Oreville, SD - 8/23
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Shootout Sanfords Reptile Gardens Mount Rushmore

We started out today by visiting the town of Deadwood, SD.  This town is famous for the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok by Jack McCall while Wild Bill was playing poker.  The picture above is known as the "Deadman's Hand" as it was the hand Hickok had when he was shot in the back of the head.  We started at the visitors center and learned there was going to be a reenactment of a shootout at "high noon".  It was about 11:30 so we walked to the area and waited.

The shootout was silly but it was something to do.  After that we walked through the Adams House Museum.  I don't know if we had bad attitudes or what but that was boring too.

If you look carefully, that round sign above the white van is the Deadwood Elks lodge.

Next we walked along the streets but didn't find anything of interest.  It's basically like Old Sacramento but with slot machines in every building.  I think the lady at the visitors center told us there were 85 casinos in town.  This is quite a few since most of the town was about 5 square blocks.  We did look in a few gift shops trying to find a toothpick holder to replace the one my Dad had bought there a few years ago when he and my Mom were here with friends of theirs.  However, we had no luck (sorry Dad).

Bored to death, (we were only in town for about an hour and a half and 20 minutes of that was waiting for the shootout), we left in search of somewhere to have lunch.  Knowing that there was nothing back the way we had come, we headed east toward the town of Sturgis.  Sturgis is home to a huge biker rally every summer.  This year was the 61st annual event.  I don't know what the attraction is in Sturgis because there's nothing there.  A few bars, couple of fast food places, and that's about it.  Maybe Sturgis is just the town that officially hosts the rally but the attraction is the entire Black Hills Area.

Finding nothing in Sturgis, we continued on to Rapid City and stopped again at Sanfords.  This time I brought my camera and snapped a few pictures for you.

After lunch, we stopped at the Reptile Gardens located on US-16 on the way back to camp.  This is among the best attractions we've found in the Black Hills.  It's basically a reptile and bird zoo with a few animal shows.  We started by walking through the exhibits.  In the center, there is a large dome.  It is meant to be like a safari in that the birds, lizards, and snakes (non-venomous) are loose.  Well when Denise saw that there were snakes just sitting there wrapped around tree branches, she became quite concerned as you will see in the pictures.

The crocodilian (alligators, crocodiles, and related species) show was the best.  It was kind of like watching that idiot "Crocodile Hunter" on Animal Planet.  The pen was filled with over 50 crocodilians and a young "idiot" walked right into the pen and welcomed us to the show.  He proceeded to talk about the animals and then showed us how to wrestle one.  So of course he takes the biggest one and pulls him out of the water by the tail.  Then he drags him around by the tail to tire the crocodile out.  Meanwhile, now all of the other crocodilians are watching this very closely.  Some are even moving in closer to the idiot.  He kept an eye on them but wasn't too concerned.  Finally, he jumps on the crocodile's back quickly and lodges his knees right behind the crocodile's jaws so it can't turn and bite him.  Then he uses both hands to grab the croc's jaws and hold them shut.  While he's doing this, the other animals continued to watch very closely.  Some even moved within a few feet of the idiot.

Next he gets off the croc and tells us he is going to feed them.  He returns with a large bucket of chicken legs and feeds one here and there while continuing his talk about the animals.  Now if you thought the crocodilians were interested in the wrestling, you should see how interested they are in chicken legs.  We couldn't believe this guy was standing amongst 50 plus animals that could eat him at any time and feeding them.  Some he would even get to jump up and catch the food, kind of like what you might do with a dog.

Well the food was the final part of the act.  The guy explained that this was his summer job and he'd only been doing it two months.  I wonder how long he'll last.  I really wanted to ask him what happened to the guy that used to have the job.

After the Reptile Gardens, we went back to camp and made sandwiches for dinner.  We had stopped at the local market on the way back but didn't find any meat that looked fit for human consumption (see Denise's letter).  Then we headed to view the night lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore that started at 9:00 pm.

We were both surprised at how many people were there.  When we had been during the day, there were some but not a lot.  The ceremony was basically a 15 minute movie about the making of Mount Rushmore and the reasons why the four men were chosen.  It was kind of like the Reader's Digest version of the history of the United States.  Then it finished with the Star Spangled Banner and slowly, the lights got brighter on the mountain.  I've tried to capture this for you in a 30 second video clip.  It's about 3.4 megs so it will take 10 minutes or so to download.  If you choose to download it, I suggest right-clicking the link and choosing "Save Target As.." or the equivalent for your browser.  This way you can save it to your hard drive and then view it, giving you much better results.  I apologize for the crappy sound quality as I do not have any "ripping" software with me to grab the music direct from CD.  I have to actually play the CD and then record the music, resulting in poor quality.  I also didn't have the Star Spangled Banner on CD but I think you'll find the music choice appropriate.

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