Sunday, September 29, 2013

Into The West

This is the account of my first day, as written in my journal. I'm keeping it as close to the original as possible, even though it was over two weeks ago. Enjoy!

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I actually kind of love Wyoming.

It's the Wild West thing, I suppose. As the Admiral said, I've "always been a westerly girl." The history, the landscape, the attitude -- it fascinates me.

And Wyoming can add a whole lot of beauty to that list. I'd forgotten just how awe-inspiring the Bighorns are.


I have no idea how that happened.

Today, I spent the entire drive watching it rain to the south or west of me, fully expecting to drive through it at some point. Heck, Denver's flooding as I write this. Instead, it's been dry. I'll be shocked if that lasts through the night, though.

[Click to read the larger version.]
My main historical stop today (after a failed attempt to eat lunch ... at a place that opens after 3:00) was the Fetterman Fight/Massacre Hill site. It's the site of a "mini-Little Bighorn," if you will --- another US militia/Native American battle that ended with no survivors on the side of the militia. This one happens to be right on the old Bozeman Trail, one of the pioneer/cattle drive trails of the mid- to late-1800s that goes right through what was then Native American territory.

Like Little Bighorn, it's on the top of a hill. Given the trained militia's tendency to go for the high ground and the "untrained" Lakota/Crow method of bait, surround and ambush, I'm guessing that's not a coincidence.  And, like Little Bighorn, it's just off the interstate. In this case, basically on private ranchland.

Kind of mystifying. Or at least unsettling. Especially since now there are cow pies all over.

Now, after 560 miles of driving (roughly 10.5 hours from takeoff to touchdown), I find myself just south of Bozeman on the gorgeous Hyalite Reservoir. I'm now the campground weirdo -- me and my little tent at a fairly secluded site, where I eat decidedly non-camping food and write furiously.

The campground is crowded, but not uncomfortable. This seems to be the place for local families to visit, a little out of the way and in a gorgeous valley. If you don't know it's here, it's not likely you'll go looking for it.

The campground host is friendly enough, if a bit on the hillbilly side. He was quick to warn me to stow my food in my car, as the GF&P will fine me for leaving it out in what basically amounts to bear bait. He says they haven't seen a bear -- but they've seen plenty of fines.

Maybe it's a good thing most of my food is of the "car fare" variety.

There's no rain here yet and the sky is clear as the stars come out, but I have to wonder how long that will last. At this point, I wouldn't mind some rain -- the day's almost over and my tent is snug and ready. Besides, I'll be sleeping soon. Tomorrow's another longish day, 400 miles or so to Spokane, and I want to get started early.

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