In our first year on the road, we headed to Wyoming for the solar eclipse. We had taken time to explore the area and discovered the legend of the Jackalope. On our travels north from Golden, CO we returned to Douglas, WY for one night staying at the Douglas KOA. Though we searched the area around the campground and saw lots of bunnies we did not see the elusive jackalope!
The next day we drove on to Sheridan, WY for a weeklong stay the Sheridan KOA. This park is also in a great location with easy access to town and the surrounding attractions. After our busy week in Colorado and due to the unseasonably high temperatures, we spent more time just relaxing at the park than we did sightseeing, but we did get out for a couple of adventures.
We took one day and drove out to Fort Phil Kearny and the Wagon Box Battleground. I have always had mixed feelings going to these Indian battlegrounds as I have always felt bad about how our white ancestors had stolen the land from the natives. This time I read a quote on one of the information boards at the Fort that has changed how I look at these sites. An Indian woman was quoted as saying to not look on these sites and see the death and destruction but to look and see the courage and bravery that it would have taken on both sides to face their enemies.
From the fort we drove on through Story, WY (gotta love the name!) where they must have been having their yearly yard sales as nearly every home was participating. After lunch in Sheridan at the Rib & Chop House, our last stop for the day was at the Brinton Museum in Big Horn, WY. This was an unexpected find out in the middle of the foothills of the Big Horn mountains. The museum is on the historic 620 acres Quarter Circle A Ranch and presents 19th-21st century Western and American Indian art and artifacts. They have the original ranch house full of antiques as well as a modern building housing the art. We took a very informative tour learning about Bradford Brinton and his time spent in Wyoming.
Sheridan has a wonderful park system with a beautiful paved trails which we could access from the RV Park. We took one afternoon to get out on the bikes to try to extend the time my shoulder would put up with my riding. I’m happy to say it did not bother me at all on the 6-mile ride! I also spent several days in the pool trying to beat the heat and exercising the shoulder.
We took another driving tour, this time of the Big Horn Mountains. We drove up to Ranchester and got on WY 14 and headed west to Shell Falls with lots of stops on the way for the scenic views and a stop at Sibley Lake to take a hike on the trails around the lake. With the spring rains and storms that have been moving through this area the falls were quite impressive!
After our stop at the falls, we continued on the Big Horn Scenic Hwy to Greybull. Just as we were coming into the town, we had one of the typical windstorms come up that tried to push the car off the road. So glad we were not in the RV! We decided it would be a good time to stop for lunch, so we braved the winds and ducked into Lisa’s Café and waited out the storm. It blew through pretty quickly, so we got back on the road after lunch and headed over to the Cloud Peak Skyway to head back to Sheridan.
As our week closed out, we got back on the road and continued heading north. Our next stop was at a Harvest Host Tongue River Winery in Miles City, MT. We are coming to find out we are really not boondockers. We have found that just like this winery, the Harvest Host sites are not always easily accessible, and the wineries overstate the size of RVs that can fit down their roads especially when they have weight limited bridges. It was a tight squeeze getting into the Winery and since it was still quite hot, we spent an uncomfortable afternoon. We did have a nice wine tasting and not only got a couple of bottles for ourselves, but we also sent some to the kids. One of the other issues with boondocking for us is that our coach is an all-electric coach. Since we do not have solar panels yet (Jon is waiting for the technology to improve) we have to run our generator in order to use our A/Cs and to cook on the induction cooktop. We did have a nice walk around the winery and neighborhood, went out to dinner at the Range Rider’s Café at the Trails Inn, and it did cool off overnight so we could get some sleep.
The next day we squeezed the coach down the back two lane roads to get around a weight restricted bridge and then headed east. Our lunch stop was at the Painted Valley Visitor Center for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was an unexpected visit to the national park as it is also just a rest area on I94. We normally get out to stretch our legs at the rest areas but this time we were able to take a great hike down into the valley. Unfortunately, what goes down must come up! We did see our first buffalo of this trip and luckily, he was out of the valley by the time we got down to the bottom.
While we were at the rest area having lunch and taking our hike, we discussed our next stop. It was supposed to be another winery without hookups, and we really didn’t want to spend another night running the generator to keep
cool. We realized we were only 3 hours from Bismarck, ND where we had reservations for our next weeklong stay. We called ahead and found we could get into the Bismarck KOA early, so we canceled our Harvest Host stay and drove a bit further than normal to be able to be comfortable. Since we had changed our reservation at the KOA, we had to go into a site for one night and then move over to the site we would be in for a week the next morning. The nuisance of moving was completely outweighed by the delightful air conditioning in the 90° heat.
There are always items we need to keep track of on the road and that includes the number of miles we put on our tires. The Jeep odometer read 47, 468 miles but because it is flat towed the tires had 86,000 miles on them! Time for a change so we found a local tire dealer and got 4 new tires.
Now that things are starting to open up, we continued our tradition of finding a minor league baseball game. This time we actually found the Norwood Summer College Development League and spent a fun night at the Bismarck Larks & Eau ClaireExpress game watching young college players honing their skills. BTW the Eau Clairs won!
Our second outing had us going back in history to the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. This fort sits on the site of a Mandan Indian village, and they have done a beautiful job recreating the On-a-Slant Village. We took a ranger guided tour of the village learning about the life of the natives on the Missouri and Heart Rivers. Once the fort was built in 1824 this area was used by the Army to primarily protect the workers building the Northern Pacific Railroad. By the 1870’s it was home to the infamous 7th Calvary, led by none other than Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer. It was from this fort that Custer would lead his men into the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The state park has also reconstructed a replica of the Custer’s home on the exact spot they had lived, you can even see the original root cellar on the tour of the house. I really liked the young man who was our first-person tour guide who took us back to 1876 and what it was like for George and Elizabeth, on what was at the time, the Western Frontier.
Our last excursion was to take a Lewis & Clark Riverboat BBQ dinner tour of the Missouri River. How could we not spend a little time refreshing our memories of the Lewis & Clark Expedition when we were right in the heart of what was the Louisiana Purchase, they were sent to explore.
Next up we continue heading east to Minnesota and Wisconsin!