A trip out west
With family in both Minnesota and Montana,
a yearly rite of passage for us is to travel out along the highways and
byways to explore the west. Bits and pieces of cultural history are scattered
along the way, and it is usually pretty exciting to get a glimpse of our
country's past, present, and future.
The Corn Palace in Mitchell is one
of the first stops you come across as you head west. Inside is a basketball
court, but outside is a decorator's dream (or nightmare). Every year, corn
is collected from the fields in the area to make huge murals and pictures.
That's right, everything you see in these pictures is created with corn.
That's how it gets its name (for anyone who needed that hint).
Of course the big granddaddy of these
stops is Wall Drug in South Dakota. Originally founded as a travelers'
welcome to the Badlands, it has blossomed into a destination in and of
There, one can get everything from the
free ice water to buffalo burgers to the latest in western wear...
and a ride on a jackelope!!
Just past Wall Drug are the Badlands.
I've discovered a nice (not super pretty, but very handy) free campground
outside Wall where I've stopped a couple times. It is a convenient place
to stay and offers good access to the road around the area - very useful
to see some of the sights without actually going into the park itself.
for the most part the landscape is
given over to the animals.
In the northeast corner of Wyoming stands
Devil's Tower. Revered by the Indians and noted by Lewis and Clark, it
was immortalized in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind."
I think that the speculation is that
it is the magma center of an ancient volcano. The rock on the outside has
long since worn away, and just the center remains, sticking straight up
into the blue sky. It reminded me of another promontory in the area that
is now called Chimney Rock (although Alea thought it was pretty funny when
she found out how the Native Americans referred to it. Obviously they didn't
have chimneys, so they named it after what they saw in their area and called
it "Antelope Penis").
The site - formerly called Custer's
Last Stand - is located about an hour or so south of Billings. It is the
site where the George Custer and the 7th Cavalry were completely destroyed
by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians on June 25th, 1876, and is today a national
Little Bighorn Battlefield
The headstones and memorials (to both
soldiers and Indians alike) are scattered across the rolling hills.
and cutout figures stand as a mute reenactment
to the events of that day.
We've been to several live rendezvous
reenactments, where people dress up in period costumes and pretend to live
as their ancestors did.
They live in authentic shelters from
the times, including lean tos, cabins, and even the occasional teepee.
End of the road
Our new property in Rimini - just outside
of Helena - is near Lincoln, where the Unabomber shacked up. For us, though,
the highlight is the Lincoln rodeo. The small town atmosphere is fantastic,
and the spirit of the competitors lets us know that we are at home again,
at least until the end of the summer.
These are collected from a number of trips.
out one of them here.
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