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Our South Dakota Trip Pictures
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The main purpose of this trip was to attend a Survivor concert in Deadwood (which you can read about here, if you're so minded) but we also took in some of the other local sights and attractions while we were in the area, so I've put this page together to (finally!) let y'all see the rest of the pics we took while we were gone.

We left Denver on Thursday the 16th of June and drove as far as Casper, WY--we could probably have made Spearfish in one day, but it would have meant more hours in the car than either my hubby or I really wanted to mess with. We didn't stop to take any pics that first day out; we've covered the stretch of highway between Denver and Cheyenne, WY quite often (my parents lived there for many years) and there's actually not that much to see between Cheyenne and Casper other than a lot of rolling prairie. (Plus they were doing a bunch of construction on I-25, so we couldn't really have stopped even if we'd wanted to.) When we got to Casper, it turned out that there was a small planetarium right next door to our hotel, and since His Geekiness is into astronomy, we had to go check that out. There was a cottontail bunny nosing around in the grass just outside, but unfortunately I didn't have the camera with me so you'll just have to take my word for it that he was very cute. laughing emoticon Plus inside the planetarium, they were playing some lovely space-y new-age-type music over the PA system before the show, and we found out the artist name and album title from the planetarium employees on our way out. (And I've since added several Geodesium CD's to our collection. smiling emoticon ) We drove on to Spearfish the next day, and by the time we'd gotten checked into our hotel and been somewhere for something to eat, it was too late to really go and do much of anything else. We did tour the DC Booth Historic Fish Hatchery on Saturday morning, but since the Survivor show was that same day, and I was paranoid about making sure our digital camera's battery would last all the way through the concert, we didn't really get any pics of that, either.

So, this record really starts on Sunday the 19th, when we drove the alternate branch of US 14 south through Spearfish Canyon. It's listed as a scenic byway and definitely lives up to the name--the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. If you've seen the movie Dances With Wolves, some scenes from that were filmed in the general area.

Spearfish Canyon
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I believe this was called "Bridal Veil Falls"... beautiful...
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Another of the falls, with yours truly standing in for some scale.
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On Monday the 20th, we tried at first to visit a local wildlife sanctuary, but it turned out that it was closed that day, so we ended up at the High Plains Western Heritage Center instead. Which was quite interesting, actually; it's a well-set-up museum with plenty of informative exhibits, and definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area.

The Heritage Center Museum
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What's a western museum without a stuffed bison or two?
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I unfortunately can't remember the name of the fellow that this statue is of, but it's an impressive piece of artwork, if only for its size. The photo doesn't really convey a sense of scale, but trust me--it's gigantic.
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A view of an exhibit showing what an old-time newspaper office looked like.
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Another view of the statue, from the second-floor balcony.
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And a four-legged local resident, who was hanging around in the parking lot as we were leaving. smiling emoticon

The Black Hills area of South Dakota is riddled with caves, and we had toured several when we visited Mount Rushmore a few years ago. There was one within driving distance of Spearfish that we hadn't been to yet, however--namely Wonderland Cave--so that was where we went on Tuesday the 21st. It was quite enjoyable; geology's been one of my hobbies for a long time, so I find caves fascinating. Alas, though, it reminds me just how out of shape I really am every time I have to climb that many stairs--and don't ask me to remember the names of these formations after all this time! laughing emoticon

Wonderland Cave
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The scenery outside the cave
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And one more four-legged local that we met coming out of the cave. smiling emoticon He's not quite in focus, alas, but this was when we still had our old camera and I couldn't really get close enough for a better shot. He was quite cute, though!

It had been sunny and beautiful Tuesday morning when we were driving up to the cave, but when we came out after taking the tour, it was as though a cloud had rolled right down on top of everything--the fog was just unbelievable! It was still fairly early, but there was no point in trying to drive around the country when visibility was down to a quarter-mile or less, and there weren't any other "indoor" attractions that we were interested in seeing, so we just had to head back towards Spearfish and the hotel. Fortunately, though, the fog thinned out the further west we went, so we decided to just keep going. We crossed the border back into Wyoming, then drove up past Devil's Tower (and stopped to take a few pics along the way winking emoticon ) and down through Sundance before catching I-90 and coming back into Spearfish that way.

Devil's Tower
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It sure is gorgeous country up that way...
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And the Tower itself is really spectacular.

We finally bid farewell to Spearfish and South Dakota on Wednesday the 22nd, heading south into Nebraska and our hotel in Scottsbluff. That's not really TOO long a drive, though, and on the way we passed within a few miles of Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, so we stopped and went through the visitor's center. Which is well worth seeing if you're ever in the area; they have some really interesting exhibits on the prehistoric animals of the region, as well as a good-sized collection of Native American artifacts; the rancher who originally owned the land that's now the National Monument enjoyed very good relations with the local Sioux tribes, and many of the items in the museum were gifts given to him and his family. Unfortunately, the room they keep all that stuff in was very dark, so I wasn't really able to get any good pics of it...

Agate Fossil Beds Nat'l. Monument
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I believe this is part of the original homestead that became the National Monument.
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One of the exhibits in the visitor's center.
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And the same from a different angle, along with my hubby (who was too interested in the prehistoric fauna to notice me taking his picture laughing emoticon )

Well, that's it for that trip--we spent the night in Scottsbluff and came on home to Denver the next day. Hope you enjoyed the pics!

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