Monday, 16 August 2010

Close Encounters, Prairie Dogs, The Occidental and Whoops!

On day 53 I left Deadwood where I had been staying as it is close to Sturgis. As you probably know, Deadwood is steeped in Cowboy legend. Colonel George Armstrong Custer led an expedition into the Hills and announced the discovery of gold in South Dakota. Custer's announcement triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush and gave rise to the lawless town of Deadwood. The town became famous for the murder of Wild Bill Hickock and he is buried nearby along with Calamity Jane in the nearby cemetery.

Here are a few pictures of Deadwood today. You can still see glimpses of the past, but most of the original buildings are gone....


























































I crossed the border into Wyoming, the 18th state I have been in on this tour and I soon reached the town of Hulett where I stopped for coffee. As you can see, a few of the buildings have a 19th century appearance ....







































In Hulett I saw these two dogs guarding this bike....




















I went to see the general store in Aladdin, Wyoming. I had heard it still looks today much like it did in the 1800’s and sure enough, it did. I took some photos inside, but they didn’t come out well, but if you are in the area, go see it – you won’t be disappointed. I like it because it is still a general store today and it hasn’t become a tourist attraction....



















Soon after it was released in 1977 I saw the movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, by Steven Spielberg. It became and still remain today, one of my favourite films. At the time, the special effects were stunning and I marvelled at how they made such a clever film. A great deal of the film was centred on the Devils Tower in Wyoming, so I had to go see this for myself.

When travelling from the east, the first glimpse you get of the tower is 16 miles away and even at that distance it is breathtaking. Rising out of the plains it looks very odd standing there on its own – it almost looks un-natural and spooky. No wonder they used it for Close Encounters which was about earth being visited by aliens. Here are my best pictures (I did take a lot!).....
























































































































































I love it.

I had scrambled up a slope to get a better view and on the way back down, took this picture of the Leading Ladies....




















Right alongside the road within the National Park that the tower sits within, there are Prairie Dogs, that are a little shy, but if you try hard enough and do not move quickly, you can get quite near to....


































































A lot of Wyoming is High Prairie where just cattle, deer and Pronghorn roam....




















I haven’t done it yet, but I am determined to get a photo of a Pronghorn. They get spooked very easily!

I passed the 8000 mile point near Gillette in Wyoming, just as I was about to join an Interstate.... I have generally kept off Interstates but I didn’t have much of a choice....


























My hotel for the night was in Buffalo and I had booked it in advance about 9 months ago because I wanted to stay at this particular hotel, It is called the Occidental and many famous people have stayed there including Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, Calamity Jane and Buffalo Bill Cody. It was built in 1880 and still retains many of its original features. This hotel has now been elevated to the best I have stayed in so far. It is so cool to stay here, that I will definitely come back....

Here is the front of the hotel....




















The entrance lobby....







































The bar....




















An old piano....


























A sign on the front door of the hotel....












The bedroom I stayed in....



















































They have entertainment in the bar and dancing too! I joined a group of riders from Phoenix for dinner and this is two of them enjoying a dance....


























What a great place!

Finally, I knew I should have tethered my GPS / Sat Nav to my bike, but I didn’t bother because I knew it wouldn’t come off when I was riding the bike.... Wrong!

WHOOPS!....




















All I can say is they don’t bounce very well. Thanks to Mishy Moo, my Step-Daughter, for finding me a replacement and getting it shipped to where I am now staying. Let’s hope it arrives soon so I can move on....

10 comments:

steve.collins said...

Gary

I just love reading your post and looking at your pictures, the next best thing to actually being there. The Occidental hotel just looks fantastic. Did you sit at the bar in one of those high wooden chairs for your arrival beer?

I hope you have not lost all your route plans and data from the broken Garmin and can just reload it into the new one when you get it, if not that will keep you busy for a while!

Steve & Kathy

Eve said...

