Awesome K and I were looking for something to watch. It was one of the rare nights we were home with nothing to do, and thought that loafing on the couch sounded like the best idea. So, we perused the usual places, Netflix, our DVR, and our extensive movie shelf. Nothing. Nada. Zilcho. What were we to do? Just then, A.K remembered a show he had seen, and loved. HBO’s Deadwood! I was skeptical, Westerns have never been a favorite of mine, but he was so enthusiastic, I couldn’t say no!
After a couple of episodes, I was hooked. Even though the show was not filmed on location, it was still filled with snippits of history. The death of Wild Bill Hickok! Calamity Jane! And, of course, Seth Bullock. Seth happens to be my favorite, by the way. Not just the character on the show, but the man himself. Mr. Bullock has such an interesting story! Last, but not least, the infamous Al Swearengen! Mr. Swearengen is particularly interesting, because there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot known about him, and we all know how much I love a mystery! So, after watching the show for a little bit, I started to research the real Deadwood, South Dakota.
One thing led to another, and we decided we needed to see this piece of the wild west for ourselves. It just so happens that they have some casinos there, so not only could we get a rich lesson in history, we could also play some poker! A perfect combination! We were also able to find a brewery the A.K had heard about, so we knew this was the next adventure for us. We left for Deadwood on a Saturday morning, with me behind the wheel. We stopped for our (my) obligatory road Starbucks, then we were off!
We made a couple of minor pit-stops on our way to our first real stop in Rapid City, S.D. We stopped to see if we could see the Oregon Trail – as all the signs said we could – but we were unsuccessful. We drove around a little bit trying to find some of it, but quickly gave up. While it would have been neat to see, it was not our main focus. We had a brewery to get to! Onward!
Our first stop on our Deadwood Adventure was in Rapid City, S.D. To some this may not seem like a very exciting destination, but we couldn’t wait to get there. A.K had heard of a brewery there that had some pretty amazing food and brews, and I couldn’t wait to see it because of the growlers they sell! I had been saving my pennies in order to buy one of these magnificent beer vessels, and I was not disappointed. The Firehouse Brewing Company in Rapid City was everything we hoped it would be, and more!
After filling up on food, beer, and hilarity, we hit the road. Rumor had it that it was going to snow, and snow a lot, so we had to hustle to Deadwood. An ominous sky hung over us while we scurried through Sturgis, and we made it to our hotel just as the first flakes began to fall. We arrived at Cadillac Jack’s Hotel and Casino just in time! Situated just outside of the main stretch, Cadillac Jack’s is a great place to stay. Comfortable, great gaming options, nice rooms, and you have two different hotels to choose from! Both are connected to the casino, so no matter what side of the house you stay on, you are still close to the games. We stayed in in the Cadillac Jack’s rooms, as opposed to the Marriott, and were very impressed. The room was very large, comfortable, and VERY affordable. If you are looking for a reasonable place to stay, I would check them out. If you are in it for the history, though, I might look at staying on Main Street. ((A handy tip when looking for a room, try Hotels.com. We have found incredible rates on a number of our adventures, but especially to Deadwood. If you have a specific hotel in mind, check their website, and especially their Facebook page. Often hotels will advertise special rates and deals on Facebook. If all else fails, call them and ask for a discount, especially if it during their “off season.”)) We settled into our room after a painless check in, then hit the casino! I have spent a fair amount of time in casinos, especially lately, and I have to say that I really enjoyed Cadillac Jack’s. Everything was spaced out nicely so that nothing felt cramped or scary, there was a good variety of games, and there were two separate areas dedicated to table games, one for poker only, and the other for Black Jack and what-not. The poker room seemed a little small, but I am used to the Ameristar that has a TON of tables, it seems, so seeing only a couple of tables seemed small to me. There was at least one table open for a cash game, though, and there was a rumor of some decent daily tournaments. We headed off to check out the slot machines and other table games, and to just relax after our drive.
The next morning we stepped outside to a mini Snow-pocalypse. The dreaded blizzard was in full force, and there was no going anywhere. While we were a little bummed, we made the best of it by checking out the previously mentioned poker tournament. A.K has played in tournaments before, and has even played at the World Series of Poker (a couple of times), I, however, had no tournament experience (other than video games). Needless to say I was a little nervous, and A.K was calm, cool, and ready to kick Deadwood booty! For my first ever live tournament, it was pretty stress free. The buy-in was only $13, with a $5 re-buy, so I didn’t need to worry that I was going to lose all our money in my first “big game.” Even with the blizzard, there ended up being a decent turn-out, with two full tables of players. Everyone playing seemed really nice (and obviously everyone knew one another, small town and all), and the game itself was pretty low key and fun. I didn’t do all that well, but I can say I was not the first knocked out, which is nice. A.K was a different story, however. He was ON FIRE! That little poker room didn’t know what hit it! Well, maybe not quite that dramatic…First he was doing well, then he made it to the final table, he made it “to the money”, then he ended up winning the tournament, winning $177! I was pretty impressed (although I know he is a phenomenal poker player), and I think everyone else was pretty impressed, too. Way to kick butt A.K!
Luck was definitely on our side that afternoon. After A.K won the tournament, we checked the weather outside and it had let up! There was even a little trolley running! We would get to see some of Deadwood after all! YAY! We bundled up and headed out.
