Last man standing?

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Flag of United States  , Montana
Tuesday, October 23, 2007

For the first time on our RV travels we decided on a sightseeing stop between campsites. Leaving Billings we made our way to the "Little Big Horn". This is the site of the famous battle we know as "Custer's Last Stand". Again we found ourselves standing on ground that we knew so well from the movies. Not a movie, these things are real, you see the place, the artifacts, actual peoples accounts (from both sides). Then you walk the battleground, looking over the same terrain the soldiers and Indian tribes (mostly Lakota and Cheyenne) fought over.
To the East there is a mountain range, some 14 miles away. This is where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry saw the Indian camp down in the Little Bighorn Valley. Approaching, Custer divided his men to advance on the encampment from different flanks. There is a detailed account of the fighting if you go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Little_Bighorn However it ended up with Custer and about 260 men being wiped out by over 2000 Indians on quite a small hill at the end of about a 5mile ridge (bluff) overlooking the river. What amazed me is that even though the fighting had been over all of that 5 mile area it was actually so easy to visualize and reading the accounts made it clear how difficult conditions were. Walking the site there are markers showing where soldiers and warriors fell,
you begin to question the rights and wrongs of what happened. Not getting into all of that, what is right is that we preserve sites like this and that we do tell the story - this was done very well, with both sides being represented. There is much to learn - but do we ever?





One thing we did learn is; always keep a lookout - whilst in the Indian Memorial we saw a snake peering out from behind one of the stone plaques,
 
 we were told it was "just a bullhead" not sure if this should have reassured us or not? Then whilst out on the farthest part of the battlefield, we were intent on looking out for the points of interest in our tour guide booklet, when there came a very pronounced rattling sound on the ground to our right. Betsy froze and I turned round to see that I had just passed within 18" of a rattlesnake. This had spooked it and it was now reared up and rattling like a box of dried peas about to explode. I told Betsy to walk slowly towards me giving the snake a wide berth (I don't think I actually had to tell her that last bit). She did, we're both still here and I got the picture too, I had to just check the reality of it and managed to get the picture from about 6 feet away - with hindsight I'm not sure that was far enough away.
 
We made our retreat and got back safely to toad glad to say it wasn't Malcolm & Betsy's last stand too. We have seen rattlers both in zoos and as specimens in a number of exhibitions as we have travelled but this one was the largest (it would be wouldn't it) I reckon it to have been at least 4 foot long!
We continued our journey to Sheriden, WY. This, would you believe was our first Wal-Mart stop over! So all in all a journey of many firsts, at least one of which we hope not to repeat.
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