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  • Writer's pictureCasey Zobrist

Sorry for the late and delayed post.

Verizon is very proud of their coverage area. All the commercials show the map at the end touting that they have all of America covered.

Except for a few wee little places. If you look closely at the map there are some little itty bitty areas that show white on the map. I always felt sorry for those little areas. We were in those little areas. The map is internet to be had.

I am summing up two full days of sights in one blog post. We left Sioux Falls, SD and headed to Wall Drug in Wall, SD. One of the world’s most well-known tourist attractions, it’s hard to believe Wall Drug Store got its start with something many wouldn’t even turn their heads at today … the promise of free ice water. The main street is full of shops, cafes and a backyard full of photo props. Definitely a tourist trap but fun, nonetheless.

Side note, we headed from Sioux Falls to the biggest Grotto in "the World" Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption in West Bend, IA. The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption is the a religious shrine located in West Bend, IA. It has nine grottos depicting scenes in the lift of Jesus. The Grotto contains a large collection of minerals and petrification and is believed to be the largest grotto in the world.

After Wall Drug, we headed to the Badlands in South Dakota. AMAZING is all I can say! This land has been so ruthlessly ravaged by wind and water that it has become picturesque. The Badlands are a wonderland of bizarre, colorful spires and pinnacles, massive buttes and deep gorges. Erosion of the Badlands reveals sedimentary layers of different colors: purple and yellow (shale), tan and gray (sand and gravel), red and orange (iron oxides) and white (volcanic ash).

And then we camped:

We woke up today and headed to Mount Rushmore. Did you know a cave called the 'Hall of Records' sits behind the monument and contains a vault of 16 porcelain enamel panels with text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, biographies of the 4 presidents and Borglum, and history of the U.S.....Me either.

After Mount Rushmore, we came upon a random, beautiful lake in the Black Hills. It is a state park and it was just so peaceful and beautiful the kids had to go in for a swim.

We then made our way to Deadwood, SD. The discovery of gold in the southern Black Hills in 1874 set off one of the great gold rushes in America. In 1876, miners moved into the northern Black Hills. That’s where they came across a gulch full of dead trees and a creek full of gold and Deadwood was born. Practically overnight, the tiny gold camp boomed into a town that played by its own rules that attracted outlaws, gamblers and gunslingers along with the gold seekers. It was a great stop on our trip. We even saw a reenactment of Wild Bill Hickok's murder.

8 Interesting Facts about Deadwood:

1) Women wanted – Deadwood in the late 1870s had 200 men for every woman.

2) A prospector could find $20 to $25 worth of gold a day in the early days of the gold rush. He often lost it in the saloons and brothels in Deadwood. If he managed to not lose it on the many vices available he would probably lose it buying food. 100 pounds of flour started at $10 and went as high as $80. Fresh eggs sold for several dollars apiece.

3) Seth Bullock became Deadwood’s first sheriff in 1877. He and Theodore Roosevelt were good friends.  Seth rode in Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade, leading 50 cowboys.

4) A small pox epidemic hit the Black Hills in 1878. Among the brave people treating the inflicted was Calamity Jane.

5) Lawman Wyatt Earp spent the winter of 1876-77 in Deadwood. Since no claims were left he started a business hauling winter stove wood to the residents. It was cold hard work but in the spring he left Deadwood with $5,000 profit.

5) The queen of female gamblers, “Poker Alice” Ivers was known to make up to $6,000 a night at the height of her career. She became a legend in the Black Hills and often sat in on big stakes games.

6) The Sundance Kid spent time in the Lawrence County jail in Deadwood in 1897 for a robbery of a bank in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. After several weeks he escaped and became one of the west’s best known outlaws.

7) Potato Creek Johnny (Welshman John Perret) stood only four foot three, but was the stereotype of a well-worn prospector. His fame exploded when he found the largest gold nugget ever discovered in the Black Hills. It weighed 7 ¾ troy ounces.

8) Mt. Moriah Cemetery sits above Deadwood. With congressional permission an American flag flies day and night over its famous residents:  Seth Bullock, Calamity Jane, and Wild Bill Hickok, among others.

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