One main thing that I love about traveling is doing the un-planned. Or I guess a better way of explaining it is looking at a map and seeing that you’re actually pretty close to a place you’ve always wanted to go… and then actually going. Today was that type of a day.
I rolled out of bed bright and early and got on the highway for the hour and a half drive northwest into Wyoming to visit Devils Tower. This is a place I’ve always wanted to go, I think because it’s always seemed like a strange, almost mystical place. And this feeling truly sinks in as you approach it. Devils Tower looms up in the distance, and I swear it’s mainly because of the surrounding countryside. You have this beautiful grassland and a winding river, and then… up comes the odd, jarring shape of Devils Towers, which almost looks like a scar, or deformity on the land. But one thing is for sure, it literally draws you to it, because of its strangeness.
At Devils Tower I also again noticed the diverse people around, people really from all over the world – this actually made the place stranger. I mean think about it. Devils Tower is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and you come here because you want to be here. It’s not a pit-stop along the highway. But then in this remoteness you hear Russian, Mandarin, Italian, Hindi, and many other languages. I guess that’s the power of this place. People come from far and wide.
After walking around the Tower, and watching people slowly climb up its sides, I took a nice, slow drive back into South Dakota down the Belle Fourche Valley, and eventually ended up in Deadwood. En route, it’s striking how much different the Northern Hills are from the Central and Southern. Up North it’s just rougher and tougher-hewn. Down south it seems more genteel for some reason. Anyway, Deadwood I liked, but have mixed feelings about.
I say this because I feel like you can’t really tell what’s real about the town. Or really if anything is real. But what makes it worse is that most people don’t seem to mind, and even prefer the fakeness. I don’t exactly mind this per se, but worry when no one seems to question the information they’re given. It’s like your tour guide says this and that, and even if it’s complete nonsense it’s somehow believed in. Polished history, for a price. The only real highlight of the town, I think, is Mt. Moriah Cemetery, which sits above the town.
Here you have the grave sites of a lot of famous people, like Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. It’s also a great place to look out over the town. But mainly it’s quiet and peaceful, and gives you a chance to hike around the grave sites up in the hills. Strenuous at times, but beautiful.
After Deadwood I mainly spent the rest of the day just down the road in Lead, and was spellbound by the Homestake Mine. I mean this place is a giant, massive hole in the ground. But what I find most interesting is that it keeps on winding around beneath the surface for miles and miles. It’s this subterranean city the twists below Lead. I think this is thought-provoking. An entire world beneath our feet.