Taking the Plunge

by Betsy Finley

My biking has slowed down some and I’d like to say it’s because the Black Hills are so beautiful to look at.  As I ride into Hot Springs, SD my mind wanders back to that trip my family took through the Black Hills years ago when I was about 10 years old.  We’d stopped at a gas station to fill up and I wondered what it would be like to live in a tourist town.  It would be many years later that I would experience that type of life when I moved to Aspen, CO.  But for today, I’m looking at the beauty of the red rocks and Fall River which runs through Hot Springs.  I can almost hear the voices of those people who settled here so very many years ago.  The Sioux and Cheyenne came here for the warm springs.  It wasn’t long before the European settlers discovered the benefits of these  warm spring waters.  Soon after arriving, these settlers made Hot Springs their new home renaming it in 1882 from Minnekahta to Hot Springs.  

It was from these warm spring waters that Evans Plunge was established.  The Sioux and Cheyenne fought fierce battles trying to lay claim to the ownership of these springs.  The Sioux emerged victorious, but in 1876, Colonel W.J. Thornby discovered the source of the warm creek.  He traded his spring to Joe Petty for a horse.  In 1890 Evans Plunge was built by Fred Evans.  Originally it was used as a health cure for many illnesses, but today it’s enjoyed by tourists from all over the world.  

After a quick breakfast at Fall River Bakery, I head down the street to take the plunge at Evans Plunge.  The water was refreshing and I did feel rejuvenated.  I also took in Mammoth Site, did some shopping at the numerous antique and art shops in town, and then decided to head to Wind Cave for a tour there.  

Wind Cave still fascinates me.  I can’t imagine the first people who explored these caves on their own.  Being slightly claustrophobic, I’m always grateful for the tour guide’s ability to get us into the cave and back out of the cave.  Years ago I thought it would have been fun to do a little spelunking, but now I’ll just take the open road on my bike as opposed to crawling around in a cave. Tomorrow I’ll plunge deeper into the Black Hills.  My next destination is Pringle, SD. 

I’ve been through Pringle several times in my life, but I honestly can’t say I know much about this town.  I had an uncle who lived there for some time and had a lumber business while there, but other than that Pringle will just be a rest stop on my way to Custer, SD.

And, as always, I end my blog about my imaginary trip with a bit of realism.  I had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family.  I didn’t get as much riding in as I had hoped, but I did manage to get a couple of riding days in.  My family was impressed with my trip and commented on the weight I’d taken off.  I think it’s more that I’m toning my body as opposed to dropping a lot of weight.  I do know that my biking helped me through the hectic Thanksgiving week and I’m happy to be on schedule again.  I hope to be in Spearfish, SD by Christmas.  So may the coming holidays bless you with the courage to go the distance and take a plunge into a new adventure, what ever that may be.  God bless you all.

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