• Wendell

Day 22 - Hardin Mt - Little Bighorn Battlefield

Friday - September 26, 2019

Roadside view in Southern Montana from I-90

As seasoned travelers, we know you have to be able to adapt to changes in plans. When I planned this trip, our intentions were to exit Yellowstone at the Northeast point traveling on Highway 212 which becomes the Beartooth scenic highway to Hardin Montana. This past week the Wyoming Dept. of Transportation closed the road near Beartooth pass. At first it was deemed temporary, but then they announced it was closed for the season. So instead of a leisurely trip through Northern Yellowstone which would have taken about 7 hours to Hardin, we were forced to exit North Yellowstone and travel across Montana on Interstates 90. Even though this increased our distance about 50 miles, it only took us a little less than 5 hours. You can cover some ground when the speed limit is 80 mph and very little traffic.

In addition to the road closure, rain was predicted for tomorrow (Saturday), and that would certainly hinder our planned visit to Little Bighorn Battlefield. We elected to get to Hardin early and do the Battlefield today. We are not quite sure what we will do tomorrow with the weather, but we understand there is a very good historical museum we can visit.

Early fog & vapor from hot pools as we left the Geyser Basin.

In Yellowstone, there is literally a new sight around every corner.

I now know why Montana is called "Big Sky Country".

We arrived in Hardin just after Noon. We are staying at the Lariat Motel, a true Mom and Pop facility run by a middle aged couple. It is a 60's motel which they have updated with most modern conveniences. I took a chance that our room would be ready. I entered the lobby and two gentlemen of mature age were lounging and two small children were playing in the floor. They greeted me and asked if I needed the desk clerk and I answered in the affirmative. On yelled up a spiral staircase " Waylon, some young gentleman needs to check in". A few minutes later, I realized I had interrupted a paint project, but Waylon was very nice and had a room available. I told him not to believe anything his friends said, they lost all credibility when they referred to me as a "young gentleman".

After unloading our luggage and briefly freshening up, we started the 20 minute drive to the battlefield.

I didn't realize that there was a National Cemetery at Little Bighorn Battlefield. It is the Custer National Cemetery. It has been closed to new interments since the late 1970's.

The Visitor Center was small, but the exhibits were excellent. We then did the 4.5 mile drive through the Battlefield Park. The Park provided a number of booklets to be used on the various walks as well as the drive. These provided great information about what happened at each of the 20 or so stops.

It gave me chills as I walked over this land and tried to envision what it must have been like for both the Carvery as well as the Lakota, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors

Monument on "Last Stand Hill" The names of all the Calvary, scouts and civilians who died here.

Of course we walked down the Deep Ravine trail. I would rather deal with Rattlesnakes than Grizzly Bears. By the way, a hunter was attacked today here in Montana. He was injured but was able to run the bear off with several shots.

Last Stand Hill as seen from Deep Ravine.

Hardin is a small town with only about 4500 persons. Following the suggestion of the two fellows I talked with in the Motel lobby, we decided to venture downtown to the 4 Aces Lounge. Tonight was Friday and they do BBQ ribs on Friday night only. It was truly a local experience.

We were the only non-locals in the place, but no one starred at us (this has happened before). It is run by a family, It looked like Mom, Pop, Daughter and Son-in-law. The mom and daughter both waited on us and were extremely nice and better still the ribs were excellent. Our total bill was $35.00 including a 20%+ tip. We did drink water and there is no tax on food. There were so many ribs, we both had take-outs with about half of ours left.

I had already heard at the motel that Hardin was home to a former Falcon football player. At the 4-Aces they had photos and a signed jersey of Kroy Biermann. Biermann was drafted by the Falcons in 2008 and played thru the 2015 season. I asked "mom" about the photos, which she was in with Biermann. She said he was now married to one of the original "Atlanta Housewives" and was living a life quite different than he would have in Hardin. I couldn't tell if she was proud or resentful.

We got back to our room by 6:30 and I caught up on all my Yellowstone posts. This one I am doing Saturday morning and finally I am finished catching up.

We plan to go the Historical Museum and then, who knows?

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