We decided to take the super cool trolley to upper Main Street, and walk back down. Deadwood is not a very big town, and when the weather is nice it would be easy to walk pretty much the whole place. If you wanted to, you could ride the trolley in a large loop around the town, and pick and choose where to get off at. There are multiple stops on the route, and the trolley runs into the wee hours of the night, so if you change your mind about all the walking, you can hop on the trolley to get you where you wanted to go. On our trip, we almost didn’t make it up the street, the roads were slick and the snow was pretty deep in some places. Luckily our trolley was pretty tough, and we made it to our stop.
We started meandering down Main Street, looking in at all the cool little shops and what-nots. There is so much history crammed into such a small town, I was afraid we would miss something! Luckily there are placards all over the place letting you know who was here, how something happened, and where you were standing. It was nice to see all the information was readily available. Despite some places were closed due to weather, or it being the wrong day of the week (turns out Monday’s are pretty dead, so bare that in mind. It’s always good to find out in advance what days most places are closed, if Monday’s are their off days, or Wednesdays. Be sure to plan ahead!), we were still able to see a lot of the things we had hoped for. One of our first stops was to check out the Historic Bullock Hotel. Built by Seth Bullock, it was originally a warehouse and (I think) hardware store. After a fire burnt down the warehouse, Seth built his hotel on the same site. While we were checking out the gorgeous hotel, we learned that Bullock was the father of two daughters and a son (nothing like the show said of his family), longtime friends with Teddy Roosevelt, and was appointed the first forest supervisor by Roosevelt, in addition to being Sheriff, and entrepreneur. We learned that Seth may even haunt his hotel, and that one of his favorite spots is the grand fireplace on the first level. It was said to be a favorite of his in life, and apparently still loves it after his death.
After checking out some more of the buildings around town, we headed toward the infamous Gem Saloon! The Gem Steakhouse and Saloon is now part of the Mineral Palace Hotel and Gaming, with the Gem as a restaurant on the second floor. On the site of the original Gem, built and run by the notorious Al Swearengen, the Gem Steakhouse and Saloon is a great place to stop and get a bite to eat. The prices are reasonable, with the menu following the Deadwood (show) theme. You can order the (Dan) Dority Black and Bleu Steak, Mr. Woo’s Pork Ribs, or Merrick’s Ribeye. They also offer Calamity Jane’s chicken and Joanie Stubbs Grilled Swordfish. I had the black and bleu, and A.K tried the garlic ribeye. Both were delicious, and well worth the stop.
One of the places we were really hoping to see, and didn’t get to because of the weather, was Mount Moriah Cemetery, the final resting place for Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, Seth Bullock, and a few other famous Deadwood residents. The snow was too nasty, unfortunately. If you are planning on going, make sure you wear good walking shoes, and plan for at least half an hour of looking around. We heard it is a bit of a hike to see Seth Bullock’s grave, so keep that in mind when planning your visit to the cemetery. Wild Bill and Calamity Jane are pretty easy to check out, we heard.
We walked back to our hotel and reveled in the little bit of history we were able to take in on that snowy Monday afternoon. While we didn’t get to see and do everything we had planned on, it was still a lot of fun to traipse through a snowy Deadwood.
The next morning, before heading back to AwesomeSauce Headquarters, we decided to try and check out the Adams Museum. It was closed the day before, which was a bummer, and we wanted to try to see it before we left. We were in luck as they were open and ready for visitors, so on our way out of town we made one last Deadwood stop. When you go to Deadwood, this is a must see location! While it looks small from the outside, the three level museum is packed to the gills with Deadwood history and items, as well as some rare and unusual items from all over! There was a whole section dedicated to Wild Bill and Calamity Jane, which was really neat to see. It contained Hickok’s last letter to his wife (that they read on the HBO show), memorabilia from his show days, clothes, and so much more! We learned a lot more about Calamity Jane’s past, the woman who claimed to be her daughter (which turned out to be untrue), and were able to get a better idea of who the wild woman was. There was also a neat section in the museum dedicated to the Jewish founders, and the Chinese population of Deadwood. One of my favorite sections was the oddities section, with the not-to-be-missed two headed calf!
On the upper floor you can learn about the town’s history. Fires! Gambling! Brothels! Read the headlines from original newspapers, and learn all there is to know of Deadwood’s beginnings, and almost ends. There is also an area with some of the most intricate and beautifully wooden furniture! In the basement you find out more about the first schools, and how it was to be a learning child in a lawless town.
After a wonderful morning spent in a great little museum, we had to head home. Driving out we noticed a lot of land for sale, and “joked” about when we win the World Series of Poker, maybe we would buy some land and build a house in the Black Hills. It is a gorgeous area, and it would be easy to move in and relax. Maybe pan for gold in the streams while enjoying quiet nights with the stars, trees, and wildlife for company. Sounds pretty nice, when you think about it.
All in all it was a very fun adventure! I highly recommend going to Deadwood, via Rapid City. We are going to go back sometime when the weather is nice, and hopefully see more of what Deadwood has to offer. We might even try to make it to the town of Wall, and check out the Wall Drug store we saw so many signs for!
Thank you for joining us on our adventure! Is there someplace we missed that you think we should go? Want more information about one of our stops? Got a spot we should go on our next adventure? Tell us about it!
This post brought to you by G-Sauce. G-Sauce is a member of the AwesomeSauce Duo, and author in the Are You Ready? blog series. She works closely with the AwesomeSauce Duo P.R Manager – and Mews – Sir Archer Funnyfoot, with the Trip Coordinator – and Mews – Miss Matilda Pants, and with the Head of Logistics – and Mews – Secret Agent Sam. She loves a good cup of coffee, enjoys reading, and has a soft spot for all things nerdy.