First off…I apologize for the Badlands and Black Hills post. My PC crashed before I could finish the post, but I posted it “as is” via my iPad. I had no idea that somehow a bunch of words had run together. I’ve been working on it this evening to get it readable. I think it’s in good shape now, so please reread and check out the additional photos. My further apologies to my Google+ friends who had to put up with all my updates. I don’t know how to avoid them. (The updates, not the friends!)
I got my PC up and running again. I don’t know how long it will last, but it’s working for now. Mona has offered use of her Mac Air as a backup. I’m intimidated by that device, but will definitely take her up on her offer if the PC shoots final craps.
Our objective for this morning was The Devil’s Tower Monument in Wyoming. To get there we drove by Sturgis, of legendary motorcycle fame, and then into Wyoming. We continue to be amazed at the changes from state to state…and this change from \ South Dakota to Wyoming was no exception. It’s like they hire a new artist to paint each state, starting at the border! Love it!!!!
|First View of Devil’s Tower|
About 11 miles out we began seeing views of The Devil’s Tower. Wow! Wow! Wow! How did that huge tower come to be here!?!? There are three primary theories, but our favorite is that it’s the core of a long-gone volcano.
We hiked around the base of the tower…in awe at every turn. The verticals on the tower are huge columns, the largest on earth. Many columns have fallen and are strewn around the base giving the place the feel of an ancient temple. There are areas during our hike that we can hear nothing but the wind whistling through the trees and the sounds of chipmunks and birds around us. It’s magical! Little wonder hat the Indians still consider this to be a sacred place!
Now it’s time to begin our trip across Wyoming to Yellowstone. We stopped at the Wyoming Visitor Center to get a recommendation on the best route. As a result, we’re headed for a pass through the Big Horn Mountains. We’re told this is most scenic route and fastest even though there is a bit of construction along the way.
|Big Horn Mountains in the Distance!|
We turn west on Highway 16 and are immediately captivated by the majestic snow capped mountains in front of us. They’re huge! How can there be a pass through that solid wall of giant peaks?!?! Almost immediately we start going up, up, up! It takes us no time at all to reach 4500 feet. Then 6000, then 8000 and finally 9900 feet before we crest the pass. It’s a beautiful drive up… steep ravines, incredible views and lots of wildlife to see, primarily antelope and mule deer, with the occasional glimpse of beautiful magpies.
There is a pull-off at the crest. There is a family there playing in the snow. Even though it’s 53 degrees there is still lots of deep snow up here! The plates on their vehicle are from Missouri. Come to find out, they’re from Sedelia, Missouri and they have recently moved here so the husband can take a job mining Powder River Basin coal. This coal is a primary fuel for Ameren’s coal plants. Small world!
|Our convoy ahead of us!|
We begin our descent. Much like the ascent, but on this side there are more rushing mountain streams laden with ice cold water from the snow pack melt. We keep our windows rolled down so we can enjoy the sound of the rushing water. Suddenly, we see a sign that says, “Pavement Ends” and we come up to a line of stopped cars. We’ve hit that construction that the Welcome Center guy told us about. The next sign says, “Wait for Pilot Car.” Huh?
|Hoping it doesn’t fall on us!|
A truck with a flashing yellow light turns around and gets in the front of our line of vehicles. Off we go! Immediately, we see that the first sign didn’t lie; the pavement ends! There is no road…just immense machines moving piles of rock, sand and mud to and fro. The pilot guides us through this maze of machines and mud for several miles. We’re both laughing almost the entire way. This so reminds us of Mona’s infamous Taos drive and she’s so happy she’s not driving now!
After miles of slip-sliding we finally get back onto solid pavement. Now, we’re descending almost as fast as we ascended…with sharp switch back turns and incredible scenery at every turn. This route is definitely one of our favorites! We’re still seeing lots of antelope and mule deer and Mona even spots a wild buffalo!
After two hours on the pass, we’re down on the high plains, zooming towards Cody, Wyoming. The terrain is a little more tame, but beautiful nonetheless. Finally at Greybul, we turn due west. Now we can see the Rockies before us, highlighted by the Grand Tetons to the south. After another hour driving we arrive at Cody!
We quickly check in and walk to our dinner. Mona has picked out a great spot, Proud Cut Saloon. The walls are covered with trophy heads (beasts not men, of course) and the steaks are generous and cooked to perfection. Mmmmm….the relaxation begins.
Tomorrow, it’s Yellowstone!!!!