Harley Riders Can Keep Sturgis
The Black Hills area of South Dakota reminds me of Reno, Nevada, and that’s not a compliment. It’s a casino-driven tourist trap sprawl from Spearfish to Wall Drug. I know that what I call “tourist trap” some will call “Americana.” I think I made a really good decision by heading north off interstate 90. The northeast area of South Dakota that I rode through in the evening was like fresh water after escaping the intense heat and kitsch of the southwest.
What is it about gambling that cheapens everything? Here’s a sampling of the signs I saw: 99¢ Breakfast Buffet! Pony Rides! Pig Races! The Kids WILL LOVE IT! See a CAVE! Oh by the way, mom and dad, there are also slot machines while you’re there.
Is Mount Rushmore tacky or beautiful? There’s no argument that it’s well done, but the piped-in marching band music and reverent patriotism were definitely grating. The headline of the newspaper they hand you after you pay $8 for parking reads: “Welcome To The Shrine Of Democracy.” That seems presumptuous, but maybe it’s just part of the local tendency to exaggerate. I was happy to leave the Black Hills of South Dakota.
This photo and the one below were taken in the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, northeast of the Black Hills area. This type of place is more to my liking: open, low population density and beautiful huge vistas.