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Category: 2021

Spearfish, SD

Spearfish, SD

Spearfish, South Dakota is a lovely town and we really liked staying there for a week. The Black Hills begin just south of the town and is such a beautiful landscape. The historic Main Street was great to walk thru with boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, antique stores, a visitor center, and various other businesses that were all fully open, not boarded up as have other historic districts we have been in. The Fall Festival which occurred while we were here was a lot of fun also with lots of booths, fresh produce and performances from the local dance studio and lots of proud parents in attendance.

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Devils Tower, WY

Devils Tower, WY

Bear Lodge is one of many Indian names given to the tower. Other American Indian names include Bear’s Tipi, Home of the Bear, Tree Rock and Great Gray Horn. Many Indians believed a bear scratched the side of the “mountain” with its claws and then lived inside the structure. Col. Richard Dodge translated the name to Devils Tower in 1875 and the name stuck. Some contend that Col. Dodge simply got a bad translation of the indigenous name; others say it was an intentional renaming. Dodge led a military expedition in the area to confirm reports of gold in the Black Hills and to survey the area. Scientists at that time thought the tower was the core of an ancient volcano. Recent data suggests it is actually an igneous intrusion. About 50 million years ago molten magma was forced into sedimentary rock above and then it cooled underground. As it cooled it contracted and fractured into columns. Over millions of years, erosion of the sedimentary rock exposed the tower.

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Hardin, MT

Hardin, MT

Hardin is a small town of about 3500 people in south eastern Montana. It was incorporated in 1911 and Thomas D. Campbell operated the nation’s largest wheat farm on 95,000 acres near there while pioneering the use of industrial machinery in farming. The Holly Sugar Company also established a sugar beet–processing plant in Hardin in 1937. Interestingly, with Hardin being in the middle of nowhere, Bitcoin miner Marathon apparently has a large mining operation in Hardin today because of low cost coal fired power generation nearby. With efforts to close down the coal fired plant, solar is being built to replace the coal. So what was the draw here for us? The Little Bighorn Battlefield is about 15 miles south of Hardin.

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Livingston, MT

Livingston, MT

After leaving West Yellowstone, we stopped in Livingston, MT for 3 nights before heading further east along Interstate 90. Paradise Valley south of Livingston where our KOA is located is gorgeous and has been the location where several movies were filmed including “A River Runs Through It”. Unfortunately, we only had a few hours one evening where the smoke from California wildfires cleared enough to see the mountains surrounding the valley.

The Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803 to 1806 roughly followed what is today an Interstate highway and passed through Livingston on July 15, 1806. Livingston was also a gateway to Gardiner where the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park both during the days of steam engine trains and today as automobiles make their way down US-89 and into the park. As you might guess, there is a lot of history in the area and we hope to come back here in the future to spend more time investigating all there is to see.

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Tetonia, ID / Grand Teton National Park

Tetonia, ID / Grand Teton National Park

We spent two weeks in the area around Grand Teton National Park. Like most people, Grand Teton was one of the must see, bucket list places on our list in the United States. Since there were no RV camping spots available for us in the national park or Jackson, WY we chose to stay in the small town of Tetonia, ID on the west side of the Teton mountain range. We took several day trips into the national park and thank goodness we did not have to pull the trailer over the 10% grade of Teton Pass and into Jackson, WY. We saw many cars not even pulling trailers on the shoulder cooling down. While here, our good friends Tammie and Peter from Texas joined us. Not knowing about the 10% grades, they pulled their rig over the pass getting to Tetonia. Although they made it just fine, they said “Never again!”

Unfortunately, with the exception of one or two days, smoke from wildfires in California blanketed the mountains and the views were not as spectacular as we had hoped they would be. In some cases we just had to imagine how beautiful the mountains would be on a nice clear blue day. In a few cases, the pictures took on a surreal look aided by the smoke.

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