My Road Trip
Let me start off by saying I don't know how they did it.
How did previous generations load up the covered wagon or saddle up a horse
and make their way toward the west? I traveled at 70MPH and had a
radio to entertain me, and I STILL found the trip mentally exhausting.
I have a new respect for the pioneers and settlers of the old west.
Starting in Michigan, the first several hundred miles of my
trip were pretty uneventful. As a matter of fact, the road
construction and toll booths of Illinois almost made me want to turn around
and come home. Approximately 900 miles of my trip was spent on
Interstate 90. My first major stop was at a place called Pioneer Auto
Show in Murdo, South Dakota. I didn't know what to expect, so I
didn't bring my camera with me, but it turned out to be one of the most
amazing collections of vintage automobiles I've ever seen. Click
HERE for more
info. Just a little further along I-90, I saw billboard signs for an
1880 Town. My expectations were low, but I brought my camera along
with me this time. I was starving, so I started off with lunch in a
train dining car (top row, left). After lunch, I entered the town and
was pleasantly surprised. I was told these buildings are actual
buildings from the surrounding area, which were moved to this location in
Murdo to save them from destruction, including a church, bank, hotel and
saloon. I felt like I was standing in a ghost town. Also on
display were props from the Oscar-winning film Dancing with Wolves,
including the ultimate prop, Cisco, the horse ridden by Kevin Costner's
character in the film (above, bottom row, right).
After spending close to 30 hours in my car, Deadwood finally
loomed on the horizon. The sky looked ominous and uninviting (above,
left) but I continued anyways. Finally, I reached Exit 30 and drove
through the beautiful Black Hills to reach Deadwood. Of course, as
soon as I got out of my car, I was greeted with gunfire and fresh corpses in
the street (above, right). Actually, actors recreated gunfights for
the amusement of visitors throughout the day. It was fun to hear
gunshots in the distance as I roamed the streets.
Unfortunately, due to several fires throughout Deadwood's
history, not many original buildings are still standing today.
However, Seth Bullock's hotel, which he built after his hardware store
burned down, remains standing, and is reportedly HAUNTED by his ghost.
Unfortunately, no rooms were available when I tried to check in. I
ended up staying at Hickok's down the street. The Mineral Palace now
stands on the site where the Gem Theatre used to stand. They've opened
a steakhouse on the second floored which they've named The Gem, which serves
menu items such as Dan Dority's Black & Bleu Steak, which is what I had.
Mmmmm. Signs also direct you to the original location of the No.
10 Saloon, where "Wild Bill" Hickok was gunned down while holding the
infamous Dead Man's Hand (aces & eights). The most emotional moment I
had was visiting Mt. Moriah Cemetery. Buried on the grounds of the
cemetery are "Wild Bill" and "Calamity Jane." And, after taking
a hike up a steep incline, I found Sheriff Seth Bullock's gravesite (buried
with his wife Martha). It was a pretty moving experience, realizing
that these aren't fictional characters depicted on TV, but real life heroes
of the Old West. I didn't take photos, but you can get more
information about the cemetery by clicking
Finally, after having a run of bad luck at Black Jack and
Texas Hold 'Em, I decided to head home, but not before stopping at nearby
Mt. Rushmore. My anticipation grew as the signs told me I was getting
nearer, but nothing prepared me for the sight of those faces appearing from
behind the trees as I rounded a curve. I literally gasped when I saw
them. The pictures I've seen do not to justice to the monument when
seen with my own eyes. It was awe-inspiring. I stood there
staring at one of the wonders of the modern world. If you haven't seen
Mt. Rushmore in person, I'm begging you, plan a trip to do so. You
won't be disappointed.
After Mt. Rushmore, I began the 1200 mile trek back to
Michigan, where I arrived home late Thursday night.