Day 32. 19 September.
The day started with a pink sky, then cold, blustery and sleety. Nature balanced the physical discomfort with a magnificent rainbow – and as the day went on the sun dominated, although the wind was ever present.
The first stage was through some narrow winding roads (yes, and windy). Signs warned us of ‘Range Cattle’ and sure enough, coming down a sharp corner, there they were, on and off the road. Needless to say, the situation was shared with several other vehicles and three motorbikes, but no disaster. That slowed us down!
A stop in Browning to visit the Plains Indians Museum – but of course it is closed Sundays and Mondays. T visited a quilt/sewing shop while D stocked up, probably for the last time, at Teeples’ IGA. Great service: a young man packed our purchases and then trolleyed them to or vehicle. D offered a tip – he refused. D asked ‘are you sure?” and his reply, a bit tetchy, was ‘No, its not needed, sir, I’m paid’.
Looking for a coffee, the recommended place was at the casino, the only imposing place in that pat of town (we later discovered other developed parts as we drove out). As it turned out, the coffee was very good.
The scenery, so different from where we’ve been, was equally magnificent. Now travelling down the eastern side of the Rockies, in prairie country, glaciers have gone. As the number plates in Montana say “Ride the big sky” and we did, coming across just the odd private oil well and another “oddity” on the road.
The First Peoples Buffalo Jump was reached via a side road, partly gravel and mostly corrugated. But we were the only visitors. It was here that bison were herded & lured over the cliff by the ‘buffalo runner’, who had to leap ahead onto overhanging ledges to avoid meeting the same plunging fate. Running the bulls in Spain comes to mind.
As we approached T drew attention to what appeared to be rabbits, but on a closer look they were gophers…no, marmots….no, meerkats! Wrong still, they were in fact prairie dogs, a very social and alert community who create and live in underground tunnels. They play, cuddle, ( probably fight) and chatter (rather bark) and disappear into their burrows at any approaching sound. They were just delightful, but didn’t trust us for a minute. The other protected wildlife at this spot is the rattlesnake.
The drive back took us onto a motorway that had an 80 mph speed limit (note, miles per hour). With the side winds and a mobile metal box – no way!