Sunday, October 5, 2014

Montana Trip 2014 - Part VI

This is the continuation of a trip my dad, my friend Jacob, and I took at the end of July.

(Sorry for the delay in posts, it's been a busy couple of weeks.  New boss, Jury Duty, end of year projects starting to pile up, uugghh!)

Day 9

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It was Sunday, August 3rd, 2014.  A day before the official Sturgis rally started, and we were headed that way.  But first my Butler motorcycle map of Wyoming listed some great rides through the Bighorn Mountains, so we spent the morning crossing that range, not once, but twice!

From Dayton we climbed into the foothills, on the northeast side of the range.
 It was heating up down below, but where we were headed the temperature would drop down into the sixties!
 The ride on highway 14 was so amazing we just kept going.  No stopping for pictures. Just enjoying the ride and the company.  It wasn't until we had come down out of the mountains, and were about to head back in, that we took some time for some photo opportunities.  One of these days I'm going to have to invest in one of those GoPro's.

This is highway 16, headed back to the east.  The road followed a river canyon into the hills.

 Jacob and I overlooking Meadowlark Lake.
 Powder River Pass, the high point of highway 16 as it crosses the southern portion of the Bighorn Mountains.
 If it wasn't for the sports bike, you'd swear he was a mountain man of the 1800's.
 Highway 16 lead us into the town of Buffalo Wyoming.  My dad was a big fan of the Longmire TV series.  It's ironic that the last episode aired a day after this photo was taken.
 We stopped at the Occidental Hotel and Saloon for lunch.  This place has a pretty fancy history, see link, that housed visitors such as Buffalo Bill, Teddy Roosevelt, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!  My wife had to explain to me what Occident is opposite of.  Oh, like you all knew!

 The inner lobby of the hotel.  The saloon was off to the side.
 A very blurry picture of the saloon.  The numerous stuffed animals on the walls were popular with the restaurant visitors.
 From Buffalo we had to hop on the Interstate.  The only positive was that the speed limit was posted at 80Mph, so it felt as if we were speeding:)

Luckily we didn't have to spend all day on the slab.  Once we hit the town of Moorcroft, we veered north until we spotted our next point of interest, the Devil's Tower.  No, we didn't have any close encounters while there:).  You could tell that we were close to Sturgis though,  motorcycle traffic had picked up significantly!
 Wait a minute, maybe we did spot some aliens no. sorry, that's just my dad.
 One of the cooler aspects of the tower were these birds flying around the top.  There was something mesmerizing about watching them circle over the edge of the massive stone structure.

 Here I am showing my hidden x-men ability to grow in size until I'm the same height as the tower. 
 A couple of action shots as we were leaving the park.

 The sun was starting it's descent into the western sky as we crossed over into South Dakota.
 One of those magical portions of the trip where you try to capture the essence of your surroundings.  You realize you'll never be here, at this portion of your life, again and you have to absorb as much sensory input as you can to remember the moment.  You can also take a lot of photos, which helps as well.
 South Dakota must have known that I was coming.  Just look at that great face!
 That evening we pulled into Wyatt's Hideaway Campground which is outside the town of Belle Fourche, SD.  This was a nicely run campground, set on 13 acres, which was setup to handle large crowds very nicely.  We picked this place as it was about 20 miles outside of Sturgis, and would allow us to get up the next morning and experience the rally.

 Next post, Sturgis pictures!!! Stay tuned.  Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Montana Trip 2014 - Part V

This is the continuation of a trip my dad, my friend Jacob, and I took at the end of July.

Day 7 was a rest day.  I'm starting to think a good motorcycle trip has a rest day every 4th or 5th day, but we, possibly I, packed a lot of sights to see in a small amount of day 7 it was.

After getting to sleep in, for the first time in a week, Jacob and I headed over to where my mom and dad were staying and made use of an unguarded hose to wash the Montana road construction off of the bikes.
 For those of you who need reminding, one of the catalysts for this trip was that my niece got accepted to University of Great Falls on a soccer scholarship.  So I penciled them in for twenty minutes of meet and greet before we had to move onto the next state.  No I'm kidding! I gave them 30 minutes.

