Day 24 – Devils Tower and Deadwood
When I was 11 I saw Close Encounters and it had a profound effect on me. Just six months before, Star Wars had dazzled me with its spectacle of a whole new universe of adventure, now Steven Spielberg showed me a fantasy that took place in my world. It was almost too much for a [...]
When I was 11 I saw Close Encounters and it had a profound effect on me. Just six months before, Star Wars had dazzled me with its spectacle of a whole new universe of adventure, now Steven Spielberg showed me a fantasy that took place in my world. It was almost too much for a budding scifi fan to take in. I didn’t know it at the time, but the more adult themes and subtext had also resonated with me. I knew some day I would see Devils Tower for myself. That day had arrived.
A claustrophobically low cloud layer hangs over the rolling hills. At one point I feel like I can almost reach up and touch it. The sun is completely hidden, remaining so for the entire day. A fine mist falls, also for the whole day. The journey to the tower through the dreary, macabre landscape gives the morning a gothic feel.
The first sight of the distant tower provokes an involuntary gasp. Seeing this familiar shape in person brings memories and feeling from childhood flooding back. I remember now how much my mother liked the movie too. She took my brother and I to see it twice when it was in theaters that Christmas, an unheard of event in our household.
Here is wikipedias article on Devils Tower
The tower itself is sacred to the native people of the area, and you can feel how special it is. The whole area seems like another world. Halfway around I realize that the two people I most want to share this experience with are gone. I’m trying to make my peace with this, knowing it will be with me for the rest of my life. The yammering of the other people around me start to grate on my nerves and I move further from the tower, exploring the land around the base.
The atmosphere is heavy and I feel the need to move again. The rain is getting heavier, but I don’t care. I fly through the sullen countryside, the displaced air creating a dry bubble of air around me. I pass through two sad little towns. They look like the worst three blocks of Richmond have been picked up and dumped in the countryside.
A good lunch in Spearfish and a quick, wet trip south lands me in Deadwood, South Dakota. As a fan of the HBO series, knew I couldn’t resist seeing the real thing for myself. I didn’t plan to visit two real life locations from two of my favorite films in one day, it just worked out that way. Even though the series wasn’t filmed in the real town, they made an effort to find a location that resembled the real towns geography. Here is some real life facts on Deadwood I am instantly appalled by the nightmare of tourism that covers the main street. It’s like Reno and Fishermans Wharf had a baby.
The town is set in a gulch, with a stream running through the center of it. Up a steep hill is the town cemetery. It was getting late and even though still light out, all the other tourists had left. I spent hours walking among the old graves, reading the inscriptions, empathizing with the writers who had wanted to let it be known that the person buried there had mattered.