6-22-13 7:08 pm Mountain time
Today we went into Hill City and boarded the 1880s train. This train is part of the train system that was developed in this area after gold was found in The Black Hills. Back then it extended to many towns in the area, but today it is now a tourist train that goes back and forth from Hill City, SD to Keystone, SD and nowhere else. This is the original train. It takes you on a one hour trip through the Black Hills winding through the jagged rocks, Ponderosa Pines, and so many beautiful purple flowers that are throughout this region. It was as if you were transformed back in time because there were so many stretches that all you saw was nature. We saw several deer on the way to Keystone.
The Black Hills are a national park but there are some few areas that are privately owned along the tracks because back in the gold rush people staked claims. If they kept the claims they were passed down in the family and if they were still owned when the park was established then they were able to keep the land.
On the way we saw several left over telegraph poles. Some were upright, some almost falling down, and some still had the wire attached and hanging on the ground. It’s amazing how much communication has changed since then. From Morris Code sent down onto the lines to the person at the end that can interpret it, to today’s instant messaging.
Once we got into Keystone we did some shopping. Then we ate pulled pork sandwiches at an outside table. The weather was beautiful. After we ate we went to The Red Garter Saloon and watched a comedy western gun fight show. It portrayed Wild Bill Hickok’s last gun fight in which he accidentally shot and killed his own deputy. (This really happened). They did it in a funny way of course, but it’s hard to tell you how a gun fight in which someone was killed was funny, but it was, especially seeing the man get up and continue the show.
Before the show however, there was a man that got up on stage and sang some songs he wrote. One was about South Dakota and on a screen behind him there were scenes of buffalo roaming, horses running, and the beautiful scenery that is in the Black Hills. It was very moving. He then sang a song about his favorite TV cowboys of the old west which was also good.
After a while we boarded the train back to Hill City with this trip just as nice as the first. By this time the sky was getting dark and it was getting cooler and it looked as if it may storm again, so we headed back to the RV after getting some food at the grocery store.
As I’ve said before, this was to be a trip of a lifetime for us. I doubt very much we will ever come back here again since I’m not working and we are selling our RV hopefully when we get back home. It’s very difficult for me to explain adequately just how I feel because of the paradox of this situation. I’m in more pain than I ever imagined possible because I have lost my Kaitlyn. Words can’t describe the intense pain my heart feels. I feel as though someone thrust their hand in my chest, pulled out my heart, but then thrust it back in my chest all damaged and bleeding so I wouldn’t die but yet it hurts so bad dying would have been better. Even that is not an adequate description. I hurt SO badly. I am sad beyond anything I have ever known or imagined. As I stood in line to board the train this morning, I was standing there around all the families with all their children and it made me so sad remembering that that was us once. A family, all together, laughing, on vacation, with my children and their lives stretched out before them. Behind me a teenaged girl was with her mother and they hugged and acted like they loved each other so much, just like me and Kaitlyn use to do. I thought to myself “you need hold onto each other as hard as you can, because you never know……” I fought the tears so hard, but they flowed out of my eyes behind my sun shades down my cheeks and I tried so hard to keep them wiped off. The real fight was keeping from breaking down into loud sobs in front of everyone. This also happened in the saloon when that man was singing the song about SD, and then on the train trip back. All those purple flowers. They are so pretty and especially plentiful on my side of the train on the way back. Each one made me think of Kaitlyn because she loved flowers so much. Also once, she was really into purple, once upon a time. So how can I explain a vacation filled with the beauty I see, the history I love, with the intense pain I feel? There is no way that is adequate.