After dinner at Deadwood, we drove to Hill city through treacherous deer country. When we got to the Super 8 in Hill City, the doors were locked and we had to tail some other guests in. The front-desk area was closed and locked off, and no hotel manager was anywhere in sight. We used the phone to call the hotel number, but all it did was ring the front desk that we were standing next to. The other guests told us that the manager said she was leaving at 8PM for the night. We were livid! not only did the reservation say “check-in until midnight”, but the manager didn’t even bother to call us (or the other guest that showed up a bit later) to let us know what the procedure should be. Total lack of customer service. There wasn’t even an emergency number we could call to reach SOMEONE – ANYONE!So we call the Super 8 corporate line and Booking.com to see if they could locate the manager and/or re-book us. We struck out on all fronts. Super 8 frustratingly just continued to dial the main hotel number – so we heard the phone going off at the desk over and over and over (apparently nobody thought to try something different). Then they tried to re-book us but everywhere was sold out. Elana said we should just sleep on the floor. But with a full day of driving the next day, and Elana not being able to pitch in because of the Sabbath, I knew I needed to get some good zzzs.
We called about a dozen places after doing a Google Maps lodging lookup and ultimately found some cabins nearby that had availability. And the manager said he would be there to let us in. We were so grateful. It turns out – the place we ended up at was way nicer than the Super 8 (log cabin) and even had a kitchen (see below). But the hassle and inconvenience certainly wasn’t worth it.
Needless top say we slept like logs that night, and still managed to get up a reasonable hour and get going. It was a little chilly in the cabin, but luckily there was a space heater that was much needed for the stone bathroom.
Here’s a nice shot of Elana admiring the cowboy curtains as we were getting ready to leave in the morning.
And here’s the view from outside – very cute!
We got to breakfast at the Hill City Diner (recommended by the hotel manager) around 9AM and enjoyed a hearty American breakfast….eggs never disappoint. Elana was also excited because she was able to order oatmeal too (+eggs, +toast, +hash-browns).
The best part of breakfast was actually the parrot lady we saw walking outside. I immediately ran out and asked her if she would pose for a photo. She obliged.
She was from Texas and took her parrots with her on her and her husbands’ road trip (also to Mt. Rushmore). After breakfast, she was still outside so Elana and I chatted with her and her birds for a while. They knew about 80 words like gold, cookie, burger, daddy…and could form a few sentences. It was all very ridiculous. She posed for more photos after we got to talking, and also passed the parrots along to Elana.
We walked up and down the main street, went in and out of a few Western wear stores (I bought some Minnetonka strappy sandles and Elana satisfied her fix of smashed pennies) and ended up at a Native American handicrafts store at the North end of the street. Right next to this sign:
The Native American craft store had gorgeous watercolors of the badlands and the plains, hand-painted by the manager’s father (he had a 7 word name that I can’t remember that was Little Bear something something something). He gave us a little history of the area and told us to stop by the ice cream and pizza parlor next door for some of the best food in town (we gave it a pass since we just had breakfast). I asked him why Devil’s Tower was sacred to the Native Americans and he said it was because of the origin story (which I already explained here). OK, I buy it.
We walked back along the super cute street – but still didn’t find a saloon with swinging doors for Elana.
We did find a cool statue of a horse. Neigh!
Back on the road we went….headed to Custer State park to hike, see some game, and some more monuments (Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore).