Surreal in Wyoming
We spent the night at a hotel in Billings and headed south on Highway 90, through the barren hills of the Crow Indian Reservation and into northeastern Wyoming. We crossed a desert area covered with small hills and the occasional creek bed. The smoke from the Montana fires gave way to the intense blue of the big Western sky.
Highway 90 and the hills of northern Wyoming
We found our place amidst the wilderness
Crazy Woman Creek. No restrooms for
twenty-five miles in any direction.
At a gas station in Buffalo, Wyoming,
bikers gas up on their way west from the annual
As we continued across Wyoming, the wind-sculpted hills became even more symmetrical
No one who has seen Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind can forget the immense volcanic formation that figured almost as a player in the plot. When I learned at the health food store in Billings that it was not far off our route to Rapid City, I found myself as irresistably drawn to it as the characters were in the film. We drove north from I-90 on Highway 14, and then north again on Highway 24. The formation loomed before us, instantly recognizable at first glance.
Named Devil's Tower in 1875, the
formation held a place in Cheyenne and Sioux mythology as
Bear Lodge. The entire area evidences volcanic activity,
especially in the striation of the rocks of the
surrounding hills. I faced away from Devil's Tower,
across the road, to photograph this gorge.
An unexpected treat: a prairie dog village within Devil's Tower National Monument, on both sides of the road to the visitors' center. The squirrel-sized inhabitants are not shy, and they nibble grass seeds, bob in and out of their tunnels, and go about their business pretty much oblivious to the clothed monkeys that stop their machines to stare at them every day.
I almost expected an extra-terrestrial abduction at the base of tower, but looking up at flocks of raptors sailing about its huge summit was surreal enough.
Realizing we were running out of sunlight inwhich to travel, we bid a reluctant farewell to the charismatic earth formation and its formidable magnetic field.
Highway 24, through Hulett, turned out to be a feast of visual treats: quaint Old West towns and farmhouses, rolling green hills, and (yes!) bison. The original settlers of North America are back.
We rolled into South Dakota as the sun set over the prairie, complete with an old sod house...
...just in time to shop for a post card at the biker gift shop in Sturgis to send to Iain. The conventioneers had rumbled off several days before, but their spirit remains forever in Sturgis.