When I was 10 years old, my mom’s side of the family had a reunion in Deadwood, South Dakota. For those of you who don’t know, it’s an old mining town turned tourist trap that’s full of tourists, casinos and motorcyclists.
At age 10, the place seemed magical. I remember the casino we stayed in felt like it was 10 stories high and the streets were always bustling with people. The little shops were beautiful places filled with shiny trinkets and pieces of history that I just had to have. We stayed in the Gold Dust Hotel, which had beautifully gaudy carpet and rows upon rows of shiny lottery machines. The people were friendly and country music always hung in the air with the thick cloud of cigarette smoke.
And then I went back last week.
It’s been 11 years, and everything has gone considerably downhill. Granted, I was there on a cloudy, rainy day in early June before most of the tourists come flocking, but it was still super depressing to see the streets looking grey and empty. The shops were full of crap and the food was abysmal. Maybe I’m jaded, but Deadwood has gone from a magical place where history comes alive to a ghost town where old alcoholics occasionally get into fights on the streets.
The magic is gone.