A few last words about Devils Tower Lodge – it has incredible proximity to the tower. Otherwise you have to stay about 9 miles away. So even though Frank, the owner, was talkative and eccentric and the room was not as clean as I would have liked, I think I’m glad we stayed there. As John wrote in the guest book, “It was a unique experience, not one we will forget.”
Along with proximity to Devils Tower, there are also lovely grounds and outbuildings.
At Devils Tower there’s also a prairie dog town. They get very agitated when you walk by. We were barked at by lots of prairie dogs.
After leaving Devils Tower we stopped at the Aladdin Coal Tipple, an historic site. It is the last remaining wooden coal tipple. Mostly we had to stop because we didn’t know what a tipple was. In case you don’t know, it’s a chute that uses gravity to get the coal down from the mine and sorts it according to size.
Mid-afternoon we arrived at Mt. Rushmore. I asked John what we were going to do there. He responded, look at a giant head, then look at another giant head, etc. Actually the museum and video were more interesting.
So we are making our way east. It’s only taken over two weeks to get to South Dakota. We are staying at Audries Abend Haus cottages. Our cottage is named Heinrich. George mentioned that we were the only people he knew who stayed in accommodations named after infamous WW2 guys (as in Himmler.) Our cottage has a bison head in it. It also has lots of warning signs like don’t turn the air conditioner past 6, don’t throw things down the toilet, don’t have visitors, no children, unplug the coffee pot and more and more.
The cottage has no internet and no phone so posting will be spotty for the next few days. We are currently at the library at the South Dakota School for Mining and Technology. We stopped on our way to the Museum of Geology which is on the campus.
We left Worland and traveled through the Big Horn Mountains on our way to Devils Tower. The ride through the mountains was really pretty, a sort of alpine scene with towering evergreens and meadows full of lupine.
When we reached Gillette, we were hoping to take a coal mine tour. Unfortunately the tours were at 9 and 11 and we got there at 12:30. So we had some lunch and continued on to Devils Tower.
Devils Tower is this monolith rising 1200 ft. above the surrounding area. It is actually magma that pushed up through the surrounding rock and cooled while still beneath the surface. Then the softer rock eroded away over time leaving this otherworldly tower. It is striated with 5,6, and 7 sided columns. In the rockfall you can see all these rocks with 120 degree surfaces. John and I do the loop trail around the tower. Very cool.
It’s a real mecca for rock climbers which brings me to our accommodations. We are staying at the Devils Tower Lodge. It is a prefab house which used to be the head park ranger’s quarters – so not so luxurious. It’s run by Frank who is a dedicated climber. He is quite garrulous. We are the only guests. The other couple who was supposed to be here had car trouble and didn’t make it.
John and I are as friendly as we can possibly be. Frank tells us a lot about climbing. The three of us have dinner together that Frank has made. It is quite good, a lentil stew and salad with biscuits. It’s like home cooking. Frank talks. We eat. Frank talks some more. We eat some more. Frank talks some more. We eat dessert to be polite. Around 9:15 (dinner was at 7), Frank gets a phone call. We scurry into our room and lay on the bed like beached whales. Are we not cut out for this B and B thing?
Today we did the Hazelton Road/Cloud Peak Skyway Loop. We started out driving out of Worland towards Ten Sleep, Wyoming. The first stop along the route was at Castle Gardens, a twelve-mile detour down a dirt road. At Castle Gardens there were many sandstone hoodoos, rock that has been transformed into odd shapes by wind and ice.
Along the way we saw pronghorn antelope, even a family with a baby. The hills are beautifully green with lots of wildflowers. On our way to a picnic site we came across a flock of sheep being guarded by a llama. I didn’t know this (but John did) that llamas are employed as sheepherders because they are unafraid of the usual predators of sheep. There was a dog there as well but he seemed to be resting while the llama was at full alert and started herding the sheep away from us.
We got to a beautiful campground with picnic tables to have our lunch. The ground was covered with lupine and small white flowers.
We continued our ascent until we reached Powder River Pass, almost at the tree line at 9666 feet. I didn’t do too much exploring there as the altitude made my lungs unhappy.
From there we descended into Ten Sleep for some postcard and ice cream buying at Dirty Sally’s. Ten Sleep is a really small town with a population of about 450. It is named Ten Sleep because it was half way between a twenty days walk from one major Indian gathering point to another.
I am not sure what our internet possibilities will be for the next 5 days. Hopefully, I’ll find somewhere to post but if nothing appears for the next few days, keep checking.
