(I've got a cake in the oven so this has to be quick)
Hundreds of years went by with the presence of the white man on this continent before the sacred "Black Hills" were discovered to hold the blinding yellow light of gold. When I say "blinding" I mean it in several ways; blind to reason, blind to caring, blind to others, and blind to themselves.
It took well over a hundred years, but the mines are slowly closing down out west. The oldest and largest of them shut down just a few years ago, leaving behind a legend and a legacy. The legends are amusing, not at all like the truths that are discernible, and the legacy will fade, as shall the pollution in the waters. The pollution, however, was not confined to the waters! The pollution continues to grow in the wake of economic boons brought by legalized gambling. As with pretty much all of our "civilized" world one can make the choice to revel in the bright lights and glitter or seek the higher, less traveled paths that lead to vistas unrevealed even in the high tech world in which we live. I've got an old map that shows every road known to the forest service that manages the acres of virtually unexplored national preserve. It was given to my wife and I by an explorer who is still seeking the golden flecks to be found in small streams that wind everywhere throughout the Black Hills. Even in the days of Wild Bill Hickock most of this country remained unvisited, just as it is today. My buddy Tom who only recently sold all of his holdings in Brookings county to move to the hills seeking gold, has a wonderful journey ahead of him. He and his wife are raising a grandson, as so many are doing these days, and starting life over. He knows, as do I, that there is still plenty of gold out there, you just have to find it. I've been panning the stuff off and on since 1965 and have several favorite places to look, but the gold is not the object of the journey, it is just one of the byproducts. It's the journey itself which is the goal. To be out there, in the midst of God's creation. We take the little Harley for journies on gravel, dirt, and forest track. It just seems better fitted to the job.(Gotta stop here, the bell went off)...............(cake is done, "devil's food," now about that icing..........wait 'til it cools)............
OK.....I'm back, where was I? Oh, yeah, the little known areas of the hills. Vast areas of timber stretching for miles in every direction with firetrails, backroads, and paths that lead, well, you have to find one and follow it. The coolest part is parking the scoot when we can't go any further on it and hiking yet further. The unexpected discovery of a fallen roof in the midst of rocks that could only have been the central chimney for a cabin long ago is one of the places I have earmarked for a revisit, this time for pictures! For forty years I've wandered around out there, and for the most part have loved every minute of it. Moses, on the other hand, led his people around in the wilderness for forty years and they were never really happy about it. They wanted to be where the lights and the action were, I'm sure. Maybe a golden calf or two or a little gentlemanly wagering. "Just a few quarters honey. You lost how much?" If you come out this way and you have some time, don't spend it with the tourists, spend it in the midst of the beautiful creation God has given us in this land we call home. There are things to be seen, places to be discovered, and always the possibility of taking gold home with you, even if it is only the "gold" found in the memories of time well spent. God bless, Preacher.