we I spoke, I mentioned a wind storm that was bearing down on us. Turned out to be every bit as wild as predicted. The winds arrived Wednesday evening and blew nonstop for almost 48 hours. Sustained winds between 50-60 mph with gusts to 81 mph in Rapid City. That’s equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane! It was brutal, and caused some damage around town. These aren’t my photos, but give you a pretty good idea of the aftermath.
The worst part was trying to sleep. I ended up on the couch Wednesday night — not because I was in the doghouse with my wife, but rather, the living room is more protected from the wind than our west-facing bedroom, where every gust was whistling through the eaves and shaking the house. Wind is a fact of life around here, but the duration of this event was unusual.
We were glad those winds died down Friday afternoon, because we had weekend plans that were half outdoors/half indoors. Saturday, we ventured down to Custer for the Burning Beetle Festival. We went last year and had such a blast, we decided to make it an annual tradition. You can follow the link if you want more details about the event. In a nutshell, the city of Custer sets fire to a mountain pine beetle effigy placed atop discarded Christmas trees every January. This year, they got creative and added spiky COVID viruses to the beetle.
We got to town mid-afternoon and settled into the Buglin’ Bull, a restaurant and sports bar on the main drag, for cocktails and appetizers while waiting for sundown. It was a virtual repeat of last year, right down to the food (chislic and stuffed mushrooms) and drinks (Old Fashioneds for me, beer for Tara).
When we first got to town, the sun was shining brightly. “I would love to see it snow one year,” Tara said wistfully.
Little did we know she’d get her wish…
We tabbed out at 4:30 and checked into the Super 8. Once again history repeated itself, because it was the same place we stayed last year. That had been such a fun weekend, we figured, why mess with perfection?
We arrived at Pageant Hill at 5:00, just as twilight was settling in. By then, some ominous-looking clouds had rolled in. Right about the time the torch-carrying mob crested the hill, it started snowing. Like, really coming down hard. Which created a great atmosphere!
It’s really something to see a group of people chanting “burn, beetle, burn!” while a drummer bangs away before lighting the whole thing on fire. Definitely a unique experience, especially for South Dakota.
I finally bit the bullet and upgraded to a premium plan so I can share video. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Plus, no more ads, and unlimited access to premium themes. Totally worth it! But I digress.
The beetle burning was accompanied by a fireworks display, too. I was so caught up in the moment, I forgot to be cold.
After the beetle had pretty much burned itself down to ashes, we picked up a pizza and returned to the room. We’d brought along a cooler of drinks and kicked back for a little while before heading down to the pool and hot tub. Tara’s coworker Chelsea and her boyfriend and roommate were also in town for the festival, as they were last year (deja vu x3), and came down to join us. We ended up killing a couple of hours down there, only leaving when management reminded us that the pool had technically closed 15 minutes earlier. Oops.
We checked out of the motel this morning and I suggested we take the scenic drive back to town down Highway 44. “Great idea!” Tara said. And it was…at least in theory. The road was very icy and slick after the previous evening’s snowfall, which made for a white-knuckle drive. We hadn’t anticipated that, but got home without sliding off the road. Whew.
Hope your weekend was as fun as ours!