Thursday, 17 August 2017

Day Twenty Three

Breakfast at 8.30am and then a leisurely morning until we left at just before 11am.

We set off, stopping for fuel in the US bike capital, Sturgis, before heading northwards. Roads were pretty empty apart from one interesting set of roadwork where we sat still for what seemed like half an hour before we eventually got to move.

I pulled over at 12.55pm in order to make Ann drive. The only reason for this was Everton were kicking off at 1pm Mountain Time. Had problems with 4G so only got to listen as the picture kept freezing but eventually got it to work.

We crossed into North Dakota for the first time ever shortly before stopping for lunch at Subway in Bowman. Managed to watch the final twenty minutes of the game whilst we sat inside.

With the game finished I could get back to driving and we headed north to I-94 before then following it east to Dickinson.

Checked in and had some rest time before heading out for dinner at Country Kitchen. Food was good as was the old fashioned chocolate milkshake.

Back now for an early night before a busy day tomorrow hopefully starting with an early morning swim as there is a waterslide with the pool!

States visited - 9

Total states visited - 47

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Day Twenty Two

We met for breakfast at 9am. Dad complained that all the food had gone and that the scrambled egg tasted of mashed potato. There was a child with green hair. Not sure why.

We reconvened at about 10.10am to catch the trolley into town. There are two trolleys that do loops and you pay a dollar to get on board. We took it down to the historic main street in Deadwood.

Got off the trolley and walked the length of it. It doesn't look historic. It is full of casinos and bars and shops selling tat. Ann tried to convince me that if you looked beyond the tat and at the buildings you can see the old city. Don't buy it.

Tat City
We wandered over to the Adams museum. It had stuff from olden times - 150 years ago. There was history of the town, etc. There was a stuffed calf with two heads. Also saw these bad boys.

Mountain Lion

Golden Eagle
We went and had a drink and then caught the trolley up to here http://www.brokenbootgoldmine.com/

We paid a smallish fee and put on a hard hat. Then we went into the former gold mine. In actual fact it didn't provide that much gold and was mined mainly for fool's gold. We followed the guide and tried not to smack our head. The guide lit a candle at one point and turned out the light to show us what it was really like to work by candle light. It was quite dark. It should have been darker except Ann had her phone on. The miners used to work in pairs with one candle. One held the chisel, one hit it with a hammer. It was so dark the hitter couldn't see the chisel head, so the holder put his thumb over the end so the nail reflected the candle light. He then counted to three and moved his thumb!

Shaft

Rocks
After the tour was over we caught the trolley back to the hotel and ate the remains of last night's pizza for lunch. Then we got the car and drove back towards the town but turned off the main drag to visit the Mount Moriah Cemetery. Deadwood is in a gorge and the cemetery is above the town on one of the sides.  We looked around. It had graves. These are the most famous ones there.

Wild Bill Hickok

Calamity Jane
You also get to overlook the town from one vantage point. We did.

Downtown
We then drove back down to the town and killed some time. Then at 6pm it was time for the Deadwood gun show. After Cody's offering we were hoping for something better. It was. There was an actual script. The downside was that script wasn't very long. In fact, the actual show part lasted about two minutes.

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The gunshots were very loud and Ann ended up deaf as a post.

When it was over we walked across to Harry's Spaghetti Western Restaurant for dinner. It was very good. You had to choose your pasta type, your sauce and the meat type. Ann had broccoli. Not really a meat type. Afterwards we got ice cream. It was some weird Neapolitan flavour. We watched 'How the West Was Won' whilst we ate.

We then headed back to the hotel, put some warmer clothes on and reconvened at 8pm for another mini golf tournament. The course is actually at our hotel so it was a short walk. It was a good course, very well maintained and led for some exciting golf. It meant Ann got her golfing mojo back.

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It also meant dad did this.

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Twice.

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Despite his double double (Two holes in one in the two rounds we have played since he has been here) he also threw in some fairly average shots as well.

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This meant he and Ann battled out for second place. It was a contest that went right down to the last hole. This final hole included the chance to get minus scores. The last shot had a lot riding on it.

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The final scores were:

Knightley RJ - 39
Roffe - 49
Knightley WR - 49

We then retired to the nineteenth hole for free drinks using a token we got on check in before retiring for the evening.

States visited - 8

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Day Twenty One

We were out the cabin, car packed and ready to leave it for the last time by 10am. It was a lovely quiet place and a lovely cabin, it will be missed, although I won't miss the shower. I think I have a crick in my neck after three days with a beam at head height next to the shower head.

