Sunday, August 26, 2012

Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota,!

Sorry for such a delay in getting a new post out there, but often, I had no internet connectivity or I was driving while I did!

Left Washington's beautiful Columbia River Gorge and followed roads east thru Idaho.  It's often hard to appreciate the surroundings while you drive, so I often would pull over and take in the view when I felt things were especially ...special.
Rivers and landscape were often breathtaking.  It 'did' make me wish I had been in my smaller rv (24' rather than 40') so I could have utilized the often available Federal campsites to delay my progress through these beautiful NW states, but it is what it is for now.

Internet has had me nervous about what will soon be Hurricane Isaac, as my boat Memory Rose is tied to my dock on a sliver of a coastal island on the west coast of Florida.  A hurricane above cat 1 would mean major input on my behalf to save her.  I booked tickets from Denver to Tampa and began driving harder.
Passing thru a stop I wished to spend some time in Sheridan, Wyoming to refresh and relax with friends and just enjoy the town a bit, I continued on after an half hour visit.  Spent the night at a Rest Area off I-90 and upon wakening, checked progress of the storm.  It seemed, as I had hoped for me, to be moving slightly west....a good sign it might continue that way and pass offshore of my boat and residence.  I then cancelled tickets and began easting again into South Dakota, but before SD a town of Kaycee, Wyoming had caught my attention with a sign of Hoof Prints of the Past, Museum. (or something close to that)
Native American jewelry, that I have also found now still common in Central America and on offshore islands of the Caribbean's San blas islands......!!  Wow! I was stunned!

                                                                      Old Side Saddle!

Well, the town was tiny but the museum was large by comparison and absolutely...fantastic.  A history of the area with great historical detail and artifacts from native Americans of thousands of years ago up to the days of bathtub gin.....................ok, do your homework youngsters.

Stone points, some of which I have never seen the likes of, like these side notched cutting tools/knives....................

 guns dating from Spanish 1712 found in the area and all sorts of early military and civilian arms. Ceremonial and every day clothing of native american's, tools of all sorts, written stories of range wars, early farm equipment, a coverd wagon....certainly the predecessor of modern Recreational Vehicles

..and even the original wooden jail.
 and the simplicity of early cabin life..dirt floors and all.

Beyond that I drove thru Thunder  Basin, now a major strip or pit mining location.  Trains coming and going, for miles loaded or ready for coal.  Some trains looked a mile long...all loaded with coal.

A stop at an info center in a small town, had me chatting with Roy, a gent from Idaho, following his headlights enjoying America in his 'new to him' 1969 Cortez.  These were a common and loved rv of it's day.  He picked it up for 2 grand and while it still  needs a ton of work, he is driving it daily across America!

I was headed for Jewel Cave in South Dakota and caught the next to last Scenic Tour of it at 2:40 pm.
Inside, it was not one I would say is spectacular but quite different in it's formations from the others I've been lucky enough to have seen.  The young Park Ranger guide, Kate, was excellent.

I stayed parked in their parking lot overnight(got my hand slapped for that). No, I'm not going to tell that story! ;)   A nice buck deer, grazed close to my rig near sunset.

Intent was to get up early and hike one of the trails.  Did a good part of the Canyon trail after sun up.
 With coffee, found birds eating breakfast--the bugs on my rear view mirrors!

On the trail, I was delighted to see about a half dozen deer.  Some large bucks and 2 doe.

 One squirrel was funny and I had to get a few shots of him trying to investigate me yet stay protected up in a tree.

Drove south next to Hot Springs, S.D. and a bit further to "Mammoth Site", a private but extraordinary archeological sinkhole site containing the remains of Mastadon, Mammoths , short faced bears(larger than Polar bears) and a few other extinct animals.  I was happily impressed with this attraction and recommend it to anyone passing this way.

The display rooms included of course, the major dig site, but outside those walls were display rooms of original and castings of many of the animals.  Recreations included displays of Mastadon huts used by nomadic tribes around the world, mostly eastern europe and western russia but also here.

 a display demonstrating how these poor animals fell into a sink hole filled with water and because of the slippery earth on the sides, these large animals continued for about 700 years to continue to drown in this spot until the sink hole changed and dried up....water would be at the blue horizontal line.
 one complete skeleton minus the head, a sure sign other large animals fed on the edge of this sink hole on the remains.
 Keep in mind, that a typical elephant could walk under the jaw of one of these extinct creatures.
 Each set of tusks are on One animal..   so far they have excavated about 20 feet of what they know is 67' minimal depth in this location and have found 57 sets of remains so far!

 Short Faced Bear.  Extinct now, but also found in this South Dakota sink hole.  They were bigger than present day  polar bears...

 Huts made from remains of mastadon skulls, vertibrea and tusks.  One such hut in eastern europe had 150+ skulls in it's construction.  Must have been plenty of these laying around!
 Another interesting display was a fabulously real sculpture of a baby mastadon found recently in Siberia, that found it's way to a museum.  It is of a one month old baby that drowned in a silty river but who's DNA is still intact, meaning scientists are getting incredible information from it's remains.

Historic America...........often 'vacant'.

Not to be left out was the area called Wind Cave national park.

 While the Buffalo relaxed

The Antelope roamed

and the Prarie Dogs played all day!

OK, time to hit the road again.. more soon!