Friday, July 29, 2011

Great American Road Trip - Part 7

Saying goodbye to Yellowstone -

Yellowstone is such feast of beauty and our final day provided us fitting dessert to sustain us until we can visit again. We drove to the trailhead up to Artist Point and walked a short distance up some massive, gorgeous stone steps to this lookout point. More than once I was impressed by the foresight of the folks who designed and built this first national park. They had no way of knowing how many people would come, or IF they would come, but the buildings and structures they created seem to still be functional for the huge crowds that come today.

This final family photo is at the lookout over The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The waterfall in the background is the same one Brooks and I took in on our "Stairmaster Hike" the previous day. Really, really spectacular views.

We also got the chance to take in the interior of one of the magnificent historic hotels, the Old Faithful Inn. Check out the shade on one of the double-sided writing desks, furnishing the inn ever since 1911. The green shade has an overlay of copper featuring an owl in the woods.

I just think this is a pretty picture of Ava gazing out of a window on the second floor landing of the inn.

After the last of the sightseeing within the park, we still got to enjoy one last pretty drive along the winding road to the exit. We saw a creature that we hadn't yet spotted on our trip - a deer. And I cannot BELIEVE how close she let me get.

After a few hours of driving we landed at Devil's Tower for a stretch, a potty break and some photos. This is when I began wishing that we would have taken this northern route on the way TO Yellowstone. Our energy was simply waning too quickly to be wowed by some of these last sites. Here are Ava and I in front of Devil's Tower. Can you see tiny pastel-shirted specks above us? Rock Climbers. Crazy.

Next, a few MORE hours of driving. We were heading toward the gold rush town of Deadwood and we'd heard of a restaurant I wanted to try in the neighboring town of Spearfish. We got a little turned around in the canyon and by the time we got there it was 10:00 PM. That made it midnight on Home Time. It was probably the best meal we had during the whole trip. Michael and I both had a delicious seafood bisque and he followed it up with a buffalo burger. Our server was very attentive. He seemed to think we were locals, but when I told him we were from Indiana, he said he was familiar with that long drive as he made it every summer of his childhood. His mother's parents were from a tiny town in the center of the state.

"What town?" I asked.

"Hartford City." My mother's hometown where I visited grandparents and cousins every summer of MY childhood! Our waiter was my best friend after that. I just love that feeling of community it prompted for the two of us.

Tatanka - Story of the Bison.

Sigh. I cannot really recommend this museum-type place in Deadwood. It is promoted as an educational site for learning about the American Buffalo, which centers around these beautiful cast-iron sculptures depicting a thrilling, dangerous way that the Lakota tribe used to hunt these creatures.

A few of the tribesmen would spook a herd of buffalo, chasing a few of them stampeding over the edge of a cliff, at the bottom of which other Lakota were waiting to butcher them.

It turned out to be fairly hostile presentation on the wrongs done against the Native American people. (We were told with an unfriendly smirk that Native American is too broad a term to use and is not the right choice. We were not told what might be the right choice.)

Now, I feel I must say that the historical truth in this matter is absolutely shameful and nothing can undo the violence, greed and trickery done to our brothers and sisters. However, I believe if one wants Change, and one wants to Educate People, then one needs to present their case without pushing their audience away. My less progressive husband drove our family to my chosen destination and paid his money to get us all in without complaint, but without much interest. His attitude became less charitable when the artwork was presented as an afterthought to a hostile speaker making sweeping generalities about "you people" (his white audience) while my bewildered young children blinked up at him. Sigh.

But aren't the sculptures pretty?

A worthwhile destination for Mike and me was the Mount Moriah cemetery. Mike is a history buff and thought it was cool to see the final resting places of folks like Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane and Preacher Smith. I am not a history buff, and what I know about these characters I learned from the brilliantly written but completely barbaric HBO series "Deadwood." Do you think less of me? Nevertheless, it was cool to tour. It was also exhausting. I have no idea who thought of placing the cemetery there, requiring the hauling of Dead Weight (ha ha) up such a steep slope. It is a "mount" after all.

I know this series is dragging on, especially after the huge break between this post and the previous. The end of our trip was too significant to omit, so there will be one last post, which I'll start now. I have other things I want to share with you, including more garden produce preservation and an interview with a new, and surprisingly proficient bread baker.

Stay tuned.


  1. We're reading the Little House books and I just am not even sure how to talk to G about the "Indian" stuff in there. And then we have India Indians in our family history, so she gets verrrry confused.

  2. Ma's hostility toward the Indians is something Rebecca and I have talked about often. What to do, what to do... Ultimately, I read it verbatim to the kids and stop and talk about how shocking Ma's hatred is. I mention that Ma does indeed know of some scary, violent things that some Native Americans DID do and then we have to discuss it briefly from their point of view - i.e. Why might those people have been angry enough to act in this way?

    By the way, Little House sites coming up on our trip home!


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