"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood... And sorry I could not travel both. I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference." --Robert Frost

Monday, May 6, 2019

It was the Devil's Fault - Sundance, WY

Devils Tower, Wyoming
Devils Tower National Monument Campground

 
Our last stop in Wyoming was to Devils Tower National Monument in the far NE corner of the state.  The weather was once again, cold and windy with bouts of rain and snow.  Luckily there is some sun expected in a couple of days.
This is what it looked like as we arrived in the rain.  Pretty impressive even though it was shrouded in clouds.
They only had one loop of two open and there were about 5 of us there.
No hookups but there are at least several sites large enough for us.  $20 a night. Good Verizon.
There were several deer and squirrels roaming in and out of the campground which kept Hurley occupied.

Since the next day was more of the same we headed out to the nearby town of Sundance to do laundry and get something to eat.  We found Cowgirl Pizza & Laundromat.  Perfect combo!  The laundry room was small but inexpensive and very clean. The pizza was good too. 
We then drove around the cute town to check it out.  There was a memorial to Harry Longabough.  He stole a saddle, horse and gun from a ranch here and was caught.  While spending jailtime here, he took his nickname, The Sundance Kid.


 The old Sundance State Bank.
For a small town, there are more bars than anything else.  Very quirky.  Too bad we didn't have time to try them all out!

Arriving back into the campground we see we have a new neighbor.  A Unicat, extreme offroad expedition vehicle.  I'd sure love to see the inside of one of these bad boys.

As hoped for, the weather later in the week was sunny and no wind!  Yay!  Perfect timing for our drive to the top to see the Visitor Center and hike around the Tower.
Love our view of the Tower from our campsite.
On the way out we walked to the Wind Circle sculpture (also called the Sacred Circle of Smoke). Tribal Connections interprets Devils Tower as place that is sacred to many Native American tribes. The sculpture was created by a Japanese artist as the third in a series of seven peace sculptures planned for significant sites around the world.

Devils Tower is a sacred place for about two dozen tribes of the northern Great Plains. According to their oral tradition, they all have stories somewhat similar to the rock.  The Crow tells it this way:

Once when some Crows were camped at "Bear's House," two little girls were playing around some big rocks there. There were lots of bears living around the big rock, and one big bear, seeing the girls alone, was going to eat them. The big bear was just about to catch the girls when they saw him. The girls were scared and the only place they could get was on top of the rocks around which they had been playing
The girls climbed the rock but still the bear could catch them. The Great Spirit, seeing the bear was about to catch the girls, caused the rock to grow up out of the ground. The bear kept trying to jump to the top of the rock but he just scratched the rock and fell down on the ground. The claw marks are on the rock now. The rock kept growing until it was so high that the bear could not get the girls. The two girls are still on top of the rock.
 

Parked at the Visitor Center. The Ranger gave us a lot of information about the Tower.  There is no one allowed in the airspace above or around the monument.  The movie, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind did some filming here and all sets were removed when finished. You are allowed to rock climb the very technical routes up but some are closed due to nesting Falcons.
Devils Tower is 867 feet from its base to the summit. It stands 1,267 feet above the Belle Fourche River and is 5,112 feet above sea level. The summit is slightly dome shaped and rocky, with native grasses, cactus, and sagebrush. Chipmunks, mice, pack rats and the occasional snake are found on top. The circumference of the base of the Tower is 1 mile.  For more interesting facts click HERE.
The Trail around the Tower is an easy 1.3 miles.  It was mostly sunny and no wind.  A very nice walk.






At a couple of points there are some nice overlooks of the valley before.  There are many founding families that have ranched these lands for many generations.

There is a group climbing up today.  See them in blue in the middle towards the bottom?
How about now?  Look in the middle.
 We saw several of these Prayer Cloths tied around the trees as we walked around the Tower.
 
 

 
I can't even imagine them building this ladder or using it!  You can barely see it through a scope and I could not capture it in a picture.

It looks different as you walk around it.  I like the informational signs they have around it.  Plenty of benches and some picnic tables too.

 

We took a drive further out on a dirt road for some different views.


 
Peek a Boo
Unexpected Obstacle Course!
They were working on the only road to/from the monument that 2 campgrounds use.  I'm sure glad it was Steve driving and not me.  I'm not so sure how I would've done, but Steve was a pro.  Not one single cone knocked over.  You think they could've made it just a smidge wider.
The weather held out for our 2 hour drive to Custer, SD.  Our last view of the Tower.
We were enjoying watching the farm equipment go by when it happened.
Uh-oh.  Steve didn't really feel anything but did see something move out of the corner of his vision.  Turns out that was one of our trailer tires flying off!  He was immediately able to pull over.
Wow.  All bolts sheared right off!
No blow out, and thankfully minimal damage.  The skirt has a couple bends in it and the side trim is pulled out a bit.  No damage to anything underneath. We had just had our trailer brakes replaced.  If you aren't already aware, retighten your lugs every 50 miles or so about 4 times after the wheels have been removed.  Those lugs will sometimes loosen.  We aren't sure if that was our case.  There were several ounces of weights on the back of the rim that we didn't know about when the tires were rotated and balanced a couple months ago.  More about this in a later blog post.  One of our good RV friends, Bill, talked with Steve for quite a bit and gave him some good ideas.
A very nice gentleman stopped and said he saw the whole thing as he pulled out of a side road.  He said he'd go retrieve our tire from the pasture where is landed.  That's it in the picture to the left.  Thankfully it's a small country road and the tire didn't hit another vehicle or person.  Even more thankfully that it didn't damage any fencing or take out some ranchers prize $30K bull.  (I could just see the Farmer's commercial now.)
The guy that helped us is named Glenn Engelhaupt and he owns Fas-Break Windshield Repair in Sundance, WY.  If you're in the area and need some work, give him a call.  Super nice guy!  He is a retired Fire Chief and insisted on helping us.  He and Steve took things apart and made many trips to his home nearby and to the parts store in town until they got the correct parts and spare on for a temporary fix.  Thank you so much Glenn for all you did for us! That lovely piece of skirting had to go inside the trailer until Steve could work on it.  It was very windy out and no way of getting it on now.  Good thing it's flexible as it barely fit inside.
Our short 2 hour drive turned in to many hours before we made it in to South Dakota where Jim and Barb were waiting for us.  We had some dinner plans together. Other than the wheel issue we had a really great time at the monument.  We were both very impressed.

Wyoming came in like a Lion and went out like the Devil!