We aren't fond of the historical figure, but his namesake chunk of land in the Black Hills of South Dakota? Really wonderful. More about that anon.
But to the point. From Custer, our next destination was Badlands National Park in North Dakota. More or less due north.
Parked between the two spots is the axis mundi of motorcycle fans: Sturgis, SD. Biker bars and black tee-shirts. Not to our taste.
Take the western route around Sturgis, and you can get to the Devil's Tower National Monument. Take the eastern side, and you pass a state park named Bear Butte.
Captain Winnebago has a dry sense of humor.
He rarely indulges in age-12 bathroom jokes, unlike some others he could mention, but after perusing the map, he was unable to stop calling the place Bare Butt State Park.
Like so many serendipitous moments while traveling, this came out of nowhere and delivered what we hadn't even thought to expect.
The Devil's Tower was on the Big List of Parks.
To be honest, I'd kind of thought of doing a mashed-potatoes and gravy dinner before heading to the Devil's Tower.
Maybe, you know, start intoning the five notes (re mi do do si), to get us in a Devil's Tower kind of mood.
But if you've gone off in search of America, isn't it just too too much to visit something just because of its movie reference?
A Spielberg movie no less?
Still, it was on the list, and I didn't actually notice that we were going to drive the opposite way round Sturgis, such was the joy of hearing Mr. Linton say "Bare Butt State Park" again and again.
Unlike nearly everywhere else we went, Bear Butte State Park was staffed by Native Americans, managed by Native Americans, and visited largely by Native Americans.
I grant you, one day of hiking does not an expert make. But there's plenty of data for me to form some theories.
Considering how enormous the Great Plains turned out to be, it's heart-breaking to see what dusty little corners are left for the First Peoples.
Oh, I know, it was war. But more than that, it was the dreary series of treaties and small pox blankets and "assimilation" campaigns. Heavy sigh.
Bear Butte State Park has a trail up the mountain. It's a pilgrimage for some: climb the Butte for prayer, for a vision quest, to commune with the ancestors.
On the lowest section of the trail, offerings of tobacco wrapped in colorful cloth hang from the trees.
Signage along the way advises visitors to the park not to clean up the scraps of tee-shirt or bandana fabric tied to the branches of the trees.
These things are not trash.
If you were watching, you'd probably be able to see enemies approaching for a long time before they arrived.
The wind blows right up the Butte from all directions. It's eerie. And beautiful.