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Motor Coach Tour 2011
Monday, May 23rd
Rapid City, South Dakota
to
Sheridan, Wyoming

Today the tour leaves Rapid City, drives through Sturgis, stops in Deadwood and Lead and travels on to our overnight stop which is in Sheridan, Wyoming. Here is the tour map. Sturgis and Lead are located very close to Deadwood, one a short distance east and the other as short distance west.

Tour Map 2

The first village we came to was Sturgis, South Dakota. The once a year Sturgis motorcycle rally is to North American motorcyclists what the Friday the 13th rally's in Port Dover, Ontario, Canada are to Canadian motorcyclists. The rally in Sturgis goes on for a week in early August and something over 100,000 people attend. The people in the town make more money in the week and the weeks surrounding the week than they do the entire rest of the year. Port Dover is much smaller and the people are not as dependant on what are usually 2 days a year to make money. We did not stop in Sturgis we just drove through it for some quick views. Here are some of those "quick views".

Sturgis_1a Sturgis_2
The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Gift Shop.
Beautiful downtown Sturgis.
Sturgis_3 Sturgis_4
Something with a motorcycle theme. I wonder why?!?!
In case you did not believe me that this is Sturgis.

If you want to know more about Sturgis here is their web site: http://www.sturgis.com/

After leaving Sturgis we drove across Interstate 90 (which was our main route for almost the entire day) from the northeast side to the southwest side towards Deadwood. Our first stop was at the small museum in the Black Hills National Forest just above Deadwood called TATANKA, The Story of the Bison. This is a small museum and educational centre set up by actor Kevin Costner after he spent a lot of time in this area filming one his best known and successful movies Dances with Wolves. He liked the area so much he wanted to give something back and this, as well as several other things in Deadwood are his contribution. It seems that the locals do not seem to like or appreciate him very much, except for the ones that work for him though. I am not sure of the reasons exactly but it seems to have something to do with "outside money" or "big money".

On our arrival we were given a brief presentation about the Lakota way of life by a couple of native Laotian's. Lakotas are the major indian tribe in this area. The presentation as very good. Once completed we were given time to look around the small museum. Probably the major thing to see is outside behind the small building. This is a statue, again provided by Kevin Costner depicting a "Bison Jump" (this may be more recognized by many people as a Buffalo Jump). A Bison Jump was the main way that the bison were herded and killed in such huge quantities. Here is a brief explanation of how it worked. The first thing to know is that Bison are matriarchal in nature. Simply put, the female is the leader. Once this was discovered all they had to do was heard the female to where they want them to go and all the rest would follow. Where the people wanted them to go was off a cliff, which the Bison apparently did without any hesitation, there were people waiting at the bottom and killed them. It was quick and apparently not very humane either.

Here are some pictures taken at TAKANKA. The majority of them show the rather unique, I thought, Bison Jump statue.

Takanka_4 Tatanka_1
The road sign for Tatanka.
What you see as you enter.
Tatanka_Statues_1 Tatanka_Statues_2
First half of the Bison Jump Statue.
Second half of the statue. It was not possible to get the statue in one picture. I hope there is nothing missing between the two pictures but there may be.
Tatanka_Statues_3 Tatanka_Statues_4
The statue from one end.
The right side of the statue.
Tatanka_Statues_6 Tatanka_Statues_8
Close up of an Indian capturing a Bison.
Same as previous slightly different angle.
Tatanka_Statues_6 Tatanka_Statues_7
The rider corralling the bison.
A close up of one of the bison heads.

Tatanka_2

The small building that houses the museum, gift shop, and visitor centre taken from the statues.

Perhaps the most lasting image that I saw is the one below. It really shows what happened to the Bison.

Tatanka_3

If you cannot make out what this is, it is a pile of Bison sculls. The man on top is holding one in his hand.
If this does not graphically show what man did to the Bison, then nothing does.

If you want to know more about this, here is their web site: http://storyofthebison.com/index.htm

At the completion of our visit here we were picked up by an old school bus from what I think was called something like the Original Deadwood City Tour. For some reason I have no pictures of this. I do remember that the driver was a real western character and took us through the city in his own unique way. The town of Deadwood came to be as a result of the gold rush of 1876. The creek that ran, an still does run, through the town had a lot of gold in it. In very short order the gold camp turned into a town that was rather rough and tumble, played by its own rules and attracted outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers amongst others. The TV series Deadwood apparently is a fairly accurate recreation of what was like during this period.

One of the best known gunslingers (who was also looking for gold) at this time was Wild Bill Hickok. Not long after he arrived he was assassinated while playing poker. He was holding a hand of aces and eights which is now known as the Dead Man's Hand as a result of this. You will see a picture of the plaque marking the location of this event in the pictures that follow. Another well known westerner who made a name in this area is Calamity Jane. She is buried in the local cemetery here right next to Hickok.

The city has been through a number of fires and floods and most (if not all) of the buildings still there are not that historical. Most have been renovated or built to look historical but really are not. We had lunch at Diamond Lil's Restaurant located on the second floor of the Midnight Star Casino which along with the tour we took is owned by Kevin Costner.

