Monday, August 20, 2007


Another run through Custer Park today. We tried to find the walking trail to Prairie Dog Town, but missed it. Instead we settled on Lover's Leap, a three-mile loop across from the Norbeck Visitor's Center. It turned out to be a killer ascent up to the mountain cropping where legend says two Indian lovers jumped to their deaths.

Allison kept puzzling over why anybody would willingly jump off a cliff. Hard concept for a happy little girl to grasp. The ledge is barely marked and it's approach-at-your-own-risk, though there's no written warning to do so. In fact, I think overall, that Custer Park, is pretty lax in its safe-guarding. Surprising really, in this age of acute public caution. The Park rangers are extremely mellow. We saw one wearing flip flops. They do tell you to stay away from the buffalo, at least. The trail we hiked was hard to find. We had to ask for help at the visitor's center. It's like they don't care if you find it or not. Maybe they hope you don't because of the potential for harm. Our three-mile trek took us up steep inclines and through masses of poison ivy-lined trails. We had to cross the creek eight times over slimy stones. The trail end leaves you to trek through a little RV park before finding the main road back to your car. I'm not complaining, just saying, "HOW ABOUT A LITTLE MORE INFORMATION AT THE START-UP?"

After our excursion up the mountain we plopped back into the Tahoe to find Iron Mountain Road out of Custer Park. We were pulling the trailer (I forgot to mention) since we were heading straight for Deadwood after our park visit. Iron Mountain is a scenic drive that also takes a high ascent through narrow roads and three tiny tunnels. Somehow, Robert managed to get us through there safely, but not without wear and tear on his nerves. I hadn't realized it till we reached an RV park in Deadwood; he was tired and bugged by the troubles inherent in setting up camp. Missing items, leaky hose, parking difficulties.

He gouged his finger helping Allison unfold her scooter. I made matters worse by being too picky about where to eat. I didn't realize the whole town was casinos with their hospital-like food. We had the worst meal ever at Deadwood Gulch Casino. You enter through the slot-machine lobby, naturally. Allison whispered to me how sad it was to see all those old people gambling. She'd overheard us sometime discussing the dark side of gambling and had the notion that these old people were fallen souls. She said, "They should be home in rocking chairs, knitting like grandmas should." What grandma knits these days?, I ask.

Deadwood looks mysterious by night. The mountains are close-in, dark and cupping. It really is just a gulch cut through the mountains, so the town seems to fold in on itself. The lights twinkle in the hills above the low historic main street, giving a feeling of being watched from all angles. Knowing a little about the racy and lawless history of Deadwood (via the HBO series Deadwood,) probably influences my perceptions a bit. Let's see what the morning light does to wash away the naughty allure of a town built on greed.

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