Friday, June 27, 2008

Battle of Little Bighorn

We left the recreation area with no electricity and headed to Hardin MT to a campsite with all the hookups plus a laundry.Sometimes beating your clothes out clean on a rock is just not an option!
We got there in time for the big weekend of the Reenactment of Custer's Last Stand.
Hardin is right on the edge of the Crow Indian Reservation. Sadly, it is a dying town. The businesses and factories are moving away.Once there were sixteen bars and churches on Main Street.But they have this one week in the year when the tourists from all over the world, according to them, come to play.
We toured the battlefield which is a very eerie place. There are grave markers all over the battlefield to show where the soldiers' bodies were found after the battle.
On Wednesday night the Relay for Life Group had a beef BBQ, which we attended and met some of the locals who had grown up in the town. As one lady said,"Thirty years ago this was a jumpin' town." On Thurs night the wrestling team had a pork BBQ which we attended and met other campers.
On early Friday afternoon in the heat of the day was the first performance of the reenactment. It is about 2 hours long and tells the story of the battle from the Indian point of view. The show was written by an Indian and tells why the Indians felt this too was their last stand to try to protect their nomadic way of life.
When the Indians surrounded the wagon train, I could just feel the terror the settlers felt when looking at the Indians on horseback, yelling and riding their ponies into and out of the train. Observing one lone Indian on horseback studying the long train of settlers, one understood that the Indians were fighting for a way of life.
But hearing the tales of surrounding the soldiers like "swirling water over stones" gave an idea of hectic and savage the battle was.
This was a history lesson for me. It explained how Custer got misinformation, made decisions on this information and died because of this information. Toward the end of the battle the Indian firepower increased due to the guns and ammunition they took from the dead soldiers. The fight became a rout as the Indians pursued and killed fleeing soldiers.It explained how desperate the battle was at the end when Custer and his men killed their horses to use as shields.
It was not one of my favorite stops, but it sure was an educational one. I had always considered Custer an arrogant leader that did not listen to his scouts, which is true, but he also was misinformed...........Plus listening to it told from the Indian point of view was also rather unsettling.............There is probably a sermon in there somewhere.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mountain Goats and Lakes

We took many drives and had wonderful views, but the mountains that we passed going into the campground kept nagging at the old man. You see he had bought "hiking shoes" when we were in Salt Lake City. We had thought to try them out in YNP but the snow did us in.
Each time we left the camp he would look at those red mountains and try to see whether there were trails or not.Then one day the temptation was too great. He left in the morning to walk over and just study the mountains.I stayed in the campground with my eyes glued to the mountain top.
There he appeared!

That afternoon we trudged down to the Lake for the free boat rides. Most of you know that I am fascinated with young kids and their thinking. Well we were standing in line to get our free boat ride when this 9yr old cutie says,"We have to get the fast boat." Her grandmother wouldn't go with her and her brother, so we said we would take the fast boat.....Man, let's rethink that...too late.We wound up on a boat valued at over $60,000 designed to surf behind while on the lakes. It has power and it is fun! We have the two young ones that are sooooo excited and us plus another couple. The pilot took us down to the canyons where the walls are thousands of feet straight up

You can tell how worried I am about this....
Later that day we decided to go find the wild mustangs again. This time we wanted to see them on the other side of the mountains. We had heard that you could go up into the mountains on a dirt road and see a whole herd of them. So off we went. The road looks rather nice, right?

Even in the back hills, this part is marked
But the road just goes on for miles. Sometimes we can see the road, other times it goes on for miles and we hope we are actually on a road and not near the edge of the cliff

Convinced that we were lost;that we would be there forever; no one would know where we were and would not miss us for ever so long, and the puppies would starve and die and someone would eventually find our bleached bones inside the truck that I hate, I sort of panicked. Boy did I feel like a baby when we met coming from the other direction an old woman BY HERSELF driving down the mountain.She told us we had much further to go and that the horses were on top of the mountain. Did I mention it was over 90 degrees? So back down we go. Not so bad going down as going up, I might add. We got to the bottom of the mountain on good road and look what we found

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bighorn National Recreation Area

Our next four nights and five days were spent in a magnificent campground in Lovell Wyoming. It is a National Recreation area built by the Bighorn Lake.

There are big sites
a beautiful lake, and the best is FREE!
Of course there is no phone service, no internet service, no electricity, no water, but FREE!The Wild Mustangs of Wyoming and the Bighorn sheep are right there too. We were fortunate to be at the lake during Lake Days and they had FREE Boat Tours...what more could you ask?
Since we saved so much money on our site, we felt we could ride more and further and see the area.
Our first afternoon we met a couple that told us about the horses and where to see them the sheep
and where to find them and a back road we might want to explore...see what I mean about helpful? We will meet them again in Gillette, WY when we go to the Rally.
And the sheep are gone
So off we went to explore.
We drove down the road to Devil's Lookout and peeped over the edge. There , that pea green ribbon is the Bighorn Lake.

We were bombarded by these tiny little birds that flew very close to you and very, very fast, canyon swifts.
We drove on and saw our first wild mustangs, excitement.....

The next day we got a little braver and took some of the unpaved roads into the canyon. I cannot describe how beautiful it is here. So different from anything I have ever seen, very remote and quiet. There is even a different smell here. I spent a lot of time just looking at the wild flowers
and thinking about the diverse country we live in. Of course there is always the warning signs, I swear!

These little guys had figured out a way to be free....out of the fence, but their buddy was not quite so brave.So they visited him. It is as if they are trying to coax him to just try freedom