Monday, September 19, 2016

In search of...

Fall colors.  On Saturday one of the local weather weasels said, "The best colors in Spearfish Canyon will be this weekend through next."

It's a local thing: saying when the fall colors will reach their peak... and Spearfish Canyon is a beautiful drive.  Joan said, "Take me someplace where we'll see some color," and I'm up for it.

Leaving Hart Ranch, we took Highway 16 west to Highway 385.  I have always considered Highway 385 as the "backbone" of the Black Hills... not the most scenic, although it is a beautiful drive - it runs from the southern Black Hills to the northern.  One place we used to always stop when driving/riding Hwy 385 is Lake Pactola - there are some pretty fall colors here, and a nice over-look of the lake...

We continued north, turning towards Deadwood...

Deadwood has had a colorful history.  By the mid1980s, it was looking a bit shabby; busy during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and the Days of '76 Rodeo, and some activity during the ski season... pretty quiet the rest of the year.  A group of business people managed to get the South Dakota Legislature to legalize gambling in Deadwood.  They expected it would bring in $3 million dollars in revenue the first year (1988)... it brought in almost $300 million.  This is with $5 bet limits.

The character of the town changed overnight: every little tourist shop, car dealership, and restaurant/bar applied for a gaming license... over 80 casinos replaced almost all the other businesses in town.  Some people were outraged, but some of the money from gaming was used to spruce up town: cobblestone/brick streets replaced the cracked pavement; storefronts were restored to their original glory; infrastructure like waterlines and sewers were replaced.  The town had a new vitality.

Deadwood was the first legalized gaming between Vegas and Atlantic City that wasn't on an Indian reservation.  It was an experiment that Colorado soon copied, legislating 3 towns in that state to have the same type of limited stakes gaming.  Video lottery came to South Dakota, allowing "casinos" (I have that in quotes because the state run video lottery machines have terrible paybacks - you don't stand much of a chance of winning against the state) to spring up all over South Dakota.  But nothing like what had come to Deadwood.

We parked and went into one of the casinos for lunch.  Joan tried her hand at some machines, but soon came back (before our food came to the table).  While eating, I noticed a "jukebox" on the wall in Paddy O'Neill's...

Joan Jett's words, "I love rock 'n roll! Put another dime in the jukebox, baby!" went through my head.  Joan (my wife, not the Jett person previously mentioned) went over to the jukebox to see what it costs these days: $1 for two credits... most songs were 1 credit, some were 2.  Yep, a bit of inflation since Ms Jett's song.  All digital - no records.  A nearly endless list of songs.  Yes, the world is a different place these days.

From Deadwood, we drove down Boulder Canyon; we used to live in Boulder Canyon.  The house is still there, looks good.  The trees have grown up in that area (across from the Golf Course).  We made one stop at the edge of Sturgis, to see my buddy Dick (and his brother Pat) who owns Sturgis Motosport... we have bought a lot of motorcycles from Dick over the years, and I have always made it a point to stop in and say "Hi!" when we are in the area.  We talked about family mostly.  Good to see them.

From there, a short trip up to Exit 17 and into Spearfish Canyon.  We lived in Spearfish for 21 years - riding my different motorcycles through Spearfish Canyon was a great way to relax after a day in the studio.  We figured the traffic would be lighter after the weekend.  I'm sure it was, but it still seemed plenty busy.

Fall colors in the Black Hills aren't like places where there are lots of broadleaf trees: the prevalent trees here are Ponderosa Pines, evergreens that don't change color.  Well, except for the fact that the pine beetles are wreaking havoc on the local pines - you see a lot of brown branches.  The other tree you see most often are aspens... they go from green to yellow (a vibrant yellow), then the leaves fall off.  When they go, it happens pretty quick; thus the local weather guys talking about "peak color time."

Into the canyon...

A shot of Spearfish Creek where it passes through the Roughlock area...

Out through the canyon, over 6,400' elevation near the Terry Peak area, through Lead (a former gold mining town), then 385/16 back to Hart Ranch.

A beautiful weather day and very scenic.  Driving around this area brings back lots of good memories of when we lived here.

Little Izzy got to have some outdoor time when we got home... 'cause I am a good cat-Daddy.

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