Bind off of circular scarf. Will now wear it constantly to decide if I really like it.
More gravel road! Oh, that was short, never mind.
Stuck in a particularly sulphur smelly place. Road work. Woman manning the STOP sign is very friendly and chatty. Thinks Shmoogie is hysterical when she pipes up with some thought from the back seat wearing a self-decorated superhero mask. Sulphur smell is from Mammoth Hot Springs, which is where we're going and is still miles away. Oh, boy.
We are finally on our way through the construction zone, behind a truck with a big orange sign on the back saying PILOT CAR / FOLLOW ME.
The two-mile work zone is impressive and a bit scary. A mountain face to the right seems to be a hump of shale (crumbly) that was covered with a thick layer of something igneous (it breaks in huge square columns straight up and down) and then more shale. Around the bend, a huge pile of black gravel is building up beside a disintegrating hill.
Really nice breakfast at Roosevelt Lodge. Shmoogie spies a dead moth on the window sill and wants to take it with her. She asks the waitress if she can take it home, which really freaks the waitress out because she thinks Shmoogie said "dead mouse." Once we've managed to get that straight, the waitress says sure we can take it home. Much of our breakfast conversation revolves around the moth, which Shmoogie decides she is afraid to touch, so couldn't one of us pick it up for her? But by the time we leave she seems to have forgotten it, which is a good thing because Mr. P has spitefully smooshed it.
A black bear wandering the hillside right next to the road! A smiling ranger is directing traffic and pointing at the bear so no one will miss it. Yellowstone is awesome. Slogan should be "Yellowstone - the true American safari".
Another bison. Maybe I should tell you I've stopped writing down all the bison. They're becoming quite ho-hum.
The road is suddenly at the very edge of a very high cliff. I have what I believe is a quiet little freak out in the passenger seat. Shmoogie asks, "Why are we saying 'Aaaaaaaaaaaah'?"
Mammoth Hot Springs are pretty neat (and not really so stinky). Kids are so fried they can barely be persuaded to look out the window, but they revive pretty well when it's time to turn in their Junior Ranger packets at the visitor center in historic Mammoth, a whole town of park rangers, with a post office (cute!) and everything, and elk mothers and calves grazing on the lawn.
We learn that the elk population is actually rather low and they don't know why. The wolves are doing ok, but have been reduced in numbers lately as hunting restrictions just outside the park are being lifted. The bison, which were also reintroduced, are "really flourishing" and no one knows quite why. There are so many that the park sometimes plays loud sounds near them to try to annoy them out of the park.
Goodbye, Yellowstone :(
Three thousand miles!!! 61 hours, 11 minutes.
No cell connection once again. We pass the town of Sieben, which has one of those blue signs at the exit that directs you to lodging, gas, food... except this sign just says, NO SERVICES.
Can see no other vehicles on the road in any direction.
The only building we've seen in a while appears - an apparently abandoned barn with a huge stop sign painted on the roof, except it says METH instead of STOP. The other side of the roof: "NOT EVEN ONCE".
We cross a ditch officially labeled "DRY CREEK".
We hit a rare and inexplicable pocket of good cell service and pull over to use it for a minute. I think I hear a car passing us, but it is actually wind in the grass.
We hit the large-seeming town of Choteau. Shmoogie asks if we can have a sleep over at someone's house here. We explain that we don't know anyone here, so, no. She says, "But we could ask them their name."
Another anti-meth sign leaving Choteau. That's as many anti-meth signs as anti-abortion signs we've seen in Montana, which is a dramatic change from every other state in the past week.
A Post Office!
We finally get a chance to stop for one of the historic markers we've been seeing. This is the spot of the only "hostile" encounter between the Lewis and Clark expedition and native people. L&C mistook the tribal affiliation of a group they met (they were actually Blackfeet) and camped with them, then shot them when they tried to steal their guns and horses. Seems L&C had unknowingly (because of not realizing who they were) informed them that their enemy tribes were allying themselves with the US and would soon be getting significant support, including guns, from the government. This was bad news for the Blackfeet because they had been the dominant tribe on the plains for 20 years, thanks to Canadian guns.
I want more details.
This reminds me of a bit of information at the Badlands visitor center, saying that the Lakota had ruled their area for a hundred years (prior to being forced onto reservations) because they had adapted quickly to using the horses brought by the Spanish, pushing out other tribes.
We should have learned more about the history of native peoples prior to direct conflict with Europeans. It's quite interesting.
"Is this our hoo-tel?" asks Mr. P.
"This is gonna be a good hoo-tel, I just know it," he says after I answer, yes.
And how does he know? "Because, look. It has flowers, and a 7 on the door. It's beautiful."
The Blackfeet Nation is starting their annual four day festival. Tepees, cars, RVs, and unleashed dogs fill up a big lot at the edge of town.
We drove silly far for dinner, but it was good. And ended with pie.
A sliver of a moon is up, the kids are fast asleep in the back, and we are driving back into Browning for the night. We open our windows as we approach the pow-wow lot, wondering what we'll hear. A hint of drums grows louder and we realize it's modern pop music fueling a small dance party on an open-air floor. Further down the lot, in the thick of the tepees, are the sounds of singing and drumming you'd expect. In the twilight a woman sits in front of her tepee with a child, another face looks out the round door hole. A group of young men heads purposefully off into town. Sirens bleep from somewhere down the block and we look carefully for street dogs as we make our way back to the hoo-tel.