A few nights ago we set up base camp in Rapid City, SD (Hi David!) and began exploring the Black Hills.

We’ve done quite a lot of scenic driving, we’ve seen Mount Rushmore twice (if you include attending the 9 PM lighting ceremony tonight… Cassie has blackmail pics of me down there with the rest of the veterans), we’ve seen a TON of winding roads, hills, valleys, streams, waterfalls, rain, rain, rain, and towns that have fancy billboards that herald a racy wild west past, only to find that they consist of tourist gift shops, ice cream parlors, t-shirt vendors and casinos. Lots and lots of casinos.

Deadwood, Lead, Rapid City, Sturgis, Keystone… casino central.

Oh yeah, Alex has decided he loves Magnetite, but each gift shop up here is more expensive than the one before. If anyone knows where the cheapest online source of magnetite is, give me a shout, okay?

In keeping my eye open for vacation tidbits worthy of appearing on the blog, I think I’ve found two more for this edition. That’s right, you won’t find a boring travelogue here at the BBB, if it doesn’t make me chuckle, I don’t throw it at you. Considering how easily amused I am, that’s not saying much.

First up for your amusement, a few days ago we visited a cave. Rushmore Cave, to be exact. Since we had Alex with us, we didn’t go in for one of the “Adventure” tours, where you have to be able to squeeze through narrow openings to qualify to go. We went with the default visit.

The Rushmore Cave experience, just a little outside Keystone, SD, was very enjoyable. It was my first actual cave tour before, since hiding in a hole in a rock doesn’t count as a “tour”. These were actual cave systems descending, rising, and twisting around, accompanied by actual stalactites and stalagmites. Oh, and the way I was taught to remember the difference is, Stalagmites have a “g” in the word, for “ground”, and stalactites have a “c” in the word, for “ceiling”. The tour guide had some weird other way she told us for remembering which was which, and I just stared at her blankly.

Alex loved it, I loved it, Cassie had fun and it had JUST enough narrow openings and places to duck and squeeze through to make it feel adventurous. And, it gave me a fun perspective for future stories about exploring underground in fantasy novels, which is great for me, let me tell you.

The fun bit relevant to the blog came when we are in this one cavern that they call the wedding chapel, and the tour guide is describing some of the calcite formations in the cavern. She points at a few ribbons of stalactite formations, and tells us, “Those particular formations are called Cave Bacon, because of the way they look like thick ribbons of bacon, with alternating bands of darker and lighter color.”

No matter where I go, that’s right, I twist the universe to bring me into contact with SOME form of bacon… even rock bacon.

MMMmmmMMM Bacon!

Oh, as long as I’m on the subject, the triple bacon sandwich at Arnold’s Classic Diner in Rapid City is delicious on sourdough bread.

The second fun thing happened this morning, when we ducked over into Wyoming to visit Devil’s Tower. We heard it was lonely, the poor thing.

We did the walk around Devil’s Tower, got some nice pictures, had a lot of fun in the open air. Saw some deer, saw a lot of rock, it was nice. Did I mention the rock?

When we visited the Visitor’s Center, there was this lovely painting by Herbert A. Collins illustrating the legend of Mato the Bear hanging over the fireplace, and it immediately became my favorite part of the Devil’s Tower visit.

I’d dearly love to see Blizzard add this particular event as a variation of an Old World Dragon Boss, handled like Kologarn is in Ulduar, a boss so huge you can only face him by being on top of a mountain.

Check this out Bear Blog readers!

Isn’t that awesome?

Yeah, that is one badass bear. Mato The Bear. Know the name. Fear the name. Just shush about the tail. :)

How would you like to be out there exploring in Azeroth, and have to scurry to find higher ground to escape from the giantest freaking BEAR of all time?

25 Responses to “Tales from the Trip II”
  1. Jong says:

    “Considering how easily amused I am, that’s not saying much.”
    That’s saying a lot. Considering how fired-up I get by a laser pointer or a ball of yarn.

  2. Solitha says:

    StalacTITES have to cling “tight” to the ceiling; stalagMITES “might” build up to form a column someday. But whatever works best for the individual :-)

  3. jinkx says:

    Love the bear :-) seems like a nice trip you guys are doing :-) Wish i could do the same, but altough its sunny here and summer is kicking in i still have a busy time right now. Ah well, as always vacation comes when i least expect it.
    Enjoy yourself guys and say hi to the bears from me :-)

  4. Thibbledorf says:

    umm not sure if this is what you were after but http://www.physlink.com/estore/cart/Lodestones.cfm

    and according to legend the bear must be very old.

    http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/lore22.html

  5. Bahail says:

    Haha that bear is AWESOME! Reminds me of Shardik (I think it is) from The Dark Tower series. Glad to see y’all are having a great time! (and btw, from your post the other day – I’ll never look at those silver sillouttes (sp?) the same way again!)

  6. Malificient says:

    Forgive me if you’ve read this already, but Neil Gaiman’s American Gods would be an excellent literary follow-up to your trip (particularly with all of the fantastic bits of Americana you seem to have run across). It’s nothing new, but definitely among the best of the modern American novels.

  7. Kattrinsaa says:

    hm, melee dps useless against that thing.. except maybe to saw off a claw or two.

  8. Necrodin says:

    I bet Richard Dreyfuss’ character in Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind never had visions of abear when he was sculpting the Devils Tower in his living room!
    “oh there’s box canyon over here… and a FRIGGIN BIG BEAR!”

