Friday, June 3, 2016

Was South Dakota, Now Wyoming

Friday, May 24

We went to Chamberlain for a while exploring.  It's a very small town but has an Indian Museum attached to the St. Joseph School.  There is a lot of history there.  The white man came, decided the Indians would become Christian and give up their way of life, whether they wanted to or not. Between  the 1890's through the 1920’s, the children were taken from their parents and put in boarding schools. They had to change their way of life, including how they dressed and wore their hair, which had to become what the white man wanted.  It's a sad part of history!

Once again we came home and had Happy Hour with our neighbors.  As it wound up, we also had dinner with them and a lovely campfire.  So many times people decide they are camping and must have a fire, but they only have camp-smoke that we all get to smell.

Saturday, May 25

I did absolutely nothing today.  For some reason my feet are really bothering me and swelling a lot, so I thought staying off them would be a good idea. Tonight is Leonard and Kathy's last night and they came over for dinner.  It's great to meet new people and spend time with them.  It's one of the blessings of traveling that we enjoy!  The weather was perfect, instead of the rain that has been predicted.

Sunday, May 26

Tourists don’t know where they have been. Travelers don”t know where they are going. Traveling is more than an adventure, it’s a scavenger hunt. You pick up pieces, clues and soon you find new understanding. Maybe some can figure out life from their arm chair. It takes travel for me.

A large part of learning about a place is listening to the locals. Listening is difficult. For instance, it’s easy to tell others where you have been. It’s far more difficult to ask others where they have been, then shut up and listen.

Leonard was a medical officer assigned to a combat battalion in Vietnam, so we have that in common. He spent his career with Land-of-Lakes which is into more than butter. They have Purina and are the largest seed and feed seller in the country. That’s what he knows about. So I was able to learn a bit about the business of farming.

We have a Delorme map for every state we travel. For those who are not familiar with them, they are large scale maps, over 50 pages for each state. That’s how we find the back roads. One feature they have is a list of geologic wonders/oddities. Sometimes they are little known. Some are in wilderness areas, so we will never see them. But, most are accessible and worthwhile. They range from the Grand Canyon to potholes. Today’s we went to a pothole. Yep, a large pothole lake formed on the prairie by the last glacier to melt here. I was not expecting much and I was not disappointed.

New Mexico and South Dakota share at least two traits. Low population density and road signs touting tourists attraction. NM billboards tout moccasins and Mexican goods. Here they promote about everything except moccasins. Signs for Wall Drugs out number all the rest and they are strung along the highway for over a hundred miles. I would say SD beats out NM and old Florida combined for the number of junky signs.

Tuesday, May 31

I guess were are “west” now. We are in our first canyon, Spearfish. It’s not a great canyon, not one of great beauty, but it has a babbling brook, waterfalls, and Aspen. I picked it at random from the several FS CG’s in the area of Spearfish. It’s at 5,500 feet, the highest we have been so far this trip. It’s fully overcast and a chilly 51. Probably will get into the 30’s tonight. Perhaps the best thing about our site is that the canyon shelters us from the 30mph winds we had all along I90 today. We are by ourselves in a seven site CG. Oops, minutes after I wrote that an Lazy Daze with Colorado plates pulled in. Wonder if they will walk up?

We have enjoyed COE CG’s for weeks. Near immaculate grounds, good showers, W&E and a dump for $9. Tonight, we are paying $9 and the only amenities are pit toilets and trash cans.

Our iPhone shows no service, but the Jetpack gets 3 boosted. I was thinking of saving $10 a month, by putting the Jetpack to sleep, but today shows me she is valuable in some places.

Trivia from 1999 - We saw a sign ‘Dances With Wolves Film Site’ next to the CG. It was the location of the final scene. Wind In His Hair is standing on a rock ledge overlooking the winter camp exclaiming how he is a friend of Lt. Dunbar, as the LT and Stands With A Fist leave the camp. Most of the scenes were filmed in SD with a few in adjacent states.

Wednesday, June 1

Dorothy thought the Gem Saloon in Deadwood would be like the one in the series Deadwood. Of course, it bore no resemblance. The drive through town jogged her memory that she had been here before and there was no need to stay. She stuffed a few dollars in a slot and we were out the door. We drove to the cemetery to see the graves of Will Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and Seth Bullock. They charge $2 per person just to look at a grave. We could not believe it and passed it by. We did a mile walk on Mt Roosevelt that had us huffing and puffing. It was continuous steep uphill, more exercise than we needed. We got back to camp at noon, had a sandwich and drove 90 minutes west to Devil’s Tower. We took the scenic route, rather than I90. And a fine drive it was. The hills are an orange-red color. Big change in temperature. It was 66 when we left the Black Hills. It was 79 at Devil’s Tower. 

We are “west” now for sure. The grass is a little stiff from lack of rain. We finally made it into the rain shadow of the Rockies. Now all we have to deal with is storms coming down from the mountains. 

The Indians did not call it Devil’s Tower. Their words for evil spirit and bear sound alike to the white ear. They have a legend about the tower involving a bear, not a devil. It is a great legend about the tower once being a tree stump. I will forever call it a stump.

On the way to Devil's Tower, we stopped in the berg of Alladdin, which is for sale. I could rule over 15 residents.

Thursday, June 2

We got out early, took some more pictures of the tower and decided to head west. Glenda said it was 2.5 hours to Buffalo. It took us 6 with a zillion stops. We were bushed at 3. When we parked we had smoked salmon and whiskey and after an hour I recovered.

We had our first view of snow covered mountains today as we left Gillette - The Big Horns. We have never explored them. That’s why we are here. 

Buffalo, WY is the location of the A&E series, Longmire. I’m a big fan of the show and each July the cast and crew come to town and go with the locals on the trail during “Longmire Days”. Sorry that I am going to miss it.  They tell me it is great fun. Nothing is filmed here. That’s all done in New Mexico.

Friday, June 3

We found a delightful parking place on Lake de Smet with a view of the mountains. Got the laundry done. Had some scrumptious Seafood Bisque at the SageWood Cafe. We like Buffalo and will hang here through the weekend, then go in the mountains. The weather looks good for the next week.


  1. We love Buffalo. Last time we were there, we added two days to our stay. The Occidental Hotel is fun. Ed and I are following your travels hoping to meet you somewhere along our route. I'm flying the grandsons home from Bozeman on the 15th, flying back on the 16th. Then we are thinking we will go further West. Safe travels. Jeanne

  2. We love Buffalo. Last time we were there, we added two days to our stay. The Occidental Hotel is fun. Ed and I are following your travels hoping to meet you somewhere along our route. I'm flying the grandsons home from Bozeman on the 15th, flying back on the 16th. Then we are thinking we will go further West. Safe travels. Jeanne