An hour after leaving Buffalo we cross the border into Montana – Big Montana, Broad Valleys, Wide Open Spaces, Quintessential American West, Big Montana Sky. That is how we see and describe the next two and a half days.
With many miles to drive before we sleep we plan a brief stop at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Caught up in a compeling presentation by a ranger/historian our visit turns into an hour plus but we leave with a better understanding of this landmark site.
We leave Interstate travel at Billings heading northwest on state and county roads. This is Montana so the speed limit only drops by a few mph. We note that the valleys here are ringed by mountains and always from horizon to horizon Big Montana Sky. Our destination, Ft. Benton, served as a major supply center for the Northwest and Alaska during the gold rush era. Situated on the banks of the Missouri River this was as far as the steamships could navigate so goods, settlers and fortune seekers passed through the region.
This evening the town has a sleepy quality. After-dinner strollers enjoy the paved riverside walkway while the broad main streets carry little traffic. We’ve made reservations at the Grand Union Hotel, Montana’s oldest operating hotel. An award-winning restoration means we sacrifice no 21st-century creature comfort in the 1882 edifice. Sad to say the hotel’s notable dining room is closed on Tuesday evening; The Banque Club across the street provides a dining option.
A park bench offers a ideal after-dinner spot to contemplate historic events and watch the wide Missouri roll eastward.
“To revitalize the American wool industry, preserve the West, and create American made high-quality products through eco-friendly operations and fair prices for Ranchers.” I love the mission of this family owned business in Buffalo, Wyoming.
My knitting friends and family members would love the multitude of yarns created on site. Fleece from quality Western growers is processed at the on-site mill producing 100% traceable natural wool products. Visitors can witness the many steps from sorting and cleaning through carding, dying and spinning on 45-minute mill tours offered daily during the summer.
We arrived late in the day after tours were completed but a helpful staff member offered to play a 5-minute video. The next time I’m passing through Buffalo I will definitely plan time for the tour, it all looks fascinating.
When You Go: Mountain Meadow Wool Mill is located at 22 Plains Drive, Buffalo, WY. For mill tours information and gift shop hours check mountainmeadowwool.com or call 307-684-5775.
From Centennial, Colorado to Buffalo, Wyoming – 445 miles from morning limited visibility to sun still high in the western sky at 8p.m.
Stops along the way:
Southeast Wyoming Welcome Center, I-25 exit 4
The Wyoming Rib & Chop House in Gillette, Wyoming
Mountain Meadow Wool Mill, Buffalo, Wyoming
Sightings of antelope with plenty of room to roam, brown cows, black cows and some really ugly spotted cows, horses, hawks, coal mines, long trains of empty coal cars headed north, trains of filled coal cars headed south, working oil fields, Crazy Woman Creek and miles of green, green grasses.
Two years ago today we explored Frank Lloyd Wright’s lasting connection to Mason City.
The Historic Park Inn Hotel in downtown Mason City is the last remaining hotel in the world designed and built by FLW. Extensive renovations keep the classic Wright design elements while offering guests modern comfort. Each of the 27 rooms are individually decorated.
We spent the night in a king specialty room with a park view – a wonderful choice.
After a long hiatus of no activity I hope to return with numerous posts – some from new travels and some stemming from pass adventures and cherished memories. Is it a sign of aging that those memories become more cherished – whether with detailed accuracy or skewed with flaws and misinterpretation
For me, travel is rarely luxurious or restive but instead a long road of discovery. Discovery of new locations, historical context, natural wonders, arts, food and personal connections. I hope some will join me along the road.
In a week my husband and I plan to set off on a road trip to the northern Rockies and into Canada. It won’t be as extensive as our 50-day 2016 trip to Canada’s Maritime Provinces. We don’t know if it will be two weeks or five, depending on health and endurance. However, we are sure there will be discoveries and new memories created.
Most of Day 2 of our journey to Eastern Canada was spent motoring across Nebraska and of Iowa. As much as possible we avoided Interstate 80 plotting our course on secondary roads through this rich agricultural landscape.
A brief stop at the Nebraska state capitol grounds in Lincoln offers a chance to stretch our legs.
The day’s final destination finds us at Zuber’s Homestead Hotel in Iowa’s Amana Colonies.
Long a fan of Willa Cather’s books, the perfect choice for a respite from driving was a stop in Red Cloud, Nebraska. The town of just over 1,000 residents feels like a step back in time. Cather is recognized as one of the most important American writers of the first-half of the 20th-century.
Since our visit came on the 4th of July the Cather Childhood Home and Foundation were closed; we were only able to experience the exterior of the home and grounds.
The hand pump and hollyhocks were a reminder of my grandparents farmhouse that I frequently visited when a little girl growing up in the Midwest – decades ago.
Red Cloud’s well preserved main street, Opera House, Cather Prairie, Cather’s Childhood Home, and Second Home (now a host-free guest house) will draw me back when there is time to explore the area that inspired so much of Cather’s writing.