South Dakota/Wyoming Road Trip: Day 4

Grave Stone of 72 Sioux Massacred at Wounded Knee

The morning was looking gloomy in the Badlands with a threat of rain. Not conducive to a walk in the park, an alternative side trip was decided upon: Head south to the Pine River Indian Reservation for a visit to the Wounded Knee Memorial.  We drove for an hour through country most tourists probably never see to the town of Wounded  Knee. Not a whole lot to see: a simple cemetery that includes a common grave for the 72 Sioux that were massacred by the US Army in 1892 and a visitor’s center in a rustic hogan just below the cemetery. The center consists mostly of pictures and newspaper articles that focus on the second Wounded Knee uprising in 1973.

Back to the Badlands for a quick side hike, and then on to Minuteman Missile National Monument, where we had reservations for a 1:30 tour. Our tour took us into the control center for nearly a dozen nuclear missiles. The center and its associated missiles were operational until the 1980’s and are now part of a national monument where tourists can get up close to the controls that could, and thankfully never did, launch a volley of mass destruction to distant targets. The first half of the tour included a detailed look at the control center and personnel living quarters. Afterwards, we followed the park ranger down the highway to one of the missile silos, still loaded with a Minuteman missile (without its deadly payload of course).  This tour was a fascinating look into Cold War tactics and definitely requires advance reservations.

Unarmed Missile in Silo

 

Our long day of driving ended at the gambling mecca of Deadwood. If you’re hoping for exciting stories of travel money won and lost in the casinos, well, sorry but we actually spent an entire night in Deadwood without pulling the arm of a single slot machine. Yes, we’re pretty boring, but gambling away our hard-earned cash is just not our thing. While looking for a restaurant, we did stumble into Saloon 10, where Wild Bill Hickock was shot and killed, which was kind of cool I suppose.

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About Mike

I have a passion for adventure travel that began in 1989 with my first overseas trip: climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Having never been to a foreign country, Africa felt like being on another planet; I knew then and there I was hooked on travel. Since that time, I have visited all seven continents and dozens of countries. I’m using the experience I’ve gained in planning my own trips to help my clients plan their own adventures through my adventure travel company (http://www.offtrailtravel.com). After working as a firefighter for the US Forest Service in California and Wyoming for three years, I moved to Durango, Colorado where I graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in accounting. After graduation I moved to the Denver area where I worked in a Big Eight accounting firm to obtain my CPA license; soon afterward I began a career as an auditor with the Colorado Department of Education. My background in accounting helped me develop detailed-oriented skills that have been extremely useful in researching and planning my own travel over the years. I think this provides a unique asset to my clients in putting together their adventure travel plans. I currently live in Golden, Colorado with my wife Valerie, who shares my love of adventure travel. I’m an active member of the Colorado Mountain Club where I lead trips for club members and have taught ski lessons in their Telemark Ski School. I enjoy skiing, mountain hiking, trail running, photography, and astronomy. I take any opportunity I can get to explore new places, whether it’s on the other side of the world or just down the road.
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