Devils Tower

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August 29th 2006
Published: September 3rd 2006
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Day 25 - August 29, 2006

Tuesday, August 29

Driving from Worland, we went thru Big Horn National Forest. There are many signs on the road dating the rock on the cliffs, some as old as 3 billion years old (or so they say; extrapolation on that scale boggles my puny statistician mind). For example:

Granite Gneiss - Pre Cambien, 3 Billion Years Old

Interesting names along the way: TenSleep Emporium: More Odds Than Ends; Ten Sleep Pop. 304; Ten Sleep Snowmobile Grass Drags; Crazy Woman Road; Poison Creek Road; Tie Hack Road; and Broken Boot Campground (this one is in South Dakota). (just how does one break a boot?)

In Wyoming, most of the highways have cattle guards at their entrances and on-ramps. I guess this is because cattle are free to “range” wherever they choose. (You don’t even see this in Texas, where the cattle population is high as well.)

We came to Devils Tower (no apostrophe because someone dropped it in the “official” proclamation of the park). As we all know, bureaucratic mistakes rarely get corrected. Devils Tower National Monument is celebrating its 100th year anniversary. This was the very first national monument
Leaning Tower of AustinLeaning Tower of AustinLeaning Tower of Austin

He couldn't quite hold his pose, but a great shot anyway
in the U.S. (Yellowstone was the first national park (1872), and I believe Shoshone was the first national forest (1891)). Shoshone was set aside as part of the Yellowstone Timberland Reserve.

Devils Tower is in the middle of nowhere in WY. At this site, you are advised to stay on the path because this is sacred ground for the Indians. (It doesn’t hurt that there are also rattlesnakes.) Devils Tower is pretty amazing. It seems to be a tubed rock mass that just pushed its way up thru the ground. Which, as it turns out, is probably what happened, courtesy of volcanic activity. (There is no valley behind Devils Tower as shown in the move Close Encounters, just in case you are wondering.) There were some climbers on the side, but it is quite dangerous. (You have to use cracks and crevices, no more pitons.) (Note that vultures circle the tower so they can feed on any unfortunate climber who falls.) Robert and Austin climbed up massive boulders to get up to the base of the actual tower. You have to get permission (and probably sign your life away) to go beyond that line (you need to be certified or have a guide to take you). Scott and I also climbed up part of the way. The size of the boulders makes it strenuous.

On the way out of Devils Tower National Monument, we stopped to watch the prairie dogs. They are amusing and actually do bark (in a high-pitched sort of way) to warn each other. We even caught two of them kissing. (Or was that the camera angle - you decide.)

We drove from Devils Tower to Sundance, WY hoping to get a meal there (yes, that’s the place where Harry Longbaugh got his alias Sundance Kid). Unfortunately, they really do not have a place to eat there. Instead, we ate at Millstone Restaurant in Spearfish, SD. We should have had a clue when we walked into the restaurant and saw at least 50 plaques all starting with “In Memory of …”. We were too tired to comprehend. It didn’t escape our notice that just by entering the restaurant, we lowered the average age by about 25 years. Competing with the mostly lackluster food, was our dull-witted waitress who, when asked what the restaurant’s specialty was, responded with the recitation of the day’s specials (again). The fried chicken was okay, but took a half hour to cook. This was one restaurant that the family gave an unanimous thumbs down. (It didn’t help that elderly patrons passing the table would point at our food, almost literally sticking their fingers in it.)

We left via a steep driveway that Scott dragged the RV end all the way down and headed to Badlands National Park. Badlands is another terrific place to look at the stars. We stayed at the Badlands/White River KOA. The owners have been there 3 years and are re-doing a lot of the infrastructure. Mini-golf was great, the course was amusing and well-kept (unlike so many others). And it was only $2. This would be a great place to re-visit.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


Kings of the BouldersKings of the Boulders
Kings of the Boulders

Robert and Austin succeeded in climbing as high as possible without a permit being required
Kings of the BouldersKings of the Boulders
Kings of the Boulders

The descent was a bit quicker
Prairie DogsPrairie Dogs
Prairie Dogs

Who is it now?
Prairie DogsPrairie Dogs
Prairie Dogs

Take the picture already!
Prairie DogsPrairie Dogs
Prairie Dogs

Kissing cousins

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