Day 32 - Chico Hot Springs & Little Bighorn Battlefield

Published: July 18th 2010
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Thank goodness we were able to sleep late this morning and no one came knockin' on the door to kick us out. That drive last night was exhausting and we were so tired and the extra sleep this morning was great. We eventually got out of bed and began our daily routine. Soon we were ready to leave the rest area in Crown Springs, Montana and head over to the Chico Hot Springs in a small town called Pray. On the drive over to Pray, Tim spotted a little coffee drive-thru so we pulled in to get him a cup of joe. As we were walking over to Poppy's Coffee Barn we spotted a place called the Old Saloon and thought we would check it out. The nice lady at Poppy's told us how incredible the food was at the Old Saloon so we decided to stay for breakfast. It was so was a bar/saloon where you could sit and have the most delicious breakfast you've ever tasted. There was an old local cowboy there named Leroy and he was oh so happy to tell us all about his quaint little town. He was the cutest thing.........I just wanted to take him home with us. His breakfast consisted of about six $1.00 draft Bud Lights and he was a talkative little thing. He told us about growing up there and all about the good ole days and how things used to be. Eventually our food arrived so Leroy made his way outside and sat quietly on the wooden bench waving to anyone who walked by. You could tell he had some good stories and I wish we would have had all day to sit and talk to him but we had to finish up our scrumptious breakfast and get on over to Chico Hot Springs. Tim paid the tab and off we went. We stopped by Poppy's on the way back to the motorhome and got Tim a latte for the road and me a cup of hot huckleberry tea. Everything up here is made with huckleberries and I do mean everything. They have huckleberry syrup, huckleberry chocolate bars, huckleberry jelly, huckleberry bread, huckleberry taffy and they even have huckleberry hot sauce !! It reminds me of being up in the New England states last Summer where everything was made with blueberries. Chico Hot Springs was just a hop, skip and jump away from the Old Saloon so it only took a few minutes to get there. An old childhood friend of mine had been to Pray, Montana for her honeymoon a few years ago and she told me all about the hot springs and said we should really check it out. We pulled into Chico Hot Springs and found a parking place near the main lodge. This place is like a private little resort nestled in the mountains and it was almost like a little secret hide-a-way. Tim and I headed out on foot to explore the grounds and check everything out. There is a main lodge onsite where you can reserve a room for just one night or for as long as you would like. They also offer mountainside private cabins if you prefer a little more privacy. As we continued to walk around we came upon the horse stables where you can go on a guided tour or they will saddle up a horse for you and send you on your way. Behind the stables you will find a beautiful garden full of any kind of flower you could ever imagine. There are benches throughout so you can just sit and enjoy the peace, quiet and sunshine. A few steps away you will find their own private wine cellar where you can request any bottle you would like. We actually purchased a bottle to take back home with us. There's a very nice gift shop along with a secondary lodge that has several rooms available to rent. We soon came upon the actual hot springs pool which sits in the center of the lodge. It looked just like a normal swimming pool............nothing like what I expected. I was thinking since it was a hot spring it would be more natural and maybe in the woods or something but it wasn't. It looks just like a regular pool and it is until you step into the steaming hot water. The water in the smaller pool gets up to 107 degrees which felt like boiling water on a stove but the water in the larger pool gets up to 98 or so. It feels more like a hot sauna or something. It was really neat and another thing to check off of our list of things we need to see. Chico Hot Springs is a very nice resort and we talked about maybe coming up at another time and staying for a week or so. Well, it was time to say goodbye and get back on the road. Our next destination was Little Bighorn Battlefield over in Crows Agency, Montana. It had been a while since I learned all about Custer and his people so I had to get online and refresh my memory. As I looked up all the facts about the battle at Little Bighorn, Tim pulled off the highway at a truck stop and got Big Bertha's oil changed. It was a little over due so he took the opportunity to get it done while we could. We had driven over 8,000 miles and we just couldn't push it any longer. It's weird to think that you can drive a vehicle far enough in a few weeks to need the oil changed when back at home it takes months to drive far enough before the oil needs changing. It only took the truck stop about 20 minutes and they were done. I thought to myself, that was very quick and painless and we were right back on the road. On our drive over to Crows Agency, we came across the Greycliff Prairie Dog Town so we just had to stop and check it out. Of course the first thing Tim does is grab the jar of peanuts and load up his pockets. He thinks he is Dr. Dolittle but these little rascals were about to teach him a lesson or two. He chased them around that field tossing peanuts here and there and they just ignored him and ran deep into their holes in the ground. This must have went on for over 30 minutes before he decided to give up. The prairie dogs were not being very friendly and I'm pretty sure they were happy once I dragged Tim to the motorhome and we exited the park. It was quite comical actually watching him chase them around and try to trick them into coming over to him for a peanut. Well that was a nice little break and I was glad to be able to get out and stretch my legs for a while. We drove and drove, and by we, I mean Tim, until we finally made it to Little Bighorn Battlefield. By the time we got there, I had done so much research I was spouting out facts left and right. Tim didn't even need to pick up the park's brochure but of course he did. The actual battle took place over a five mile radius so we followed the map and drove through the battlefield. It was weird to see all the headstones throughout the hillsides marking the spots where Custer's men were killed. Although I have to say I have no idea what the land looked like back in 1876 but it was absolutely breathtaking today. I tried to imagine what must have been going through the minds of Custer and his soldiers as they were being attacked. We stood on Last Stand Hill where they met their fate that hot day in June so many years ago and it was very surreal. After driving through the five miles they traveled those two days we made our way back to the National Cemetery to check it out. Tim read the pamphlet to me explaining everyone who was buried there and why and how they got there and all that stuff and then we went inside to the museum. We walked around soaking up all the history and taking a few pictures and then our tour was over. On the way out of the park we came across a field full of beautiful horses so we pulled over to admire them. Almost immediately after we pulled off the road, two of the horses began to battle with each other. It was the craziest thing ever. They were biting each other and kicking and making weird noises. I thought they were going to kill each other but Tim said they do that all the time and they would be okay. We watched in awe and snapped several unbelievable pictures before making our way on down to the Little Bighorn Restaurant just outside the park. We played around in the tipi's out front and then we headed inside for some dinner. Tim had the chicken tenders with fries and I had a taco salad that was great. I was so full but I had to order some of the homemade huckleberry frybread just to satisfy my curiosity. It was delicious !! I'm telling you........they will make anything out of huckleberries !! We had a long day driving all the way from Crown Springs to Crows Agency but our journey today was not over yet. We had to make it all the way to Sheridan before we could stop. Tim and Big Bertha did a great job getting us to the Sheridan Wal-Mart safely and that's where we were staying the night. Once again, I have no idea what's in store for tomorrow but I'm sure it will be another great adventure. Night night !

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