Water (in the form of a lake) which turned out to be the Keyhole Resevoir. This was formed by the Keyhole Dam on the Belle Fourche River. It is quite low because of the drought but still looks very big out here in the vast spaces. Yesterday I had been wondering who Belle Fourche was and why there was a town and a river named after her. Turns out there is no lady by that name. French trappers named it when they settled in the vicinity and engaged in fur trading. It means "pretty fork". We saw a lot of evidence of fires. These trees were burned not too long ago and throughout the day we saw many spots where the land was simply scorched black. None of the photos are really clear today as the air did have a lot of smoke in it from all the active fires in the region. We could see the smoke plumes from several in the region as we threaded our way through.
The cow statue was found at a truck stop in Moorcroft, WY. Just as we were about to get back into the truck, another truck pulling a little 1964 Scotty travel trailer stopped beside us. The wife says "Maine?". But of course. And, small world, they tell us that they are from Freeport on their way to Yellowstone. They came by because the wife noticed Lowell, who was wearing his hat, and she thought she had spotted a real cowboy! I panicked and failed to get their names or take their picture.
There was a sign advertising fresh doughnuts. Brett really wanted a doughnut but the sign was on the other side of the road. Brett: We could turn around. Lowell: Three point turns are for sissies. I've watched James Bond. Just get up a good head of steam and turn the wheel really fast. The force will swing the trailer right around with us. Brett: And when we all regain consciousness we can discuss why that wasn't a very good idea. We didn't get any doughnuts.
We also saw a few flocks of sheep. This was a nice break from all the cows. Also present were pronghorn antelope. I copied this photo from Wikipedia.
They just wander around with the cows and help themselves to all the best grass. We saw more of them each time there was any kind of irrigation. Wyoming is famous for their pronghorn hunting.
abandoned car junk yard right by the highway. Honestly, you'd think with this much space around you might want to leave the really trashy things a bit further from the main road!
In amongst all the ups and downs of this land we came upon one flat, green space. It was the 4.5 square mile city of Buffalo, WY(population 4500) and it did look like an oasis sprawling along.
I am sorry to say Wyoming that if I were coming across your state in my covered wagon and I stopped to see what was coming, I would burst into tears. What on earth motivated a person to keep moving through and what would have caused them to stop and live here?
The Wyoming state motto is "Equal Rights". I propose changing it to simply "Why?"
As we approached Billings there were a few more trees in evidence.
We also noticed a lot of long tailed black birds which were probably black billed magpies.
Trucks full of sugar beets started showing up around Hardin, MT. Irrigated sugar beets are a big crop in this area and they are expecting to have a record harvest this year. The trucks are taking the beets to the beet dump where they wait in huge piles until the refinery needs feeding.
Our 295.5 miles of driving today got us to the Billings KOA on the Yellowstone River in the outskirts of Billings. This was the very first KOA and has been open since 1962. It is very well tended and has an interesting view. The river runs between these bluffs and the cement wall. We were told that when it is running high it comes right up to the wall. We couldn't find any water in it today.
We've taken a trip to Albertson's grocery store to stock up for our 4 days at Yellowstone. Everybody is very excited to see what adventures will unfold on our first trip to this national park.