Today we left South Dakota, drove across Wyoming, and entered Montana!
The reason we stayed two nights in Box Elder is to get new driver licenses. So the first thing we did in the morning was going to the DMV office to apply for our South Dakota driver licenses. Our bodies were still in Eastern time, so we woke up at 4 a.m. and had breakfast at 6:30. Then we headed to the DMV office. Blue fabrics hung from the ceiling in front of each counter acted as the background of the photo for the applicant. I believe this design made their work more efficient. And I was happy with my photo on the new driver license.
We continued our journey west on I-90W. A little town called Sturgis was on the way. I saw the name of the town was spelled out in stones on the slope of the hill. Stephen said motorcyclists came to gather here once a year. We didn’t see any thing that was attractive here.
There were more herds of cattle and nice houses near Spearfish. We passed some big ranches with nice big houses on top of the tree covered hills. Not long after passing Spearfish, we drove into Wyoming at about 9. A group of longhorn bulls stood high up on the mound by the highway welcoming us. The green prairie gave way to gray-blue color sagebrush. From the boards at the rest area at Moorcroft, we learned that the arid land sits in the rainshadows of the mountain ranges. Moorcroft was the biggest shipping point for cattle and sheep that were driven from Texas to the north. As we walked under the tree, Stephen saw a bag shaped nest on a branch that was not far from the ground. Could it be the nest of orioles? Then we heard the tweet of a bird from above. After a little search, we finally saw it but it was not a Baltimore oriole that we knew. From my camcorder, I could see its head, neck and tail were yellow. It had a worm in its beak. It was flapping its wings and was agitated. We thought it might want to feed the babies in the nest and was afraid of us. So we left. We searched the Internet later and thought it might be the female bullock oriole.
A train with red engines with cars loaded with coal showed up by the highway. That was something we haven’t seen much on the road. After driving for some distance, more trains carrying coal were seen from the road. Then we saw a big factory up ahead. Stephen thought it might be a coal power plant. Not until we passed a giant surface coal mine, did we find out the answer of the existence of the trains and factory.
We stopped at another rest area near Powder River Rd to stretch our legs. A girl was selling rainier cherries and apricots with her dad. We bought some fresh and cold rainier cherries for $5 a pound. That was refreshing at this hot summer day when it hit 103 degrees. We resumed our journey and the snow-capped mountain in the distance made this long drive less boring. Our truck was still driving through the arid, inhabitable land. But we saw two small houses on the right after passing the muddy Crazy Woman creek. His neighbor lives across the highway. Only gritty people would live in this inhabitable land!
Mounds with red tops like mini volcanos stood above the rolling hills. Just when we were bored by the arid land, a big lake with clear blue water appeared on the right – Lake De Smet. Stephen spotted a pronghorn antelope in the field! Then we saw another two pronghorn antelopes with their distinctive pointed ears, big eyes, and white belly and white tails. That was the highlight of our travel in Wyoming. Shortly after that, we entered Montana at about 1:30 p.m.
Montana welcomes us with its big sky and horses. The land was as barren as that of Wyoming. There were clear lines between the green vegetation close to the highway and the brown fenced land. In some area, fields of golden hay were waiting to be harvested. In other area, hundreds of rolls of hay scattered around. There were also expansive field of green crops, we guess those were new hay. The Little Big Horn River was narrow and we passed it twice. Stephen said it was a battle ground between the native American and the US Army. Passing the Yellowstone River, we arrived at Billing, Montana. We are more than half way in our journey west!