Wyoming

Zeb here with my last post of our recent road trip.  Just want to share a few observations about Wyoming.   I could not quickly describe Wyoming and I only saw the eastern part, north to south.  I saw so many different things there.

We entered Wyoming at Cheyenne.

Entering Wyoming

Entering Wyoming

Things were hilly with barren rock formations and outside of the city, lots of empty land.

Lonely highway

Lonely highway

Very few towns and very few people.  We did stop at a rest stop in Chugwater.  The signs said Chugwater was famous for chili.  It was pretty hot that day, so no chili for us.  But, let’s talk about the rest area.  The building utilized passive solar power.

Mom took some photos, but I think I should explain what goes on here.  There are solar panels on the south side and shutters that close at night.

Inside rest area building I am on stone wall with solar panels above

Inside rest area building I am on stone wall with solar panels above

There is a solar hot water storage tank also.  The building does have back up electric heaters in the cement floor and back up electric water heaters.  There is also earth berming on the north side of the building to reduce energy loss.

Solar panels at rest area

Solar panels at rest area

This seems like a very smart idea to this duck.

Most people have heard that Wyoming is very windy.  It is!  Here is a snow fence.

Snow fence

Snow fence

These snow fences do not stop the snow, but blowing snow usually will drift against the fences.  This reduces the size of snowdrifts on the highway or any other place the ranchers want to limit the snow drifts.

We passed Glendo Lake State Park.  This is a huge lake that is used for farm irrigation in multiple states.  It is also a recreation center, complete with camping, fishing and boating.  We saw this lake in late September, so the water level was fairly low. Winter snow and rain will fill it again so it will be ready next spring.

We continued on I-25 to Douglas.  We drove through and saw a real western looking bar and restaurant.  White Wolf Saloon has antlers on the front,

White Wolf Saloon in Douglas, Wyoming

White Wolf Saloon in Douglas, Wyoming

carved figures on the porch and lots of mounted animals inside.  WOW!!  This is real old western place.  I sat on each figure

I am helping my friend play cards

I am helping my friend play cards

and on the bar inside.

Lots of stuff inside White Wolf Saloon

Lots of stuff inside White Wolf Saloon

Another time lunch would be fun here.  But this trip, we had a destination and time constraints.  But what fun this is!

Leaving Newcastle and approaching the Black Hills, the landscape was hilly and wooded.  Very pretty.  The Black Hills are mostly in South Dakota, but part of them is in Wyoming.

 Black Hills landscape

Black Hills landscape

This looks very different from the land between Cheyenne and Wheatland.

North of Newcastle is Devils Tower

Devils Tower

Devils Tower

and Black Hills scenery.  See my report on Devils Tower a few days ago.  To get to Devils Tower, we left I-25 at Douglas at took highway 59 to Gillette.  On this road, we saw more antelope,

Herd of antelope

Herd of antelope

more horses,

Many horses

Many horses

more sheep, more cows,

Lots of cows

Lots of cows

more oil wells pumping,

Working oil well

Working oil well

coal mining, wind

Wind turbines

Wind turbines

turbines, hay fields

Hay fields

Hay fields

and a herd of buffalo.

Old and young buffalo in herd

Old and young buffalo in herd

When were near Sheridan, on I-90 we could see the Rocky Mountains.

Beautiful mountains

Beautiful mountains

They look so majestic, just like they do in Colorado.  On this trip we did not go to them, but western Wyoming is home to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.  I, Zeb, just wanted you to know that Wyoming has a little of everything.

We will return to Wyoming

We will return to Wyoming

This state is close to my home near Denver, so I hope mom and I will explore of wonderful Wyoming.  Let me know what parts of Wyoming you like best.

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Devils Tower Legend

We visited Devils Tower in northeastern Wyoming.

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Yesterday I told you about our time there.  When we entered the national monument area, we were given literature from the national park service.

This legend was included from the national park service.  I love this legend.  So, I told mom that I wanted to tell all of you about this.  You may or may not have already known this, but I wanted to tell you.

The national park service brochure says:  “Eight children were there at play, seven sisters and their brother.  Suddenly the boy was struck dumb; he trembled and began to run upon his hands and feet.   His fingers became claws, and his body was covered with fur.  Directly there was a bear where the boy had been.

The bear

The bear

The sisters were terrified; they ran, and the bear after them.  They came to the stump of a great tree, and the tree spoke to them.  It bade them climb upon it, and as they did so it began to rise into the air.  The bear came to kill them, but they were just beyond its reach.  It reared against the tree and scored the bark all around with its claws.

Devils Tower Legend

Devils Tower Legend

The seven sisters were borne into the sky, and they became the stars of the Big Dipper.”

Sisters form Big Dipper

Sisters form Big Dipper

WOW!  I know I will remember this legend every time I see the Big Dipper or see a bear.  So, now you know why Devils Tower has those lines.  If only the geologists would agree.

Go to Devils Tower and experience the tranquility of the area.  You will love it there.

Devils Tower Wyoming

Northeast Wyoming is home to the nations first national monument.  In 1906 President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower the first national monument.

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Devils Tower, Wyoming

In 1872 Yellowstone had become the country’s first national park.  Some of Wyoming’s incredible landscape was saved for all to enjoy.

About 50 million years ago, molten lava was forced into sedimentary rocks and devils tower and the little Missouri Buttes were begun.  The geology is fascinating, but today, I just want to show you what I saw and experienced.

Getting to Devils Tower, we crossed the Belle Fourche River several times.  It is a beautiful river.  You would enjoy looking at it, camping by it, hiking along it, and fishing in it.   As we approached Devils Tower, the landscape changed.

Approaching Devils Tower

Approaching Devils Tower

We were back in the Black Hills.  Just love the hills, Ponderosa pines and unusual rock formations.  The landscape is always changing.

We pulled off the road at the designated place and took pictures of Devils Tower.

Devils Tower

Devils Tower

It is just there.  Sticking up out of the ground.  The tower is 867 feet high and stands 1,267 feet above the river.  The diameter of the base is 1,000 feet.  This is one big rock, or as they say, one big columnar monolith.  Again, these places make me feel so small and humble.

Mom and I walked around the base of Devils Tower.  On one side, we could see the green plains.  This was once buffalo country, but now it is cattle country.  The valley is green, with trees and hills in the background.

Cattle country behind Devils Tower

Cattle country behind Devils Tower

Very relaxing.  I like being here.

We took lots of pictures of Devils Tower and were fascinated by this rock formation.  Circling above the tower were turkey vultures.  The vultures use the rising warm air to circle, play and look for food.

Turkey vultures around Devils Tower

Turkey vultures around Devils Tower

They were fun to watch.

Shortly after entering the park grounds, we saw the black tailed prairie dogs.  While there are still many black tailed prairie dogs, their overall population is about 2% of what Lewis and Clark described as “infinite” 200 years ago.  Much of their natural habitat has been lost.  They were cute,

Black tail prairie dog. Looks so cute

Black tail prairie dog.
Looks so cute

but they jumped a little and barked.  I stayed in the car while mom took photos.  The park information said they could bite.  The car was safer for me.  I like being safe.

They really have black tails

They really have black tails

We went to the visitor’s center.  Lots of good stuff in there.  Mom just bought the hatpins.  She buys those almost every place we go.  No food or drinks are sold in the park.  There is a water fountain, but that is all.  Keeps things cleaner, and I think that humans sometimes eat too much.  We had drinks in the car, if we got thirsty.  The visitor’s center is a log building.

Visitor's Center at Devils Tower

Visitor’s Center at Devils Tower

Just seems to fit in the Black Hills.  The roads, camping and picnicking facilities and museum (now visitor’s center) were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression.  We saw more of their work in Colorado at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

I hope you visit Devils Tower.  It is in northeastern Wyoming, 33 miles northeast of Moorcroft, Wyoming.  I think it is very interesting and very peaceful.  I know you would enjoy your visit to Devils Tower.

One more photo of Devils Tower

One more photo of Devils Tower

I hope we can come back again.   Tomorrow I will tell you the legend of Devils Tower.  Be sure to read it and let me know what you think.

Our national park system is great.  Visit www.nps.gov for more information.

Little Bighorn Battlefield

Zeb was on a battlefield.  And I survived!  Mom and I stopped at Little Bighorn Battlefield in Garryowen, Montana.

Little Bighorn Battlefield

Little Bighorn Battlefield

The battlefield is just off I-90 in southern Montana.  This battlefield is on the Little Bighorn River and is a national monument.   Some describe this battle as a clash of cultures. General George A. Custer, 36 years old and a Civil War hero, led 263 soldiers in a battle to defeat the Indians.  The battle did not go well for General Custer.  He and his men were defeated and killed by over 3,000 Indian warriors.  Unfortunately for Custer, this defeat overshadowed his military career, and all many Americans remember about him was that he was defeated and killed here.  He initiated the battle against the Indians, even though he was greatly out numbered.  (I believe that is an understatement)  Many believe that his defeat was the result of his ego.

We first stopped at the Visitor’s Center

Wall of Visitor's Center

Wall of Visitor’s Center

and watched a movie about the battle.  Then we walked to Last Stand Hill.

Last Stand Hill with memorial

Last Stand Hill with memorial

Here is a small cemetery where General Custer, his brother Tom and 39 other soldiers have stone markers.  General Custer’s grave marker is the black one, left of me.

Markers on Last Stand Hill

Markers on Last Stand Hill

There is a memorial on this hill.  Some U.S. soldiers are buried under the memorial.

Base of memorial on Last Stand Hill

Base of memorial on Last Stand Hill

Their names are carved on the memorial. Near Last Stand Hill there is a marker for the horses that were killed here.  I love when humans give credit to the animals!

Tribute to lost horses

Tribute to lost horses

All around the battlefield I saw white stone markers.  The markers are where the bodies were found.  There are also red granite markers

Marker for Lakota warrior

Marker for Lakota warrior

showing where Cheyenne and Lakota warriors died.  There are many more white markers than red ones. Near Last Stand Hill an Indian memorial is being built.  It is not finished so we were not allowed inside the area.  However, the wire sculpture was partially visible.

Partial finishing memorial to Indians

Partial finishing memorial to Indians

The memorial will be very nice when completed.  I hope I can come back to see the finished project. A park volunteer told us that this was the last battle won by the Indians.  We walked along trails through the battlefield.

Path through battlefield

Path through battlefield

It was strange to see so many markers and know that soldiers and warriors died here.  This land has open fields, hills and valleys with many place to attack without being seen and areas of trees by the Little Bighorn River.   Lots of places where you cannot easily be seen. Next we drove along a 5-mile road.  This road took us to various sections where the battle raged.  We saw lots of grave markers.  We saw the river, the hills and valleys, the steep ravines and much more.  This land is important to all people.  Many remember the soldiers that died here in June 1876 and many remember the Indians that died here.  For many Indian tribes, this is sacred land.  This battlefield is located on the Crow Reservation.  Also located on the Little Bighorn Battlefield ground is a National Cemetery.

National cemetery at Little Bighorn Battlefield

National cemetery at Little Bighorn Battlefield

The rows of grave markers look just the cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Grave markers

Grave markers

The cemetery has veterans of American Indian wars, the Spanish American War, World Wars I and II and the Korean war.  This is a sacred place for many people. You will love visiting Little Bighorn Battlefield.  There is so much to see and learn. This is a spiritual place for many.  Relax and you will feel the power of this land.  While you are here, walk around the fields and really feel this place.  For more information visit http://www.nps.gov/libi

Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls, Montana

Lewis and Clark were the first explorers to mention Giant Springs.

