Bear Butte Mountain and Museum of Geology

We decided to go to Bear Butte in order to settle a disagreement. I said we’d been there before, and Dad was certain we hadn’t. I couldn’t find any photographic evidence on this blog, so there was really nothing to do but head toward it and see whether anyone felt the stirrings of memory.

Along the way, we decided to stop at the National Cemetery that’s in Sturgis.


Perhaps the hardest thing about waiting for Baby is the hair trigger on my emotions. We will be riding in the car, talking about which furniture store to stop at next, and suddenly I burst into sobs – which of course makes me laugh (loudly) at myself. Yen’s been a real champ at handling it (only laughing openly at me once he sees I’m doing the same). I did pretty well here considering the peaceful scene, and only erupted once. I washed my face using a sprinkler to settle down after, so hopefully I didn’t destroy the scene too much. But it was a lovely, moving scene.


Here’s my Uncle Floyd’s marker. That was the real purpose of our stop.


David and Dad are stoic James men, so naturally they spent the time walking around and discussing what Dad would like one day. Normally I’m pretty good at that too, but the Baby Factor made it a little difficult for me.


We stopped off here to check out where cremated remains are kept. They’re so organized and neat, and we enjoyed puzzling over the simple little symbols that appear on most of the markers.


With that completed, we continued our journey and soon came across the Butte. We ended our disagreement in a draw: yes, we’d been by it before (last time, on our way to North Dakota), but we’ve never climbed it. There.


Across the road is Bear Butte Lake.



We stopped to watch the birds, admire the view, and use the nice clean outhouse. I must say that the vast majority of outhouses I used on this trip (and there were a lot) were extremely clean and surprisingly stocked with toilet paper. Another sincere advantage of visiting before the bikers (and the heat). We were excited at first thinking we could drive all the way around the lake, but quickly came to a dead end. We turned back then and headed north.


We headed on north toward Belle Fourche and a large reservoir north of it. Then we got sidetracked on a smaller road winding through a ranch and toward a smaller lake. We were interested in the random sun-bleached logs strewn around the ranch. No idea what they’re for. We thought maybe they could provide some protection for calves if bad weather comes along, but it might be a stretch.


After our picnic lunch, more driving, and sample of root beer (naturally), we turned south again and headed through Vanocker Canyon, which is about parallel to Spearfish Canyon, but not so dramatic. Here we stopped off at a little park to use the outhouse (see the theme?), and Yen discovered that someone had torn all of the pages from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” and scattered them all around the parking lot. We collected each page and threw them in the dumpster where they belong.


Back in Rapid, we saw a pretty large, dark cloud approaching, and headed into the Museum of Geology for cover. It’s grown a lot since our last visit.




Hm. No scale. This is one in a series of (models of) huge gold nuggets. This particular one was about the size of a small watermelon.


I’ll let you read the sign for yourself to see what these little guys are.





I made Yen take this photo. I just love agates.


And that’s it, I’m afraid. It was a very quick trip. Early the next morning, Yen and I hopped on a plane and head back to traffic and heavy, humid air. Dad and David drove on after dropping us off, stopped at Wall for a doughnut, and continued on toward Clarinda and then home. And Aunt Joyce got a quiet house back again for a few weeks: Jenny, Brent and Ruby will be visiting in July. I sure hope she’s ready for that small pink tornado!