Thursday, October 7, 2010

Wed, Oct. 6...Montana

sunset at our private lake!

at the memorial for the US soldiers who died with Custer

sculpture to honor the Indians who died in the Little Bighorn Battle

one more sunset picture....
Well, this campground (Crazy Woman's) we just left was not our finest hour.  It was more a working man's camping area - everything from a guy living in his tent to people in expensive rigs.  Lots of big trucks with construction equipment, all parked cheek by jowl. Oh well, you can't win them all!
Today, we see rolling middling-sized hills, dotted with scrubby cedar trees and sagebrush.  Dry grass covers all.  We can now see beautiful mist-covered mountains way off in the distance (Bighorn Mountains?).  Trees of any size are so rare, that we figure they are landmarks, as in "When you get to the tree, take the next right!". 
We notice that all the local trucks have cattle guards on the front.  Sheesh!  I hope we don't see any cattle up close!
Near Buffalo, Wy, there were some irrigated fields that were really green - wow!  And lots of trees around the town.  And then, POW!, a lake, pretty sizeable for this part of the country.  We got to see one of those irrigated fields up close, and what I thought were sheep or goats grazing turned out to be pronghorns - about 50 or 60 of them!
The mountains are much clearer now.  Some of the more distant mountains rise above the tree line.  The grass grows to a certain point with no trees, then only trees, then the trees stop and there's nothing but mountain.
Now, we see some mountains that look entirely black, and, at their base there hangs a bank of white fluffy clouds - I don't think there's a body of water there, so we can't figure out why the clouds are there.  But, it is lovely!
I've written the preceding paragraphs in under 2 hours - what's amazing is how the scenery changes so quickly.
We stopped off at the site of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, renamed from Custer's Last Stand.  I liked the presentation.  This National Monument honored the warriors on both sides.  "It was not a massacre, it was a battle between two armed forces."  Both sides were trapped in their time, in their traditions and culture, and both fought for what they believed to be right as they were taught.  Interesting, and somehow seems right to me.
We left the interstate at Billings, went through town, then up to these amazing cliffs overlooking the city.  Once past the cliffs, we were immediately back in farm/ranch country - what a change in just a brief couple of miles!  Now well within Montana, we are seeing these wonderful limestone or sandstone (not sure which) cliffs that just jut out of the plains area.  They're a lovely beige and rose color, and have pine trees growing at the top.  Really striking-looking.
This afternoon we drove through some amazing country, listening and singing along to some old country tunes.  One minute, it's "I'm so lonesome tonight" to "The Streak" - laughing until tears ran down my face!  For those of you much younger than I, try listening to that song, The Streak, by Ray Stevens, on the web.  Hysterical!
We were headed for a campground in White Sulphur Springs, but we came across a lovely lake right at sunset.  It's in National Forest, and there was a 'road' down to the lake with one other camper.  So, we decided to pull off, and enjoy the sky tonight - no lights, no city, no sound at all.  The camper has a generator, which we will use as needed. So, we took a blanket outside, bundled up against the breeze and maybe 50 degrees, and just laid there and looked at the stars for a while.  Magical - the Milky Way was so obvious!  We watched the stars move position from when we first started watching.  When we spoke, we whispered.  When a car would come down the road, it seemed like such an intrusion!  Our night vision was so good, that we went for a short walk.  Can't wait until tomorrow morning when I'll get pictures of the sunrise over the lake with the mountains in the background.  What a difference from our campground experience last night.  Dan said today that this whole trip has been a 'wow' - every turn, every day we have seen so many wow's!  I am truly blessed - we all are, by this wonderful, huge, beautiful, free country!  Goodnight, John Boy!

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