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Thursday, June 4, 2009


So we stayed in Saturday and Sunday it wasn’t raining as much. At first we thought we’d try the Custer Wildlife Loop, but the fog was just too thick, so we started driving toward lower elevations where we could see. We thought we might check out Cedar Rapids, but before we got there, we were offered (at an intersection, not by the Governor or anyone) the option of seeing Deadwood and Lead, which have starred in many a Western. So we thought, why not? and turned left. On the way, we observed Lake Pactola, which is in fact a reservoir, and decided to see it on our way back. What we were hoping for in DeadLeadWoodLand was simply a restaurant where we could sit down and be served a meal, rather than eating takeout in our room or in the car as dictated by Super 8, because we couldn’t leave the dogs “alone.” Since it was a moist, cool day, they could be safely left in the car with all appropriate safety precautions in place.

Outside the “Twin Casino Cities” we had to choose one or the other. We were already AT Deadwood so we chose that. Deadwood is characterized by – you guessed it – dead wood:

The other things in Deadwood are casinos and smoke.

It was the last week of smoke being allowed indoors in South Dakota, and everyone was puffing up a storm. We did manage to locate one smoke-free place and ate there, bison-burger for me, and Joyce had a steak sandwich. It was the first time we had sat down for a meal since Sioux Falls. Seriously. After that unusual experience, we just took a few pictures of what a tourist trap DeadLeadWood is, and left.

All you can do there is buy junk, gamble, and smoke. But we saw it, we had a nice drive, we got out of Custer, and we spotted the local helicopter concession! Yes!

On the way back, we did stop at Lake Pactola, which is very nice and clean and clear (All the air out there is worth the trip in and of itself. Never smelled anything like it.)

And in the lake is a funny island, a tiny little thing, very picturesque, with an American flag planted on top.

Now, this brings up an interesting question: Why, in an interior state, in the middle of a national forest, in a lake, on an island too small to support even one private dwelling, would you need a flag? Is there some danger it might be claimed by Mexico or Canada?

Foreign nation: “Excuse us, our island slipped. Can we have it back, please?”

South Dakota: “No, by God, this is OUR island! Get out of here!” (Slams flagpole into ground). “Well, I guess we showed them!”

Yeah, that must be how it got there.

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