At 196 miles, Wednesday's drive to Moorcroft, WY, is longer than usual, but on I-90 it's an easy drive. The area around Sheridan and Buffalo is particularly pretty, and I remind myself we want to stay here next time through.
We're in Moorcroft because it's half-way between the two things we want to do in the area - see friends and see Bear Lodge. Rangeland Motel and RV does nothing more than give us a place to park with FHUs and 50 amp. And it does this quite well. Another set-up where you back into your site from the city street, the gravel pad is level, the site and area clean, and the owners friendly and helpful. As we end up staying a couple extra nights, I'm glad we like it.
It rains overnight and is still cloudy with more rain in the forecast for Thursday. The area is parched, and the rain is very welcome - you can hear the earth sucking it in!
I have been checking for used Jeeps along our route for some time now. There is one in Sioux Falls I'm interested in, but since they usually sell pretty fast, I'm not convinced it will still be there when we are. So I'm excited to see one available in Gillette, WY, just up the road where our friends live. With the weather iffy for outdoor activity, we head for the "big city."
Meeting all our criteria except a data port in the music system, we test drive the Wrangler and decide it's a good fit for us. We're happy with the deal, and they will move the towbar and brake-assist from the Cherokee for us.
Unfortunately the plate won't fit the Wrangler so they order us a new one to be shipped overnight. They can do the install on Monday if we can wait a couple days. We can.
|Piper, the new member of the family
Reading the manual on the way home Bill makes a discovery - and we listen to our music on one of our thumb drives plugged into the data port in the center console :-))))))
Friday morning we get up and out early, hoping to beat the expected much hotter temps. We're going to see another bucket list place - Bear Lodge (Devils Tower National Monument).
Everyone warns you that seeing it from the highway is amazing, and that's an understatement. There isn't anything else that looks like that, and I can understand why the native peoples have held it sacred for so long. The giant bear claw marks are visible for miles - hundreds of years ago, what else could have made those marks?
|Known as Bear Lodge to the Lakota
We're taking the Tower Trail which makes a 1.3 mile loop around the base of the tower. It is very popular.
Several times we stop along the paved path to let noisy hikers pass by. It's wonderful that kids and teenagers are experiencing this wonderful place, but they sure miss a lot by just looking and not listening.
|Interpretive signs along the trail provide geological and cultural information
|Colorful prayer cloths
|Looking in the crack for the elevator button
|Note the (lack of) shoes on her climbing partner
|See the climbers? No? Because it's a million miles up there!
|Beautiful views of the Black Hills National Forest
|Smaller rock formations
|Three distinct layers are more visible from this side
|After 40 million years sometimes you just need to take a break
|Flat formations along the base
|With no wildflowers in bloom, bright leaves provide a spot of color on the forest floor
Bear Lodge is a unique and amazing place. I need to come back when the noise and chaotic energy of vacationing crowds are gone. I miss the spiritual connection that I know is here.
|The legend of Bear Lodge
|If it hadn't been filmed in a sound studio, that famous movie space ship would have landed where the VC stands
|Over a hundred prairie dogs live in this town of burrows
|A quick pose
For the Lakota this is the site where White Buffalo Calf Woman gave her message to the people. Ceremonies are still held here throughout the year.
|Good heart and mind required
|Polished and raw marble from Italy, standing on rock from Crazy Horse Monument
|Piper's first day trip - pretty special
|Lunch in Wyoming is often under a deer head - Ponderosa Cafe, Hulet
Polly and I graduated together in 1973, and is a long-time friend of both Bill and I. She met Buddy in Gillette a few years ago and he has become one of the family after joining us at the annual reunions.
We enjoy great conversation and a delicious meal, and way too soon our evening is over. We love it when our route takes us to see good friends!
|Polly and Buddy - love these two :-)))
|The pretty canyon where Coy lived
|Lots of green along Hwy 16
|Old brick buildings line the main street
|Hotel Antlers - of course
|Built in 1867
Monday we're back to the dealership to get Piper ready for towing.
For those who aren't fans of the cable television show Orange is the New Black, Piper is the main character :-).