DAY 36 - TRIP OF "FIRSTS"
As we pulled into our first sightseeing stop of the day, on our way to Billings MT, we noted a sign that said, "America's First National Monument - Devil's Tower". The day before, we'd been to America's first national park to protect a cave, Wind Cave. After going through the very small museum/visitor center, we set out on the Tower Trail, a 1.3 mi hike that would take us all the way around Devil's Tower. On the trail, we didn't meet any wildlife, but we did get to observe, albeit from afar, a set of 5 or 6 climbers on the face of the tower. We could hear them like they were in the next room, though they were about halfway up the tower.
Between Devil's Tower and the next stop in Montana, we experienced a brief "thud" with the engine falling out of gear and immediately jumping back into gear. This is different from the problems we experienced in Bismarck, though we've experienced this before, wondering again about a sensor. However, there were no electrical interferences that were observable.
Back on the 90, heading for Billings, we pulled through Gillette and discovered a coal mine at the side of the road.
This was the first trip in which we have attempted to see two places and still drive 450 miles on the day we did so. Our second stop was at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. This was not on the original trip plan at all. Hubby happened to say, when we were in Custer State Park, that someday he'd like to see where Custer's Last Stand took place. I looked it up, saw that it was right on the way (1/2 mile from I-90) to Billings, so we left early that day (6 am) in order to have time to see it. We spent about 2-1/4 hours there, getting to see the movie, do the 5-mile drive and visiting both the Indian Memorial and to a lesser extent, the Cemetery. It was very similar to Gettysburg and Vicksburg, but on a far smaller scale, of course. It made us both remember that the Native Americans got a raw deal.
Situated in an EconoLodge in Billings, MT, we went for a short "swim" then a warmer dunk in a hot tub, did dinner, and then relaxed and discussed the next day's plans, the approach to Yellowstone National Park. This was a reserved room with the special request for a first floor room "please", but they still attempted to give us a 2nd floor room. We are still trying to figure out why every motel attempts to give us a 2nd floor room even though we have requested a first floor room, are in "fairly" early (5:45 pm or earlier), and we have reserved. It's very frustrating. If there's an elevator, we really do not mind. But carrying a heavy suitcase or two up a couple of flights of stairs is not something we really want to do, and we leave early enough to feel sorry for the people below us who hear us thump around at 5 am and roll suitcases around before 6 am. Usually we have to explain that to the check-in folks. Grrrrr!