August 10 - Just Like Home!: Rapid City to Belle Fourche, SD

The idea today was to lay over one more night in Rapid City, but do the mileage from there to Belle Fourche, then drive to BF tomorrow AM, so the kids could have a bit of rest in one place, and we could see a few more things in the Black Hills.

It all worked as planned, but the weather ... just what we were wishing for when the temperature and humidity both exceeded 100 in Nauvoo. I keep a log of my mountain bike rides back home, noting the distance, destination, speed, elevation change and weather. In literally all twelve months of the year, I've got "55 deg, drizzle" written down. I know how to ride in that weather, even on the road. And that's what the Black Hills gave me today. I left at 7 AM, and headed thru the "mountains" (they really are more like hills in elevation change) on some back roads, and into the flats on a state road. Gore-tex pants, jacket, socks, and mittens; no fenders, though, so my shoes got soaked. But at the end, I bought a large chocolate malt, surprising the counter boy, I guess.

The environs were a joy. Lodgepole pine, ups and downs (one a 16% grade; I actually got tired going up it), twists and turns, grazing cows and suburban ranches. It seemed like riding through Colorado, or the east slope of the Cascades; definitely not the prairie, though.

In the afternoon, we went to "The Journey", a collaborative effort of five museums in Rapid City. Opened in May of this year, it tries to depict the "entire history and spectrum" of the Black Hills from a geology, Sioux, history, and college museum. There is a theme running thru the exhibits, but it ends up being a curious mish-mash of committee work and apparent detritus from back room collections. The best piece was a spoken collection of quotes telling the story of Euro-American/Lakota confrontation from 1820 thru the present. Using male and female, Lakota and white voices and original material from the past and present, coupled with artifacts to illustrate the quote, the effect was immediate and searing. The story has been told many times before (e.g., "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", by D. Brown), but this one forced me to stop and listen, and see all sides of the questions.

Right next to these "storyboards", though, was a collection of stuffed birds and small mammals from the early 1900's. Mice, badgers, hawks, finches - over two hundred of them, in a small 10' by 10' room of glass cases. No explanation - but there they were!

And then there were the extraordinary effects in the museum. A tipi sits by itself, with a soft bench in front of it. Sit down, and you see a hologram of a Lakota grandmother, talking about little babies, and how mothers would keep them quiet. Move to another room, and a trapper seated on an upper bunk wakes up and tells you he misses Ohio. And the whole thing is tied together by speaking wands, little radio receivers you hold which describe what you're seeing, or dramatize the exhibit you're in front of. All in all, worth the $14 we paid as a family to visit. (This was the price for one adult at the water park I took the girls to the day before - they loved it, but 70 deg in the 30 mph wind was a chilling experience.)

In the evening, we watched a part of Lawrence of Arabia. I thought it would be an intriguing movie for our trip. A man goes someplace very hot, and wills the local people to see things his way, then regrets it, goes back home, and kills himself on a bike. I love Peter O'Toole's stare, and David Lean's set pieces on an epic scale. 1962's equivalent of an action flick - you can see the transition to Harrison Ford/Indiana Jones in some scenes.

For what its worth, three of our generations pop icons mention this area in a song. Paul McCartney starts "Rocky Raccoon" with "Somewhere in the Black Hills of Dakota lived a boy name of Rocky Racco-oon". Bruce Springsteen not only titled a song "Badlands", but in "Nebraska", he sings "... through the badlands/ of Wyoming...". And Bob Dylan, on the same album as "Hurricane", says, "...out in the hills, the Black Hills of Dakota...". I don't know what this means, but I like those three minstrels, and I like this land, so I guess it fits.

Miles: Al (single) 54

Total Miles: 2370

**Next Day's Journal**

-Al Bikrutz