Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Little Big Horn

6/19/12         Loud blasts of passing trains echoed up and down the valley all through the night. I hardly slept. We arose to light rain. Overcast skies shielded us from direct sun as Primate drove us south through Missoula and Butte. We discussed our goal for the day. Where should we stop?

         Overcast skies gave way to white, puffy clouds that hung across a clear, dark blue sky.

         Christopher slept in the back seat. Dr. Bobo dozed in the passenger seat periodically.

         We stopped to refill the gas tank.

          Back on the highway Dr. Bobo consulted his map. "Hey, we're going right past the Little Big Horn Battleground. We should stop there."

          "Yea," Primate said. Primate's seen movies and documentaries on TV about Custer.

          "Good idea. I'd like to stop there," Christopher said.

           Dr. Bobo made sandwiches for us as we drove. We continued on through Bozeman and Billings.

           Primate looked at Dr. Bobo. "Me tired. You drive?"

          "Sure," Dr. Bobo said.

          We stopped in Hardin to fill the gas tank again before leaving I-90. Dr. Bobo got behind the steering wheel. Within several minutes we arrived at Little Big Horn Battleground.

          As we looked out over headstones, where Custer last stood, and beyond, where Indians camped before the battle, Primate pondered Custer's last mistake.

Primate Overlooks the Battlefield.

           "All dead," Primate said.

           That's the gist of it.

          We continued east with a plan to spend the night at Devil's Tower. A road sign welcomed us to Wyoming. Deer appeared by the roadside, we grew weary and Dr. Bobo slowed the car, but we had no close encounters of the third kind.

          Only three campsites remained unclaimed below Devil's Tower, so we grabbed one, set up our tents, and backtracked to a nearby store to purchase beer to wash down our canned chili and instant rice.

          The odometer recorded another 702 miles from Thompson Falls. We crossed the width of Montana today.

6/20/12         Overcast skies welcomed us when we arose. A somewhat early start got us to the area of Wyoming's low point from the South Dakota approach, but a wire gate blocked the private road. We searched for another route to our destination on the Belle Fourche River, but failed our best attempt. We chanced upon Frank, a local farm owner, along a gravel road. He not only gave us the owner's name, from whom we wanted permission to gain access to the point in question, but pulled a phone book from behind his seat and provided us a phone number. With several more minutes discussion we secured permission to open the closed gate.

         I got out of the car to shake Frank's hand and thank him.

         We returned to the closed gate. A one-mile drive followed by a 300 yard trek across a field mined with cow pies, we slide down a four-foot bank and stood in the gravel and mud at the Wyoming and South Dakota border.

         Low points - five; high points - zero.

         Primate drove us at a steady pace over the rolling prairie of South Dakota and into North Dakota through downpours of rain, themselves racing across the landscape. Primate parked the car near North Dakota's high point, 3,205 feet, called White Butte, and prepared to hike the four-mile round trip in rain. The pelting rain abated as we hiked, but gusts of wind to 60 mph blew as we summited.

         Dr. Bobo said, "Let's get off of here. I don't want to be here in lightening."

         Pockets of rain moved across the land, dictated by the wind.

         I took several photos to record our presence.

         "Lightning not good," Primate said.

         We hurried off the summit and were dry by the time we returned to the car.

         Low points - five; high points - one.

         Dr. Bobo looked at his map and joked, "We could see the world's cow in New Salem."

         Primate drove. We proceeded towards out next goal.

         "What's that on the ridge over there?" I pointed to something large, something black and white. Could it be?

         "It's a cow," Christopher, Dr. Bobo and I said together as we laughed.

         "We've seen the biggest cow and didn't even need to leave the road," Dr. Bobo said.

          We concluded we could not reach our next goal, so we stopped in Valley City, 519 miles from Devil's Tower.

         Ah, canned chili and instant rice, I thought, as the sun set.

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