The Hunts Head West – Day 4 (Devil’s Tower!)
The fourth morning of our trip dawned and we rolled out of our cozy rubber-mattress bed, excited to see Devil’s Tower. When we arrived the night before, the entire area was covered in a darkness so replete, we could not see a thing. We stepped outside and I felt like a kid on Christmas morning – Devil’s Tower loomed dramatically over our campground and the entire scene was bathed in the most beautiful early-morning light. I grabbed my camera and ran around the campground like a crazy woman, snapping away, afraid to miss even a second of the short-lived sunrise perfection. I have done you the enormous favor of whittling down to a tiny handful of photos – apologies if these all look the same to you but hey, it’s my blog so I can do what I want 🙂
The campground itself was fantastic. Nestled at the base of Devil’s Tower, it provides incredible views and offers camping cabins, tent sites and RV sites. As I walked around in that quiet early-morning stillness, it just seemed magical. I know that sounds a little silly – it is just a campground after all. But there was a quality in the air there – a clearness and purity that just seemed to fill you with a sense of possibility.
As the sun rose higher, color bloomed from the red rock cliffs bordering the Belle Fourche River.
The dogs also thoroughly enjoyed exploring the campground- it was basically a giant hound playground of scents. Based on how excitedly Annie & Sasha were running around sniffing the ground, Bigfoot must have been camping nearby and paraded by our cabin with an entourage of raccoons, deer and coyotes. Or maybe just maybe they were picking up on extraterrestrials – I haven’t noticed them building Devil’s Tower out of mashed potatoes so I’m not too concerned. (I hope you’ve seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind – otherwise you have no idea what I’m talking about and that just seems like a very odd statement).
After the sun finished its wonderful morning performance, we made breakfast and enjoyed our oh-so-fun ritual of packing everything back up.
While we loaded everything up and walked the dogs for the umpteenth time, my mom went on a scouting expedition for fuel. Hulett, a tiny hole-in-the-wall village a few miles away, claimed to have one gas station but I had visions of pulling up to a defunct, out-of-business station where the moving truck would sputter and die. My mom headed out in the Jetta to verify whether the gas station did indeed exist and lucky us, it did! So we all headed to Hulett and wow, what a pretty drive! We were rewarded with another view of Devil’s Tower as well as gentle hills occasionally punctuated by that distinctive red rock. Even though it’s quite remote, what an incredible place to live and be able to drink in that view every day.
We finally got back on our route and settled in for a VERY.LONG.DAY.
Originally, we had considered going straight across Wyoming through Yellowstone but we knew it would add an extra day to the trip and, with all the dogs and a moving truck thrown into the mix, we wouldn’t feasibly be able to see much of it. Plus, Andrew and I had already decided that we would most definitely be returning to this part of the county in the future to properly explore it. So we opted for the route that our GPS kept barking at us and drove up through Montana.
Montana went on foooooorreeeeeeever. I think traveling fatigue was starting to settle in at this point and nobody looked forward to another 9+ hours in the car.
We drove and drove and drove some more, while I scouted out a place for us to stay for the night. Our original planned stop had no vacancy – in the entire town (!) so once again, we continued on a bit longer than we had planned, taking us right past dinner time without any dinner. This may or may not have led to a slight hangry breakdown on my part – (when will this drive end? when will we eat dinner? will I even be able to stand up straight after being stuck in this car for so long? … just your run-of-the-mill petty whining.) Luckily, my mom squashed my hunger-induced whining with a quick stop for french fries (fried fatty carbs can solve anything!), and we eventually made it to a perfectly nice hotel, ate our dinner and had a much-needed good night’s sleep.
The dogs were mostly perfect angels during all of this, having become seasoned road warriors at this point. Except for Ella. Poor Ella would settle in to sleep in the car, and then a big truck would go by. Up she would jump, peering out the window trying to figure out what that giant noisy monster was, and it would take her another twenty minutes to settle back down. Then it would happen all over again and again and again, as we shared the road with approximately 80 billion semi-trucks, all speeding by at 90 miles per hour. This did however ensure that she slept through the night at each of our stops.
We were definitely feeling the cumulative effect of driving all day every day at this point. With just a day and a half left to go, we were anxious to just get there already but resolved to be patient and enjoy the remainder of our journey.
Check back in for the final leg of our trip!