Living History

I can’t even describe with words the beauty of the country that I have seen on this trip.  I wonder why so many people choose to live in the cramped dirty cities after taking in so much of this beautiful country. I loved the deserts for a long time, as my escape from the city.  I loved their rocky, dry moonscape and I loved to trek in them as much as I could.  After enjoying the many States we came through I can see where they all have something to offer.  I really liked Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota especially.  Although Idaho, Utah and Nevada all were beautiful in their own ways.  The rolling green hills and the fertile land make these other states favorites.  We saw so much wildlife, it was incredible.

I’ve read about so much of the western life throughout my life – its my favorite genre, and here I was in a front seat.  I’ve gotten a few calls from friends in Los Angeles, but I’m trying to stay disconnected and enjoy the trip.  I can worry about all the small details when I get to the farm.  After getting some great sleep in a hotel in Billings, we headed out to the Greasy Grass River, or as the white men call it, the Little Bighorn River.  I’ve always wanted to go there and I’ve read so many books about the whole area.  I know all the places from the stories, as if I have been there before.

I cannot keep from wondering why we as Americans cannot look at it as a huge victory for the Native Americans rather than a massacre of Lt. Col. Custer and his Command.  LT Col. Custer had already caused these people a lot of heartache.  He brought miners into their sacred land, the Black Hills.  He massacred innocent people at the Washita River.  He really thought he was attacking a village that did not know he was coming. Driving out from Billings I could see how on horseback it would be hard to see very far. There were so many draws and gulches.  Lt. Col Cust had scouts and they told him there were many Natives at Greasy Grass, but he still thought he would stun them and overrun them.  Wrong! These were well armed warriors who wanted to fight for their land.  All the Plains Indians had decided to come together at that specific point, and had the largest gathering of Indians in North America’s history: over 7,000 of them were there.  Sitting Bull had a vision that the “blue coats” were going to fall into his camp “upside down” (dead).  They were all ready when Custer decided to charge them with 276 men.

Once we made it to the battle ground it seemed fitting that I was there 139 years to the day and time of the Native victory: June 25, 1876.  I walked Last Stand Hill, Calhoun’s Hill, Medicine Tail Coulee and then Reno’s Spot.  It was impressive and a beautiful clear day with puffy white clouds overhead.  I could have spent much more time walking and taking it all in.  We made our way to see the old Bozeman and I could feel all those that came before me.

What a great trip!  We were off to a cabin in Bear Country, Wyoming and then it would be on to Deadwood!

In Wyoming we took a wrong turn just before dusk after seeing Devil’s Tower.   In the rolling green pastures as the sun was setting we saw a man on his horse with a small white dog following beside.  The Cowboy started moving a herd of cattle back towards another pasture.  A few calves could broke free and the dog shot off after them.  They turned back and fall into line.  I felt like I was in a time machine and I was thrust back into the 1870’s. It’s great to see people, cowboys, who still make their living working the land.

We have been driving, reading and driving. We have so much stuff packed in our little car, because we forgot to put a lot of it on the moving truck before it left.   We have to unload a lot of it at every stop to prevent someone from breaking into the car.  Traveling with our dog presents some interesting issues, as most national parks don’t allow her out of the car, but all in all it’s a great trip.

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