We dropped the key back into the mailbox down the road where we found it and headed on east. Soon we reached Bighorn National Forest which is situated along the Bighorn Mountains. Ann pulled over and made me drive as the road got steep and bendy with good old sheer drops. We reached around 2800m above sea level. The view from the top was pretty good

Long way up
We also saw some wildlife living up there too.

Bambi??
Eventually we had to wind our way down the other side and then kept on across to pick up I-90. After four hours of travel we stopped for lunch at The Breadboard in Buffalo. It was a bit like a subway although slightly more upmarket. Subs were good.

We drove another 133 miles after lunch heading east on I-90 before turning north at Moorcroft. Eventually we  reached our first stop.

Devils Tower
You may recognise Devils Tower from 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind' or the film 'Paul'. If you are Bob, you don't recognise it at all.

We went to the shop and bought a magnet before completing the trail all the way around the tower. It seemed to last for ever although it was about a mile and a quarter. We saw people climbing on it. They looked quite small in comparison.

Can you see him?
As we drove out we spotted a lot of these little fellas at the side of the road. They are Prairie Dogs and there is a special reserve for them by the tower to help their dwindling numbers.

Best photo ever
Then as we drove out the area we suddenly spotted more wildlife. Something we had hoped to see earlier on but had failed to do so. We did better this time.

Good bison
Ann had told us that we only had to drive another half an hour to the hotel. That turned out to be an hour and a half. As we drove we saw deer everywhere, even in the road which we managed to avoid. We crossed the border into South Dakota and eventually we reached Deadwood.

Checked in and got our stuff to our rooms before heading down for pizza in the hotel. It has a casino of sorts in it. Looks pretty naff. Deadwood seems to have a lot of them.

States Visited - 8

Deer watch - Extremely high

Prairie Dog watch - High

Bison seen - 2

Monday, 14 August 2017

Day Twenty

For the second day in a row we didn't rush up. We had a plan of what we were going to do and knew we didn't need to rush off too early. Left around 11.15am and headed south towards our destination for the day, Cody. Ann and I had been before but only as a stop over on our first trip. Today we were going to see what it had to offer. It was a mixed bag in the end.

Our first port of call was the Buffalo Bill Dam on the Shoshone River about six miles west of Cody. We parked up and wandered down. It doesn't cost anything to go there, presumably as you are just looking at a dam. We had a look about and took some photos of the drop.

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We then went inside to the visitor centre. Watched a film about the construction. It was competed in 1910 despite the fact it took three different companies to build it due to the conditions. They could only build in winter due to the flooding during the spring and summer from all the snow melt. So the conditions for construction were fairly chilly. Not great for setting concrete. Most of the stuff they did do seemed to get destroyed each spring which again didn't really help. When it was finally completed it was the tallest dam in the world.

We bought a magnet as ever and then headed back to the town of Cody. We grabbed a quick sandwich before boarding the Cody trolley at 3pm. 'Give us an hour and we'll give you one hundred years' is the tag line. It took us around the town showing us some things. The guy talking did so very fast, to the point at times you didn't really hear what was said. He also looked very familiar.

Dan Thomas
The tour was ok but quite expensive. We learnt some stuff. Ann won a wooden nickel for knowing something.

After we got off the trolley we nipped down the road to the local mini golf course. This time it was a three way challenge. Ann was pleased that the course wasn't like the last one we had played on. It had some interesting holes such as the following two.

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It was the younger Knightley who took an early lead despite Bob throwing in two of these.

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It got slightly close during the back nine but then at the 16th it went wrong for both Roffe and Knightley Snr.

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They both failed to hit the hole and took 6s. The final scores were:

Knightley RJ - 47
Knightley WR - 54
Roffe A - 65

As we left the course and made our way back to the car we spotted an intruder on the course.

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We now had a spare half hour until our next activity so drove to the other end of town to get fuel. Dad said he would pay but he came back out and said unfortunately his card was declined despite having used it earlier. Presume the bank now think his card had dubious activity on it. Either that on he was conning us into paying.

We then headed back to the centre of town to watch the Cody gun fighters show at 6pm. Although it is a free event, we had paid $2 each to reserve seats to get a good view. Ann and I had high hopes for the show having seen something similar in Dodge City. Bear in mind this show is run every night throughout the summer.

It started off with national anthem that we had to stand for. Most people think of Americans as loud patriots but the singing here left a lot to be desired.

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What then unfolded is quite difficult to explain. With a large crowd all ready for a rip roaring show, we got what can only be described as a complete pile of crap. It was so bad it was funny, we spent most of the time sniggering at the ineptitude of the performance. There seemed to be no script of any sort and the 'actors' just seemed to make stuff up with no real idea of what was happening. It made the Ermington Players look like the RSC. I kept thinking Mick Knight was going to appear at any moment dressed as the sheriff. Here is a brief example of the calibre of the show.

