[This is day 6 and 7 of a 7 day trip to Montana and Wyoming in September 2012]
We arrived in Billings and settled into our hotel. I now switched gears and started to focus on the first presentation I was giving at the conference tomorrow, ironing clothes, polishing shoes, and returning to a work mindset. But the conference sessions were only in the afternoon and we were determined to see as much as we could during the mornings. Our list had included potential dinosaur sites up near Glendive (this one, the Makoshika Dinosaur museum, not the creationist place) but in the end we stayed close by.
Lewis and Clark and Pompey’s Pillar
Thomas Jefferson has always been a fascination to me but it was very late in life that I really had any interest in the Lewis and Clark expedition that he commissioned. We have now visited a number of places along this route – the On-a-Slant Mandan village at Fort Lincoln in North Dakota is a favorite. Lewis and Clark split up on their return from the Pacific and Clark followed the Yellowstone through what is now Billings. He marked his name on a rock he called Pompey’s Tower, after his nickame for Sacagawea’s son. It is the only remaining “on site” evidence of their great expedition. Pompey’s Pillar is a typically well-tended National Parks Service site, with an interesting interpretive center and a sturdy set of 220 stairs that you can climb for the same view the explorer had. Halfway up the renamed tower is Clark’s signature carved in the rock.
The other place we went, on the last day of our trip, was ZooMontana. It boasts animals native to the state and region. In the end we did see some of your typical zoo animals – tiger, bears, otters – but they have a new beaver pair and a bald eagle pair. The sensory garden is a lovely collection of native flowers. The only disappointment was that the last Bighorn sheep had died, so there were none in the park.
My presentations went off without a hitch and we had quick drive up onto the Rimrocks around Billings, to take in the view at sunset and take a quick walk along one of the many city trails. The return to Detroit went much like the trip out did. But backwards. We reminded ourselves to empty the water bottles. And promptly forgot to do it, so a kind TSA agent emptied the bottles in a bathroom and sent them through security again. I don’t think I could have faced 3 liters of water right before a flight.
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