Thursday, February 9, 2017

Roaming Wyoming

Arrived in the beautiful Black Hills 7/2.

As we neared the turnoff for Mount Rushmore, Saturday, July 2nd, we saw a herd of buffalo grazing in the field. Having seen the Monument of the Presidents and the Crazy Horse Monument on previous vacations to South Dakota, we decided to bypass them and attend to the business that brought us there. Our first order of business was to get signed in at the campground at America’s Mailbox, and enjoy the 4th of July holiday. We had full hookups for three days and a site with electric for four more days.

Full hook-up site at America's Mailbox, Box Elder, South Dakota
The next day we took care of setting up our mailbox and completing the paperwork so they could do the errands required to get our vehicle registrations and license plates. We personally took care of getting our drivers licenses renewed. When vehicle registrations expired on Thursday, we had the new tags to put on, and were ready to roll.

Ready, that is, except we had to find a garage to get an alignment done on the RV. With our Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge smart phone, John researched the area and found Royal Wheel Alignment in Rapid City who could do the wheel alignment on the RV. They also replaced the front airbags. Both items together cost $440.27. He also located Tyrrell Tires where we got a new rim to replace the one on the trailer that had a leak. They took the spare rim off the trailer and put the spare tire on it. They mounted the tire from the faulty rim on the new rim and put it on the trailer. That cost us $100.64.

The ladder we had was only a six-foot step ladder, not tall enough to get to the high places of the RV. It folded to four-inches square, six feet long. Rapid City had a Camping World store, which sold telescoping ladders, so we purchased a fourteen foot telescoping ladder. We were meeting a fellow in Flagstaff and this ladder would be what was needed to get to the roof to move solar panels as well as install solar on his trailer. While there, I got wood covers for my two-bowl sink, and a black cover for the top of my stove. These covers, when in use, will give me more countertop space.

Rapid City, South Dakota, to Gillette, Wyoming

Welcome to Wyoming, Forever West.
Sorry about all of the cars in the photo. If you stop to take a picture of a sign, DO pull off to the right of the sign like the vehicle on the far right. Always be respectful of others who might also want to take a picture. DO NOT stop in front of the sign like the white one blocking the sign!

Vore Buffalo Jump

This is one of many jump sites in the west. It is significant because it was used relatively late from 1500 to 1800. This sinkhole served residents as a slaughterhouse before bison were hunted on horseback. The natural pit was used as a trap. In the fall, hunters would coordinate a bison hunt where 200-500 bison cows and calves were decoyed. The idea was other bison would come to the aid of the one in distress. Running toward the sinkhole from a curved natural drainage ditch, they would topple into the pit before they could see it. The animals were butchered to provide food and supplies for winter. Archaeological investigations revealed that the site was used every five to six years following wet years. This jump site was east of the state welcome center.

Just a reminder you can click on any photo to enlarge it, and "x" out of it to return.

Vore Buffalo Jump Sign at Wyoming Welcome Center
The Wyoming Welcome Center was beautiful and full of information, inside and outside. Interstate 90 is visible to the far left in the photo.

Statue of Cougar at Wyoming Welcome Center
Gold Metal, Black Coal and Crude, and Green Grass

Following the Black Hills Gold Rush, the first Caucasians came in 1876 from the large mining camps of Lead and Deadwood. When they reached the end of the previous vein, many shifted their energies to other forms of mining, such as coal and crude oil, as well as farming and ranching. They found gorgeous green grass. Many centennial farms and ranches are the result of people who settled in this region.

Rich Colors, Rich Lands sign at Wyoming Welcome Center
Custer Trail

The Custer Trail came within three miles of this site in 1874. This was the trail of Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer who trespassed on Lakota Indian lands.

The Custer Trail - Site of Sacred Lands and Historic Battles
Sign at Wyoming Welcome Center
Petrified Trees

About 55 million years ago, the climate in Wyoming was warm and subtropical, during the Late Paleocene Epoch, and giant Cypress trees like those growing in Louisiana’s Pointe Lake used to grow in Wyoming. Some of these ancient trees were buried under sediment and turned to stone. Three petrified trees were found during mining operations at Eagle Butte Mine in Gillette, Wyoming. The Wyoming Department of Transportation transported them to this site after they were donated by Alpha Coal West, Inc.

Petrified Trees - Fossils give clues to Paleo-Past
Art Inspires

The beauty and natural wonders encountered in Wyoming Territory after they were confirmed by the government-sponsored Hayden Expeditions of 1871, influenced congress’s decision to establish Yellowstone as the first National Park. On earlier vacations, I visited Yellowstone National Park in all of its beauty, saw Fishing Bridge, the Upper and Lower Yellowstone Falls, the beautiful Inn at Yellowstone, watched the geyser, "Old Faithful" erupt, and watched a black bear walk along the road beside us. I also saw the Grand Tetons National Park and drove through Medicine Bow National Forest, all very scenic country!

Wyoming is the West

Wyoming is the Cowboy State. On an earlier vacation, I saw a rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with the calf roping, bull-dogging, and all events including bull riding. It was a big event! There is a standing joke that there are more cattle than people -- three to one, and a lot of sheep and horses. Wyoming, with its beautiful ranches, scenic mountains, waterfalls, and National Parks  is another beautiful state to explore.

Wyoming’s greatest showman and promoter was William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

Buffalo Bill performed his wild west show, involving hundreds of American Indian and Anglo-American horsemen, in the middle and eastern United States and across Europe. They acted out historic battles and created western scenes that reinforced  perceptions of Wyoming and the West that remain today.

There were many more things to photograph, read, and study at the Wyoming Welcome Center, but it was time for us to travel westward.

Wagon on display inside welcome center.
This is one of the snow fences along the highway. We stayed over night at the Walmart in Gillette, Wyoming for one night.

Snow fence
The Walmart in Gillette, Wyoming, is where I purchased an RCA Tablet “Viking Pro”.

At first I utilized it for playing games because it gave me something to do when I could not get on the internet. Trying to write a blog while traveling full time became a challenge because when we boondock, keeping my devices charged is difficult. Trying to post online is even more challenging, mostly due to slow or no internet service.

From Gillette we headed south on 50. It was a little windy, enough to see gusts of dust following behind a truck on the side road. We took 387 to 259 at Edgerton/Midwest to skirt around Teapot Dome Grasslands area. A few lonesome trees were in the landscape, and rolling hills with mountains in the distance. The land is truly home on the range. A ribbon of highway adds to the landscape.

Area of Casper, Wyoming
Traveled a short distance on I-25 and was going to stay at Casper, Wyoming. Instead we  ended up taking a bypass around the town to 220 where there was beautiful red rock formations and the North Platte River flowing on our right.

North Platte River and red rock formations were on our right.
At this point, we were following a road that ran next to the Pathfinder Ranch. It went for quite a ways. Eventually we saw the Pathfinder Dam and Reservoir on our left. Every so often, a sign on our left indicated we were still driving along the Pathfinder Ranch. It seemed like it stretched for many miles.

Pathfinder Dam and Reservoir
In the next post, we stop at Independence Rock along the Oregon Trail.

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