Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wyoming-Big Horn Highway, South Dakota Mt Rushmore and Custer Wildlife Loop

Another postcard-perfect day for a scenic drive over the Big Horn Mountains, named for the big-horned sheep that are supposed to hangout there.  

Despite keeping my eyes peeled-we saw no bighorn sheep.  However, I am told that they are quite difficult to see until you "train" your eyes to pick them out of the landscapel

We pulled over at a turnout with a pretty lake view, and while Frank fixed lunch, Sue took off up the hill to get her Big Pic.  

It was a lot of work hiking far up and away from the RV to capture it AND the beauty of the mountains but--to me--it was worth it!

Shortly after finishing lunch, a rig pulled up behind us.  We always welcome opportunities to meet other RV'ers and compare notes so I kept an eye out for people-movement as I was walking Cassie.

A lady emerged from the brand-new fifth wheel with a small white puppy.  Cassie was immediately overjoyed to see another dog, which turned out to be a 3-month old westie with a need to play! 

Since Cassie had cabin fever, and the puppy was...well...a PUPPY,  the two immediately sniffed each other and began to negotiate a mutually-agreeable play style.  (By the way, Cassie is not usually so filthy but she had been outdoors a lot and I was waiting for a full-service campground to give her a much-needed bath.) 

As the two dogs sniffed and explored each other, we took pictures, chatted and giggled.  After the pups had their fill, we both continued on our respective journeys.

Coming DOWN the mountain, the grade was so extreme that we smelled burning brakes and then Frank experienced brake fade so we stopped the rig to let the brakes cool.   The mist near the tire is not a dirt cloud--it is burning rubber from brakes that are too hot!  

While parked there waiting for the brakes to cool, I heard a stream and suggested we go find it, so we hiked down the mountain toward the sound.
At the bottom was a pretty, shallow creek where we let Cassie play in the water. 

After the romp in the creek, Cassie was REALLY dirty, wet and muddy.  Sue would not allow her back inside the RV until she was thoroughly hosed off.

Imagine my surprise when the lady I had met a couple hours previously popped her head into the Registration Office at our next campground!  She had recognized our rig entering the campground and came up to say Hi!  We agreed to meet up later with our doggies and let them play and wear each other out!

The pup's name was "Baby"--her humans were Diane and Gary.  They were recent full-timers and had just bought the big fifth wheel to launch their new lifestyle on wheels.  Cassie and "Baby" romped and wrestled and chewed on each other's parts and generally entertained us for the next hour, while we got acquainted with Diane & Gary and hoisted a few brews. 

We learned that they were enroute to Sundance, WY to visit the Devil's Tower.  We had never been there and, since it was generally on our way, we decided to change our route slightly and go there too!  Not only that, Diane & Gary had planned to continue on to the same RV resort (Hart Ranch) that we had scheduled for a 3-day visit!

At Sundance, we parked next to each other and our new friends treated us to a drive over to the Devil's Tower, a rare treat for Frank who rarely enjoys "time off" from driving! 

On the way back, we lunched at the only open restaurant in Sundance, operated by a pimply teenaged cook and his hyperkinetic girlfriend/waitress.  

Frank and I left the next day for Hart Ranch near Rapid City in South Dakota.  I surreptitiously took this photo from a mousepad souvenir that the Gift Shop had for sale.

We "reserved" a nearby spot for Diane & Gary and settled down for an extended rest in a beautiful working ranch outside of Rapid City.   We had picnics and cocktails and related our adventures of the road, while the dogs amused themselves.

I had good intentions to accomplish a myriad of chores while settled down, and had been accumulating a list of "HoneyDo's" for a couple weeks.  The mantra was "..we'll do that at Hart Ranch!"

But, it turned out that we were just having too much fun to WORK!
This is the Puppy PlayPen for Cassie and Baby. 

By this time, we were ALL playing nice together and  went to see
Mt Rushmore and rode the Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park.  Wildlife roams freely inside the park and is quite tame, approaching motorists for food.   

Look what an amazing mountain formation I saw near Mt Rushmore!  (Yes, it's photoshopped)

We encountered a bighorn mountain goat along the roadway.  

The roadway through the tunnels inside Custer SP was barely large enough for a car!

The pronghorn antelope, normally too elusive for photo-taking, hung out at roadside, 

as did the bison and the donkeys. 

The donkeys were especially insistent and completely engulfed stopped motorists, 

shoving their heads inside car windows and snorting around for food inside.  

Diane and I perched inside the truck's open bed to view and photo the wildlife.

Frank & I got virtually nothing done on our HoneyDo list, but we sure had a good time!

During our time together, we learned that Diane and Gary planned to spend the winter in Florida, near where they used to live in Del Tura, a North Ft Myers community just around the corner from Cape Coral.  This was surprising and added to our delight in meeting them--knowing that we could continue our friendship in a few months!   In the meantime, we have very special memories and, of course, email!

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