We left Lander Wyoming on July 31st to head towards Miles City Montana where our next work assignment will be for the next 4 to 5 weeks. Along the way we stopped for a quick side trip around Lovell Wyoming to hike to the “Big Horn Medicine Wheel”. The Medicine Wheel is located in the Bighorn National Forest on the western peak of Medicine Mountain at an elevation of 9642 feet in the Bighorn Range.
The wheel was constructed by Plains Indians between 300-800 years ago, and has been used and maintained by various groups since then. The central cairn is the oldest part, with excavations showing it extends below the wheel and has been buried by wind-blown dust. It may have supported a central pole. The solstice alignments remain accurate today.
The 75-foot diameter wheel is a roughly circular alignment of rocks and associated cairns enclosing 28 radial rows of rock extending out from a central cairn. If you stand or sit at one cairn looking towards another, you will be pointed to certain places on the distant horizon. These points indicate where the Sun rises or sets on summer solstice and where certain important stars rise heliacally, that is, first rise at dawn after being behind the Sun. The dawn stars helped foretell when the Sun ceremonial days would be coming. The area is free of snow only for 2 months around the summer solstice.
The hike is an easy mile and a half one way up a two lane forest service road. If you have handicap plates they will allow you to drive up and park just past the wheel. The hike has plenty of views along the way to make it an enjoyable walk.
The wheel from a distance, they have it fenced off and it is filled with offerings from Native American ceremonies.
After visiting the Medicine Wheel, we drove up towards Billings so we could get an oil change in the motorhome. Along the way we stopped at the Custer Battlefield along the Little Bighorn. We spent a couple of hours there but it was over a hundred degrees outside so we limited our walking. We did take the bus tour which gave us a pretty good account of what happened there. We will definitely go back when the temps are more favorable.
We went to Billings so we could get an oil change in the motorhome. This sounds like an easy task, but everyplace I called had about a month wait. Really! It’s just an oil change for crying out loud! Finally I found a place called Fly N Lube that was just off the interstate. It works just like a quick lube place but for Big Rig Trucks and RV’s. We arrived about an hour before they closed and took us right in. The whole process took less than 15 minutes.
Our plan was to find a place in Billings but we were only 138 miles away from our ultimate destination in Miles City. We decided to go ahead and drive on so we could have one day free before we started back to work. We arrived around 10:00 pm but we had a pull through site so we just got leveled up, plugged in and went to bed.
The area we are working is pretty, but not as pretty as Wyoming was. The work here is harder because all the BLM land is broken up and is surrounded by private property. Our Bosses, Chuck and Claudia are spending their time getting permissions from various landowners for us to access the BLM land through their properties. So it is challenging to say the least.
On one particular day we were out inventorying and I came across a small ditch with water in it.It did not look like much but it was deep enough that I high centered on the rear axle. Even in 4wd I could not get out and just spun mud.
After 45 minutes of trying to dig it out, we finally decided to hit the spot button. The “Spot” is a battery operated GPS locater that has several functions. One button the one we pressed sent a text message via satellite to our home office and to our bosses Chuck and Claudia giving them our gps location. The other button is an SOS that will automatically send a rescue helicopter. After sending the message to our bosses, we just pulled out a tarp, found some shade, had lunch and settled in to wait for our rescuers to show up.
Just about the time we finished lunch a ranch hand was driving by on a John Deer Gator. He was kind enough to pull us out, and we quickly got on our way. We quickly got up to higher elevation and got a cell signal so we could call off the rescue party. I was on the fence about adding a winch but now I think it will be a good investment. We could have pulled ourselves out in short order.
Another “Hazard” of the job is putting up with certain creatures. Some people don’t like spiders and snakes. Personally I like snakes and spiders don’t bother me, but I admit it that I am terrified of the flesh clinging, eye gouging and blood sucking grasshopper! I am glad I have an understanding wife, I will move the snakes and she will chase away the grasshoppers!
This evil looking monster landed on the windshield and was waiting for me to get out of the Jeep. Not going to happen! Luckily Max is here so I don’t have to hit the “Spot” button!
Since we are going to be here for 4 weeks or so our friends Steve and Joan and us decided to replace our slide topper awnings. Max and I also decided to change out our main patio awning as well. We ordered all of the fabric and Steve and Joan and Max and I helped each other get them installed.
Here, Steve is securing one end
Replacing the main patio awning presented a few more challenges. I was pulling my hair (what little is left) and threatening to jump. Max is pleading with me not to because my life insurance would not recognize a suicide.
Overall the projects were not that hard to do especially if you have good friends to help. All together we replaced 6 slide topper awnings and a main patio awning in about a day’s worth of time, and we saved a whole bunch of money in the process.
We also have had a couple of Sunday meals with our co-workers.
As an added treat one of our co-workers, Natalie is a licensed Massage Therapist. She brought her chair and Max and I was lucky enough to receive a relaxing massage. Yep! Life is good!
This summer is passing by us so fast. It will be September soon and we will be headed back towards Wyoming and Utah to finish up the season. The great thing about this job is that everyday we see something different, have a different experience, and we are sharing it with great friends.
Enjoy Your Day!