National Parks Tour: Custer State Park to Sheridan, Wyoming

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Frustrating morning. Got up earlier than I needed so I could transfer my photos from my camera to the laptop. Kept getting an error message. Will need more time to figure out what is going wrong.

Breakfast at the Lodge restaurant was slow again and Chuck said the breakfast potatoes were cold and hard. I think they are short-handed just like everyone else.

Bison were in the parking lot again this morning milling around but not anywhere near the numbers as yesterday. We asked some of the hotel workers if yesterday’s stampede was a normal occurrence. They said it only happens occasionally – no rhyme or reason. Really fortunate that we got to see it.

We left at 8:00 and got to our first stop – Deadwood, South Dakota at 10:30. We parked on Main Street in front of the Midnight Star which is a hotel and casino once owned by Kevin Costner. Al said Kevin still shows up from time to time. I was really hoping that today would have been one of those times but no Kevin sighting for me today.

First thing we did was get on an open-air converted school bus for a 30 minute guided tour around the town and up to Mt. Moriah “Boot Hill” Cemetery. Our driver/guide was very funny as he told stories of Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, Jack McCall, and Seth Bullock and pointed out buildings and places such as the Bullock Hotel (reportedly still haunted by Seth) and Mr. Wu’s Casino.

Many of the buildings still have the old facades including Bullock Hotel keeping the Old West look at least on this Main Street.

After the tour, we walked up and down Main Street. I loved the HBO series and the follow-up movie Deadwood so I found all the information interesting. If you saw the series, you know why I didn’t want to eat at Mr. Wu’s casino.

I wanted a Christmas ornament, so I went into a couple of stores. From the front window displays, I should have known that I was not going to find a Christmas ornament. Lots of black leather, chains, and different sized knives. If you are easily offended, you don’t want to go in and read the t-shirts. Whew.

Finally found a general store that I thought would be promising. It had candy and toys in its display windows. No t-shirts except Hello Kitty and Unicorn ones. When I asked about Christmas ornaments, she said they had just gotten a shipment and showed me what she had. I bought one.

We then went across the street and ate lunch at Mustang Sally’s. We split an order of chicken strips and fried mushrooms. Glad it was a nice day so we could sit outside. Others of our group chose this restaurant also.

Once we left Deadwood, we got on Interstate 90 and watched the scenery until we reached our next photo opportunity/rest stop – Devil’s Tower. First time I became familiar with Devil’s Tower was in 1977 – it was featured in one of my favorite movies – “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Chuck told me he had never seen the movie. We definitely need to rectify that cinematic oversight.

On our way to our next rest stop – Gillette, Wyoming – Al put on a video about bison and wolves of Yellowstone. As in all nature films, I never know who to root for – I didn’t want to see the baby or weak Bison get killed by the wolves, but I also didn’t want to see the baby wolves go hungry. Sigh.

We are seeing more green fields and the Bighorn Mountain Range in the distance. We passed coal mines, trains, and many Pronghorn antelopes. The sky is very hazy I assume from the California/Oregon wildfires.

We arrived in Sheridan at 5:00. Our hotel (Best Western Sheridan) is in downtown Sheridan, walkable to many restaurants. However, I would say that is its only redeeming feature. Pretty shabby room but it was clean and the water pressure was good. There were several nicer and newer looking hotels farther out from downtown. Globus should tell those other hotels to pool their resources and start a downtown shuttle so they could switch venues.

We did walk to the Cowboy Café for dinner with two other couples. Decent diner but they were out of all beer except Budweiser – said the Sturgis motorcycle rally and Memorial Day wiped them out. I asked for a glass of zinfandel. I should have just had water. I did enjoy my meal of the Greek Salad. Chuck had a bison sausage and elk sausage with mashed potatoes and broccoli. He really liked it. I thought the sausages were too spicy.

Al had told us that we should check out the historic Mint Bar while we were downtown as it has been in business since 1907. So, we went there after dinner.

I was pretty taken aback by all the stuffed and mounted animals including an 8-ft rattlesnake skin with 27 rattles. The bar is made of pine paneling and the booths are cedar. The Mint also has a display of 1860’s era guns and many old photos depicting early Sheridan. Definitely a unique place.

I thought one of the interesting stories was that during Prohibition, the owners turned the Mint into a soda shop but had a hidden speakeasy in the back.

This bar was certainly not a place to order a Mudslide or Appletini so I was trying to decide on a beer from their very long list. Meanwhile, Chuck had struck up a conversation with two young men who had given us their seats at the bar so our group could sit together. They moved to the end of the bar and sat next to Chuck. Turned out they were from Tennessee and were in Wyoming to hunt antelope. They insisted we should try “Speedy Goat” beer. They said the locals call antelopes – speedy goats. We tried it. It was okay but no Blue Moon. They were very nice young men.

After we were finished with our beers at the Mint, we walked back to the hotel. All along the sidewalk there were different types of sculptures on display. One member of our group was an artist, so we stopped and admired each of the pieces.

Next to the hotel was a Dairy Queen that was doing a booming business with cars wrapped all around the building. The dining room was not open. One member of our group really wanted some ice cream. We told her to just get in the car line and walk up to the window. She declined. Oh well, no ice cream for her.

We have to have the bags out tomorrow no later than 6:45 so we had to call it a night. Very early day for us tomorrow.

Next Up – Yellowstone National Park

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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