After we stopped at Devil’s Tower, and took our leisurely time walking around and taking it all in, we had to pick up the pace if we wanted to be at our hotel (and have dinner in Deadwood) by 11PM.
The goal was to stop for dinner at Deadwood, SD, and then continue on to Hill City, SD, where we would be packing it in for the night.
Here was our route:
Notice that there’s a major Red Herring on the map – and that’s Sundance, South Dakota. Decidedly (and disappointingly) NOT the site of the Sundance Film Festival. Apparently that is Park City, Utah – but I naively thought it was here because of the name. As such we kind of went out of our way to check out Sundance, and of course nothing was there. Luckily it was only about a 10 minute detour from the main highway.
Notice that there’s another cool thing on this map – Sturgis. This is the city known for the motorcycle ride and rally that takes place annually. We did not visit it though, as neither of us are in to motorcycle culture (more on that later).
We rolled in to Deadwood around 8PM and had trouble finding parking. It was a Friday night and apparently the town is known for drinking, gambling, and good old fashioned debauchery. After circling a few times and taking a weird detour up the mountain on the back side of the city and back down, we found street parking. It was a ways from the center of the strip and it was freezing (30 degrees F or so) – neither of us were really wearing the right clothes because our “winter” gear was mostly packed in our suitcases which we hadn’t had a chance to get in to yet.
We were starving but had trouble finding a desirable restaurant. All the restaurants in Deadwood were also casinos, which meant that they had the cling cling cling noise of the slot machine going non-stop and that musty old cigarette smell floating everywhere. Not very appealing after 8 hours of driving. Clearly we came to Deadwood on the wrong night. In all fairness, Deadwood was probably pretty cool in the day when it was less “Old Vegas” – but all we had were the few hours at night so our impression was tainted (unfavorably).
We were also disappointed from the get-go because we had our heart set on finding a saloon with swinging doors – you know, the kind you see in Westerns. We thought for sure Deadwood would be THE place for this, but unfortunately we were mistaken. In fact, I forgot to mention this in my Chugwater blog – but we asked the bartender at the Soda Fountain where we could find a saloon and it went right over her head. She pointed us to the small store caddy-corner to the Soda Fountain and said she could sell us liquor if we liked. She did not catch the nuance of what we really wanted – a Wild West Saloon experience. For her saloon was just synonymous for drinking so that’s what she thought we wanted.
We settled down at the Buffalo Bodega Saloon & Steakhouse because it was the only place with the casino separated physically from the restaurant, and with less noise and less trashy clientele. The decor turned out to actually be pretty cool. We enjoyed taking in the Americana all over the walls while waiting for our food.
While I can’t say we enjoyed the food (I got a burger and Elana got fish and chips), we really did enjoy our Pike of Dirt Porter. It’s a local beer – apparently they make 3 varieties. We weren’t able to try the other two but I will definitely have to look for this one when I get back to Denver because it was fab.
After our eating excursion in Deadwood, we hit the road to make it to Hill City, SD before the hotel shut down for the night (which, according to our reservation, was midnight).
The road was especially treacherous because there were deer *everywhere*. And it was so dark that we had to use our brights and slow down to 10 under the speed limit to be able to spot them in time. One deer jumped in front of the car and literally froze (ddeer in headlights). It was kind of hilarious if it wasn’t for the fact that it was such a tense drive – obviously we didn’t want to hit anything for the deer’s sake as well as for my new car’s sake.