- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
In answer to your first question, no, we did not spear fish in Spearfish. The town of some 5,700 people at the northern edge of the Black Hills was given its unusual name by early fur traders, who upon paddling down the canyon streams, saw Indians and trappers spearing fish in the clear waters. So, what would you have come up with? Atlantic City?
In answer to your second question, yes, we had a very good reason to come to Spearfish. Several of them, in fact. During our six-day stay, from July 11 to 16, my family and I engaged in a variety of summertime activities, though none, I admit, were sweat-breakers.
But, then, Spearfish is the kind of place where you can do nothing, a little of nothing or a lot of nothing. After 3,000 miles of driving a Chevy van and after a fairly serious hiking accident involving my wife, Donna, we needed a vacation from our vacation, so we chose the middle course.
We tossed horseshoes at the Spearfish campgrounds and tossed fish-food pellets to the trout in the D.C. Booth Historic Fish Hatchery. We waded in the character-testing cold waters at the base of Rough lock Falls, the hopelessly romantic natural wonder in Spearfish Canyon, and hiked on the well-worn trails that weave in and out of the canyon's 7,000 acres.
We mingled with the crowds (25,000 in two days) at the Spearfish Festival in the Park and munched on a nutritional nightmare called "pepper belly"—a mess of heated chili beans, ground beef, cheese and sour cream ladled into a bag of Fritos corn chips. We passed up the chance to play a round at the Spearfish Canyon Country Club, but we did ride around the course in an electric cart, thus keeping that day's triple bogeys to a minimum.
And every day we shook our heads in wonder as hundreds of fussy Corvette owners—in town for the 18th annual Black Hills Corvette Classic—scrubbed their prized possessions with toothbrushes and cruised Main Street like proud parents pushing baby carriages.
"We don't lack for things to do around here," says Lisa Ann Modrick, the executive director of one of this continent's more aggressive chambers of commerce.
No, they don't. Spearfishians decided a long time ago that being close to the historic Black Hills ( Mount Rushmore lies 59 miles to the south) was not enough to bring large numbers of tourists to town during the summer. By promoting the beauty of Spearfish Canyon, and by luring special events to town—like the Corvette Classic and the National Horseshoe Pitchers' Association World Tournament—Spearfish has made itself much more than a "gateway" to somewhere else. "People around here are proud of their community and they work for their community," says Arden Trandahl, who left a desk job at the U.S. Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., to become the curator of the hatchery. "Spearfish does things in style."
Our own style in Spearfish was somewhat cramped, however, by the hiking mishap that occurred in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana on July 10. Donna slipped on a rock and fell on another, leaving a bone-deep cut on her right leg that required 21 stitches to close. The surprise was not that she reacted with fortitude, which was typical, but rather that I somehow applied a tourniquet fashioned from a pillow case to the wound, and then drove 35 miles—without steering into a ditch—on rain-slicked roads to get medical assistance. Until that day my response to emergency medical situations had been limited to standing by and saying, "Ugh! Look at that!"
"I predicted one major disaster on this trip," said Donna afterward, "so let's hope this is it."