Montana>Wyoming>South Dakota--Found Prairie Dogs!

Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
Trip End Jul 12, 2009

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Flag of United States  , South Dakota
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DAYS 72-76, Friday, June 26 to Tuesday, June 30

Heading back east across the huge state of Montana, we stayed outside of Helena, MT, an original gold camp, in a mosquito-infested primitive campground in Alhambra, the pits for $30. We ventured into town and ate at a great Thai Restaurant recommended in the AAA book. Toi's Thai Cuisine, on Last Chance Gulch, was on one of the main streets in the historic area. With only about 24 seats, we were lucky to get in. Yum, what bold spices and authentic ingredients! They fill up with reservations, but they squeezed us in because the parties had not yet arrived. Bring your own wine, how strange!

We marveled at the Victorian Gothic St. Helena Cathedral (1914) with its two dramatic 230-foot (20-story) spires with ravens nesting above the head of St. Helena.  It was modeled after the Votive Church of the Sacred Heart in Vienna, Austria. We rode by the Greek Renaissance State Capitol Building with its sandstone and Montana granite face and dome of Montana copper and "Montana 2009" in flowers on the lawn. Sorry, Susan, we didn't have enough time in Helena to take the Last Chance Tour Train.

Saturday we traveled to Livingston, MT about 50-60 miles north of Yellowstone and stayed in Osen's RV Park. We made a mini-tour of the historic district, not much to see, some restored storefronts, not as nice as Helena. 

Sunday we visited the historic (1897) Chico Hot Springs (MT) for the hot water pools and the Day Spa Massage John gave Linda for Mothers' Day. Great afternoon! It was nice to have a rest break, but now we are ready to head to South Dakota for the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore.

Monday, going east across the Great Plains toward Rapid City, South Dakota, we stopped at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, site of Major General George Custer’s "Last Stand" June 25, 1876. The site is in the middle of the Crow Indian Reservation beside the Little Bighorn River in the valley of the Bighorn Mountains in MT. The National Monument memorializes one of the last armed efforts, inspired by Sitting Bull, of the Northern Plains Indians to preserve their ancestral way of life against encroaching masses of easterners in a rush for land and gold. More than 260 Army soldiers and attached personnel died at the hands of several thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors. The events that day seemed like the "perfect storm": miscommunication between Custer and his officers, Custer's fail to seriously lean on what his scouts told him about the size of the Indian settlement, tired and inexperienced soldiers, and the fact that the Indians had been pushed to the breaking point over the rightful ownership of their lands. Over this past weekend, there was a reenactment in memory of the anniversary. The site was VERY crowded with summer vacation crowds, and parking was so limited, particularly for RVs, that we had to go off site a mile and drop the trailer before going back. The ride on to Sheridan, WY where we stopped for the night was over rolling hills that are the Great Plains, lots of grasslands, and oodles of insects that met their fates hitting the trailer.

Tuesday we visited Devils Tower, America's First National Monument (Teddy Roosevelt 1906).  Devils Tower rises 1267 feet above the Belle Fourche River. Once hidden, erosion has revealed Devils Tower. This 1347 acre park is covered with pine forests, woodlands, and grasslands. We saw white-tailed deer and prairie dogs (finally).

The columns that create Devils Tower can be 4, 5, 6, or 7 sided. Some geologists believe the last column fell 10,000 years ago. Over 20 tribes have a cultural affiliation with Devils Tower. The Indians leave prayer offerings on the trail circling the Tower. Many tribes have stories about how the Tower was created. Most of the stories talk about a bear using its claws to score the Tower's sides.

In South Dakota, we are planning on seeing the Badlands, Wind Cave, Crazy Horse Monument, and on 7/4 Mount Rushmore with its fireworks extravaganza.
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chicasarita on

oodles of insects
'oodles of insects' I thought that was funny

lstoneham on

Re: oodles of insects
That seemed to be the most appropriate way to describe the quantity...:-)

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