Day 17 – Custer’s last stand

Day 17 – Battle of Little Bighorn (NP)

Date: 06/18/2016 Saturday
Starting Location: Bozeman, MT
Ending Location: Broadus, MT
Starting Odometer: 10261
Ending Odometer:
10572
Mileage Today:  311 Miles
Mileage Total:  3734 miles
Today’s MPG:  35 mpg (Riding at 80 mph on the Interstate really ruins the gas mileage)
Total Average MPG:  42 mpg (Average mpg for the entire trip also dropped)

Departing Bozeman

I must admit that I had a really nice visit with Leila.  it’s been about 10 years since I’ve seen her, with the exception of seeing her when she and Greg got married a few years back.  Leila and I had a nice time talking about old times, and getting her caught up on all of the folks that are in our little Bay Area Community of friends.

I woke up at about 5AM and made coffee, and then heard Leila getting up at about 6, so that she could make a fitting breakfast for us, as I hit the road.  Cheerios, bran flakes, and corn flakes were all added to a bowl, and set out next to a bowl of fresh fruit. I’m more of an egg guy for morning breakfast, but this was fast, efficient, and a great way to start the day.

After taking a selfie with Leila,I hit the road at about 8AM.

218-LeilaCliff01

Today’s Route

Today was a relatively simple day, but still a fairly long haul.  I needed to get to the National Monument for the Battle of Little Bighorn, but that was my only tourist stop for the day.  As you can see from the tracks below, my route was East, East, and a little more East.  About 200 miles were on the Interstate, so I made pretty good time, except that my GPS was once again trying to get me off of the Interstate at any cost.  On about 5 or 6 different points along the route, the system guided me off of i-90, and onto some other road, which was always less efficient, and no more appealing in any way.

So, it looks like I’m going to have to solve the GPS problem if I’m going to remain sane (Given that it’s not entirely clear that I’m even sane now).

The monument at Little Big Horn is right off of the highway, and it’s also at the intersection of the highway that would take me to Broadus, MT, where I’ll be spending the night, and where I’m writing this post.

618-Route

Lunch on the road

I usually skip lunch while I’m on the road, but I decided to grab lunch so that I could break up the monotony of the Interstate.  I stopped at a little place called the Ranch House Grill, located in Hardin, MT.

618-RanchHouseGrillPart of the allure of this trip was to be able to stop at little places along the 7000 mile journey, and enjoy the local color and hospitality.  I hoped that this is what the Ranch House grill would provide, and boy was I in luck.  I ordered their Santa Fe Burger, and got great service, and a burger that was to die for.  The coleslaw was also great, and it just so happened that Saturday is customer appreciation day, so I got to pick what kind of pie that I would like a free piece of.

I’m no fool, I chose the Peanut Butter Cream pie, and just like the lunch, it was out of this world.  The waitress was simply glowing with enthusiasm, and she was really happy to hear that I loved the lunch.  I was really glad to stop in at this little gem, located about 18 miles before the monument at Little Big Horn.

The National Monument at Little Big Horn

I’ve been to a number of National Parks and Monuments already.  They all are magnificent in their own special way, but in the case of this monument, I have to admit that I was really taken aback with just how special and amazing a place this is.

The story about the battle is quite complex, with three different columns of soldiers arriving from three different directions, without the benefit of any communications method.  What could go wrong, right?

If you’re curious, you can learn more about the battle on Wikipedia.  If not, then you can read on, and I’ll tell the story my way…

The best storyteller ever

As I mentioned, the story of Custer’s Last Stand is complex, and there are many different characters involved in the story.  So, in order to take in a story like this, you need a really great story teller.  So, it just so happened that just as I arrived at the monument and locked my jacket to the bike, I heard the intercom announce that a historical briefing would be taking place at 1PM, under the awning.

Just as advertised, at 12:55 a ranger showed up, and prepared us for the story.  As it turns out, he’s not just a ranger, but he’s been an educator, and historian for over 25 years, and is now retired, but works for the National Parks Service.  Our storytellers name was Steve Adelson, and he’s somewhat remarkable in his own right.

Steve spent about 60 minutes telling us the story of how all three of the columns were compromised, and how the battle unfolded over a 12 square mile area, over the period of about 24 hours.

I’ve included about 3 minutes of his talk in the video below.  I hope you enjoy it.

As it turns out, the battle that was fought by Custer’s men was only a small piece of what happened on the days of June 25 and 26, 1876.  In the end, Custer died, along with two of his brothers, a Brother in Law, and at least one more relative.  It was a very bad day for the Custer’s.

But, did you know that General George Armstrong Custer had been a very successful general, fighting in over 100 battles during the civil war, and other conflicts of that time.  He was not a boob, or an incompetent general, he was however a 36 year old General, who had won most of the battles that he had fought, so he was arrogant, confident, aggressive and tenacious.  As it turns out, the opposing warrior chief was also a 36 year old arrogant warrior.  So, these two titans of war met on the battlefield at Little Big Horn.  it was destiny.  It was predictable that it would end with high causalities for one side or the other.

In the end, Custer, and just about all of his men died on or near the hillside, which is just outside of the Visitor’s center at the monument.

As I listened to the Ranger, and I looked out at the landscape, something struck me.  I had always imagined that there was a hill, and there was a battle that took place on the hill.  As it turns out, that’s not accurate at all.  You see, the battle took place in this wide geographic area, and the landscape is covered with hills, knolls, ravines, valleys, woods, rivers, overlooks, etc.

I’ve inserted a number of pictures of the landscape, so that you can get a better appreciation for what the hills and the landscape looked like.

What happens when you get tired on the road?

What do you do, when you start to feel tired when you’re riding a motorcycle?  Well, it’s probably not too much of a surprise, but the first thing you need to do is to increase your concentration to 100%, and spend all of your energy finding a place that you can stop, in order to get your energy back.

Today, as I was riding from the monument, to Broadus, where I would spend the night, i found myself getting tired.  I tried singing to myself, and screaming at myself, but nothing was working.  I needed to get off the highway, and do it quickly.  So, I ended up stopping in a little town that’s part of the Cheyanne Indian Reservation, at the intersection of Hwy 39 and Hwy 212.

I threw a few hanfuls of cold water at myself, and after drinking 24 oz of some sugary Ice Tea, I was good as gold, and ready for the road again.  But, during those 20 minutes while i was riding towards the next town, i was feeling the stress of riding compromised.

What’s eating Broadus, MT?

Arriving in Broadus, I found the Sagebrush Inn & Suites to be a perfect little hotel.  The night’s stay would cost me about $75, and the room was clean, comfortable, and just about perfect.  With my equipment unloaded from the bike, I set out to fill up on gas, and get some dinner.

As it turns out, there is really only one restaurant in Broadus that is still operating.  The place is called the Power River Stockman’s Club.  I entered the club with a smile, just like all of the other places I’ve eaten dinner, and I sat down.  But, there was somethng different about this place.

A few observations: First of all, everyone in the place was either wearing a cowboy hat, or a baseball cap.  I don’t quite understand why people think it’s OK to wear these hats inside a restaurant, or even at night, when you really don’t need a hat at all.

So, I ordered dinner, as a Chicken Ceaser salad, and was somewhat surprised at how long it took the waitress to deliver my Iced Tea.  As it turns out, this was a waitress that might want to start looking for another profession.  She’s really not very good at her job, and she seemed to treat me like a real outsider.  As the food was delivered there was none of the usual “Here’s your dinner hun”, or “Can I get you anything else Darlin?”.  She simply plopped down my meal, and then forgot to deliver the Iced Tea again.  She waited on every other patron, and almost never looked at me again.

As I’ve said, I really enjoy stopping in these little restaurants in small towns, but if the Stockman’s club is any indication about the people of Broadus, i think I’ll find another place to stop next time through.

Technical difficulties

As I mentioned above, I’ve been having a few technical difficulties while on the road.  When I’m writing these posts, I have found a way to get into a rythem, which is pretty efficient, and it allows me to stream my thoughts, while also uploading and rendering videos and pictures.  But, when the technology betrays you, all hell breaks loose.

it already takes between 1-2 hours to write a post, but when you have tech trouble, it takes longer.  When you couple that with the fact that I was very busy with enjoying Bozeman, while in Bozeman, I was behind on my posts.  So, when I sat down on Friday night to write the posts, I was already 2 days behind, and suffering from Technology problems.

I have to admit that I was getting downright pissed off while writing, but I managed to get three posts done, and published.  Some of you have mentioned that I had failed to update the travel statistics, and according to the numbers I posted, it looked like I was riding in reverse.

Well, I’ve gone back and updated the mileage statistics for the past three days, and I’m now caught up again.  sorry about the delay, and the mistakes.  Thanks for the help.

What’s in store for tomorrow?

Tomorrow is both a very busy day, and also a day with a whole lot of mileage.  it looks like I’m scheduled for 298 miles, and to stop at The Devi’s Tower, and the Center of the Nation monument.  In addition, I’m going to drive through the “Wildlife Loop” of Custer national park.  So, it’s going to be a very busy day.  But, as I sit here, about to publish this post, it strikes me that tomorrow is going to be a really awesome day. Get ready for some more videos, and picture galleries.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

Comments

  1. I like the self psychoanalysis…

    You have been going through a lot of the country where I would think cellular coverage is weak or nonexistent. Knowing you, I’m sure that you have planned for this and am wondering what you did.

    1. Hey Alex,
      yes, it’s true that throughout most of the country there is no cell coverage, but during the day, I’m so busy, that I don’t need to receive calls. If I stop for lunch, it’s usually in a small town, and they usually have some form of cell coverage. If they don’t have cell coverage, then they usually offer free wi-fi, so I’ve been able to respond to email, see the comments that have been made, etc.

  2. I was thinking more along the lines of how you would get assistance if you had an emergency (medical, mechanical, accident).

    1. Alex, now I understand your question. Although I’ve been on a number of somewhat remote dirt roads, I’m generally traveling on state and county roads. When I was preparing to travel on many more back-country roads, I purchased a DeLorme InReach Explorer. This device is how I’m doing real-time tracking as I travel. In addition, and more importantly, the InReach allows me to send an SOS message if I’m ever in trouble. The message will travel to a central office, using the world’s most advanced satellite network. I’m also able to send TXT messages and emails from this device. The device is also a GPS, so it knows my precise location, all of the time. Putting all of this together, you can see that I’m completely covered. I also purchased “Extraction insurance” in the event that I was stranded due to injury, in a remote and inaccessible location.

  3. Thanks for the information. I had visions of you disabled by the side of a trail and was sure that you had planned for that possibility.

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