June 15, 2012

The Hills, Part 1: Sturgis, Spearfish, Deadwood


We woke up on the first morning in the Hills with a semi-plan. I think overwhelmingly what I remember is the scent of those mountains. And they're not even mountains like big Colorado-style mountains. They're just baby mountains. Reminded me a lot of the Appalachian Mountains, to be honest. The air smelled amazing, is what I'm saying: clean, pure, full of Jesus.

Homeboy opened the drapes and the window for an early sniff. Considering we were back an hour uh... we were up early.




We stopped immediately to wash the truck and remove insect bodies from the windshield. Of which there were many. Bryon was obsessed.




After the car wash, we got gas. Where he washed the windows again. It was at this point that I shot this picture over to his mother via text. "That's my boy!" she said. Made me smile.





We drove north, up into Sturgis and then around to Spearfish Canyon, Lead, and Deadwood.







We had intended to climb Bear Butte that morning. However, the 30 mph winds and 45 degree weather sort of deterred us. Next time.





And then it was on into Spearfish Canyon. Spearfish is one of the locations that we very strongly considered for our wedding. In fact, I posted a photo of the Spearfish Canyon Lodge as a 'hint' way back when. Once we realized how much snow would impede our family and friends from joining us, we decided to stick with a state park closer to home. That also had 2 feet of snow. Anyway. Spearfish Canyon - I can't wait to go back during the fall!




I have said it a million times: Larry was with us on this trip. His ghost echoed through these mountains and watched over our journey. So it was only appropriate that we play some Neil for him along the way.






The sound of the water licking over those rocks? Yeah. Awesome.




The pine needle smell... oh my. He carried those needles for hours, sniffing.




Blurry Rachel, in-focus trout!




As we wound deeper into the Canyon, we found Bridal Veil Falls, the first of two waterfalls on that path. We parked to take pictures from the road (which is not a small feat, let me tell you, with winding roads and cliffs on the other side). There was a sign that said something like PLEASE OBSERVE FROM THE ROAD: NO HIKING ALLOWED.  Good thing we don't follow directions well.




On our hike back, Husband saw this rock in the creek. Looks like Spearfish Canyon was a favorite place for lots of daddies and their kids. I didn't see he'd taken a picture of this rock we'd passed until I was processing photos at home. Bless his heart.






Inside the waterfall.










AH-MAZING.

I think Bryon was a bit shocked when I grabbed my camera, looked at the sign, and then skipped across the road. "Let's go!" I shouted. He followed and then later told me in all of his years there, he'd NEVER gone INTO the forest to see the waterfall. Really? Lord, you could barely get me out of there! It was something awesome to do together.

We drove a bit more and then hiked (this time with permission) back to Roughlock Falls. So gorgeous.








Then it was on to Lead and Deadwood. Lead was so small I might have missed it. And you couldn't pay me a million dollars to go into the side of the mountain to see the gold mine. No. No way. So Deadwood was our next destination that day.

Saloon 10 is where Wild Bill Hickok met his demise while playing a hand of poker. Same chair he sat in still sits there today.




Beautiful boots also still sit there today.




We lunched at the Midnight Star restaurant downtown. The restaurant is owned by Kevin Costner (who fell in love with our great state while shooting Dances With Wolves here) and operated by his family and friends. His movie paraphernalia is everywhere. I adored the costumes from Dances With Wolves. Stands With a Fist was my favorite!

The pizza was also my favorite.




We wore shorts during the day (shorts with like, 8 layers on top) but by evening it was far too chilly to continue with that nonsense. We stopped at the store for warmer gear and found only socks and stocking caps. We had intended to stop for dinner at some firehouse-type place in downtown Rapid City and then go see the lights at Mount Rushmore (hence the need for the hats) at dark.

But instead we stayed at the firehouse-type place whose name I cannot remember and got our drink on.

The place had patches from EMT and firehouses around the United States and Canada. I can't wait to show the kids this one from Saskatoon! [Inside joke.]




We had a blast. Truly a lot of fun. It was a great day.

Also took one of my favorite pictures of us so far at Roughlock Falls.




We missed having the kids with us. And we earmarked like, a dozen places to go when we take them back. But I'm not going to lie; it was so lovely to have time alone. We didn't take a honeymoon so this was pretty special to us. We're saving the H word for Hawaii (not anytime soon), but this was certainly a nice adult vacation. We are so blessed.

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