We’ve made our way down to Rapid City, South Dakota, by way of Bowman, Bell Fourche, and Devil’s Tower. Rapid City was my childhood home, and Suzy has endured countless re-tellings of stories from back in the day. I touched (or, rather, re-touched) on the fireworks caper, Mayflower moving boxes, skiing at nearby Terry Peak, football games at 20 below, and my sister’s neighborhood “day care.”
Regarding day care, it was here in Rapid in 1968 that my enterprising 12-year-old sister provided babysitting for the entire block, all for 25 cents an hour. Us kids learned things like how to hard-boil an egg, how to sew, and how to make hand puppets—certainly risky topics with two older brothers. Somehow I survived, and I owe my sister a debt of gratitude to this day (I still make amazing hand puppets).
The highlight of today was lunch in Belle Fourche (pronounced “Bell Foosh”), a ranching town of 5000 on the way to Rapid City (it’s often just called “Belle,” much like Rapid City gets shortened to “Rapid” by the locals). We were standing outside the Belle Inn Restaurant debating lunch options when a sign near the entrance caught my eye. It said “Cowboys, scrape sh*t from boots before entering.” It wasn’t a joke; it was a necessary…albeit indelicate…reminder. And it clinched our decision. This was the place for lunch.
As we entered the restaurant, pretty much every table paused and looked up—but expressions were more curious than suspicious. We were new faces with different accents and (way) out of state tags…but there was one other thing that set us apart.
Belle is a ranching town where a lot of folks are clearly used to working in the fields around livestock and perhaps heavy equipment. The Belle Inn’s customers were younger, older, farmers, ranchers, maybe even tourists…but even on a day that hit 90 degrees, they were definitely NOT wearing shorts.