West 2021:
Day 7 - Billings, MT


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West 2021: [Day 1 - OakdaleI] [Day 2 - Fargo] [Day 3 - Beaver Lake] [Day 4 - Bismarck] [Day 5 - Little Missouri] [Day 6 - Miles City] [Day 7 - Billings] [Day 8 - Missoula] [Day 9 - Steamboat Rock] [Day 10 - Bay View] [Day 11 - Seattle] [Day 12 - Seattle] [Day 13 - Seattle] [Day 14 - Millersvania] [Day 15 - Yakima River Canyon] [Day 16 - Farewell Bend] [Day 17 - Bruneau Dunes] [Day 18 - Craters of the Moon] [Day 19 - Grand Tetons] [Day 20 - Buffalo Bill] [Day 21 - Buffalo] [Day 22 - Badlands] [Day 23 - Jordan] [Day 24 - Trempealeau] [Day 25 - Heading Home]

Sunday, May 9, 2021: We had a hearty breakfast of oatmeal and leftover breakfast skillet. Then we left camp and drove to Riverside Park in Miles City, where we got to see this gorgeous sculpture up close.
When we got onto I-94, a coyote ran across the road in front of us, but the only picture of it is the road where the coyote was before disappearing over the side.
Here's Bighorn River.
We went to Pompeys Pillar National Monument.
The long walkway to the visitor center meanders just like the Yellowstone River, shown here meeting the Missouri River in the northeast corner of Montana.
This compass rose display contained several embedded markers.
This one says "National Geodetic Survey" on the left and "Montana Registered Land Surveyors Association" on the right.
The disc is the same design as the one we had seen at Sitting Bull's Burial Site at Ft. Yates three days earlier. It is one of the large Corps of Discovery II commemorative disks placed along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
The river path meandered up to the beautiful visitor center, ...
... in the front door, ...
... and down the main hallway.
There's a small museum in the visitor center. Here's the map of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, so we would be seeing more references to them in our travels over the next two days until their route drops south of ours.
Here are life-size figures of members of the party: York (Clark's slave), Clark, Sacagawea (effectively Charbonneau's slave), and her son. This site is named for her son, who Clark nicknamed Pompey.
This wonder of tree branches and bison skins is a bull boat.
These are dugout canoes.
This plaque noted the Pompeys Pillar is a National Historic Landmark, which was true from 1965 until 2001, when it was upgraded to National Monument.
Finally, we were ready to walk to the top of Pompeys Pillar.
Here is where William Clark signed his name in 1806.
It is covered with plexiglass. A ranger (or volunteer?) inside told us that the ground beneath the signature has eroded significantly in 200 years, which is why the signature appears to be higher than someone could reach to sign.
There are several other plaques attached to the wall including this one mounted by the Daughters of the American Revolution back in 1928.
The stairwell to the top of Pompeys Pillar was closed for 18 months and has only recently reopened. Concern for stability of the pillar has led to placement of reinforcing rods and instruments that detect movement.
There was a great view from the top. Here's the view toward the southwest, which is upstream, ...
... and the view in the other direction.
We spotted this little downy woodpecker ...
... this cute little rabbit, ...
... and this unidentified furry guy.
Unidentified, that is, until we returned to the visitor center and saw the list of local wildlife, with Yellow-Bellied Marmot specially highlighted.
We stopped in the gift shop for a minute but nothing caught our eye that we didn't already own.
Back on the road, there were ugly storms waiting for us up ahead. Would we end up driving through the grey clouds, the white clouds, or the black clouds? We were fortunate to only get rained on a little bit.
Montana's Adopt-a-Highway signs were pretty.
We had started our trip on I-94/I-90 in Illinois and Wisconsin, where they divided. Here they were coming together again, or more accurately, here's where I-90 makes I-94 disappear.
We rolled into Billings slightly after noon.
