We were interested in the status of the Yellowstone River which had reached flood level from the warm temperatures and rapid snow melt
. The Yellowstone River starts, obviously, in Yellowstone Park and runs into North Dakota. For most of its journey it follows the Interstate. We saw, in many places, where it had overflowed its banks -- not much, but enough to having different officials watching along the way. There is still a lot of snow in the mountains, so I presume those living along the banks are still watching.
After a couple of hours on I-90, we left it for Highway 212 which cut across the southeast corner of Montana, the northeast corner of Wyoming, and into South Dakota. We stopped at the Battle of Little Bighorn National Monument where Custer died after attempting to slaughter the regions aboriginal population. A very sad place... both for the soldiers who died and for the aboriginal people who fought for their land and although they won the battle still ended up on reservations and facing continued attempts at annihilation. We didn't linger long ... I didn't like the feeling, overwhelming depression and not the same satisfaction/awe I usually have when I visit historically significant places. It took me quite a while to shake the feeling... as we traveled further east down Highway 212 we passed through First Nations Reservations and the sense of what had occurred at Little Bighorn was sustained.
A couple of hours later we entered Belle Fourche and followed highway 85 south back onto I90
. A few miles later we were back off the Interstate and on 85 again as we drove into Deadwood, on the edge of the Black Hills. Now here is an impressive entrance to a small town (population around 1500). First you climb a very high hill, and then you follow the 7% grade down, down, down, into a town which looks like it still in the late 1800s. Our hotel was the First Gold Hotel - on the site where gold was first found in the region. Nice hotel. Great room. And only $49 a night! Now, that was a deal! Parking was in an indoor parkade and our room was in the new annex. After getting settled we went for a walk downtown and checked out the historic downtown and some of the casinos. Really a neat place. We walked back to our hotel for a late supper - the food was okay - but really huge portions. My teriyaki chicken could have fed our entire family ... I left more than I ate - in fact it was hard to see what I had eaten! N's chicken fried steak took up most of his plate - too much to eat, too. Finally, we headed up to our room ready for a good night's sleep and an early morning of exploring the Black Hills.
We left Gardiner Montana (and Yellowstone Park) early in the morning with plans to grab breakfast in Livingstone before entering the I-90 Interstate. It was a beautiful, quiet drive down the mountain and into the valley. We were on the lookout for deer which tend to wander onto the highway. We saw many in the fields along the roadway, but were lucky none crossed in front of us. We hit Livingstone, and after gassing up got recommendations for a breakfast stop. Clark's Crossing was just a block or so from the gas station so we headed there. Named after explorers (Lewis and) Clark, we loved the coffee.... and that was the end of the good meal. They mixed up our orders and Neil's toast came unbuttered while mine was soaking in it (yecch!). For some reason Neil got the orange slice garnish, and I got nothing. My hash browns were partially cooked and Neil's was overcooked. Both our bacon order had been deep-fried, not grilled. Yecch again! We were glad to leave ... adding this experience to our best/worst list we're compiling at the end of the trip.