Saturday, June 28, 2014 White clouds hung low over the black hills in the valley as we departed the campground at 8:30. It had rained off and on overnight and was still raining a little when we woke up. By the time we were ready to start “the process” of packing up, the blue sky and sun were peeking through the clouds. The temp was a cool 56 degrees. We traveled on I-90 through the Bearlodge Mountains. There were rows and rows of snow fences lining the road.
That brought back memories of driving out West to go snow skiing in the winter for many years. The antelope were out in bigger numbers grazing throughout the hillsides.
The hills lost their trees and acquired sagebrush or tumbleweeds.
The ranches were hiding away from the highway and there were miles and miles of open range. It was wide open and the ribbon of highway seemed endless.
Traffic was very light, but the gusty, crosswind whipped through the valley making driving a little tense at times. We saw the longest train of filled coal cars headed towards the coal-fueled power plant near Gillette, WY.
Across the highway was the open-pit coal mine in operation.
It was amazing to see the layers of coal buried beneath the ground.
As we neared Buffalo, WY we got our first glimpse of the Bighorn Mountains in the distance.
The clouds were hanging low over the mountains, but we could see snow on the top of Cloud Peak (13, 167 ft.) and Penrose Peak (12, 460 ft.).
The closer we got to the mountains, the better we could see the snow-covered peaks.
As the road turned away from the mountains, it was desolate and arid in most of the area, except around the rivers, which seemed like a lush oasis.
Lake De Smet came into view as a dark blue reservoir in the middle of nowhere.
The road ran parallel to the Bighorn Mountains, weaving in and out, and traversing up and down the hills.
We encountered some light rain just this side of the Montana state line, but it didn’t last long. We did encounter more rain as we crossed the WY-MT border.
The temp dropped to 52 degrees with the rain and we experienced a pretty strong headwind. We crossed the border around 12:30 and the topography changed back to rolling hills and huge cultivated fields of wheat and alfalfa. We were now traveling through the Crow Indian Reservation.
These bikers passed us on the highway. Notice the tail sticking out of the trailer of the rider on the right.
The sun came out, but there were storms all around us. When we pulled into the 7th Ranch RV Camp at 1:30, the temp has risen to a warm 78 degrees.
We were escorted to our site and got a free “welcome” ice cream bar to boot.
Our campsite sits on the top of the hillside overlooking the valley. It’s got a beautiful view.
This is another view of our site from the rear. We are right in front of this teepee site, which seems to be common in the campgrounds in the west.
Our guide pointed out this bull snake that had taken up residence in the birdhouse with the purpose of eating their eggs. The poor birds were so upset, flying around their house, not knowing what to do. Can you see the snake with its tongue out? I didn’t want to get too close.
We settled in and the winds picked up as the storms continued to surround us, but not drop any rain.
Bob worked on removing the tar that had gotten sprayed all over the front of the trailer and on the sides of the truck from some of the road work that we had passed through on our way here. We stopped for gas near a K-Mart before arriving at the campground and picked up some tar and bug remover. That took off the tar but it was a slow, tedious process. The temp started to drop and the winds rocked the camper as I worked on my blog inside. We waited for the rain. The wind blew at 20 mph, but we never got much rain. Auggie and I sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine that finally came out. We had a later dinner inside, since the winds kept us from keeping the grill lit. After dinner, Auggie and I walked around the campground. I discovered a path that led up to the top of the hill where a flag flew.
I took the short walk and enjoyed sitting up at the top of the hill enjoying the view.
I waited for the sun to set around 9:00 and walked back to the camper. The skies were so clear.
It didn’t get dark until 9:30, so I took a short walk to look at the stars. This was our first night in Montana and I wanted to make the most of it. We’re finally here!