About Us

Chris and Dennis are traveling around the country seeing the sights and occasionally volunteering at select locations. We avoid the interstate as much as we can and tend to stop for squirrels and shiny objects.

Friday, August 28, 2015

History, Movies and no popcorn

Cell service aka internet connectivity has been sparse at best for us over the last 2 weeks so forgive this very long blog posting.

On leaving Cody we still had about 3 weeks before we were due at Flaming Gorge so a very leisurely swing by some other historical sights seemed like a good idea. Just north of us is the Little Big Horn National Monument and we would have stopped but we had already visited it during one of my cross country transfers while in the Coast Guard. Instead, we took highway 16 around the southern edge of the Big Horn range and ended up in Buffalo.

We had intended to visit the Ten Sleep museum with its collection of pioneer artifacts but unfortunately it was closed and there wasn't much to see from the outside. Probably a good thing as we needed that extra time for the Powder River Pass. No, not for the road, traffic or hill but for the stunning, magnificent scenery!

Rolling hills and sage scrub gradually gave way to pinion trees, evergreens and towering cliffs. Thankfully there was an abundance of pull-outs and we must have availed ourselves of every one of them just to stop and gawk. The pictures simply don't do it justice; the smoke haze from the northern fires had drifted in casting its depressing shadow across the landscape.

We arrived in Buffalo with the Wyoming breeze gusting to 35mph and some dark clouds on the horizon so we snagged the first RV park we could find to ride out what appeared to be a humdinger of a storm. It couldn't have been more than 5 minutes after getting set up when the RV began to rock and we could hear that pebble on the roof sound of falling rain. Sort of odd that, since the rain was actually falling SIDEWAYS.
Some of park's trees thought horizontal was the best position as well and we could hear a couple first shed some of their branches then succumb completely to the very stiff wind. Fortunately nothing was damaged and since the leaves had already been stripped by the wind, no real loss of shade either.

The next morning brought perfect traveling weather; clear, calm and cool so off we went to our first actual scheduled stop; the Massacre Hill Memorial. Also called the Fetterman Massacre after the commanding officer, the memorial recalls the loss of an entire 80 man patrol to hostile action about 10 years before Custer's famous last stand.

The terrain is very much similar to the famous site to the northwest with rolling hills blanketed in scrub sage brush, prairie grasses and the occasional tree.

Why are the most peaceful spots for self reflection also those commemorating bloody conflict?

Coming down off the high ridgeline of the memorial Chris mentioned she wanted to see that mountain Dreyfus made in the movie with his mashed potatoes. Having lived with this wonderful woman for the past 36 years I immediately knew she was referring to Devil's Tower and we were off.

Once again we got on Wyoming 14/16 and were traveling on a very well maintained and seldom traveled 2 lane highway wandering through farmland followed by a short stint on I-90 (have I mentioned I don't care for interstates?), then getting back on 14 for a short jaunt to the attraction. The storm we had experienced in Buffalo seemed to be hanging around so when we got to Devil's Tower we were taking pictures through a steady drizzle of rain. It did give the Tower an ominous look though.

We got real lucky snagging a pull-through site at the KOA campground with Devil's Tower framed in our front windshield. Not so spectacular the first evening but the next morning – breathtaking!

Part Two

As I mentioned, our cell service and connection to the internet has been very sparse lately so while I have been typing up the blog normally, the posting has just not happened.

We only stayed at Devil's tower for the night. Neither of us are rock climbers and we've already seen the movie several times (nightly showings at the campground). Returning to our original thought of looking at historical sites we headed out via Moorcroft (mentioned because $2.39/gal diesel – SCORE!!) with our next destination set for Independence Rock.

Independence Rock is like Idaho's Signature Rock only writ large. Wagon trains, hand carts and all manner of people passed by this rock migrating along the Oregon trail. The rock was named by a trapping expedition that camped out at its base one 4th of July and the Sweetwater River was named by the pioneers for its clear, clean taste after the alkali waters to the east. Passersby would carve their names and dates into the rock and while they are faded and lichen covered today, you can still make out some of them; over 150 years old.

Not far to the west of Independence Rock is Devil's Gate and just a bit more further west is Martin's Cove – our reason for coming. Both of our ancestors were pioneers who came west with the Mormon trains and we are very much interested in the where and how. While our predecessors came in wagons, others were not so fortunate and traveled the entire route pushing handcarts. In 1856, one such group, the Martin company, set out late in the year and eventually were trapped in a cove alongside the Sweetwater.

Cold, malnutrition and other factors lead to the deaths of more than 150 members – nearly a quarter of the company. The Mormon Handcart Historical Center commemorates this event and also the raw courage demonstrated by those who made the trek with only a two wheeled cart to haul their belongings.

Staying at a nearby RV park we were treated to wildlife up close and personal. Apparently our site was on the regular daily migration route of the local antelope, the playground for innumerable rabbits, and the feeding lot for the ruffed grouse. Several times when I opened the door to get something out of the basement I managed to startle one type of critter or another.

Our trip continued westward and we visited the grave of Sacajawea near Fort Washakie and had lunch at the Hack Memorial. It was at the Hack Memorial we were actually able to smell the smoke that was so heavy and preventing any pictures. The smoke stayed with us all the way to Jackson Hole (which didn't seem to slow down the hordes of tourists) and it wasn't until we found our
boondock site at Hoback campground that we had “clear” air.

I'm now writing this blog on the banks of the Bear River just north of Preston, Idaho. Its been five days since we were at Hoback campground and I've just managed to snag some connectivity to get this posted up. For the history buffs, take a look at this area and look up the Bear River Massacre. Probably never heard of it but I bet you've heard of Wounded Knee.

Sunday we'll be heading out to the Red Canyon Visitor Center at Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. We're both extremely excited to do our first volunteer gig and who knows, there just may be cell and internet service.