Tag Archives: Deadwood

We’re Off to See the Wizard!

After our unnerving drive to Laramie on a back road through a mountain pass we drove the Happy Jack Road as much for the name as the monoliths (or were they just socking great piles of rock?) lining the road to Cheyenne.

(Click on pics to enlarge. Escape! to return.)

Ok. I got that wrong. Click on a gallery pic to enlarge, click arrow to see others in gallery and escape to return. Click on a single pic to enlarge and back arrow (top left) to return. Don’t bother clicking on the slideshow pics. Nothing will happen except pause, forward and back. Clear as mud?

We scaled the heights of the Rocky Mountain National Park in the car (sans trailer) where we barely made it from the car to the Visitor’s Centre and back, altitude sickness at 12,000 feet making itself very apparent to us, unfit as we were from the confinement of trailer life.

In Deadwood, we saw Wild Bill Hickok get shot dead in the #10 Saloon – moved to this venue to relive his murder for the tourists day in day out after the original saloon burned down. He revived himself to pose for photographs with the kiddies, and me.

We wuz there!
We wuz there!

A multitasking mum of three – one on the hip, one by the hand and one loitering by her side – offered to take our photo in front of Mount Rushmore, the four stony-faced presidents carved into the Black Hills.

We tiptoed through the out-of-this-world landscape of the Badlands constantly watching where we put our feet and looking for rattlesnakes.

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In Golden, Colorado we toured the Coors Brewery and drank free beer. Yay!

Then there was Denver. Sublime to the ridiculous comes to mind. The Denver Botanical Garden

was an absolute delight – full of color, and a single, whopping water feature flowed throughout the garden, springing up in fountains and tumbling in waterfalls. Even Jimmy didn’t get bored. We spent a quiet and restorative Sunday morning in one of the few independent bookstores left in the country. That was sublime.

The Bump and Grind Café provided the ridiculous.

How to describe Bump and Grind? Alternative? Bohemian? Grungy? No, wacky. Sunday brunch is traditionally served by transvestites – that being the only traditional thing about the restaurant. Dressed in my brightest pink top and wearing plenty of eye makeup to be part of the scene, I was looking forward to the experience, not quite sure how, or more to the point why, Jimmy had agreed to go.

I had visions of the girly boys in Brazil who are mistaken for beautiful women. We were both in for a shock. The waiters at Bump and Grind had made no effort to make themselves look attractive. Mini-skirts barely covered you-know-what. Exposed hairy legs – some skinny, some chunky – topped huge clumpy high heels. Make-up was slapped on giving a clown-like appearance and ratty wigs looked as though tiny birds could colonize them. Broad, spotty backs exposed by halter tops were only slightly less disconcerting than the see-through fabric at the front and to top it all off were the detachable falsies which frequently slipped out and bounced across the floor. They were shoved back into place amongst great hilarity.

The restaurant was packed so we weren’t the only voyeurs. No, make that I wasn’t the only voyeur. As I took it all in, Jimmy perched uncomfortably on the edge of his chair, not daring to turn his head every time I gasped. Our lofty, base-voiced waiter touched Jimmy’s shoulder affectionately every timed he passed our table. What an experience! We’d love to go back to Denver, but sadly the Bump and Grind has closed.

Moving on to Dodge City, Kansas I was a little perturbed to read in the camp brochure, “If you feel threatened by the weather anytime, day or night, please feel free to come to the main building.” I was thinking Kansas. Dorothy.

Our second night there, I was sure we were “off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz” when we were woken by the wind slamming into the side of the trailer, rattling our teeth. We lay across the bed, noses at the window, entertained by lightning. The buffeting wind turned our bed into a rocking cradle as if by an unhinged and vicious auntie. A tornado was about to rip through the campground and between flashes I was mentally cataloguing what I would grab on my way out the door to the promised haven of the main building. We foolishly stayed put and tracked the storm across the horizon, mesmerized by nature’s force.

