Our second day of our trip to Sturgis SD began in Valentine Nebraska.  We spent the night in Valentine and woke to a drizzly cool morning.  As we were leaving Valentine we decided to take a different route than we usually take and headed toward Hot Springs, South Dakota.  David had heard there was an interesting paleontological dig of wooly mammoths and wanted to see it.

As we were traveling west I said we were really close to the site of the Wounded Knee massacre and I would really like to see it.  I had read where Johnny Depp had offered the land owner over $3 million dollars for the site.  It was just 7 miles off the highway we were traveling and we were in no hurry to get to our final destination.  We took the beautiful drive north of US Highway 81 on BIA 27. The clouds hung low and made it feel as though we were just below the sky. It was a beautiful drive.

When we arrived at the site I was astonished to see that the road was in horrible disrepair and it was difficult to drive to the top of the hill where the cemetery site is.  We walked up to the archway and opened a chain link fence and walked along the sidewalk to the monument.  Colorful strips of cloth hung all over the fence and near the monument. Pouches of tobacco were laying around the monument or hanging from the fence. I saw at the base of the monument where Native Americans had obviously burned some cedar.  A young man came to me and told me that we were at the site of the Wounded Knee massacre and waved his arms to show us the entire valley. “This is where 300 of my ancestors were killed.” We thanked him for his hospitality and as we were leaving he handed me a beaded bracelet and asked if I would make a donation. I gave him some money and we got back into the car. I couldn’t help think that someone needs to go there and fix the road and at least put a sign somewhere.  Maybe even help them pull the weeds.

We headed back south to US Highway 81 and into Hot Springs to look at the Mammoth Site.  It amazes me how much they have dug and how much dirt they have removed one scoop at a time using nothing more than paint brushes and dental tools.  As of now, the Mammoth Site has found 61 Mammoths (58 Columbian Mammoths and 3 woolly mammoths) along with 85 other species of animals, plants, and several unidentified insects. We even saw a baby wooly mammoth.  It was interesting to hear how they all ended up in this one place. Basically, they were grazing in the area and a pond formed. They waded into the pond to drink and could not get out. A prehistoric sink hole swallowed them into the mud.

We are finally in Rapid City, sitting at the dining room table enjoying a glass of wine with my Mother. It’s probably a good thing that my family lives in the area. There is NO WAY I was going to camp out in a tent with temperatures getting in the low 50’s at night.

Tomorrow we will be heading to our first item on our list – DOWNTOWN STURGIS!