Thursday, June 14, 2007

Big Sky Country and Back to Antelope Land

June 13 - My plans to hike around the tower the very first thing this morning was a bust. After a very fitful sleep, without the sounds of trains screaming through the trailer every 30 minutes or so, I got up at about 5:30 rarin’ to go. I fixed a light breakfast with the thought that I’d eat a little more after the hike. When I opened the blinds in the trailer it looked like someone draped the windows with cotton?….Cotton?…no, fog. I might as well walk around the trailer with my eyes closed. Rats!!

Alright the heck with it, Little Big Horn beckons. I was out of the campground by 7:30 on my way to arguably the second most famous battle site in the United States. Only Gettysburg in my mind is more famous.

I took somewhat of a back way by going north into Montana and then west on Highway 212. It was a great ride. I saw a little bit of everything. Pine forest, verdant valleys, prairie, buttes, wild turkey, mule deer and antelope….plenty of antelope. I’m thinking’ after spending several days in Wyoming we should change the state symbol to either an antelope or a coal car!

Montana is truly the “Big Sky Country” At one point I drove 30 miles without seeing another vehicle of any type. Man it was great driving down a road being able to see 10-15 miles off and not a car on the road. Oh, Big Sky Country is also Pay Attention to Your Gas Country as well. Wyoming has nothing on Montana in that regard. If you’re at a half a tank it’s time to start lookin and maybe worrying. I had learned this lesson on Sunday so I was never in a situation to start worrying.

The Little Big Horn National Monument is not marked real well. Maybe it was because I came in on a “back” road but I just happened to see the monument on a distant hill before I saw any signs at all. It must be marked better on the Interstate approaches because there were a lot of people there for a Wednesday. Parking is very limited and I was lucky enough to get what looked like the last RV spot.

What can I say about the site itself? It was not at all what I expected. I guess my expectations were not that great. I’ve visited some of the worlds great battle sites and in my experience a lot of them are a bit of a let down. Not this one. This was simply overwhelming. It was a stunning day, clear, not a bit of haze, high 70’s. You could see the entire area from Last Stand Hill. The hill itself was steeper and much more pronounced than I had pictured. The markers indicating where soldiers fell, looked like little white soldiers grouped frantically together. As the Ranger described the movements of the participants you could clearly see in your minds eye, soldiers and Indians moving over the terrain. I spent about two and a half hours there and didn’t even drive the road over to Benteen hill. I’ve just gotta come back to this place. It was more of an experience than I ever thought it would be.

After spending all the time I could there it was time to head south and start making my way back to Colorado. I decided to spend this night in Sheridan, WY. One of my RV resources indicated that there was another city park here that allowed free overnight camping. This one (Washington Park) does not have any electric or water hookups so I am more roughing it that I have yet on this trip. The good news is that the temperatures are pleasant and the park is wooded, providing shade. It should be a pleasant night.

I’m not sure exactly what tomorrows plan is….there is none. I’ll decide in the morning and you’ll hear about it when I figure it out myself.

Thanks for visiting.

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