Wednesday, June 29, 2016


After spending a loud, hot night dry camping in a truck stop outside Three Forks, MT, we escaped north on US 287.  Mostly level fields and pastures bordered by grassy hills took us as far as Great Falls, with one exception.

This canyon through the Big Belt Mountains took us down then up again.

In three places one lane was closed due to fallen rock.

The Missouri River traveled along with us.

Don't know what made this big nest along the river.

Just outside Great Falls we found some antelope.

We stopped for fuel and lunch then bypassed the city.  This is just a part of Great Falls.

Soon we were rolling up and down long sweeping curves and grades along I15.

Just outside Cut Bank we turned west on US 2.

During the winter, bitterly cold arctic air masses sometimes assail the town, making their claim of being the coldest town in the lower 48 a true one.  The town is named for a gorge or cut bank on the outskirts of town.

I found no reference to this mural but it was well done.

As soon as we left Cut Bank we were on the Blackfeet Reservation.  It extends from Cut Bank west to the boundary of Glacier National Park, and from County Rd. 44 north to the Canadian Border.  In other words, we will be on the reservation until we enter Canada.

On to Browning with the Rocky Mountains getting closer and closer.

Our friends Brock and Leola did not come this way.  They didn't need the fuel stop in their motor home, and they opted to take the scenic route--US 287 to US 89 into Browning.  Our route added about 50 more miles than their route, but they arrived only about 20 minutes before we did.

As last--another buffalo herd, just outside East Glacier Park Village.

Village it is, small enough to walk around in about 10 minutes, but our home for the next 9 days.  The Y Lazy R Campground is the smallest place we have ever stayed.  There are only a dozen or so sites and the yellow building which is the shower house/restrooms.  The red building is the town laundry.  It has 16 washers and 6 industrial-sized dryers.  Only 2 of the dryers work.

The entire campground

The view and the quiet and the cooler temperature make me say ahhhhh.  I don't even mind the occasional train that runs along the tree line in the foreground.  The horns only blow once and the sound is more or less muffled by the trees.

Tomorrow we are riding bikes along the Going-to-the-Sun road, the only one through Glacier National Park.

Come along if you wish.

Louise and Duane

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


Good News!  The truck is not only fixed, but runs better than it has since we've had it.  We managed to leave only a couple of hours later than we had originally intended.  I90 took us north out of Wyoming, then west through Montana.  Slow, sweeping curves led us up and down as we traveled through several small mountain ranges. 

The scenery changed constantly from pastures and plowed fields to hills covered in trees, shrubs or rocks.

We're not sure which mountains these are, but they are tall enough for snow in late June.

The Yellowstone River meandered along with us, changing sides of the road, disappearing, reappearing.  This pic shows the three ways the West was opened--river, game/Indian path (later roads) and the railroad.

What are those big round orange things on that truck--wings or eyes?

About five hours and 300 miles after we left we caught up with Brock and Leola dry camping at a Pilot truck stop where I90 meets US 287.  Tomorrow we will all be heading north on 287 before turning back west.

Neighbors again

The orange things above are the long tines of a hay rake.  There are six of them all folded in on each other so that only two are showing..
Travelin' on,

Louise and Duane

Monday, June 27, 2016

Anniversary Surprise

Happy 24th wedding anniversary to us.  On our special day Duane took the truck (30 miles south) into Sheridan (WY) to get the oil changed and to get the fuel leak fixed.  For our anniversary presents, we are giving each other  $$$$ in engine repairs!  Turns out that our two turbos need replacing, as does the low pressure fuel pump, and the transmission needs servicing in addition to the oil change.  To celebrate we went to Dayton (5 miles down the road) for supper at a big city restaurant.

This place actually got good reviews on Yelp.

Portions were so big that we all took leftovers home.

In the middle of dinner Duane jumped up, pointed out the window and said "There!"  The locals didn't even look.  They were kind enough not to laugh at our excitement of seeing a young mule deer buck strolling in the middle of town.

Deer always like to present my camera with this view.

Back at the house we continued our party with home-made pineapple upside-down cake.  Yum!

Tomorrow is moving day, on into Montana.  Brock and Leola are leaving in the morning.  We are assured that the truck will be fixed by noon. and are still planning on leaving tomorrow.

We'll let you know!

Louise and Duane

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Little Bighorn National Monument, Montana Part 2

When we made our fuel stop at the native owned station outside the Monument, we saw this line of riders headed up the hill.  We decided that they must have been performing at some sort of festival.

We as we entered the Monument grounds, we found them assembled across from the Visitors' Center.

By then we understood that today, June 25th was the 140th anniversary of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (which the Natives call the Battle of Greasy Grass Ridge).  Special ceremonies and reenactments were being held all weekend.  The gates opened early at 5:30 for a 6 am sunrise Pipe Ceremony.  From 8 am to 5 pm Friends of the Little Bighorn volunteers were throughout the grounds to answer questions and explain events.  At 10 am, just before we arrived, the Bighorn Riders "Attack at Dawn" took place. followed by ceremonies that could be viewed from the Visitors' Center.  On the Visitor Center Patio from 9 am to noon, Native descendants of battle participants spoke and held small demonstrations. 

