There were several hours of driving ahead of us and the sun was pushing the clouds away and the humidity was creeping in. Towns were scarce between the museum and Rapid City which would be the next major town I would come to, however, there were plenty of signs and billboards for the town of Wall which sounded more like a carnival than a town.
Just before Rapid City, a collection of mountains could be seen in the distance and not long afterward was a sign that pointed in that direction and said "scenic bypass". I was always up for a scenic bypass. The route took me about five to ten miles away from the interstate and just before it started there were stations ahead with a cost to enter, I was now at the Badlands. Beautiful from afar, I could only imagine what it would be like to drive through it but not knowing how long it was or where it came out I made note of the area and decided I would come back to it on my return.
A few shots were taken at a pull over before the entrance and Aria was able to get out as well. I made a u-turn and headed back to the interstate. This new route I was taking would have me spend a few miles in Wyoming before entering into Montana and continuing on to Bozeman. Things were going along fine on I90 and soon we were passing through Rapid City. The weather was being cooperative and the roads weren't seeing much in the way of traffic or construction. After leaving South Dakota I stepped into Wyoming and that was when my GPS called out a turn that I was leaving the comforts of I90 to go on a local highway.
I normally don't question the GPS in an area I was not familiar with but this turn off didn't look like any highway I was used to seeing. The road was in rough shape and the buildings were sketchy, the clouds had also returned giving the area a depressing feeling and in the background, my radio decided to play the song "Madness" by Muse. It was during this time he sang out, "or is this just maaaadness..." Sign or sarcasm as I glanced down at the radio.
I only live once so why the heck not. I followed the GPS and continued on towards, what I hoped to be, Bozeman. The route was two lane most of the way, going through small towns with twists and turns along the way. An occasional truck or logger would be seen which gave me a little comfort to know that my GPS wasn't taking me out to the middle of nowhere. It also offered some great abandoned places which had me pulling over to take photos.
Then came the section where there was no one and nothing around me. I was completely alone, queue my radio's timing to put on the radio story "On A Country Road" with Carey Grant. This radio story was from the Suspense collection, and it was about a couple out at night on a drive, a storm rolls in, and there was a report of a crazy woman with a cleaver who had escaped from a mental institute. To save time they decide to take a back road and ran out of gas. Que more sarcasm as even darker clouds rolled in and I was the only one on this road. A quick glance down at the instruments told me I had plenty of gas and everything was running smooth.
For the moment the anxiety passed and soon cars started to reappear along with more small towns. This, of course, didn't happen until the story was completely done. Eventually, I hooked back up with I90 just before Billings but before doing so I encountered some high hills and sharp turns that brought me into a town called Crow Agency. As I descended into the town off to my left was an area full of white headstones and a flow of cars pulling into the area.
As I passed, I glanced over to see a sign that said Little Big Horn National Monument. This was something I had to check out. I remembered hearing about this site but was unable to place it at the moment but it finally came back to me as this was the last stand by the Native Americans and Colonel Custer's 7th Cavalry.
It was lined with white headstones to remember all those who had fallen both the soldiers and the Native Americans. The largest cemetery was located shortly after I entered the monument, I continued the drive in and there were white headstones throughout the field marking where the person had fallen and died. There were also pull-offs and placards to tell a little more about the area.
The driving route ended high on a hill and looked over the Crow Agency, the vast fields where the battle had occurred and down on the entrance. I stepped out for a better view and as a light breeze blew passed me I couldn't help but feel sadness at the loss that had occurred here on both sides. All this bloodshed and death, a small prayer was said to all those who had fallen here before I returned to the car and headed back down.
A few miles later I passed through Billings which was a large and booming industrial city with a few mountains off in the distance. Traffic was thick when I went through but was easily manageable. Clouds were scattered since I had left Little Big Horn but the closer I got to Bozeman the thicker, fluffier and darker they became. Another storm was starting to brew and road construction had also begun which slowed down the drive.
Even though it was only my second time back to Bozeman, the location of the hotel, as well as the area, came rushing back to me as if I had lived here my whole life. The GPS was quickly turned off as I guided myself the rest of the way. I pulled into the hotel parking lot and when I stepped out it was like being hugged by an old friend. Aria and I went for our walk before settling in for the night.
I would be here for two nights and tomorrow was going to be spent taking a route that would lead me through old mining towns and abandoned places as well as get another view of the back roads of Montana. I was looking forward to it and re-checked the location when my phone started to buzz and beep. I pulled it out and saw several alerts for the area that included a snowstorm warning and a snowstorm watch. Apparently, Montana had a different plan for me.
Driving across country can bring about some interesting situations. Broken down on a day by day basis enjoy my adventures and set backs along the way to some beautiful destinations.