Friday, July 17, 2009

Eastern Montana on July 17th

Today we started east across the I-90 toward Billings and ended up stopping there to buy another new tire for the dolly which hauls the car. We replaced the one we bought in Colorado. Then as we started out of town I spotted a sign which said there were caves in the area....turned out to be Pictograph Cave State Park just a few miles away. We arrived just as a ceremony was ending that opened the new visitors' center at the park and found out any tours today are free. How nice! So we had a personal guide into one of the three caves in the area. This area and its caves, or rock overhangs, once were the living quarters of prehistoric hunters and gatherers. The guide explained that the caves had been inhabited over 2500 years ago, and up until about 200 years ago. The land area was once part of the Crow Indian Reservation, but earlier people who camped here may not have been of that tribe. The pictographs found here are one of the most significant archaeological excavations ever undertaken in Montana. The area was excavated in the late 30s and early 40s by WPA crews. Over 30,000 significant objects, or artifacts, were discovered in the sifted deposits. We all walked up the hillside to one of the caves with our guide but the heat and climb to one was enough for me and Gil. Mitch and Suzanne continued up the trail to the other two caves and took some pictures of the caves and our RV down in the parking lot.

We really were stunned by the heat, as were most people in Montana the mid 90s! We turned on the generator and A/C in the RV in the parking lot and ate our lunch and then started on our way. The drive this afternoon took us into various types of landscape: huge wheat fields, mesa type (buttes) hills, rocks, then back into flat areas of wheatfields or horse ranches. Gil was tired by 5:00 so when we saw a sign for an RV park advertising cable tv and free WiFi, we turned into Terry, Montana. We are camped here under a shade tree on the edge of town and have already had supper. The man across the street from the park has a lovely garden, but I don't recognize any of the plants from here. The wind is blowing and it is finally cooling down. Tomorrow will take us into North Dakota, and hopefully some cooler temperatures.

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