Friday, July 27, 2012

Finally, I see Devil's Tower for the first time ever

Wednesday, July 25
So, no sleep last night at all, and I’m ready to roll, because I need to focus on something other than phantom nerve pain, and driving will do that. I’m leaving South Dakota very soon after hitting the road from Rapid City, and by the way, Rapid City is a cool place.  The Super 8 where I stayed was great, very small eating area for breakfast, though. Main Street was jamming last night, and there is a very cool water park with fountains and neon lights, little kids splashing and playing there on the hot summer night, having fun with their families. Nice. And a few doors down, an outdoor café with a string concert going on. . . you could hear it all over the block. Lots of statues of famous important people, right there at your level, not up on pedestals. Very approachable. And then, after I was safely in the Super 8 room, a huge lightening storm let loose. And got my phantom nerve pain jangling. . . I don’t know if it was the low pressure or the pure electricity, but whatever, it was like pressing a torture button.
So off I go, out onto Interstate 90 to meet my Big Sky again, I am so addicted to looking at the big wide west.  I want to see Devil's Tower today. Just at the Wyoming border, I stopped out of curiosity to see the Vore Buffalo Jump.  I got a surprise.  The natural sink hole has been there for centuries, and was re-discovered in the 1970's when I-90 was being worked on.  The Highway was diverted around the Buffalo Jump. . . and well, read it.  If you can click on the picture, you can enlarge and read it all. (above). It is currently being excavated by archeology students, and the whole process is there for observation, at the bottom of the very deep sink hole. I could just imagine the scene, hundreds of years ago, with cooperating tribe of Indians harvesting the buffalo that had fallen to their deaths. Because, now we have Walmart (gag), and back then, the buffalo was Walmart. Buffalo provided everything, from clothes, to shelter, to sewing needles, to tools to cooking vessels, to FOOD.  Nothing was wasted. See the pictures below for your own visit to the Vore Buffalo jump.

And then I wind my way 30 miles through the back country to Devil’s Tower, and rest there. In the car under the ponderosa pines. Taking pictures, many pictures, of the awesome Devil’s Tower.   

buffalo bones

archeologists at work in the bottom of the pit

Trustee Glen telling me about the project

Prairie dogs near Devil's Tower

Cute little prairie dogs live nearby, so got some shots of them, too.

Then I drove back to I-90, and went up onto the high plains and enjoyed the show of clouds and geography. Hardly any traffic.  The pictures say it all, I think.
Honeybees summering in Wyoming
Great red cliffs near Devil's Tower
Belle Fourche River Reservoir

coal operation near Gillette, Wyoming

At one point, I felt like I was driving on the top of the world, seeing the weather for miles ahead. And then the rain hit me, way up there, and blew over. Just the thrill of seeing so much wide open space made me happy.

I did pass a high-tech coal mine operation in Gillette and pulled into a McDonald’s for a salad and a drink. The car ahead of me had a bumper sticker. . . "Don’t like coal? Don’t use electricity."  Yup.  Makes sense. There is so much big wide space out here, you can quickly drive away from a mine if you want to, but, in one way or another, or many ways, we all use coal.

I only drove 250 or so miles today. Pulled into Sheridan and set up camp at an American Inn, and now I can’t get on the Internet, so this whole day will go up late. But, the nerve pain finally stopped clamping down on me, and tonight I will sleep.  And tomorrow I will travel all way across Montana to the green of Flathead Valley. And Bigfork.  And people.
Rest stop at the South Dakota-Wyoming border

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