We had a very close encounter with Devils Tower.
There was no overwrought soundtrack by John Williams.
Or flashing lights or visitors from outer space.
But it was, nevertheless, quite a remarkably alien experience.
Devils Tower is a sacred (and much contested) place for Native American Plains tribes.
The ominous name of "Devils Tower" came from a 19th century Army expedition. One of the many less satanic Native American names for the monolith is "Bear's Lodge." According to the Lakota Sioux legend, seven girls went out to play and were spotted by several giant bears, who began to chase them.
In an effort to escape the bears, the girls climbed atop a rock, fell to their knees, and prayed to the Great Spirit Great Spirit to save them.
Hearing their prayers, the Great Spirit made the rock rise from the ground towards the heavens so that the bears could not reach the girls.
The bears, in an effort to climb the rock, left deep claw marks in the sides, which had become too steep to climb. (Those are the marks which appear today on the sides of Devils Tower.) When the girls reached the sky, they were turned into the star constellation the Pleiades.
That's not a bear; that's Peter the Painter.
The views out from the Tower of the Black Hills of Wyoming are amazing:
At the foot of Devils Tower there is a huge prarie dog town:
We considered spending the night in a tee-pee:
But opted instead for a cabin at the Rim Rock Lodge outside of Spearfish, South Dakota:
Our "rustic" cabin was perched on the edge of a cliff.
Well, actually it was perched over the edge of the cliff.
Needless to say, we tread very lightly in the cabin.
Not wanting to test it's structural integrity.
The accomodations were "rustic."
The view up the canon was spectacular.
In the morning there was a mountian lion track 5 feet from the front door:
That was a too close encounter.