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Day 21, Friday June 9, 2017:
Casper, Wyoming -> Gilette -> Devils Tower - Sundance, Wyoming

We took some time in Casper to get organized. For the first time, we had a picture of what the rest of the trip would consist of at least tentatively. We were "Denver bound" in a gentle arc. We headed off down the Black Gold Highway.

By the time we got to the town of Midway it was time for gas, ice and the usual needs. Here in the northeast the Sinclair gasoline brand known for the green dinosaurs is nearly extinct. In this region, they are very common and this station had 2 of the classic green dinosaurs grazing below the sign. After a few pictures and the essential water tower shot we headed up state route 59.

Route 59 was a nice drive roaming along gentle grassy contours with buttes in the distance and a massive blue sky. Oil wells were scattered through the fields. While we stopped for pictures, a pair of 4-wheel ATVs came down the grassy shoulder with a pickup truck and trailer following. It looked like some sort of patrol, roadkill? We saw occasional elk along the way.

By lunch time we had arrived in Gillette. This would have been an interesting place to spend an evening but the timing just didn't line up and staying the day didn't make sense. Gillette is said to be in a boom period as the epicenter of the oil and gas extraction industries. A quick lunch at a handy Arby's got us back on the road. This was planned to be the last big driving day, the plan looks more like 100 miles a day as the end of the journey comes into view.

By mid-afternoon we arrived at the day's destination, Devil's Tower, America's first National Monument. This unique geological igneous stone tower was extruded up into the softer native sedimentary stone and revealed by erosion. It stood as a landmark for migrating pioneers. We spent a good part of the afternoon walking the trail that runs around the base. The tower looked interesting as the view and light changed. We did manage to find the ancient climbing ladder that still hangs from a point high on the back side. The site is sacred to native American cultures with prayer cloths and other items spotted tied to tree branches. The views of the surrounding countryside were nice and we stopped to check out the prairie dogs as we left.

On the way to devils tower I spotted an abandoned fire station imbedded in the hillside like the homes mentioned earlier. I expected to pass it and get pictures on the way back but it didn't work out that way. Maybe I can find pictures online sometime because it was really cool to see. By now the glitz and excitement of Las Vegas Nevada is a world away.

The day was ending in Sundance, "where the kid got his name" as the town welcome sign proclaims.. We were at the hotel as dinner time arrived. It was a small place where the staircase to our second-floor room ran up through the lobby. It had a slightly vintage "hotel" feel. We settled in and headed out to the town. Sundance is a little place, population being 1200 or so. The GPS took us out onto the highway which seemed odd but worked. The choice, (I don't remember any real alternatives) was the Longhorn Saloon & Grill. The place was modern and classic at the same time with lots of wood and a tin ceiling. It was busy enough when we arrived and the crowd grew while we dined. As places we go to run this was little nicer than many and in a very comfortable, homey way. The vibe was unique and memorable.

After eating we took some time do take pictures of the quaint and tiny downtown. Quaint may not be the right word, handsome may be closer. The main street was wide with a center lane marked for RV parking. The storefronts were tidy and fresh. It almost felt like a stage set. We drove around some and saw a nice little church a neat park and other places that had closed for the evening Like Dillon Sundance Hardware, Vilas Pharmacy and the Sundance State Bank. For the most part, the downtown did not have stop signs, they had 4 way yield intersections!

Dinner had settled and desert was sounding good when we found the Dog Pound, "Grill & Ice Cream" open near the back of the village. It was a little place with a few tables, and a small counter with stools. With ice cream, burgers, fries, pizza and daily specials this covered the small town's fast food needs. We enjoyed our treats and headed home following our common, sense right down the local streets to wind down for the night.

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Created May 14, 2017