Here's my sister and her family, minus one son, who couldn't make it due to football practice.  They had flown in from Tucson that morning.
 We headed over to the University of Great Falls campus to check out my niece's new 'hood for the next four years(6 years if she follows in my footsteps, which I suggest she doesn't).
 Ahhh, home sweet home for all those new university students.
 Surprisingly my sister seemed pretty chipper about dropping off her daughter.  I swear I heard her muttering something under her breath.  I think it sounded something like "Only one more to go, only one more to go!".
 All settled in!  Just think about all the late night homework assignments that will be completed here.  Glad I'm not in college anymore;)

Day 8

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The next day we were on the road again.  We wanted to hit highway 89 through the Lewis & Clark National Forest, but made sure to get right back onto the interstate to avoid the construction we encountered two days before.  Here we are at the highest pass.  Got a little chilly that morning, I flicked on the heated grips for a few minutes.

 After a long stint on the freeway we eventually came to our next stop, the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument.  This site was one of my dad's picks.  He never had a chance to stop here, but always wanted to see Custer's Last Stand.
 When you pull into the parking lot you're immediately drawn to the cemetery right in front of you.  This is called Custer National Cemetery.  The Battle of Little Bighorn took place in 1876,  this cemetery was established ten years later.  Most of the graves you can see were transferred from various abandon fort cemeteries in the area.  As well as soldiers and sailors killed in action that served in the U.S. military during the Indian Wars, Spanish American War, World War I & II, the Korean War and Vietnam.  It was closed in 1978 and I believe it takes a act of Congress if you want to be buried here now.

 Walking up to the visitors center we caught the last half of a ranger presentation on the history of the battle.
 From here you can spot the marker of the mass grave site on top of Last Stand Hill.
 My dad bought tickets for the last driving tour of the day.  The start of the battle takes place about three miles away from Last Stand Hill.  This particular tour was led by the Crow Agency and it was interesting to hear both sides on what happened here. 
 I'm not going to cover the events of the battle, you can read up on it from the link above.  But I'd strongly suggest taking the tour if you're there.  You'll learn about the events leading up to the battle.  Then a running narration of what is thought to have happened, starting on Reno Hill and concluding three miles, back at the visitors center, with Custer and his men at Last Stand Hill.
 Looking out over the bluffs at Reno Hill.  Even though this battle took place over a hundred years ago I felt like we had stepped back through time and Custer's army could be riding down from over those hills in the distance.
 The headstones you can see in the monument don't mark where real bodies are buried.  They mark the locations of where Custer's men fell during the battle. 
 My dad approaching Last Stand Hill after the tour.
 Days after the battle most of the bodies were hastily buried, where they fell, and each burial marked with the soldiers name. Which is why the white headstones reflect a eery picture of how the battle went down.

 The site where Custer is believe to have fallen is marked with a white headstone that has a black background
 This plaque explains what happened to the remains after the original burialials.
  The monument has a recent addition of a Indian Memorial nearby that honors the last stand of the Plains Indians and the end of their way of life.
 Jacob taking a break after exploring the monument.
 After spending a couple of hours at the battlefield we were eager get to our next campsite and take a break.  We pulled over as we crossed back into Wyoming.  I wanted to get our picture next to the Wyoming state sign.  A trucker was nice enough to take our photo.  I forgot to mention that after Great Falls my mom headed back to Tucson.  So from this point forward it was just the Three Amigo's on the open road.
 We pulled into the town of Dayton, Wyoming just as the sun was setting.
 I had found the Foothills Motel & Campground on Google maps.  It was probably the nicest grass camp sites we'd pitch our tens on during the whole trip.
 Notice all of our tent fly's are not out.  I kind of declared that there was no risk of rain that night.  Which Jacob and my dad blindly believed.  Come midnight we all heard the soft pitter patter of rain. A mad scramble ensues where we all jump out of our tents and run around in the rain throwing the rain tarps on.  From that night on, Jacob and my dad always setup their tents with the rain fly's on.
Whew it's late.  Hope there aren't too many spelling errors!  More trip coming! Thanks for reading!