Giant Springs

Giant Springs

Lewis and Clark followed the Missouri River through this part of Montana.  Clark first wrote of the springs on June 18, 1805.  He said this was the largest fountain or natural springs he ever saw and that the water was very clear.

very clear water

very clear water

Lewis described the springs as a “beautiful fountain”.

Giant Springs State Park has one of the world’s largest fresh water springs and according to Guinness, the world’s shortest river.  Water from the springs emerges at 54 degrees all year.  From the springs, the water passes through a pool, over rapids, under a bridge and into the Missouri River.

Roe River.  One of the world's shortest rivers

Roe River. One of the world’s shortest rivers

From the springs to the Missouri, this shortest river, the Roe River, is 201 feet long.

Lewis and Clark reported that beaver were plentiful and within years the area had many fur trappers and fur traders.  Because of the warm springs, this was also a popular campsite for American Indians.  The springs provide lots of warm water– over 150 million gallons of water every day, which flows into the Missouri River.   That’s a lot of water!  It does not freeze, but I have become accustomed to swimming in much warmer water.  However, there are several live versions of my kind swimming here.  All the ducks love this place.

Ducks at Giant Springs

Ducks at Giant Springs

The Missouri River cuts through rock as shown in this picture with me.

Bank of Missouri River

Bank of Missouri River

On a hill above the river is a monument to Lewis and Clark.

Monument to Lewis & Clark Giant Springs State Park, Montana

Monument to Lewis & Clark
Giant Springs State Park, Montana

From this monument, the view

Giant Springs and Missouri River, Montana

Giant Springs and Missouri River, Montana

of the springs and Missouri River are breathtaking.

The city of Great Falls gave this park to the state and in 1970 Giant Springs State Park was formed.

Roe River at Giant Springs State Park, Montana

Roe River at Giant Springs State Park, Montana

It is a beautiful place.  I recommend that you come here.  Come to look, come to relax, come to hike or bike or fish, come for a picnic, but do come here.  I know you will love it as much as I do.  For more information visit www.stateparks.mt.gov

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park Ulm, Montana

First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is Near Great Falls, Montana

I, Zeb the duck, saw the Cascade County Courthouse,

County Courthouse, Great Falls, MT

County Courthouse, Great Falls, MT

located in Great Falls, Montana.  It is big and the grassy lawn even has cannons.  A sign on a cannon says it was donated, by Congress, to the Soldiers Memorial Committee.

This cannon is big

This cannon is big

I got to sit on the cannon.   Again I feel so little.

From Great Falls, we drove about 10 miles southwest on I-15 to Ulm, Montana.  First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park is located here.

Ulm, MT

Ulm, MT

I had no idea what a buffalo jump was.  Now I know and you will too, in a minute. This buffalo jump is one of the most significant in the world.  WOW!  The American Indian did not have horses for many years, so hunting buffalo was difficult.  The buffalo jump was used by American Indians to kill buffalo, necessary for the survival of the American Indian tribes.

Meriwether (his real first name) Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, wrote about this buffalo jump in his journal on Wednesday, May 29, 1805.  “  one of the most active and fleet young men is selected and disguised in a robe of buffalo skin … he places himself at a distance between a herd of buffalo and a precipice proper for the purpose; the other Indians now surround the herd on the back and flanks and at a signal agreed on all show themselves at the same time moving forward towards the buffalo; the disguised Indian or decoy has taken care to place himself sufficiently near the buffalo to be noticed by them when they take to flight and running before them they follow him in full speed to the precipice; the Indian (decoy) in the mean time has taken care to secure himself in some cranny in the cliff…the part of the decoy I am informed is extremely dangerous.”

The buffalo are stampeded off the cliff to their death.  Other Indians waited with spears to kill those that did not die from the fall.  The entire camp worked on the buffalo to preserve meat, prepare hides, and use bone and horns.

