The drive to Billings was through grassy, rolling hills covered with crops nearly ready for harvest and wildlife, with the occasional vista along the way. We saw a lot of deer, bison and pronghorn in the fields, with three large birds that are as of yet undefined (believed to be sand hill cranes – lifer!).
Stopped for lunch at a fishing access spot and ran into a cigar-smoking dentist with waders on and heading into the river. He gave us directions to the Tobacco Row cigar shop in Billings. Got to like fishing dentists. We visited Pompey Pillars, the place Clark (of Lewis and Clark) carved his name in the rock over-looking the river in 1806 during his return trip east. It is the only known sign they left along the way during their journey. Besides the historic rock graffiti, the visitor center was a pretty interesting building inside.
Next stop was Little Bighorn battlefield, where Custer and the 900 men that made up the 7th Cav met Sitting Bulls and 20,000 upset Sioux. The June 1876 outcome (just 70 years after Lewis and Clark passed through the same area) was pretty much a given due to the numbers and home field advantage. Questionable tactics led to Custer’s and about 50% of the 7th Cav’s fate on Last Stand Hill.
It was a reflective experience to walk the area, and in 1991 the Sioux were given approval to add a monument to honor their side of the battle. That word of the defeat reached Washington, DC during the 100-year anniversary celebrations did not bode well for the Sioux in the months that followed Little Bighorn.
We then took off for Yellowstone and a beautiful drive through the Beartooth wilderness area. Another high altitude pass with incredible vistas. This is an area to visit again and check out some of the dirt roads we saw on the other side of the valley heading into the hills – perfect for the Roamer. We passed another Earthroamer going the opposite direction on the pass road.