Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Please Mr. Custer

OK, It's not a tipi, not an A-frame, and definitely a fixer upper
Taken 5/17/2011 on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation

NOTE: Clicking on any picture will open a new window with a full-screen view of the picture. Also all links open in a new window.
Please Mr. Custer, I don't wanna go
Hey, Mr. Custer, please don't make me go
I had a dream last night about the comin' fight
Somebody yelled "Attack!"
And there I stood with a arrow in my back.
---Words and Lyrics by Fred Darian/Al DeLory/Joseph Van Winkle
Larry Verne recorded "Please, Mr. Custer" in 1960, and you can hear him sing the whole song
on YouTube.

I apologize for the fact that the text seems too big for the window. I've tried to adjust it three times,
and it still isn't working. Part of the problem is that the lines normally adjust themselves, but for
some reason, now I'm having to put in line breaks by hand. If I have the time/energy, I'll go back
through it a fourth time and readjust everything. If not, just bear with me. With luck, this won't
happen next time.

Last weekend, the second weekend in May, 2011, Kevin and I drove to Portland,
Oregon for our monthly nutrient run. Apparently we can now buy the nutrients we
use in Missoula, but not in the size containers we need, so we're still on the road
once a month to buy fertilizer. On the way, Kevin suggested that we needed to
take a two week vacation. Now isn't it convenient that the largest Ham Radio
gathering in the country is in Dayton, Ohio, which is not all that far from West
Virginia--at least not in western U.S. thought patterns. So, I readily agreed as
long as we could spend about a week with my family in the Mountain State.
Over the course of the weekend, we talked quite a bit about the trip, and whether
it made any economic sense to do it at this point, as we're facing losing our shirt
if our law suits against the State of Montana don't go our way. On the other hand,
if we do lose our court cases, we won't have the money to make a trip anyway,
so why not do it now and use the time to try and figure out just what our best
"Plan B" is.

Once back in Missoula, I called my cousin Ron in Parkersburg and warned him
that we're headed his way. I also left a voice message for my cousin Sharon
telling her to be ready to fix a pitcher of margaritas and have some Pepsi in the
fridge, but I didn't tell her why. She'll figure it out. She's a smart gal. I didn't call
my cousin Vicki, but if she reads this blog she'll know we're on the way, and she'll
be expecting my call. She'll get one, too.

Monday I spent getting prescriptions filled, the oil changed, the gas tank filled, and
taking care of business at home. Tuesday morning, Kevin was scheduled for a
colonoscopy, but figured we could be on the road by noon. Actually, we made it
by 12:30, so I can't complain. As he had been sedated for the hospital procedure,
I got to do most of the driving. Heading East on Interstate 90, we had much better
weather than the last time (Easter weekend) we made the run to Billings. Blue
skies, sunshine, beautiful scenery. Who could ask for anything more. As I was
driving, I chose the music, and as we drove, we listened to the McGarrigles,
Joan Baez, and David Walburn. (Who, I hear you ask, is David Walburn?) Well,
he's a Montana singer/songwriter, and I just happened to have one of his CDs in
the case. In a show that there is no such thing as coincidence, as we approached
Big Timber, with the Crazy Mountains to our north, David started singing "Headed
For the Crazies." You can learn more about David and even hear a clip of
"Headed For the Crazies" on his website. On our trip at Easter, I had tried
repeatedly to get a good photo of the Crazies, and wasn't terribly successful
due to the weather. Today, the weather was picture perfect, wouldn't you say?

The Crazy Mountains (AKA The Crazy Woman Mountains)
Taken 5/17/2011 near Big Timber, Montana

There are many stories about how the Crazies got their name, but the most
common seems to concern a woman who got lost in the range and went insane.
A more erudite reason for the name is that the Crow Indians considered these
mountains an important venue for vision quests. When they tried to explain that
to white settlers, the whites, unfamiliar with the concept of a vision quest, thought
that the Injuns were saying that the mountains were where you went crazy. Now
that certainly sounds plausible to me, don't you agree?

We reached Billings around 5 p.m. and decided it was time for dinner. A bit early,
perhaps, but Kevin hadn't eaten since Sunday (preparing for the colonoscopy) and
I had skipped breakfast, so... The eternal question, "Where do you want to eat?"
One place that we both can agree on is the Olive Garden, so I programmed
TomTom to get us there easily. Creature of habit that he is, Kevin said, "You
know what I want," and left for the men's room. I did, indeed, know what he wanted,
so ordered his Shrimp Alfredo and got myself a serving of Stuffed Chicken Marsala.
mm-mm-good! After dinner, we filled the tank at the adjacent Costco and were
quickly back on I-90 headed toward Hardin.

