caid 2011, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.