The home of aces & eights

Here in the Old West we’re having some First World problems. I’d intended to publish this post last night, hoping to get it done before midnight Eastern Time. After almost four hours of fighting with the (understandably) poor connection — neither our MiFi nor using my phone as a hotspot would work — I gave up and went to bed.

If you’re reading this, I found either patience or a solution. The time stamp will tell you precisely how long it took to arrive at one or the other.

Deb’s been under the weather the last few days — common cold, maybe allergies, no fever and nothing apparently serious. She was a real trooper on our travel day Monday, but yesterday wasn’t a good day for her to dive back into big-time sightseeing.

So we took the day off. I let her sleep as late as she wanted.

I sat outside for a while, soaking up the early morning air and staring up at the hillsides. A neighbor was packing up to leave, and I helped him load his Harley onto a lift mounted to the back of his motorhome.

One of our campground hosts noticed the flag flying from Ernie, stopped by and chatted about how the country’s going straight to hell. And he’s right.

With the Old West town of Deadwood so close by, yesterday afternoon we returned for a little low-effort retail therapy, mostly window shopping and picking up souvenirs for family and friends. The town is most famous, I suppose, for being where Wild Bill Hickok was killed, at Saloon Number 10 holding what’s become known as the “Dead Man’s Hand” — aces and eights.

Deadwood is, in a word, cool — far from a manufactured and manicured tourist attraction, it allows for the quirky and the oddball while maintaining its heritage.

Gambling is legal. Latter-day outlaws are welcomed. A local company of players reenacts gunfights on Main Street. There’s a story behind every storefront. All against the backdrop of the Black Hills.

Exhibit A: The Deadwood Tobacco Company, a true cigar bar. To enter requires descending a flight of steps to a narrow passage, illuminated by wall lamps and sunlight filtering through grates above, leading to a door below street level. The bar’s interior is unpolished but warm, with a walk-in humidor and a respectable selection of fine beverages.

I bought a good cigar. For later.

We ended our short visit with, once again, burgers and beers. This time we choose the Eagle Bar, which lived up to its claim of serving “The Best Burger in Deadwood.” Honestly, I don’t know how anyone else could top the massive burgers we enjoyed this afternoon.

Somehow, Deb and I depleted the motorhome’s stockpile of snack food. That never happens. Our cupboard wasn’t exactly bare, but early last evening we found ourselves craving stuff we didn’t have.

This campground advertises that it has a “convenience grocery store,” so we decided to walk down the hill and cure our munchies there — but all they had was a cooler less than half-full of pop. We trudged back up the hill to Mercy and drove to the Family Dollar in Deadwood.

Closed early — they can’t find enough help to stay open past 6pm.

A few minutes of Internet sleuthing uncovered a gas station and convenience store several miles west in neighboring Lead, South Dakota. What we expected to be a quick junk-food run turned into a spectacular (albeit brief) drive. US Route 85 twisted and sliced its way upward through wooded ravines to the mile-high mining town. The Dakotamart was perched on the highest point.

It was open. We got what we came for.

With any luck, Deb will be feeling better soon. If not, if she needs another day to recover, we’ll manage — we’re in a very good place, and we have all the time we need.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

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