Not long into Wyoming, detouring from the interstate, we came to our first stop at Devils Tower National Monument. Looming 386m (1,267 ft) over the surrounding landscape, the site was and remains of great spiritual significance to many of the local Plains Tribes, and there are still prayer offerings and rituals undertaken here. You might notice the prayer cloths and bundles tied to some of the trees. A lot of the local tribes also have stories of how the tower was created, most involving a bear using his claws to make the deep ridges down the sides. Sounds like the kind of bear you’d hate to run into on a bad day. We did however almost hit a family of huge wild turkey’s as they bolted across the road, and passed another field of those cute as hell prairie dogs yapping and squeaking away. Costing $10 per vehicle for up to 7 days entry to the park, we made another saving with our NPS pass, but decided to make this a brief encounter as Betty’s heart was close to failing.
Continuing down the I-90 past huge bug swarms and giant mounds that look like they were left by prehistoric oversized prarie dogs, we decided to test Betty’s resolve (her 6 instead of 8 cyclinders), and with Sarah by Mat’ts side we pushed her up the #16 into the Big Horn Mountains and over the aptly named Crazy Woman pass. At least that’s what we like to call it, you actual pass Crazy Woman before crossing the Powder River pass at 9,666 ft. Tensions high and nerves in tatters, again, she reached the summit with gusto amidst the newly descending rainstorm, via rock formations over 2.3 million years old, before sending us down the other side with a mechanical sigh of reflief, and that much closer to a new engine. Taking a right turn as you come to the Bighorn River we set our sites on Cody for the night, though you could make the left and head to Thermopolis and it’s various hot springs instead. If you didn’t need a new engine that is.
Attempting to find any sort of radio station we were left with only three options, the religious, religious or religious station. Opting for none, the iPod took over and we watched a huge RV in front of us continue to drive at 70 mph for three miles with chunks of his rear tire being shredded every few meters.
With darkness setting in and Sarah taking over as driver, we had our first hit and run incident when something ran a cross the road, tiptoeing Michael Jackson style, to Sarah’s screams of;
‘What is that even??’
‘A racoon Sarah, it’s only a raccoon,’ says Matt
With Sarah too slow or startled to avoid it (never mind how startled it was) it quickly meet with the underside of our front left tire. Arriving in Cody, weary and in need of some shuteye, we found a dark quiet side street and pulled up for the night. This is one of the easiest things to do when free parking in the USA, pull up late on any given side street and make sure you’re on your way early in the morning.
Praying Betty would roar to life again the next morning we said goodnight and hit the hay.
Next up, the bubbling springs of Yellowstone National Park.