Deadwood_Sign Deadwood Wild Bill
Entrance sign to Deadwood
Wild Bill Hickok
Deadwood Saloon #10 Deadwood 9
The original site of Saloon #10. The sign in the next picture is just barely visible beside the wine coloured awning in the far right centre of this picture.
The sign by the awning in the previous picture.
Deadwood Diamond Lils 2 Deadwood Diamond Lils 1
The inside of Diamond Lil's restaurant where most of us had lunch. The display cases have costumes from some of Kevin Costner's movies in them.
A bit more of the restaurant.
Deadwood Midnight Star Casino Deadwood 8
This is the Midnight Star Casino. The Diamond Lil's restaurant is on the second floor across the front.
Nifty door knobs!
Deadwood 7 Deadwood 6
Looks like what once was one of the local brothels.
There apparently were many back in them olden days.
Another Casino.
Deadwood 10 Deadwood 10a
The place where the guy who shot Wild Bill was captured.
Here is a close up of the sign near the centre of the previous picture.
Deadwood 12 Deadwood13
A view looking down Main St. with our coach awaiting us.
A view looking up Main St. from the same spot.

For more about Deadwood, here is their rather spiffy web site: http://www.deadwood.com

We departed Deadwood and headed about 10 minutes up the road to the town of Lead. The town should probably have been called Gold but was not. I did ask why it was named Lead and got an answer but I cannot remember that answer now. This town's claim to fame is the Homestake Gold Mine. Gold was found here around the same time as in Deadwood. In fact the gold there probably came from here as it is higher up in the hills than Deadwood. Deadwood's gold was found by panning in the creek. the gold here we buried in the ground. This mine worked for over 100 years and it is thousands of feet /metres deep. Gold is still there but it became so expensive to recover it that mining was stopped here not that long ago.

The pictures below of this area are mainly of the large open pit. This was the way mining started here. They then went into the tunnel and shaft type of mining later. There is not much more to say about this so here are a few pictures.....

Homestake Pit Panorama

This panorama is a blend of three pictures to show the pit. It is 1200 feet (about 366 metres) deep and about 1/2 mile (about 805 metres) wide.

Homestake 2 Homestake 1
A miners memorial.
Our coach, Tour Director Jack and it think it is Barbara waiting at the pit for our return.

Since we are leaving the Black Hills area there is one other useful web site you can look at if interested. It is www.blackhillsbadlands.com . This seems to act as an umbrella site for many of the attractions (and there are many) in this area.

So off we headed to Sheridan, Wyoming. There were no more stops (other than a washroom break) this afternoon. Here are some images taken from the motor coach along the way.

The first two images below are of importance the science fiction aficionados like me. This is where the alien mother ship landed and made the Close Encounter of the Third Kind at the end of Steven Spielberg's famous classic movie of the same name. For those who do not know it is the Devil's Tower National Monument in Wyoming..

Devils Tower Full Devils Tower enlargement
The original picture as taken from the coach. It looked much smaller than this to the naked eye out the coach window. It is somewhere between 20 and 30 miles or approximately 32 to 48 kilometres away.
An enlarged portion of the previous picture.
The monument's height is approximately 1200 feet (366 metres).

Devil's Tower is a U.S. National Monument much like Mt. Rushmore and can be visited. It is managed by the National Park Service. We did not have time to stop.

The pictures below were taken as the coach drove along Interstate 90 heading towards Sheridan. The first one was taken before the Devil's Tower picture above, the rest were taken after.

I 90 #1 I 90 #2
Not quite to the mountains yet but getting there.
I 90 I think we were in Wyoming at this point.
I 90 #3 I 90 #4
Some pretty rough looking trees along the road.
Another heard of Elk near the road.
I 90 #5 I 90 #6
A coal mine. The coal is not very deep here so it is not very hard to mine. The black you can see on the face here is coal.
Some cone structures from a long time ago.
I 90 #7 I 90 #8
Getting closer to the mountains. The splotches in the picture are bug splatters on the coach windshield. Scrubby looking land.
I 90 #9 Sheridan #1
Almost to the Bigfoot Mountains. Sheridan is located near the base of them. There is still snow on the higher peaks. Wait until you see what we encounter tomorrow going through those mountains. Entering Sheridan, Wyoming.

It was almost 5:00PM by the time we arrived in Sheridan. The roads near the hotel were under construction but we eventually found our way to where we had to be. Dinner was included at the hotel and was quite good.

As you may have discovered I seem to like taking night time pictures. Here are a few taken around the hotel. This hotel was a bit different than most we saw but all went well.

Sheridan Hotel 1 Sheridan Hotel 2 My Room
Most of the rooms at this hotel had outside entrances.
This was mine. It was rather hidden in a corner.
Sheridan Hotel 3 Sheridan Hotel 4
Our coach with the main entrance of the hotel off in the distance by the sign.
The building in the centre was a Dairy Queen. The driveway you can see there was the drive through. They came in from the left and went out the front.

Tomorrow, on to Cody, Wyoming.

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Created: August 5th, 6th and 7th, 2011
Last Updated: Thursday, August 25, 2011 10:59 AM