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I read last night that at a performance last summer one of the actors shot three audience members as his pistol was loaded with real ammunition 'by accident'. The show was then abandoned for the rest of the year and the guy ended up in court. Dad and I hoped for something similar to happen today as it would have made it much more interesting. Eventually when the people in it could think of nothing else to say, it finished and the three of us walked away quite quickly.

We headed down to our last activity for the day, the Cody Nite Rodeo. We got in early and got some food. I got popcorn without realising it was salted. Not good. We took our seats and waited for the action to begin. The commentator thanked god before it started for everything from the tarmac on the roads to the safety of the athletes. When finished dad turned to us and said 'What a load of bollocks'. It did eventually start. We saw all the normal things that we have seen at our two previous rodeos except here they were just done much worse.

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I think the fact that this rodeo is run every day for three months just means that the competitors just aren't of the same calibre as those that appear at the big 2 or 3 day shows around the country. Most failed at the event they were in, falling off or failing to capture the animal. The audience was also small, which gives the impression it is merely a tourist attraction rather than a thing the locals flock to. It was still good to see it, but it got cold at the end and we all just couldn't wait to leave by the time it finished.

We then had to make the drive back to the cabin eventually getting in at about 11pm. Drinks were made and drunk before, again, I am left writing up the day when everyone else is in bed.

States visited - 7

Dams seen - 1

Bull watch - high

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Day Nineteen

Had a lazy lie in today, although the wind did it's best to make the cabin creek a lot during the early morning. I can report there were no bear attacks during the night.

We ate a leisurely breakfast, FaceTimed people, before getting ready and eventually heading out at about 11.30am. We decided to spend the day at one place, unfortunately that one place was quite far away.

Drove non stop for 150 miles, first back up to Billings and then along south eastwards to a famous river, The Little Bighorn. Eventually arrived here https://www.nps.gov/libi/index.htm

Pulled up and paid our entrance fee before making a dash for the facilities after a long drive. We then made our way to the visitor centre just in time for a 25 minute video to start. Unfortunately every seat was taken, so we waited for the next one to start in half an hour's time. In the meantime we looked at the exhibits and around the shop. Bought a fridge magnet as ever before making sure we got a seat at the next video showing.

By now it was 3pm so we decided to have lunch. We had made a packed lunch on the premise there would be no where to eat, which turned out to be a good call. Sat in the car to eat with the air con as the temperature had started to rise. Whilst doing this we looked through the literature to try and plan our afternoon. There were various ways to tour the battlefield and eventually we decided on a plan. First we went to look at the memorials. There was one for the US Army losses and then a newer one dedicated to the fallen Native Americans. Both were located on the hill famous for the last stand of Custer. Also there were stones marking the places soldiers had fallen including where Custer himself had died.

Memorial

Literally Custer's last stand....ing position

Native American stones

The tribes memorial sculpture

The tribes memorial
We went back to the shop and bought an audio guide on CD and then got in the car to drive around and listen to it.

This was all very well in theory but unfortunately we had reckoned without the fabulous audio system in the Tahoe. First of all when we started the car the audio stayed blank for five minutes. Eventually it came on and we inserted the CD. Then nothing happened for a while. Eventually it started and after five minutes froze. There was a map included so we started driving. Eventually the guide came back on but the idea was you listened to bits whilst moving and then other bits when you got to places. We ended up listening to a lot at the halfway point to catch up which meant we started to get bored with. We then headed back along the 4 mile road as it carried on before it froze with about five minutes to go.

At that point we just left deciding we knew enough about the battle. Custer ballsed it up. That sums it up.

We headed back the long 150 miles stopping only briefly for some more milk. Ended up in heavy rain as we hit the last forty miles or so. Witnessed an incredible piece of driving as we were doing 70mph (That was the speed limit) down a normal two way highway in the pouring rain when a guy towing a large RV trailer decided to overtake at about 80mph. No wonder there are so many white crosses by the sides of the roads.

Arrived back at the ranch at about 7.45pm. Having driven the 300 miles, I was excused duties and got to sit down and relax. Ann and dad produced a wonderful fry up including bacon you could snap in half. We sat inside as it was a bit colder than last night. Had more ice cream before Ann found Harry Potter again. Dad decided to play his favourite candy based game.

I am the only one now up and have just heard a bear trying to get in the kitchen window which for some reason had been left open with the smell of cremated bacon wafting into the night air. Managed to fight bear off and shut the window.

States visited - 7

Dead deer seen - 2

Live deer seen - roughly 11

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Day Eighteen

Up early at 7am in order to be ready to watch Everton kick off at 8am. Worked like a charm and settled down to watch the first half whilst simultaneous packing the last few things.