  9. Chawa says:

    Personally, I am loving the travel tales of Cave Bacon and Corn Palaces. I actually googled the corn palace yesterday at work! And then I felt like I was a BBB Stalker…

    Highfive for Mato! Also, love to hear that you’re picking up cave inspiration and insight for the future writing of stories!

    Oh and isn’t it hilarious how WoWinsider just happened to have rediscovered you at the same time as when you go away on vacation?

  10. bigbearbutt says:

    Jong… Ooh! Laser pointers! Hell yes.

    Solitha… YES! That’s exactly what she said! That whole “might grow from the ground” thing threw me.

    Malificent, I did indeed read American Gods, I’ve liked Neil Gaimen ever since his brilliant work on Sandman. Good book.

    Still haven’t read any of the Dark Tower series though, so I don’t know who Shardik is.

  11. Minos says:

    One of the caves I’ve visited (can’t recall which) had iron in the water depositing their cave bacon, so it actually had red streaks in it.

  12. Mannyac says:

    There is a Shardik character in the Dark Tower.

    But I believe you are thinking about the Richard Adams book, Shardik, which was centered around a big, badass bear.

  13. Erthshade says:

    I tend to go by the first uncommon letter they have. A stalaCtite comes from the Ceiling, a stalaGmite comes from the Ground.

    And I have to admit that I just skimmed the post at first when I saw the picture, and thought of another place that a friend and I passed during a road trip one year but didn’t really have time to check out: along I90 there’s a sign directing you north to Big Bear Butte. Both of us being helpless WoW druid nerds by that time we laughed.

  14. Qwicksylver says:

    Love the picture with the bear though I remember seeing it either in geography class or boy scouts or something. I would love for there to be more world bosses like that not just dragons dragons dragons. I miss that giant lava guy in burning steppes. Lots of work for a stupid recipe and pants though.

  15. bigbearbutt says:

    Chawa, believe me, I’ve noticed the post necromancy from WoW Insider. It’s hilarious… and I’m sure people are very confused.

    In fact, I’m pretty proud. How many places are there on the internet so consistently flaky? I am building a legacy of lunacy! Pick any given post, and there will be something to shake your head at. That’s pretty cool.

  16. Lenaiya says:

    Actually there is a big huge bear in King’s Dark Tower series. Pretty sure the name is Shardik, but not 100% positive.

  17. Aselvar says:

    South Dakota? You must try the Chislic!

  18. Andy says:

    The original Shardik came from Richard Adams book by that same name and Stephen King practiced some literary necromancy to bring the name back as a codename for a giant robotic bear.

    (btw… as a longtime lurker I have to say that this is a kickass blog. I keep coming back to it for all my tanking needs even as a tankadin)

  19. Kattrinsaa says:

    stalagmite/stalactite, all i remember is if you are in the air, hold on tight… so stalactite is the one on the ceiling.

  20. Kevin says:

    The mnemonic I have comes from a Scooby-Doo cartoon of all places. The Monster Du Jour is trying to dislodge one of the protrusions (obviously one of the ground-based ones) but is struggling to do so. Observes Shaggy: “The stalactite might, but the stalagmite’s tight.”

  21. Qwicksylver says:

    This is not related to the post at all and I apologize for any inconvenience but I have a crazy Bear Tank question and since I am the only Feral druid I know, I can’t don’t know where else to ask this.

    I have been using the 226 Conquest badge pants and recently won the 232 pants from Pit of Saron, the only other time they have dropped for me they were rolled on by my tree healer and he took them.

    The new pants have significantly less stam than my old ones, also a loss of 2 gem slots. I lose hit and gain critical strike.

    With old pants i have 37k bear form unbuffed (38k mow)
    With new pants i have 36k bear form unbuffed (37k mow)

    My hit rating in old is 14% and 12% in new (both way over cap)
    My Crit strike is 38% in old and 42% in new

    Please let me know which you guys feel is better sorry didnt want to ask in trade chat only get ass hat responses.

    I am sorry for any inconvenience.

  22. RonjoI says:

    Another book to read for that region of the world is Black Hills by Dan Simmons. It has history, mild horror (it is Dan after all), and a large dose of Indian lore, inside you even find out what the Sioux word for vagina is. Limps a Lot, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, the gibbering ghost of Custer, and the creation of Mt. Rushmore whats not to love.

  23. Bear Pelt says:

    “How would you like to be out there exploring in Azeroth, and have to scurry to find higher ground to escape from the giantest freaking BEAR of all time?”

    ^^^
    I might actually make a last ditch attempt to utilize ‘Soothe Animal’ or even ‘Hibernate’… >_>

  24. Yssa says:

    As someone currently in Grad School in Rapid City, I’d say you should definitely drop by Reptile Gardens and Bear Country USA if you haven’t already. There’s a great big old Grizzly at Bear Country who is very photogenic and loves to ham it up!

  25. Bani says:

    Super long time lurker, first time poster …. but, well … I love this website and have come way too late to the party, as is my want … but …
    I worked in a cave … Cave of the Winds in Colorado “Stalactite hangs tightly to the ceiling, stalagmites are on the ground and you might trip on them.” That was the best joke in the 45 minute tour … other than explaining how the caves got their name (wind blowing over two sinkholes) and why doesn’t it make any sound now (when they built the gift shop, they cut off the wind … Colorado conservation at it’s best there … … … )

    Yes, the bear is Shardik …. Path of the Bear, Way of the Turtle? … Finally finished the series last night (it’s a repeat … but the last 300 pages are just … crap, another friend died, and another, and another… screw this, I’m gonna go read something cheerful … like Kafka).

    Love this blog, love your stories am grateful for all your time on this. Thanks.
    Bani

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