Our friends from Lebanon, PA, Jim and Vicki Garrett have spent the last two summers in Rapid City, SD. Jim is a workamper for the summer, and Vicki continues to work remotely at a full time job that she’s held for almost 25 yrs. How grand is that! You can still make money from the comforts of your own home, while traveling the country. Welcome to full time RVing!
Since they’ve been here for the last two summers, they know which sites to see and the places to visit. So they kindly asked us to join them for a trip to Devils Tower in Wyoming.
Prior to Jim and Vicki inviting us on this day trip, and as Kevin and I tossed around different things we wanted to do and see while in the area, he informed me he really didn’t need to visit “a ROCK” protruding out of the ground. To me it didn’t make any difference if we visited it now or later, as I knew we would stumble upon it at some point in time during our travels out west. So when Jim and Vicki called and asked us to go, Kevin consented and said sure why not. And are we glad we accepted the invite!
First stop was Devils Tower. What a spectacular sight! Devils Tower was declared the first national monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt.
This makes Wyoming the home of both the first national park, Yellowstone in 1872 and the first national monument.
We viewed this mighty geological formation from the 1.3 mile trail that circles the base of it. Devils Tower is 867 feet from the ground to the summit, stands 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourth river and is 5,112 feet above sea level. The teardrop-shaped top is 1.5 acres with the diameter of its base 1,000 feet. It’s considered a sacred place to over 20 Native American Tribes, who share similar legends on the origin of this prominent butte.
It is also the fictional backdrop used for the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
The formation has hundreds of parallel cracks in it which attracts approximately 5,000 climbers each year from all over the world. And on this day there were climbers. Looking through my binoculars I could see about six tiny moving bodies dotted with different colored helmets. Really, a helmet? I can’t imagine what protection a helmet would offer falling hundreds of feet off a cliff. Just watching them gave me the “heeby geebies”! I’ll let the rock climbing up to the thrill seekers. It’s not for me!
After our visit to Devils Tower we took a side trip to the quaint little town of Aladdin, Wy – population 15! Inside this tiny town on Highway 24, sits a well preserved 115 year old General Store – Aladdin General Store. This structure was built in 1896 by Bill Robinson.
Before a store it was a saloon. The interior woodwork, cabinetry and windows are all original.
The peeling wallpaper upstairs in “Aladdin’s Antique Attic” is original as are the roll-top storage bins behind the counter. I could not take my eyes of these bins, as I tried to imagine what shopping was like one hundred years ago and what I might buy from one of those bins. Yes, this is a store where one could come and purchase anything, including the kitchen sink. And today it’s pretty much the same. It sells groceries and other merchandise, liquor, gas (which is still pumped by the store clerk), and is also a consignment shop for antiques (I’m sure there’s a kitchen sink in there somewhere). It has a cafe and remains the local post office.
The Aladdin General Store is now on the National Role of Historical Sites. And a little tidbit on this 30 acre town – it’s for sale. The selling price is 1.5 million dollars (firm), which includes the General Store, trailer park, bar and Post office.
So, if you’ve ever wanted to own a town, self contained at that, you may want to take a vacation to Aladdin, Wyoming and check it out!
From Aladdin we drove east to Belle Fourche (pronounced bel-FOOSH), South Dakota – population 4,500. Twenty miles north of Belle Fourche, on open prairie, is the geographic center of the fifty United States.
The actual measured center has become virtually inaccessible to visitors since the rerouting of old highway 85. So in 2007 Belle Fourche being the closest city to the real center, erected a new and large monument to claim their proximity to the official center. This has made Belle Fourche the designated site and destination for for tourists. Prior to Alaska and Hawaii’s admission into the union, the center of the US was determined to be in Lebanon, Kansas.
After visiting Belle Fourche we make the trek back to Rapid City.
The day was full of fun and once again, lots of history. Kevin and I both enjoyed the day and he was ever so glad that he didn’t pass up the opportunity to see Devil’s Tower. To our friends Jim and Vicki, we are forever thankful and grateful for your invite to “the Rock”!