Day 71 – Why the frown Charlie Brown?

I think will look back at days 70 to 80 as the Dark Ages of the trip. Not referring to the beautiful country or friendly people I have met. More as a description of the mental challenges I am experiencing. What you are reading now occurred almost 10 days before! For some reason, I have been going through a blog writers block; not wanting to, or at least, having the energy to write. This of course, doesn’t bode well for the blog…as I have probably forgotten most of the feelings or details of the day. No matter, my fingers are at the keyboard and I’m digging myself out of my rut.

The star of today’s walk was the Black Hills. Absolutely beautiful mountains, land and lakes peppered with a plethora of scenic spots every few miles. I didn’t even mind getting stuck in 3 separate rain storms throughout the day. I was getting a bit rusty conducting my rain-gear drills in 60-seconds or less.

Still several weeks from the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and you can feel the energy from all the business owners. Many of these businesses conduct a majority of their year’s business all within a 30-day period. It’s amazing to see how many of the businesses appear to be brand new. I bet that many of them were started by people (like me) who were just travelling through on vacation several years back. The saw the beauty and the opportunity, and decided to take a chance on the Black Hills NEW type of gold rush.

The last 8 miles of my trip today was a large mountain pass. 3 miles up and 5 miles down. It was by far the largest elevation change I have had of the trip. Just before the climb, I stopped at a convenience store at the base of the mountain. I must admit, it was one of the largest and cleanest convenience stores I have ever seen. Why so big? Simply for the Sturgis Rally in a couple of weeks. The rest of the year it doesn’t need 1/3 of the space.

While there I had the opportunity to speak with the owner of the property, while I was eating a hot dog outside. He shared with me the challenges he had opening the NEW restaurant just next door to the gas station and camp ground. In one year, he as already gone through at least 50 employees. Many of them managers who claimed they had the experience, but sadly…didn’t. Our conversation was cut short when he had to handle a fire-drill with a vendor over the phone.

As you can guess, the mountain pass was nothing less than a full work-out! I’m pretty sure I will be sore the next day. At the top of the pass, a very scary storm was closing in on me fast. But…not that fast?! It started to rain on me, but it seemed at times, that the faster I walked, I could sometimes walk ahead of the rain. I tested my theory several times, and yes, when I walked faster I would get ahead of the rain. I eventually just gave in to the rain though. Walking fast down the pass was WAY to hard on the joints and I wasn’t doing that for 5 miles.

Just imagine Charlie Brown from the Peanuts cartoon and the dark rain cloud that follows him. That was me to a tee!

At the bottom of the pass was the historic town of Deadwood, SD. Home of the Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Also the town for the HBO series ‘Deadwood’. Deadwood has become the gambling mecca of South Dakota. Filled with lots of people, tour buses, history and gun-fights seven times a day.

Kevin Costner has invested heavily in this area as well. Not only with his movies, but he owns the ‘Midnight Star’ casino and a 15-million dollar exhibit on the outskirts of town dedicated to the history of the bison (Tatonka).

Not having time (or the energy) to visit the whole town, I stopped a traffic cop (attractive I might add) while she was in the middle of writing a parking ticket. I asked her where the most action packed, fun, dangerous place in town might be. She bluntly told me; if you can keep from “Backsassing”, you should go to the No. 10. She mentioned that he officers are there every night hauling people to jail and dealing with the fights. A lot of things were going through my head at this point. Some included:

  • What the hell is backsassing?
  • I wonder if this is where all the people drinking 5-hour energy drinks go?
  • Is she single?
  • So much more…but the blog is getting kind of long today.

I knew the No. 10 was the place for me and had to go! Turns out the No. 10 is the place where Wild Bill Hickok was finally shot. They even had the famous ‘Death Chair’ proudly displayed on the wall. I was surprise to the amount of young children scattered throughout the place eating. Should I have been concerned about having to fight a minor? I found out later that all the kids are kicked out after 8pm to make way for the adults who will soon be acting like children.

My new friends Andrew and John

Keeping to myself, my secret of walking across the country was soon dug up by some customers sitting next to me at the bar. Next thing, drinks are being bought, pictures took and even a guy asking how I could prove that I am walking. Actually this a truncated conversation about what I would tell future employers about my unemployment-vacation (Unemploycation).

I guess they will just have to believe that I did such a silly thing…

While in Deadwood I wanted to keep a promise to my friends Dorothy and Ray Carda. If you remember, I met them a few weeks back in Tyndall, SD. They wanted me to meet their son, Jerry Carda, who works in Deadwood. I made it my first priority upon arrival into Deadwood. Unfortunately, I had just missed Jerry and he had gone home for the evening. 😦


One response to this post.

  1. Hi Jack,
    I heard about you from Bob Becker and wanted to let you know I love what you are doing.
    He told me you are reading Autobiography of a Yogi along the way. I hope you enjoy the story; it certainly impacted my yoga practice greatly.
    Best of luck as you keep heading back to Seattle,


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