Though I fear that my luxuriously long summer vacations are nearing an end (I can’t really afford to just drop off from the musical landscape like I have in previous years), I have had the opportunity to head out to South Dakota and New Mexico this past July and August, and my batteries are all recharged for another year of blogging, podcasting, teaching, and bass playing madness.
After spending a week in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (my hometown) for a wedding reception (our Hawaiian wedding precluded a big celebration like this), we headed out for western South Dakota, passing endearing roadside kitsch like the Corn Palace (Mitchell, SD) and Wall Drug.
We passed through the bleak but beautiful Badlands, taking a few short and sweaty hikes in the forbidding formations before retreating back to the air-conditioned comfort of our car.
Courtney and I are both avid hikers, and we look forward to these summer journeys out west and into the more mountainous regions of the country.
After the Badlands, we made our way to Deadwood. Ah, Deadwood! Bikers, gambling, and fake shoot-outs every 20 minutes. We love it and made sure to bring our complete set of HBO Deadwood DVDs to watch while in town.
We were in town right around the beginning of the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. This is a pretty crazy time to be out in the Hills–hundreds of thousands of bikers convene here every summer, a sea of leather-clad riders from all corners of the country.
My middle name is Sturgis, by the way. I’m not kidding!
We spent the night in the historic Bullock Hotel right on Main Street in the heart of Deadwood. Totally cool, and haunted to boot. I swear that I woke up in the middle of the night shaking a ghost’s hand.
We hiked up to Mount Moriah Cemetary, nestled in the steep hills above downtown Deadwood and the final resting place of Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, and thousands of other larger-than-life figures from Deadwood’s past.
After a couple of fun days in Deadwood, we drove south through the central Black Hills, doing some hiking around Sylvan Lake (at the base of Harney Peak, the tallest mountain east of the Rockies) and driving on the Needles Highway between ancient granite spires.
We wrapped up our time in the Black Hills down in Hot Springs, a secluded town in the southern Black Hills. It is a popular place for local artists and a great contrast to the bawdy bustle of Deadwood.
We filled up as many water bottles as we could from the mineral spring flowing right through the center if town and headed out early the next morning for New Mexico.