Category Archives: WaltzingMatildaVan

TRAVELOG: South Dakota’s Original 1880 Town – Murdo, SD

What started as a movie set slowly grew into the attraction now known as 1880 Town. The majority of the historically correct buildings were relocated to an 80 acre lot owned by Richard Hullinger to add to the attraction, which consists of a long main street with a church at the end, as well as train tracks just ‘outside of town’, with a collection of old steam engines…

[more here]

TRAVELOG: Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park – Montana

This was easily one of the most grueling treks I’ve taken to get to a cave. Unlike most of the other commercial cave systems I’ve been to throughout the country – where you enter the cave from the inside of a building, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park has a 3/4 mile walk outside, throughout the mountains from the visitor’s center up to the cave mouth itself.

I was on the first tour of the day, shortly after 9am, and it was already getting really hot out. No clouds in the sky, and the hateful sun was doing everything it could to ensure that I expired on my way up the trail. I kept being surprised that the trail kept going, and going… and going. Ah, yes – my workout for the day…

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TRAVELOG: Pictograph Cave State Park – Billings, MT

Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings, Montana, went on ‘the list’ recently. I think it was while I was in either Wisconsin or Minnesota that I discovered it and wanted to check it out…

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TRAVELOG: South Dakota Highway 87 – Needles Highway

Snaking through the Black Hills of South Dakota, Highway 87 winds through both Custer State Park and Wind Cave National Park. Custer State Park itself is worth the visit, but I didn’t have much time to stick around and check it out, unfortunately.

I’d just visited Jewel Cave National Monument, a little over half an hour to the southwest, and had been wanting to make my way along Needles Highway to see the eye of the needle that nature had carved out of solid rock. The road has very sharp turns, low tunnels and is fairly narrow, but I figured I could manage it.

I’m glad I ended up being right…

[more here]

TRAVELOG: Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is a marvel of geothermal activity. The park is enormous (3,468.4 square miles (8,983 km)), and with two days of exploring, I still didn’t see anywhere nearly as much as I wanted to. Coming in from South Dakota, I ended up taking the East entrance, from Cody, Wyoming on a sunday afternoon. There were a number of gorgeous waterfalls cascading down the rocks on the side of the road throughout the ride in. It was fantastic. Lots o’ canyon, lots o’ waterfalls. Just how I like it….

[more here]

Road Chronicles

Bedding down for the night at a campground in Three Forks, Montana. Tomorrow – the Lewis and Clark Caverns!

Road Chronicles

So, the other night it’s taking me awhile to get to sleep and I hear what sounds very much like a bear growling as it’s walking around outside near the van. I think to myself, “Holy shit. Was that actually a bear, or just my imagination?”

After a few minutes, the growl comes again. At this precise moment, I realize that I also have to start making my way to the bathroom at some point soon.

“Go ‘way, bear! I have to pee and I don’t want to get mauled/eaten on the way to the bathroom!” I groaned quietly to myself.

I held off as long as I could, trying to get to sleep and just wait my bladder out, but my brain started deciding to make me have dreams of having a bucket inside the van that I could use as emergency facilities. Eventually, I had to just get the hell out of the van and make a break for the bathroom.

I opened the doors, looked around, and I couldn’t see the shape of anything that might eat me, so I started the long walk to the big, cold building. (it gets down in the 50’s here at night in summer, apparently) Of course, in my head, the bear is now simply waiting for me in one of the stalls, but at that point I no longer cared. I had my mighty keys with me, and I’d whack the crap out of it, and very likely pee on it as well during a possible attack.

Color me pleasantly surprised when I get there and there’s no bear -and then when I get back outside, no bear. I get back to Matilda, climb inside and snuggle under the covers, glad that my mental ordeal is over.

Ah, the exciting nights I have, camping in bear country. 🙂

Road Chronicles

Up early and ready to get some brekkie, then head out to Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings, MT – then it’s off to Yellowstone

Road Chronicles

Found a campground in West Yellowstone to spend the week in – good shade, solid WIFI. Woot!

Road Chronicles

Bedding down at a campground in Billings, MT for the night. Full moon is gorgeous.