WHISPERING GIANTS AND THE FRUSTRATION OF NO INTERNET OR WIMBLEDON
Today we got up early to play tennis. Since it’s been quite hot here we wanted to get out before the temperature was in the 80s. After playing for about 45 minutes, a guy came who was the tennis program director and told us that he was holding a tennis clinic for kids on the courts. He was very nice and told us to go over to the high school where there were more courts. He also invited us to come play Tuesday evening with their league. Everyone here in Worland that we’ve met has been friendly and hospitable.
Later we went to the library where they have wireless internet service. For some reason because it was a secured network John couldn’t get on but I had no problem. I posted my blog and downloaded some pictures and looked at the tennis scores from Wimbledon. How frustrating it is not to be able to watch on TV! It’s like if your favorite football team were on TV but you were blacked out for every game. Grrrr! I doubt if we will be able to see it in our next two accommodations either.
On the way over to the Visitor’s Information to get some pamphlets on scenic tours in the area, we looked at the wood carving of a Whispering Giant. There are a series of 36 giant Native Americans throughout the West. We also stopped to take a couple of pictures at the Pioneer Park of a tribute to the canal diggers who made the irrigation of this valley possible.
Then we went off in search of a geologic formation called the Whales. They are supposed to look like giant eels or whales swimming out of the rock. The directions were to take a road heading south out of Worland for about 10 miles. Well, we tried a lot of roads, state highways, county roads, BLM dirt roads and as much as we used our imagination we couldn’t find any whales.
Today we take care of stuff. There is laundry to do and grocery shopping. Also we need to find an internet site. So we drive around Worland, me with my computer on my lap, trying to pick up a signal. It was probably made more difficult seeing as how it’s Sunday. BLM office, nope. McDonald’s, no. High school, no signal. We get a lot of people’s personal signals but none are strong enough. Wait, what’s this? The Super 8, three bars! We pull into their parking lot and I thought we’d sit in the car and use their signal. But it was hot (and who knew that Wyoming would be so hot, about 100 each day we’ve been here) so John goes in and asks if we can sit in the lobby. No problem. So we are able to catch up on mail and, of course, the all-important blogging.
After that we drive around Worland a bit. We check out the fields being watered by giant Zimmatic machines. The picture here is pretty much what this area looks like.
Worland is in a river valley that grows sugar beets, corn and barley. The barley is for Coors beer. There’s a big Coors grain elevator just outside of town. They also mine bentonite here. It is used in cat litter. Later we find tennis courts. They are Astroturf with sand as a top dressing, a new surface for us. We plan on playing Monday.
I am including some pictures of our charming cottage. Even though the stove doesn’t really work well enough to cook dinner and the bedroom is a bit cramped, I would recommend the Herzburg Hideaway if you happen to be traveling through Worland, Wyoming.
At the back of the cottage, there is a large garden, a picnic table and chairs and also a wagon full of geraniums.
This is the living room. The television only has basic cable. Since there is no internet and no Weather Channel, we actually have to go outside to discover what the weather is like!
Finally here is our eensy bedroom. I have to crawl over John to get out of bed to go to the old-timey bathroom. It’s like I’ve been transported back to my childhood house.
I am posting this a day late because when we got to our next lodgings there was no internet! So this afternoon (Sunday) John and I got in the car and I turned my computer on and we drove around looking for signal. Currently we are sitting in the lobby of the Super 8 Motel. The people here were nice enough to let us use their signal even though we are not staying here.
But on to yesterday’s adventures…
After a bad night of my not breathing well, we decided to depart a day early for the lower altitude of Worland, WY. I think a combination of breathing a lot of gases from the geothermal features, the altitude, and the exertion irritated my lungs. So I am coughing and a little breathless today.
On our way out of Yellowstone (which took forever. People! It’s only elk!), we were impeded by a herd of bison. Once again they ignored the warning signs about keeping away from humans and walked within ten feet of our car. There must have been twenty or more, and babies too. Very cute but a little scary that they were so close to the car. Mother bison can be very protective.
Then we went on to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. It was amazing! It is a very deep, colorful gorge with two waterfalls from the Yellowstone River. On the way out you descend down about 3500 feet. They are doing road construction on this piece of the road right now so it was all gravelly with no guardrails. It’s not my favorite place to be. There are no pictures since I wasn’t looking.
We got to Worland around 5ish. The Herzberg Hideaway where we are staying is a charming little cottage set in a large yard with lots of flowers and trees. The house itself is filled with country-type antiques – old canisters, photos, dolls and even a handmade quilt. Although I think it was probably constructed for smaller people with less stuff, we are finding ways to fit ourselves
Big drawback is no internet! Tomorrow John and I are going to troll around town with our laptops to see if we can pick up a signal somewhere.
