A lot of this trip has been about rolling with the punches and going with the flow, and this time it was my turn: no hot water!!!!! Reframe - shower pioneer style! Hoooo boy, must've been straight from the Shoshone River because it was chilly! Breakfast of bagels and coffee in the room, and we once again hit the road.
Today's itinerary: head north to Montana to the Little Bighorn Battlefield, then back to Wyoming to see Devil's Tower, ending at Keystone, South Dakota where my mom and dad would meet us after flying in from Houston.
As we drove north and east, the skies progressively grew hazier. Instead of Big Sky Country with never ending blue, we saw haze and smoke coming drifting down from the fires in Canada. A bummer for sure, but more than that, a reminder of how different everyday concerns are for our fellow Americans who live out west.
After a couple of hours of driving, we arrived at the site of Custer's Last Stand:
What a fascinating hour and a half. The Indian Wars didn't get covered as extensively as other conflicts in our nation's history in all of my years of schooling. Seeing the terrain and trying to understand how and why Custer made the tactical decisions he did made it more real than any book could ever do. My reading list has grown during this vacation; I want to know more about so many of the things I've seen, and Custer and the Indian Wars are on the list for further study.
In our speed-touring mode, we stayed long enough to see the Visitors' Center; get the passport stamps; briefly walk the cemetery; and drive the auto tour road.
The next on-the-way destination: Devils Tower. In the northeast corner of Wyoming, it was another long stretch of road in front of us in these massive western states. A quick stop for lunch in Sheridan, Wyoming for pizza that turned into a to-go meal, and we were rolling down the highway.
As we turned off the main road onto the spur that would take us to America's first national landmark, Justin and I talked about how amazing it was to have the time and ability to see so many things. Little Bighorn and Devils Tower would never be destinations, but thanks to the route for the total vacation, we were close enough to make it work. What's another 60 to 90 minutes of driving when you've been in the car for a week and a half? And then, there it was in the distance - the Devils Tower, or the Bear's Lodge or Bear's Tipi, as many Native Americans prefer.
How have I never seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind? Put it on the list - I'll watch that when I need a break from reading. On to the Visitors' Center! Passport stamps - check!
Souvenirs - check! Pictures of amazing landmark - check!
On the way out, bonus wildlife viewing - prairie dogs!! Fastest visit ever to Devils Tower, but there long enough to once more be awed by the diversity of the lands of America.
We arrived in Keystone around 7PM after a twelve hour day in the car, but were reenergized by the wonderful K Bar S Lodge that had a view of Mt. Rushmore from our parking lot. How exciting for Caroline, who'd been waiting for that the entire trip! That was the plan for Sunday, though, so we unpacked, regrouped, and headed out for dinner with Grandmommy and Granddaddy.
We had been excited to see them but little did I realize it was perfect timing - after a week and a half with nothing but each other's company, everyone was happy to have someone new to talk to and share some of our stories with. We ate at a local favorite, the Powder House Lodge, where I got adventurous and tried an elk steak. It was excellent, but the company was better - so great to see my parents!!
We collapsed in bed that night, excited to have another day of adventure in front of us.