I have no idea what this is, but thought it beautiful
Taken 5/17/2011 in Hardin, Montana

Hardin holds many childhood memories for me as my father served as interim pastor
at the Congregational Church there when I was a child. Every Sunday we'd drive
from Billings on the old U.S. 87, and I still have clear visions of an Easter basket
(think I still have the stuffed bunny from that basket), eating at the home of Mrs. Ping,
visiting the Custer Battlefield (now called the Little Bighorn Battlefield), and, most
especially the time I threw up all over the church steps. I used to get so car sick
on that ride.

Approaching Hardin, Kevin saw a sign for Dairy Queen and started chanting "There's
a Dairy Queen in Hardin, There's a Dairy Queen in Hardin." Well I know a mating call
when I hear one, so of course we stopped at the Dairy Queen. Waiting at the drive up
window, I looked over and saw two trees planted next to the neighboring Taco Bell.
The trees were in full bloom, and were so astonishingly lovely, that I had to grab my
camera and jump out of the car. I have no idea what it is, but maybe one of you can
tell me.

Hardin is the county seat of Big Horn County (number 22 if you're following my
Montana Counties blog), and Big Horn County is Crow Country. The Crow Indian
Reservation covers most of the county, and parts of some adjoining counties as well.
The Crow were a friendly tribe, and served as scouts for Custer's 7th Cavalry. Hmmm,
maybe they weren't so friendly... NO, the Crow were our friends. Their great chief
Plenty Coups had a vision early in his life where he saw all the bison of the plains
running into a hole in the ground and disappearing. Once the bison were gone, a
smaller breed, similar to the bison but spotted black and white, came out of that hole.
He interpreted this dream to mean that the way of the Indian was passing away, and
the time of the white man had come. From that point on, the Crow welcomed
the whites and worked with them. In return, they got a reservation on a portion of
their traditional homeland. If you can find a copy, I heartily recommend Frank Bird
Linderman's biography of Plenty Coups,

On these rolling hills, the men of the 7th Cavalry met their maker
Taken 5/17/2011 at Little Bighorn Battlefield
(formerly Custer Battlefield)

We could have stayed on Interstate 90 and driven through Wyoming, but there is a
shortcut in the form of US Highway 212 which crosses southern Montana heading
toward Belle Fourche, South Dakota. 212 leaves I90 at the site of the Battle of the
Little Big Horn, and crosses both the Crow and the Northern Cheyenne reservations.
It passes through Big Horn, Rosebud, Powder River and Carter Counties in Montana,
but the only town of any size is Broadus. It was there we intended to spend the night.

In March, 2010, I had driven through Rosebud and Powder River Counties, looking
to add photos and stories to my on-going work,
Glory of the West--a Photographic
Portrait of Montana's Fifty-Six
Counties, a work I am currently publishing as a blog.
I had fallen in love with the red hills covered by dark green forests, and the friendly
people I had met along the way. In writing up Powder River County (number 9 on
Montana license plates), I had determined that I would have to return and check
out some of the places I'd missed in 2010. Now was my chance. I especially wanted
to eat at the Judge's Chambers, but alas, we arrived in Broadus only to learn that
the restaurant doesn't open until June. Just my luck.

We checked into our motel, the only one in town, and retired for the evening. At
2 a.m. I was wide awake and in pain, a pain that only occurs when I'm lying down.
Nothing to do but get up, grab the camera and the computer, and put together this
little travelogue for you. Hope you enjoy it.

I intend to keep you all informed as we cross the country. Next stop will be Des
Moines, Iowa, where we'll visit our friends Fred and Harold. They're expecting us on
Thursday, but I fear we'll probably get there a day early. It's not that far from Broadus
to Des Moines--well, except in terms of culture, geography, topography, and mindset.
Still, guess I'll have to call Fred and warn him.

Till later....

The Red Hills of Powder River County
Taken 5/17/2011 between Ashland and Broadus Montana
Please enlarge this one, it's worth it.

1 comment:

redwinecarl said...

Safe travels boys!