Rooney scored just before half time and we were out the door pretty much on time at 9am. Ann drove the first stint whilst I tried to watch the second half in the car. Succeeded in seeing a few odd seconds but the signal was not great to get any real success.

We retraced our steps back towards Bozeman in order to pick up the I-90 eastwards. Made good headway as it wasn't too busy. Stopped once at a rest stop but otherwise kept racking up the miles. Eventually arrived at Billings Airport just after 12.30pm. Parked up and walked in to the terminal. Within two minutes of us getting there this happened.

Hello, Father
We packed him into the car and headed a few miles back west to the town of Laurel. Had lunch at the Owl Junction Diner. The waitress got an impromptu lecture about the solar eclipse.

Nipped in to Walmart to pick up supplies for the next three days before fuelling up and heading south towards Wyoming. Travelled for about an hour and then arrived at our destination which was the Go Away Ranch.

We didn't
Unloaded the car and had a look around our secluded log cabin in the Beartooth Mountains.

Home on the range
Sat out on the veranda and did a quick FaceTime chat back home. Also saw some wildlife knocking about.

Rabbit rabbit rabbit
Ann made a version of cottage pie for dinner which was difficult considering we were missing various things in terms of implements, etc. It was remarkably good.

We sat outside to eat and enjoyed the magnificent view before eventually retiring indoors and Ann inevitably found Harry Potter on TV.

I am now writing this with two people who have gone to sleep.

States visited - 7

Rabbit watch - high

Fathers found at airport - 1

Friday, 11 August 2017

Day Seventeen

Up and ready to go by 8.35am. Didn't need to shower as our activity negated the need to.

Drove an hour north east to Bozeman. Parked up and signed in here http://madisonrivertubing.com/

Got our stuff and then got on the classic American yellow school bus which proceeded to take us halfway back the way we had come. Unfortunately that couldn't be helped as to do the trip you need the shuttle bus to transport you back, otherwise you'd end up 5 miles from your car.

The bus dropped us off at Warm Springs Creek on the Madison River. We had three tubes, one each for us and one for the cooler. We filled it with drinks and snacks and we were ready to go. Ann befriended some Texans who were also on the trip.

There was an annoying family who had a waterproof speaker playing pop music which wasn't really what we wanted to have as we cruised peacefully down the river. We tried to avoid them but kept ending up next to them. I decided to act and jumped off my tube at a fairly shallow part to stop us for a while. The water was moving much faster than I realised and it was a battle to just hold the three tubes still against the current. After a while the annoying family had disappeared into the distance and I managed to scramble back into the tube and get us going again.

We ended being pretty much last out of all the groups which suited us just fine. We sat back and cracked open the cooler. Apologies for the poor sound quality in this clip.

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After a while somehow we ended up catching up and then overtaking nearly everyone, luckily we also flew past the annoying noise and had peace at the front. Had a bit of a chat with the Texans who were at the front as well. It was more of a shout across the river really.

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We did then get stuck in the shallow water and slowed dramatically. The Texans disappeared at a rate of knots and we had to battle to get out of it and back into the current. Eventually we did.

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We got and dried off. Whilst waiting for the bus back to Bozeman, somehow Ann got us invited to stay with a couple from Lincoln, Nebraska. Lincoln is where we are watching the eclipse, so they asked if we had somewhere to stay, which said yes and they said well if it falls through come and stay with us. They gave us their phone numbers and everything.

Eventually we got back to Bozeman. Got changed and drove back to the motel in Ennis. Had a very late lunch at about 4pm and checked on the flight status of dad. He was only an hour away or so. FaceTimed Paul and Helen who were also tracking his progress. Spent most of the conversation making sprinkler noises at each other.

Had a quick shower and then headed out to here http://virginiacity.com/

It is basically a town that still looks old except for the cars parked all the way through it which ruins the actual appeal of the place. We added to those parked cars and mooched around a bit. Some of the buildings are untouched from the mid 20th century. Still full of the things that were left there.

Courthouse from 1876

Cars
Saw a beam in a building that five people were hanged from. Bought an ice cream. Bought a book. Got invited into an art gallery party with free wine. The woman who invited us in had a long chat about England and then Donald Trump. She apologised to us for him. We had a look at some of the art, some was decent, some wasn't.

Eventually we managed to sneak off and headed back to the car. Drove back to the motel. Saw some deer on the way.

Oh dear
Dad then FaceTimed us from his hotel room in Denver to say he had landed and made it into the country.

Off to bed soon as Everton kick off at 8am.

States visited - 7

Deer watch - high

Sprinkler watch - high