Today we spent looking at waterfalls, geysers, fumeroles and mud pots. This is a picture of a mud pot. You can see the mud flying up into the air. The surface is reminiscent of Mario Batali’s description of spaghetti sauce reaching blupanage. We hiked around several of the sites such as Artist’s Paintpots and the whole Norris complex. About 2 PM we decided we were geothermaled out. Tomorrow we are heading west out of West Yellowstone to see some Lewis and Clark stuff.
Today John and I toured the lower loop of Yellowstone National Park. Right away we saw bison. We pulled in and I took probably ten pictures of the bison as they got closer and closer. Then I put a car between myself and the bison. Little did I know that we would see lots of bison and that while people are supposed to keep 75 ft. between them and the bison, no one seemed to have told the bison about staying 75 ft. away.
We also saw elk. In fact by the end of the day we were commenting, “People, it’s only elk, keep moving!”
There were so many wonderful geothermal features. My favorite one was Prismatic Lake. The steam rises up in all the colors of the rainbow due to the multicolored rock. It’s amazing to think that all this activity is going on under your feet. It’s like walking on a time bomb. We also saw many geysers from ones just sending bubbles to the surface of a pond to Old Faithful which shoots up about 180 ft. By the end of the day these geezers were geysered out.
Tomorrow we do the upper loop.Hopefully by the end of tomorrow we won’t be saying, “People, keep moving. It’s only a bison!”
This morning we bade a fond farewell to Teton Springs and traveled on to Grand Teton National Park.
So here’s a funny story (at least to us.) Many years ago we were traveling in Arizona and we came across pointy mountains named Dos Cabezas. What could cabezas mean? We decided that cabezas must mean breasts because that’s what the mountains looked like. Hah, were we stupid! Cabezas means heads. But now, here in Wyoming we have found the real cabezas, I mean tits. Because that is what Tetons means.
We drove through the park and found a place for a scenic picnic. We had some leftover organic sausage and some yummy Grandma’s bread from Bountiful, Ut. It was quite idyllic.
We also learned some amazing geology here. The uplift of the Tetons was simultaneous with a sinking of the valley floor. The actual distance between the sandstone that was the lake bottom before all this geology happened is on the top of the Tetons and buried below the valley – thirty thousand feet apart! There has been so much erosion that the now the distance appears to be less. Plus, as you can see in the picture (I know, there’s no picture), there’s an amazing inclusion in Mt. Moran that was molten rock being forced up. It’s the dark stripe in the rock. John and I love this stuff!
From Grand Teton NP we drove into Yellowstone NP. On the way there natural feature after natural feature was named after Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition. We could only imagine that as they approached each new feature Lewis called out, “dibs!” And thus we have Lewis Lake, Lewis River, Lewis Falls, etc., etc. John and I decided that Meriwether as a lad hated his first name (having wished to be called Louis Lewis or Louie Lewie) and therefore for had a need to mark everything with Lewis rather than Meriwether. What was Clark doing during this time. I have no idea, but since my maiden name is Clark I am assuming his was taking the higher ground and letting Lewis have his way.
We made our way to West Yellowstone which is an ugly, over commercialized place whose only reason for existence is to feed and lodge all the visitors. After finding out that our reservation had been cancelled (huh?), we played the it’s our anniversary card and got a better room at the same price. We got some KFC, watched So You Think You Can Dance (I know, Ryan, lame), and exchanged the Best Western’s scratchy sheets for our own.
This section of my post is a little out of order. We visited the brewery last today not first. We noticed this little brewery across the street from the Teton Springs entrance. The sign said they had free tastings. Well, we are all for the free stuff. They brew several different beers mostly in the ale-type category. They were quite good. The beers have interesting names like Bitch Creek and Mammoth Mai Bock.
THIS BEER’S FOR YOU
Here’s John at the tasting station. He knows a lot about beer ( a lot about a lot of other stuff, too). He and Rob, who seemed to be the owner, talked a lot of technical beer stuff. I would have been impressed but I was too busy with the tasting.
The one time we were in Vail, CO we noticed that all the flowers were really brilliant. I mean really, really brilliant. John says it has to do with the altitude. Here are some poppies in a field in Victor. They are incredibly brilliant too. Maybe not as colorful as Vail but we’re only at 6500 feet here.
HIGH ALTITUDE TENNIS
Both yesterday and today we went over to the club here to play a little tennis. Yesterday we bought special high altitude balls. Otherwise the balls really go flying. For a special price (read expensive) you can buy a can at the clubhouse. They are even labeled with the Teton Springs logo. Another thing that high altitude tennis does is leave you a little breathless and feeling a little nauseated. Such fun!
SERVING TIME IN IDAHO
Here’s a picture of John going up after his serve. John has less trouble with the altitude than I do. Probably because he is in better shape. I hit some serves too but I won’t let John take a picture of me doing it.