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Sandy and Dan's trips to the Black Hills of South Dakota

As we mentioned in our opening travel page, we have had many occasions to visit the Black Hills of South Dakota and each trip seems to bring news places of interest. We have been a little remiss in posting the many images of these trips. So we will begin with our latest trip and fill in the blanks over time.

Our travel to the Black Hills has made us aware of how much a tourist area can change over the years. Ever since I was a kid and even when Sandy and I honeymooned there one place that we have enjoyed is Sylvan Lake. This small man-made lake boasts huge black boulders surrounded by clear water. In 1968 we rented a paddle boat for a little trip around the lake and this year we returned to try our hand at it again.

So what about the changes? Well for one there is the change in the boats, the paddle boats of 30 years ago were steel framed pontoon style with a bench seat. The boat we rented this year is molded plastic and sized to fit children through adults, well not tall out of shape adults. This small molded boat had room for two "paddlers" and two riders. We were happy that no one was along for the ride as we had a tough time making it go the way it was. But after some effort we did get out to the middle of this small lake to snap the picture above. We let the wind blow us back to the dock.

Speaking of lakes, we tried something totally new to us for vacation fun on beautiful Pactola Reservoir. Sandy found a listing in a tour book for pontoon boat rental and we got her parents to agree to go with us for a picnic on the lake. We arranged for a boat, ordered some broasted chicken, and met Sandy's brother and sister-in-law at the marina. We started the trip by taking a very slow ride out of the bay that was lined with boats of every description. Once we reached the open part of the lake we moved more quickly towards the open water, which we were told was between 150 and 200 feet deep.

The weather was warm with a forecast of severe weather later in the afternoon so we did not venture too far from the marina. We enjoyed a very quiet two hour ride on the larger part of the reservoir while eating chicken, chips, and a few brews. The image above shows Sandy and her parents while the image below show the ship's captain.

Over the last three years we have traveled to the hills with Sandy's parents and made Deadwood, SD as our travel center. Of all the locations we visit in the hills we think that Deadwood has changed the most. Even as late as 1979 when we traveled to Deadwood with our kids there was very little to do in this unique old West town. This was prior to the days when gambling was introduced to this very old community. The introduction of the slot machines and casinos sparked an interest in restoring the town to its 1800's glory.

The image below is one of the late 1800 buildings and is the home of the Bullock Hotel and gaming casino. We have not stayed here, but it one of the most interesting stone faced buildings in Deadwood. Many of the buildings date back to the 1880's and those that do not have been remodeled to fit the era.

Deadwood is full of historic buildings, but non better than the Adams House. This 1890's house had several owners over its life, and became the property of the City of Deadwood when it's final owner decided to sell it. Much of the house was unchanged during its life and was sold to the city with much of the furniture and furnishings from the Adams family that bought it at the turn of the century. We were not allowed to take flash photos in the house because of the effects of the flash on the interior of this house.

The condition of the house is amazing and the conservators have done an exceptional job of repairing and restoring those areas that were in need of work. The image below is of the front side of this steel roofed and sided house, most all of which are original to the house.

Part of vacations is falling for the typical tourist traps that are always popping up. My interest in woodworking drew us to the National Woodworking Museum that was billed as the home of some great carved caricatures as well as working carvers. I have tried to carve from time to time and have a great deal of respect for the talents of those who do a great job of it. Doctor Nibblack's family sold his life's work of carved animated characters and this tourist spot featured his work. The image below shows an example of his work and the mirror below it shows the complicated set of pulleys, belts, and cams that animates this scene.

Unfortunately the display did not justify the cost of admittance and the actual carvers were working on such small projects that there was little for us to see. We did take a number of images and were amazed at the detail and ingenuity of Doctor Nibblack.

We were very fortunate to have the opportunity to attend a performance by a group known as Brulé. We saw their performance at the Buffalo Stockade last year and were surprised to find them at the same location again this year. They are billed as contemporary American Indian Music. Paul LaRoche, leader of this group plays the electronic piano and is accompanied by guitar and drums. The music is a mix between traditional Indian music, rock and a touch of classical. We know that sounds strange but this mix of haunting melodies and earthy beats offers the listener a very relaxing yet stimulating style of music.

Paul is pictured on the right in the image below.

Our final stop on this trip was a bit out off the direct route home, but well worth the 200 mile round trip drive. We traveled North of Sioux Falls on I29 to Watertown, SD where we visited the Redlin Art Center. This is the home of the well known artist Terry Redlin, and like his prints the art gallery and museum was top notch. This facility with its huge granite columns and brick facade makes this place look like it has been here for many years. We took a morning to walk through the gallery with its 150 original Redlin oil paintings. And the admission price, FREE!!

This facility is a work in progress as we noted during our walk through the grounds. There are many ponds, arched bridges, and gazebos to make for an interesting walk. We will return in a year or two to see the progress.

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