We woke up to another beautiful day in Wyoming and it was Greg's birthday. Happy birthday, Old Man! We tidied up camp, packed things up, and got on the road by around 11am. Greg had some work to do so he wanted to get some of it done while we were still in free wifi land. We got on the road to drive back to I-90 and up to Billings.
This route was actually a schedule change. There were two reasons. First, we really wanted to see the Little Big Horn National Monument. Greg and Gage were fascinated and wanted to see it. The other reason was that we'd been warned that the Little Bighorn Mountains have some intense passes in them. We've been babying the FMC's transmission so it didn't take much convincing for us to decide to go around the mountains instead of through them. It didn't take much convincing for me to drive through Montana. It's where I was born and I haven't been back since I was 3. It felt pretty cool to drive into my home state even though, as an Air Force Brat, I don't really have a "home" in that way.
Little Bighorn National Monument is a sobering place. The Park Service has done a good job, in my opinion, in not belittling either side in telling the story of the battle. I grew up hearing that Custer was a hero and then later a fool. After being at the monument, I think both are true. He was a good general but he underestimated his enemy and they all paid the price. The monument has a visitor's center where we watched a film and the kids did the Junior Ranger program. We learned a lot there. Then we did the drive. You drive out 5 miles along the battlefield. There are markers that explain what happened at different points and somehow seeing the grounds really helped me to understand what happened there and why certain things happened. Most poignently, there are also white and red stone monuments that mark where soldiers and indians died. In certain areas, you read that a particular plan failed and then you look down at the valley and see 25 white markers. It brings it all home in a very real way.
We were running a bit behind our schedule after this stop. We wanted to have a nice dinner in Billings for Greg's birthday before settling in at our Walmart parking spot for the night. I had researched restaurants in Billings on the internet and hadn't been too impressed -- I'm sure there are great restaurants but they weren't reviewed online. The one that came up with glowing reviews over and over again was Famous Dave's BBQ so that was where we went. Greg loves him some BBQ. It was fantastic. Ruth, our picky eater, decided she loved ribs and we all feasted. We took home plenty of leftovers for lunches in upcoming days.
We had read online that Billings doesn't allow overnight stays at their Walmarts so we opted for the safest decision and went further down I-90 to the town of Laurel. A couple of commenters on a Free Camping site had recommended it. Personally, I think the should also have mentioned that it was *right* next door to a train station and an oil refinery. It was a LOVELY night. Ahem.