We have been on the road for 18 days, we have covered many miles through this beautiful land and yet it feels like we just left New Jersey a few days ago, we get up and are ready to hit the blacktop, spirits up and full of energy day after day.
We leave the motel and after a short ride through town find the Rams' Horn Cafe, we quickly park our bikes and go inside for a full breakfast. We had been hungering for a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, home fries and toast and the Rams' Horn Cafe didn't disappoint us even though the service was a little slow.
We leave Worland and head east on route 16 towards Ten Sleep, a tiny town with a population of less than 500. Ten Sleep was an American Indian rest stop, so called because it was 10 days travel, or “10 sleeps,” from Fort Laramie (southeast) or Yellowstone National Park (west-northwest). The road just out of Worland offers us some spectacular views, a landscape filled with weird looking rocky and colored sandy hills. This land never ceases to amaze me with its beauty. Every day is a new surprise.
A few miles later as we approach Ten Sleep we pass farms with beautiful lush green fields providing a beautiful contrast against the reddish colored hills in the background.
It's a complete change of scenery as we approach Big Horn National Forest, the road now winding and climbing through a rocky terrain, a beautiful canyon with majestic rocky hills. The forest is named after the Bighorn River, which is partially fed by streams found in the forest.
A little later we pull off when we see Meadow Lark Lake. We take a quick rest and pause to admire the beauty and serenity of the lake and its surrounding area.
We continue east through the park towards Buffalo where we pick Interstate 90 and then it's a quick dash of 70 miles on the slab until we reach Gillette. We get off the Interstate and head south on route 59 towards Wright and the Thunder Basin National Grassland, located between the Big Horn Mountains and the Black Hills to the east. Further down the road we take route 450 east and travel through another 70 miles of mostly deserted roads until we reach Newcastle.
We reach Newcastle with our stomachs rumbling, it was time for lunch. We see Donna's Main Street Diner and quickly head there when we notice the "Home Style Cookin" sign.
With our bodies replenished we leave Newcastle on route 16 and head towards South Dakota and the Black Hills National Forest. The forest's ponderosa pines are a nice change of scenery.
Our next stop is at the Crazy Horse Memorial, a mountain monument under construction in the Black Hills of South Dakota, in the form of Crazy Horse, an Oglala Lakota warrior, riding a horse and pointing into the distance. We enter the memorial park and head towards the visitor center but were a little disappointed that we could not go near the mountain, instead having to look at the carving from at least half a mile away.
We go inside the visitor center and spend some time reading about the history of Crazy Horse and The Battle of the Little Bighorn, also known as Custer's Last Stand. I find the history and battles of the Indian tribes against each other and the United States Army fascinating. As a kid I loved reading cowboys and indians stories. The visitor center is a beautiful wooden structure decorated with Indian artifacts and pictures.
The monument has been in progress since 1948 and is still far from completion. If completed, it may become the world's largest sculpture. I doubt I will ever see it completed at the rate it's moving. We leave the memorial and head towards Mount Rushmore National Memorial. We take the last picture of the day by the sign because by the time we reach Keystone the top of the mountain is covered in fog and we can't see the monument. We head towards Keystone where we quickly find a motel and decide to call it a day. I later walk into a local restaurant and end the day with a sandwich and a cold one.
We covered 340 miles from Worland, Wyoming to Keystone, South Dakota. We visited two National Forests and the Thunder Basin National Grassland. Another amazing day with good weather and beautiful scenery. Tomorrow will be our last touring day, we will visit Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park and then we start our trek back to New Jersey.