Soldier reenactments

After our tour we found a quiet place to eat lunch across from Custer National Cemetery.

We mounted up and rode through the Monument for pictures we weren't able to take from the tour bus.  Exiting the park we again encountered the riders.  Seeing them like this--looking like regular 21st century people right down to the bluejeans, sunglasses and cell phones, made me wonder what the warriors who fought here would think.  Their markers on the battlefield read that they died 'while defending their homeland and the Sioux way of life.  After the battle the tribes and families scattered, but most of them returned to the reservations and the others surrendered in the next few years and their Crow enemies live here.  Was it all for nothing?

Exiting the park we opted to take US 87 back to Wyoming.  On the way home we wanted to see a different side of the Reservation.  Also we hoped to be a bit more sheltered from the ferocious wind.  It worked.   I90 is to the left behind a ridge that served as a wind break.  The ride home was much more pleasant when we weren't fighting to keep our seats.

I kept wondering about the frequent groups of bee boxes, until I remembered that vast quantities of hay are produced here.

We hope that you have been inspired to visit this battlefield for yourself.  Pictures can do only so much.  You have to be in a place to truly understand.

Louise and Duane

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument (Part I)

Out of our rv park, east to I90, then north we rode on a beautifully clear, chilly, and terrifically windy morning.  Destination--the Little Bighorn Battlesite.  Just over the Montana border we were greeted by this sign.

The Crow nation lucked out and got to keep this beautiful rolling hill area.

Crow house and horses.  The valley here is where the Sioux were camped prior to the battle.  The ridge beyond is the battle site.

Reminder that we are guests here.

Entering the park we learned that not only is this the centennial year of the the National Park system, but today was the 140th anniversary of the battle of Sioux v Custer.  Admission was free and the park was packed.

We managed to find a small spot to park the bikes that was near to the visitors' center.  We signed the register, stamped our passports, and introduced ourselves to the participants on both sides of the conflict.

Interesting that Sitting Bull was leader and medicine chief but didn't fight in this battle.
I90 view of the battlesite ridge.  The fighting ranged from the visitor's center area south (right) for 5 miles.

We opted for a guided tour via shuttle bus.  Our guide, a Crow nation member, gave us a good idea of the movements of both sides.  (Custer's scouts and guides were Crow.)  The conflict started when shortly after the Laramie Treaty was signed, the government opened the newly formed Sioux reservation to gold hunters and settlers fleeing the economic depression following the Civil War, claiming that they couldn't keep them out.  The Sioux moved off the reservation and refused to go back.  They kept moving north, camping and hunting along the way.  The army tracked them by their camps (7000 people (including 1500-2000 warriors) in one group aren't hard to track) and decided to round them up at the confluence of Reno Creek and the Little Bighorn River.  Generals Gibbon and Terry went west and south. Custer and 600 troops went south and east, and Crook was to cover the south.  Things started to go haywire when Crook, routed at the Battle of Rosebud, turned back to regroup and resupply.   Then on June 25 1876 Custer decided not to wait for Terry and Gibbon to arrive (on June 26th) for two reasons.  He saw a couple of stragglers headed for the main camp (which he couldn't see very well because of all the hills and ravines) and thought that the army had seen. Assuming that, he made another false assumption--that the Indians would run.     

Across from the visitors' center is the Indian Memorial.

A few yards away is Last Stand Hill and cemetery.  About 1/2 mile to the south of here Custer got his first good look at the village.  Too late.   Of the (approximately) 225 men that Custer led after he split with Generals Reno and Benteen, 41 made it to Last Stand Hill.  11 bodies are buried elsewhere by their families.  Custer is reburied at West Point, NY.  The remains of the rest of the command, 30 soldiers, are buried in a mass grave around the base of the memorial shaft bearing the names of the soldiers, scouts, and civilians killed in the battle.

From Last Stand Hill soldiers and warriors engaged in a fight to the death for five miles along the twisty ridge.   From there Generals Reno and Benteen (who was guarding the pack train with the ammunition were to block retreat to the north.  Instead Reno was intercepted and outnumbered.  He managed to retreat to this hill where, rejoined by Benteen, survivors managed to hold out until Generals Terry and Gibbon arrived and caused the Indians to withdraw. 

This gives an idea of the space needed for just part of the army. 

Views of the valley from various points atop the ridge.  This helps to get a sense of the difficulty of  the army to keep track of itself.

The Sioux were camped along this valley for several miles.  They hunted all the way to the mountains for game.

Part of the Little Bighorn snaking its way along the valley.

Several of the fallen were identified by various means, but many of the soldiers were not.  Markers were placed where some of them fell.

This group disobeyed orders and tried to help Custer from the north.

Tomorrow, part II.

Louise and Duane