Eventually the wind died down, we tired of the 3 am show and went back to sleep. Bit of an anti-climax for you. I hope you weren’t picturing our trailer whirling through the heavens.

When we arrived in St. Louis, Missouri, to experience it’s incredible Gateway Arch – the beginning of the Louis and Clark Trail – Jimmy had driven the 250 miles from Kansas City trying to see the road through his eyelids due to extreme sleep deprivation. In addition to wild weather keeping us awake, I’m sure the train drivers have a sadistic streak as they do their Whoo! Whoos! all through the night.

Next? A creepy encounter in Kentucky.

The Wrong Way

“The next time I choose a route, we’ll go that way.”

A cute distraction while our car overheated.
A cute distraction while our car overheated.

“I know,” I said contritely.

“I don’t want you to interfere.”

“I know.”

”You can’t leave anything alone.”


“I expect the other way was shorter as well.”


“I can’t turn around now. The engine is overheating. I can’t even stop on this steep grade. I’m afraid we’ll never get going again. I don’t even know if we’ll make it to the top. What will we do then? I can’t reverse down the mountain. You had to . . . .”

“Awright! Awright! Awright!” Any little inkling of contrition I had felt was seeping away with this barrage, despite it being (possibly) justified. Jimmy’s estimated “easy” 140 mile leg of our journey towing our travel trailer to Garryowen had turned into a mountain climbing expedition. Our V8 engine was happily slurping gas as it whined uphill in first gear at 10 miles per hour towing 7,500 pounds behind us.

No end in sight!
No end in sight!

I had simply looked at the map before we set out from Cody, Wyoming and saw what I thought was a more direct route than Jimmy had chosen to Garryowen, neglecting to notice the tiny symbols denoting the Bighorn Mountains. They bisected our route with the road peaking at a summit of 9,430 feet while skirting Bald Mountain at 10,042 feet and Hunt Mountain at 10,162 feet. Also, the Closed in Winter designation should have been a hint that it was going to be a tricky road, but I had only judged the distance with a quick glance. A flashing yellow sign warned “Steep Grades Ahead!” some time after we had set off but I kept schtum hoping himself hadn’t seen it. We were already committed.

Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill, 1885
Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill, 1885 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little background to these little known western towns. Cody is named for William Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, apparently the most famous American at the turn of the 20th century. He was by all accounts a splendid chap – handsome, smart, a family man (though is rumored to have had an affair with Queen Victoria), enterprising, heroic – and used his superior shooting and horse riding skills to produce “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show” which toured Europe and America for 30 years. Appearing in his show over the years were Annie Oakley, of sharp-shooting fame, Calamity Jane, an illiterate alcoholic and part-time prostitute (did Doris Day know?) and Wild Bill Hickok, a gunfighter whose early demise while playing poker makes me uncomfortable sitting near the door of a restaurant even now. Not that Bill frequented restaurants, but if he’d sat with his back to the wall at the saloon in Deadwood I wouldn’t have this hang-up.

Garry Owen (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m7RPjQxjmA) was Custer’s favorite marching song and now is the name of the only town within the battlefield of The Battle of the Little Bighorn or Custer’s Last Stand. It is little known that George Armstrong Custer was the George W. Bush of his day – a lousy student at uni and a questionable military strategist. George C. graduated bottom of his class at the United States Military Academy. George B. was an average student at uni and was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard with the lowest possible passing grade on his written aptitude test. George C. arrogantly (can be interchanged with overconfidently, patriotically or zealously depending on your point of view) attacked an encampment of Sioux and Cheyenne Indians under the overall command of Chief Sitting Bull. Instead of waiting for reinforcements, George C. was wiped out along with over 200 of his men by 2,500 Indian warriors. George B. . . well you know that sorry tale.

George Armstrong Custer, U.S. Army major gener...
George Armstrong Custer, U.S. Army major general, killed in battle at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We will return to our badly planned mountain climbing expedition in the next exciting instalment!

For my followers: We’re back in the USA, but I’m sure you noticed that.