Sunday, September 19, 2021

Welcome to the Wild, Wild West ...


Roger here...  Since leaving Leavenworth we had three drive and sleep one-night stops in Spokane Washington, Butte Montana, and Columbus Montana. These were tiring (but necessary) days, filled with smoke and haze from the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Idaho.  Butte was a little scary, as we could actually smell the smoke from a fire that was not as far away. This post is focused on two longer stops in Wyoming and Montana.  


The first photo is of Merton, the goat.  Merton had the run of our stop (indoors and out) in Columbus, Montana.  He slept in front of the restroom doors.  He ate some of the paperwork in the office.  He kept everyone in line.  Merton was a hoot.

Dianne took the second photo while we were traveling in northern Wyoming, just north of Cody. 

(Not bad for a through-the-windshield shot, if I do say so myself -- D.)


Our three-night stop in Cody was essentially for the purpose of revisiting the Museum of the West (affiliated with the Smithsonian).  We had been in this area before so we had little desire to repeat experiences we had already had.  However, the Museum pulled us a day's drive off our route.

Dianne will be telling you about our experience in the museum.

Dianne here:  This museum was on our "must return" list.  We had been here with our girls when they were little, decades ago.   The museum did not disappoint -- it is even bigger and better than it was back then.

I was mostly interested in the old west portion of the museum.  Roger especially liked the natural history portion.  We both really enjoyed the large art section and the Native American history portion.  We spent only about five minutes in the HUGE firearms section -- just long enough to see Annie Oakley's rifle.

 Here are some museum highlights.  I'll start with Roger's photos.  The natural history section was on different levels -- starting at the top level with Arctic tundra plants and animals and descending in order through many others.  Here is a sample:

This below-the-floor diorama depicts a prairie dog village as it would look below ground:

The museum was very cleverly laid out and used holograms and movie backdrops to give the feeling of movement to even the stationary figures...

like these on horseback (above) and on foot (below)....

Roger here... (Sorry to interrupt)  The black and white images on the photo below are actually a film that was projected on a very thin curtain.  The white images are stationary statues visible from behind the movie screen and on the other side of the display.  Very clever.  Back to Dianne

The large Western Art section included paintings and statues by Catlin, Remington, and others.

We took a break and had a coffee drink outside on the patio.  There was statuary out there, too....

My photos included elaborately beaded children's dresses and papoose carriers...

After spending almost four months in a teensy-weensy 16-foot Airstream, this sheepherder's wagon caught my eye.   I could relate to how he lived!

And, after cooking outside on my little outdoor table all summer, I could relate to the old chuckwagon in the museum:  

We spent several hours in the museum -- the entry tickets are good for two days and I can see why.   If we'd had the slightest interest in guns and firearms, we would not have had time to see it all in one day.

Now, back to Roger --

Roger here... One more bit of information about the museum.  It was founded by Buffalo Bill Cody.  There was an entire wing dedicated to his traveling show that included original film from his expansive wild west review.  The shows were presented in stadiums and included hundreds of actors, and animals.  I am not sure how we left that particular wing without taking photos.

We did stop by the Irma Hotel for a few minutes.  Buffalo Bill Cody named the hotel after his youngest daughter.  We took a peek at the bar that was a gift from Queen Victoria to thank him for bringing his show to Great Britain.  We only went in for a moment.  It was too early in the day for a beer, and we have (again) started limiting our time in small public indoor venues due to the resurgence of Covid.

I have not yet mentioned that the wildfire smoke disappeared as we approached Cody, as shown by these photos from the Cody KOA....


After leaving Cody, we traveled back north into Montana and then southeast to Garryowen.

The Campground...  I picked 7th Ranch Camp because the internet photos and reviews portrayed a quiet and restful retreat in a beautiful setting.  We  found that to be the case  --- and more.


The campground itself stretches along the side of a hill.  The photo below makes it look smaller than it actually is.  There are plenty of large shade trees (quaking aspen).  There are also hiking paths to the hilltops and through the yellow meadows.

The views from our site (A-3) were gorgeous...

The photos below were taken during the multiple hikes that we took every day from out campsite.


Did I mention that there were goats?

The sky put on a mesmerizing show every night. We were able to sit on our camp chairs with a glass of wine and enjoy the sunsets right at our site:


Neither of us are big fans of battlefields.  I find them to be disturbing and tragic.  I know that others do not feel that way.  That being said, the presentation of this particular battlefield was both poignant and representative of both sides of the tragedy.  

We walked up just in time to hear the park ranger give an outdoor talk regarding all aspects of what led up to the battle, the battle itself, and the long-range outcomes.  He was eloquent, sensitive, and knowledgeable.  

The photo below shows the original graves of Custer's troops.  The gravestones were placed at the location of each man's death.

Below is a different view from the top of the hill.

Below is a photo of George Armstrong Custer's initial resting place.

This is a photo of the monument honoring the deceased troops from the battle.

On another side of the same hill, a monument was erected honoring the Native Americans who perished in the battle. 

Dianne took a photo of a Native American grave.
(The Indian burial stones were purposely made of red granite to differentiate them from the white marble stones of the cavalry.

Tokens and prayer flags are still placed on the sculpture and burial stones by members of various Native American tribes who visit. -- D.)

Dianne was fascinated by the archeology of the site, and has since bought a book documenting the process.

I was struck by this engraved statement at the Native American Memorial.  It is a profound statement.

There were different quotes from the various Indian tribes who participated in the battle etched into the circular granite wall. 


On the way back to the campground we stopped at a Native American Trading Post just down the hill from the monuments.  

After exploring the shop we wandered over to the uncrowded attached restaurant for some authentic Indian fry bread.  What a treat.  It could become an addiction.

(I had mine plain with honey, and Roger opted for the Indian fry bread taco. -- D.)

The last evening before leaving Garryowen, Dianne took this short video of the quaking aspen that she loved so much at our campsite.  Be sure to turn on the volume.

Our next post will include an outstanding museum from Casper and adventures in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Dianne again:  The pet photo of the day is a little different.   I have always loved Bandido's feet.  I finally took a photo of us "holding hands."  

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