Firehouse Brewing Company

Rapid city downtown (1)If you’re ever in Rapid City, South Dakota and looking for a good meal, check out Firehouse Brewing Company in the heart of downtown. 

The Firehouse isn’t just a name. It’s actually located in the city’s original firehouse which was constructed in 1915. It’s a two story building with loft and outdoor seating. The bar features all sorts of interesting things including firefighting apparatus, ladders, pictures and patches. The original fire pole is still in place too!

Plus there’s exposed brick, dim lighting, big windows, pretty wood and lots of red – some of my favorite things! The customer service is pretty good and the menu is extensive enough to please almost everyone. They even had a Beyond Burger, making it A-OK in my book since not all restaurants are so friendly to vegans and vegetarians. The prices are fair and the service was great. We were there at about 6 p.m. on Labor Day and waited fifteen minutes for a table. But the wait was less than expected and they send you a text when your table is ready so you can take a stroll while you wait.

They’ve been in business since the early nineties and I’m hoping they’re around for a long time to come. It’s a great restaurant and I would absolutely recommend it. I’m not a drinker so I didn’t try any of the beer but they’re well known by locals and tourists alike as the best brewpub in town.

Want to drool over the menu? Do it here!   Or you can click here to read about downtown Rapid City!

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The Signs of Rapid City

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Of all the towns I’ve visited recently, Rapid City, South Dakota wins the prize for the best cool signage. Throughout downtown, there are tons of great new and vintage signs that make you want to go into a business.

Signs add character and charm to a streetscape. They tell you about the business and about the amount of care the business owner has taken in presenting themselves to the world. A good sign is like a firm handshake and makes a great first impression.

Here are some signs that I liked and hope you will too.

City of Presidents

Rapid city downtown (8)

Rapid City, South Dakota is known as the City of Presidents. It’s a convenient place to stay if you’re visiting the region and is a nice place to spend your time. It’s a city that has a small town vibe.

The downtown area is vibrant with locally owned shops and restaurants, museums and things to do outdoors. Parking is free in their garage on holidays, Sundays and evenings so we never paid to park here.. You see plenty of law enforcement as well as security cameras making it seem safe enough. Abundant flowers, plentiful outdoor seating and a fun park are anchors here.

We did see a few homeless people and a particularly aggressive panhandler but you’ll unfortunately have that no matter where you go.

This is a very walkable downtown and motorists seem to respect the rights of pedestrians, a far cry from how motorists in Ohio seem to feel about them.

One thing that makes this city special is that each former US President and some Native American leaders have been immortalized with life sized statues throughout downtown. They were paid for by donors and each one is unique.

Here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure.

I’ll share more pictures from Rapid City. Meanwhile, have a look their tourism site if you’re interested in knowing more about visiting.

The Church Around the Bend

Church in day

We came around a bend somewhere near Douglas, Wyoming and I gasped in delight at this view. Frequent flyers of this blog know that I have a thing for churches and this is one of the more unique that I’ve seen.

The word picturesque comes to mind but that really doesn’t do justice to how lovely it is or how perfectly it is framed by the mountains. You don’t often see a log church but it was exactly the sort of thing I expected to see along a rural Wyoming dirt road.

It’s called Esterbrook Church and the day we stopped by two congregants were there preparing for a wedding later in the day. They were delightful and happy to talk to us about recent renovations at the church and about where we were visiting from.

It was constructed in the forties and the congregation is not large but they are loyal to their little church in the mountains. And with good reason. In fact, it’s a bit of a destination for tourists, photographers and weddings. She said it is not uncommon to have visitors join them for Sunday worship.

Wyoming winters are severe and this road is not maintained in the winter so they try to have their first service of the year on Easter and their last, a candle lit service, on Christmas Eve.

The interior and pews are rustic wood. But the centerpiece of the church is on the altar –  a large picture window that frames Laramie Peak in the distance.

It’s stunning. It’s also impossible for an amateur like myself to photograph. But this will hopefully give you a glimpse at how amazing it is.

church interior

We left there and went about our day to climb Laramie Peak and to see this beautiful rainbow.  Our timing was perfect to catch the sunset at the church on the way home.

Church at sunset 2

It was a picture perfect ending to the day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Great Sign And An Even Better Friend

Stardust Motel

If you’re going to travel with a friend, be sure to go with someone who understands your oddities and compulsions. It’s even better if they can appreciate your weirdness too.

I’m fortunate to have a few such friends who wait patiently while I chase covered bridges, vintage signs and great old buildings. My Western Adventure friend Johnna is one such pal who doesn’t hesitate to turn the car around for a picture.

She slammed on the breaks in Newcastle, Wyoming when I swooned over the sign outside the Stardust Motel. We were on the road to Devil’s Tower and had places to be but she was happy to help a gal out for a quick picture.

The Stardust is a classic roadside motel, opened in 1954, and less than an hour from attractions like Devil’s Tower and Sturgis. That’s the extent of my knowledge of this place. Google reviewers commented on how nice the owners are and one called it a great place for “the budget minded traveler.”

That should tell you something.

Johnna’s a good friend and possibly a saint for putting up with me and my camera for days at a stretch. I’m grateful for her and for great vintage signs like this one.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

Sometimes when you miss your goals, something even better happens.

The day we attempted to climb Laramie Peak and were forced out by a nasty storm, we encountered something we would’ve missed had we made it to the top.

We saw this beautiful rainbow. My friend Johnna took the above picture. It was exciting to see both ends and it was all the more impressive against the big Wyoming sky.

So while we hated not making that last mile up the mountain, this was a fantastic reward for the sacrifice. And it’s a timely reminder that when things don’t work out as we wish, we may be getting set up for something even better.

That missed job opportunity? There could be an even better career change waiting for you next year.

That broken heart? Maybe it taught you to be a better partner to someone else down the road. Maybe it taught you how not to hurt someone the way you were hurt.

That rain shower slowed us down and turned us around so we could see something truly spectacular and I am grateful. And I’m trying to be grateful for all the other stuff that I hope to someday learn were blessings in disguise.

Have a good day and go looking for what’s over the rainbow, my friends. You deserve it.

Remembering September 11th

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Has is really been eighteen years? I was a young newspaper editor that terrible day. I’ll never forget how blue the sky was as I drove to work, shaken by the news coming in from New York, Washington, DC and rural Pennsylvania. How could something so terrible happen on such a beautiful day?

These places seemed so far away and yet the losses hit close to home.

All these years later, it’s still hard to process the devastation. It’s still hard to imagine so many souls lost in a single building. It’s hard to imagine having the courage to crash a plane in a field rather than wait for terrorists to reach their intended destination.

I visited the site at Shanksville, PA again last fall to see the beautiful park dedicated to the forty passengers and crew aboard Flight 93. I wrote about that experience last year. You can read it here. 

Eighteen years ago, we said we would never forget. But with each passing year, we find ourselves moving further and further from the memory. Today there is a generation of young people who were too young in 2001 to remember these events and those who weren’t even born.

The people aboard Flight 93 understood what was happening to them. They called their loved ones, said their prayers and chose to attack their attackers, crashing their plane into a field and narrowly missing a village and a school.

Out of tragedy came heroism and, as long as we remember their bravery, their sacrifices are not in vain. If you have kids who don’t know this story, I hope you’ll tell them about it. Tell them about Flight 93 and tell them about the brave first responders who ran toward danger while everyone else was running for safety. Tell them about the people who went about their lives that morning, not realizing it would be their last.

There are thousands of stories of ordinary people who died unnecessarily and who did extraordinary things for strangers. Whether you can visit one of the memorials or simply read about them online, learn their stories and remember them.