We crossed the Yellowstone River again.
It was a dream come true for Debbie to finally visit the only Carbone's Pizzeria location outside of Minnesota and Wisconsin.
It's still baffling as to why there's a Carbone's here in southern Montana, ...
... but sure enough, this was the real deal. Their menu said that they use Wisconsin cheese and sausage shipped in from St. Paul, where they keep the Carbone's mother ship.
Even better, there was Minnesota sports decor throughout: Minnesota Vikings, Twins, and Golden Gophers were all represented.
There was no Carbone's Special on the menu so we ordered their combo and replaced black olives with shrimp to duplicate the St. Paul original. The thin crust was a little different and it had much more sauce than the original, but it was still very delicious.
We saved a few pieces to have for future breakfasts ...
... and then said goodbye to one of the most magical places in Montana.
We went to Ace Hardware next, where Tom bought nearly every type of clear sealant they sell.
At Albertson's, we bought some 12-packs of Diet Coke, both with and without caffeine, plus raspberries, tasty pudding desserts, coconut caramel Oreos, peanut M&Ms, and baby carrots because we like to eat healthy. We also picked up a few birthday gifts to bring to Debbie's brother later in the week, including some Redneck Cottage Bacon and party M&Ms.
We drove up to see the Rim Rocks.
There are nice trails along the edge of the hills overlooking Billings, but we were just here for the view.
We had a Harvest Host reservation at Canyon Creek Brewing, so we parked our rig ...
... and went inside ...
... and order a couple of beers. Debbie had one of their hefeweizens, a mango beer named Fuzz. Tom ordered Rabbit Head Red.
We also bought a souvenir pint glass.
We were parked in the extra lot next to the brewery with a few other RVs.
A little bit of light was coming in one of the back windows and it unexpectedly lit up the clear glitter inflatable pool toy that we use as a barrier in the gap between the back doors and the edge of the bed at night. Rainbows!
Tom had spotted a Fuddrucker's sign on the highway exit when we first got to town, so we headed there for dinner.
We got our food to go, but we still got to use the excellent Fuddrucker's burger bar to top our burgers.
We can't resist onion rings or Fuddrucker's pico de gallo.
Back at the brewery parking lot, we watched Atlantic Crossing on Debbie's phone so we wouldn't get too behind while we were traveling.
During another bit of rain, the sun came out and produced a pretty rainbow.
The downside of Harvest Host is that restrooms aren't available so we decided to drive a bit and spend the night at a Montana rest area. We were all set to spend the night without power or water, so why not do it in a rest area with available bathrooms and reduce our driving time the next day? So off we went at 7:30 PM, ...
... and were at a shiny rest area a half hour later. The next rest area wasn't too far down the road, so we decided to drive to the next one.
We enjoyed watching the changing skies as we drove. Storm cells continued to dot the region, ...
... along with occasional blue skies.
We got to watch the sunset as it lit up the Yellowstone River next to us, ...
... and snow-capped mountains in the distance.

This is where we parked for the night and had a perfectly pleasant night's sleep. We are grateful that Montana state law allows overnight parking at rest areas.

Day 8 >


West 2021: [Day 1 - OakdaleI] [Day 2 - Fargo] [Day 3 - Beaver Lake] [Day 4 - Bismarck] [Day 5 - Little Missouri] [Day 6 - Miles City] [Day 7 - Billings] [Day 8 - Missoula] [Day 9 - Steamboat Rock] [Day 10 - Bay View] [Day 11 - Seattle] [Day 12 - Seattle] [Day 13 - Seattle] [Day 14 - Millersvania] [Day 15 - Yakima River Canyon] [Day 16 - Farewell Bend] [Day 17 - Bruneau Dunes] [Day 18 - Craters of the Moon] [Day 19 - Grand Tetons] [Day 20 - Buffalo Bill] [Day 21 - Buffalo] [Day 22 - Badlands] [Day 23 - Jordan] [Day 24 - Trempealeau] [Day 25 - Heading Home]

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