Oh dear! or should I say OH Pronghorn!! I hope Mishy Moo sends you a tether to go with it!!
I love this area Gary. I think I should like to visit some day. You've really showed me places I never really thought about going but this would be the place for me. I lived in Montana when I was very little and don't remember it at all. I loved seeing the Devils Tower and the Prairie Dog...Love the hotel and I love to two-step so would feel right at home there.
Ride Safe...as soon as you get your GPS!

bobskoot said...

Gary:

from your photos, that Occidental Hotel looked like a first class place to stay. Lots of history inside, if only the walls could speak . . .

didn't you climb the Devil's Tower ? You would have had a commanding view from the top.

Sorry about your Garmin. I didn't think they would fall out of their cradle. My RAM mount seems quite secure and I don't tether it. It has been to Oregon Twice in the mount on two different bikes. It won't be safe now that I've said it.

thank you for the FULL FRONTAL VIEW OF THE PAINTED LADY (from your prev post) . I could put copies up for sale to fund the rest of your trip if there is any interest.

happy riding
bob
Wet Coast Scootin

Milwaukee Dan said...

"This means something..." I loved the movie Close Encounter, glad to hear you are a fan Gary. Nice photos, for some reason I thought walking up the tower would have been restricted.

The prairie dogs are great, I liked the video as the little guy was checking out the rumble of the passing bike.

Sorry to hear about the gps. I've never tethered mine before either, didn't think they were prone to bounce out. Did you hit a large bump?

Gary France said...

Steve and Kathy – Thanks! That sort of comment makes the writing of the blog all the more worthwhile. Yes, I did sit at that bar for my first beer! I think I will be ok about the route data – it is all stored on my laptop and I should be able to download it onto the new Sat Nav when it arrives.

Eve – The silly thing is, I think it came with a tether the first time around, but I chose not to use it. I won’t make that mistake again. I haven’t seen much of Montana, but eastern Wyoming was very nice.

Bob – It really was a great hotel and I am sure the walls would have many tales to tell. No, it would have taken a day or so to climb and I didn’t have my climbing gear with me! I have had 8000 miles of the Garmin not coming loose, so I think I just didn’t push it into its mount properly – my fault entirely I think! You have now jinxed your GPS, so you will have to tether it now! I am glad you liked the picture, but she wasn’t full frontal – she had jeans on! You should save any proceeds for your next bloggers conference!

Dan – You can walk on the tower up to the top of the boulder field (see the 6th tower picture). I stayed mainly on the roads / paths except in one place. The boulders were enormous so quite why anybody would want to climb up there is beyond me, unless of course you are Roy Neary. No, I didn’t hit a bump, so I think it was operator error – I think I just didn’t push the unit all the way until it clicked into place, because it just fell out of its mounting.

Circle Blue said...

I haven't been to Devils Tower since I was a child. And, I am impressed with it all over again. Thanks for refreshing my memories of a family vacation long ago now.

~Keith

Jeremy France said...

Dad..

You and sat nav, isnt a good combiation did I ever tell you that? Haha!
Still looks like a amazing trip, even with the ups and downs! you'll be able to look back at this and laugh all the same!

Jem X

P.s Close encounters was a good movie! Just thinking about it makes me hum the tune they play on the Rock/Mountain thing :)

Gary France said...

Circle Blue – I am pleased I was able to make you think of the Devils Tower once again.

Jem – I have got the new one now so I am ready to ride again! Being able to look back at the trip was one of the main reasons I initially wanted to do the blog, so I could remember it all. Did you mean these 5 notes.... http://soundamerica.com/soundamerica/sounds/play.cfm?tpath=/sounds/movies/A-C/Close_Encounters/5notes.wav&tname=5notes.wav

Brian Bascle said...

Still following your exploits and am glad to see you're well. You've gotta be exhausted and exhilarated all at once.

Great to see your Devil's Tower pics. Somehow my mashed potato sculptures of it aren't as impressive.

Gary France said...

Brian - You are right - it can get very tiring riding all day, then drinking, oops, I mean writing my blog at night.... I liked the mashed potato reference - didn't he do that in the movie as well?