Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life-and travel-leaves marks on you.
----Anthony Bourdain

Thursday, February 29, 2024

The Great West Trip Part 2

After we left the Badlands, Devils Tower was next on the list. We just passed through and honestly, I would have been happy with seeing it in the distance and not actually driving into the park. It was rather crowded and, since we weren't hiking, the views weren't worth it to wait in line to get to the parking area. 

It was hot, but it was July, and crowded. I am surprised that climbing is allowed, for a fee, of course. We ran into a Polish couple in Yellowstone who climbed it. It must be done in the back of the tower; I didn't see anyone climbing but we saw the information for it.

We thought about camping in the area but with the temperatures predicted to be fairly warm overnight, we opted to stay in a hotel in Gillette. At some point in your life, comfort outweighs adventure.

From there we headed to Billings, Montana. We needed a "rest day" and it was a good time to do laundry and replenish groceries. We were able to secure a somewhat shaded spot at the KOA. This just happened to be KOA #1 so we felt like we found gold!
It was your typical KOA: Kind of tight spaces but the amenities were nice. We thought the location was a little odd: It was behind a residential area. We decided that the campground was probably there first and the houses were built later. Robert soaked in the pool and I sat with my feet in it for a while. We finished our laundry and relaxed. The Yellowstone River runs behind the campground.

While driving into town to go to the grocery store, I was pleased to see that the underpasses had been spruced up:

While at the campground, we discovered we had some interesting neighbors:

Robert looked it up because the employees had some question as to when to attempt to remove the nest with the least amount of bother to the campers. It's a "bald-faced hornet" and is very aggressive.  According to some sites I looked at, they sting repeatedly and can spray a "venom" in the eyes of an attacker causing watering of the eyes and temporary blindness. The nest was across the path from our site but thankfully they waited until after we left to take care of it.

We had a big decision to make. After seeing Robert's pictures when he rode his motorcycle to the Arctic Circle, I've wanted to see Lake Louise. We made sure we brought our passports just in case we went over the border but we had some considerations that we had to take into account. Do we go north into Canada, west to Glacier National Park, or south to Yellowstone? Or do we decide to go another route and do something different? Find out in Part 3!

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