Just after exiting Highway 385 towards Deadwood, South Dakota on my meandering ten day SRT, a sign “Chocolates & Ice Cream” grabs my attention. An old gas-station-turned-grocery-store-turned-whatever over the years, there’s a large, whimsical statue of a Chipmunk guarding the screen-doored entrance.
Hungry, I pull over, get out, and walk to the door to see a scrawled note “closed Monday for nut gathering.” Intensely disappointed, my plan was to quickly tour Deadwood and head North towards Cody, Wyoming as it was only 3:00 in the afternoon.
Like any addict, the chocolate shop took up residence in my thoughts and my brain began to pander and plot as I caught a glimpse of Deadwood around the corner. Firmly believing I chose to stay the night in Deadwood for Deadwood, every time I see a box of those chocolates, my commitment to that belief wavers. Deadwood was a memorable town, regardless of my feckless attempt to justify spending more time there than I’d planned.
Here’s the story of my actual encounter with The Chubby Chipmunk. The establishment is incendiary, the story idyllic, like my memories. And it was work to get this to read for you in a way that will convey my experience accurately. No ordinary words would do. I hope you enjoy it!
Driving there I’m overcome with a sense of portentousness. I arrive fixated, obsessed really with only one thing – to dulcify my addiction. Well before I get the screen door open my nostrils widen, intent on the pursuit of a chocolate high. Sensing the anodyne for my road dog weariness within, with a hand on the handle and a twist of the wrist, I’m inside.
The shop is redolent with the lustiness of ingredients reserved for royalty in days past – chocolate, sugar, butter, nuts, all of the finest quality. With a cozy sitting area on the left to encourage the instant enjoyment of their salubrious ware, the counter on the right is laden with tall, dark, exquisite, yes, scintillating truffles. Taking it all in, instantly I know I’m in for a sybaritic experience.
It took on a fantastical, dreamy quality. Time stopped. I had no thoughts of writing about this discovery later; no idea of the convoluted word freefall I’d later work so hard to produce because my memories of it would make me maudlin (and there’s only one thing to do when maudlin – write).
Nothing went through my mind other than the in-the-moment, fully engaged, sensory overload I was smack in the middle of. I was Alice in Wonderland, or the child who opened their eyes to find they were standing in the middle of FAO Schwartz at Christmas.
The front of the shop is lit from only the light of the front door and a few well placed, ambiance inducing lamps. But the shop’s counter of chocolates is backlit by a window in the kitchen, directly to the back left of the counter. The rays of the morning sun spread like gossamer over the display counter and its contents, over the cookie sheets cradling naked, dark, hand formed ganache centers, over the lady’s face who appears from the kitchen to help me. She’s beautiful. The truffles are gorgeous. Some appear to have a nacreous glow which later, in my recovered state I saw was an actual coating, not attributed solely to my nimbus covered eyeballs. I digress. Back to gorgeous. The truffles are gorgeous. Like all gorgeous objects, you want to touch them. Well I can’t touch them yet, but I can take pleasure in watching her touch them. And so I begin ordering, watching her carefully pluck each one as she adds them to one box after another. She appears to enjoy the haptic experience more than she should.
At three five boxes, I stop. Pay. Congratulate myself with the sagacity of my decision to spend the night in Deadwood, and gingerly carry my treasure to the truck. Then with deliberation incompatible with my impassioned state, I indulge my tactile desires by removing two of the truffles from the box and lovingly and appreciatively inspect them. Eating one is beyond my capacity at this moment. My addiction sated, I store them away for the forthcoming ride into Cody, crawl back through the rabbit hole, and drive.
Incendiary: provocative, stirring, likely to catch fire
Feckless: weak, ineffective
Portentousness: momentous, prodigious
Dulcify: to make agreeable, soothe, to sweeten
Anodyne: something that soothes, calms, comforts; a drug that allays pain
Redolent: exuding fragrance, aromatic, evocative
Salubrious: favorable to or promoting health or well being
Scintillating: stimulating; to emit sparks
Sybaritic: self indulgently sensuous, given to or devoted to pleasure
Maudlin: tearfully emotional, foolishly & effusively sentimental
Gossamer: light, delicate, (the gossamer of youth’s dreams)
Ganache: a sweet, creamy, dark chocolate mixture
Nacreous: mother-of-pearl sheen
Nimbus: a cloud or atmosphere (as of romance) about a person or thing
Haptic: relating to or based on the sense of touch
Sagacious: keen in sense perception, of sound and farsighted judgment – noun: sagacity
Chip Tautkus, owner/chocolatier of the shop and I are pictured above.
Road Trip Locator:
The Chubby Chipmunk:
420 Cliff Street
Deadwood, SD 57732
E-mail Address: [email protected]
If you don’t want to drive there, check out their website: www.chubbychipmunk.net.
Deadwood is in the Southwest corner of South Dakota. Check out the state’s Department of Tourism site before heading that direction. There’s a lot to see here. http://www.travelsd.com/
Other SRT posts about the area: