It was time to move on from The Black Hills and continue the drive west to Oregon, but not without a stop at the final Black Hills area National Park, Devil's Tower! I went solo on this side trip since Mom and Dad had been there before and didn't want to go back.
I thought Devil's Tower was very cool! You could see it from miles away, it's the tallest thing around! It just rises up out of the ground and looks totally different from anything else around. It is also considered a sacred spot by most of the Native Tribes in this area, however the National Park Service seems to be preserving it as a sacred spot, as well as for the public. It was nice to see a sign urging visitors to be respectful of the Tower's sacredness and not to disturb the prayer bundles that had been placed in trees and such!
There's not a lot to do at Devil's Tower. You can walk around the base of it, which means you get to see it from all angles - it looks different on different sides! There are several other trails, but I didn't have time. There is also a prairie dog habitat right by the road, with pull offs to observe them. On the way out I pulled over and ate lunch with the prairie dogs! They were very entertaining! One almost came into the van, but when I moved he ran away!
After I tore myself away from the prairie dogs it was time to keep moving. I'd looked at google maps to check the route and noticed it was 30 miles shorter to take WY 112 to US 212 rather than go back to 90 so off I went! WY 112 was scenic at first, but as I got more and more into the heart of ranch country it got less and less interesting and more and more remote. I realized at one point I hadn't seen another car in a long time. Nor had I seen a sign indicating what road I was on. My cell phone had no signal! It was kind of unnerving being out there in the middle of nowhere miles from anything! What if something happened? How would I problem solve it? Going this route was probably not the smartest move, next time I'll stay on the interstate where I least usually have good cell phone signal!
I was relived when I saw US212 on the horizon! When I reached the intersection I thought, "I need to get fuel next time I see it, who knows when the next chance will be." I had a little more than a half a tank. Then I saw a mileage sign. The next town was 75 miles away! Billings, the next big town, was over 200 miles away! I knew I didn't have quite enough fuel to get to Billings, so I was hoping there'd be something along the way!
As I approached Broadus the fuel gauge had dropped below half, I was really hoping they had diesel. I didn't care what the price was, I was buying it! Luckily there was a Conoco! And they had Ultra low sulphur highway diesel rather than the biodiesel stuff I keep running into that I'm not supposed to use! After I filled the fuel tank I did start enjoying the drive more! I was still out in the middle of nowhere and didn't have cell signal, but there were more cars and "run out of fuel" wasn't going to be a problem I'd have!
After over 200 miles of nothing, I arrived in Billings and soon after that in Laurel where we are staying at the Wal-Mart. After dinner went shopping and restocked food for the next few days. We also hatched a plan to drive part of the Beartooth Highway tomorrow rather than push on to Idaho!