Buck's Blog

The Stream-of-Consciousness Journal of a Wargamer

Seeing Still More of the West

Yesterday, 10 August, we headed set out after a really nice continental breakfast at the K Bar S lodge.

Sam and Candy in front of K Bar S

Sam and Candy in front of K Bar S in the mountains around Keystone, SD

Our first destination was Devil’s Tower, WY.  We were worried about getting into the park.  There is a huge motorcycle rally going on this week in Sturgis, nearby.  Apparently up to 500,000 bikers show up for the rally each year.  The Rangers at Devil’s Tower were well prepared for the huge influx of people.  Parking was well organized, extra stations were set up for people to get bottled water, etc.  While traffic was heavy we were able to get into the park and find parking very quickly.

If you are not an excellent mountain climber, what there is to do at Devil’s Tower is admire the scenery and take a couple of different hikes around the base of it.  The kids had fun climbing around the boulder field at the base of the monument for a while.   We spent three hours at Devil’s Tower, about an hour longer than we thought we would, but some of that time was consumed in just getting in and out through all the bikers.

Tom, Candy, and Sam at Devil's Tower, WY

Tom, Candy, and Sam at Devil's Tower, WY

(By the way, while the vast majority of the bikers look “different,” they were well behaved, quiet, and made no trouble.  Tommy wanted to know why all the biker women walked around half naked, to which we had no answer.  This seems to be a case of not judging a book by its cover.)

Bikes at the Entrance to Devil's Tower

Bikes at the Entrance to Devil's Tower

While there is debate over the exact mechanism that created it, the scientists agree that Devil’s Tower was once the inside of a volcano.  The outside eroded from wind and rain.  The long streaks that you see in pictures are the seams between long columns of once-molten rock.  These columns are actually hexagonal in horizontal cross section.

From Devil’s Tower we headed up into Montana to visit the Little Big Horn battlefield.  At the visitor’s center, we saw the 17-minute movie, which was pretty good.  The battle has a lot of maneuver, and I thought some better graphics and overhead maps could have helped understand what is a confusing engagement.  There are no step-by-step descriptions of the battle in the visitor’s center.  We drove the battlefield tour, some of which is on Park Service land and some of which is on the Crow Indian Reservation.  The drive along with the descriptions of events in the park booklet gave a fair understanding of the battle.  I would have liked more time there and some time with a Ranger; however, we had arrived late in the day and two hours was about all Candy and the kids could tolerate.

Buck near 7th Cavalry monument on Last Stand Hill at the Little Big Horn Battlefield

Buck near 7th Cavalry monument on Last Stand Hill at the Little Big Horn Battlefield

After two days of driving and site seeing, the kids enjoyed the pool with a long, curving water slide at the Rodeway Inn in Hardin, MT.  Today we just have a three-hour drive to Yellowstone.  I’m off for a six-mile run before everyone wakes up.


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