Tipi at buffalo jump

Tipi at buffalo jump

The Indian used all parts of the buffalo.  History tells us that at least 14 tribes used this site to kill buffalo.  This hill is about 1 mile wide and 2 miles long.  One side is sloped so buffalo can be herded up the hill.  The stampeding buffalo jumped 40-60 feet to their death.  Below the cliffs that stretch more than a mile, the soil reveals compacted bison bones nearly 13 feet deep.

The visitor’s center has a museum and several displays on the walls showing how tribes camped here during the times of the buffalo stampede so they could prepare the buffalo for their use.  There are also stuffed buffalo on display.

I am on buffalo.  It is tall

I am on buffalo. It is tall

This is a very interesting place

Buffalo appear to be looking down on the scene

Buffalo appear to be looking down on the scene

and the staff was very helpful.  I am just happy that I was not a buffalo at that time. For more information visit www.stateparks.mt/gov  or www.lewisandclarktrail.com  Also, Wikipedia has information and facts on this site, formerly known as Ulm Pishkun Buffalo Jump State Park.

Next time I will tell you about my visit to another Montana State Park.  One with lots of water.

Zeb goes to Montana

Visiting Judith Gap and Cascade Montana

Early this morning we were on the road again.  From Spearfish, SD we drive north to Belle Fourche, then cut across a corner of Wyoming and then into Montana.  The sky is already bigger than any I have ever seen.

Entering Big Sky Country   Montana

Entering Big Sky Country
Montana

I am going to like Big Sky Country.  We enter at Alzada, MT.

We drive through Billings, head north on Hwy 3 and before Lewiston, MT we enter Judith Gap.  This town has a wind farm.

My first Montana wind farm in Judith Gap

My first Montana wind farm in Judith Gap

The wind turbines are on each side of the road, so we can see them clearly. The turbines begin spinning at 6 mph and shut off at 56 mph.  There are 90 wind turbines in this wind energy center.  Each turbine produces enough energy to power 350-400 homes.  In town, there is a park with one arm of a wind turbine on the ground.

The arms are thick

The arms are thick

It is big.  Each blade is 126 feet long and made of fiberglass and epoxy resin.

I am on the turbine arm

I am on the turbine arm

I feel tiny.  When the turbines are assembled, the top blade reaches about 400 feet in the air.  This blade on the ground incurred internal damage during construction and Invenergy donated it to the town of Judith Gap for this display.

Zeb and the humans stayed in Great Falls, MT a couple days.  Much of our time was spent on business in Cascade.  Cascade is about 20 minutes west of Great Falls.  I-15 from Great Falls to Cascade passes Square Butte.

Square Butte with me

Square Butte with me

This isolated butte was included in several paintings by cowboy artist Charles M. Russell, and it is now a famous Montana landmark.  And I saw it several times!  While mom’s friend was busy, we walked around town.  This is Sportsman’s Bar & Café where we had lunch. IMG_3942 Hamburgers and Reuben sandwiches.  Very good.  Makes me hungry remembering.   Cascade is rural Montana and people reuse buildings, they don’t tear them down to build another.

Service station building has new tenant

Service station building has new tenant

This former service station is now a beauty shop.

Cascade has a nice park with picnic tables, playground equipment

I was on this play equipment

I was on this play equipment

(I played there for awhile) and a large grassy area.  Looked perfect for family picnics and games.  On the edge of the park we saw a pumpkin patch.

Pumpkin patch

Pumpkin patch

Those pumpkin plants wander all over the area.  They will be bright orange for Halloween. Some may be pies and some carved for jack-o-lanterns.

Pumpkins do wander

Pumpkins do wander

This will be my first Halloween.  I will give you the duck perspective later.

The Missouri River flows through Cascade.  This is the river followed by Lewis and Clark, the explorers in the early 1800s.  The river is very peaceful in good weather.

Missouri River in Cascade

Missouri River in Cascade

This view from a bridge also shows a small island in the river.  Cascade was great town with friendly people.  I like Cascade, Montana.