Sleeping on the problem seemed to allow it to defuse, so things between C & I seemed less tense in the morning. Pulling my tent down, I was amazed by just how many ladybugs there were on my poles. They aren’t anything like as annoying as mozzies, but they still leave marks on my tent if I roll up my tent with them inside.
We made our way back to the main road in Hardin and visited the gas station. We went in and got permission to fill up our water bottles and, as so often happens, ended up in a fairly long conversation with the attendant. Her name was Mimi and, over her years in Ashland, had worked at nearly every place in town. She was intrigued to hear about our trip. When we mentioned that our breakfast is usually oatmeal she told us to go and pick something else to eat and gave us bottles of water too. It was definitely nice to have a second breakfast!
After taking pictures with Mimi we headed over the bridge and entered the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. The road started to climb as we wound our way up the side of the Lame Deer pass. We would sporadically see houses to the side of the road, but, as with the previous days of cycling, it was not that populated.
Cresting Lame Deer pass was pretty wonderful as there was then a nice long descent to take us in to the town of Lame Deer, the largest town in the Northern Cheyenne reservation.
We had been warned multiple times about the poverty and danger that we would find in the reservations. Arriving in Lame Deer took me back to travelling around rural Southeast Asia. As soon as we turned off US 212, the paving vanished and the road quality quickly deteriorated with potholes appearing everywhere. There were dogs running round free which we were glad to find didn’t want to come and talk to us. There was a grocery store which sold many things at more than double the regular prices. We even had a guy saying we could take his picture, if we paid him $10. How serious he was being is questionable, but I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have turned the money down if we’d offered it.
We had planned on eating in Lame Deer but decided to just keep going. Busbsy was only 10-15 miles further and we figured we’d get there and eat. On seeing Busby, we decided that probably wasn’t happening. It was smaller than I had thought and we only went in to get C some water. We found a guy called Ken, standing outside his house, who asked us what we were doing and offered us water. C gladly accepted and he went in to get her some. He asked us the usual questions which went as normal other than our first “Where is England?” Coming from a man who looked to be in his 30s or 40s, it was a little surprising although I guess it’s not something that really matters to him in his day to day life. He asked C for a dollar after giving her the water, we just thanked him and left to eat outside of town where C felt more comfortable.
Shortly after leaving Busby, we entered Crow territory. Although Ken, as a Cheyenne Indian, had warned us about the Crow we had no problems. Even though we were riding through the territory for about 30 miles before getting to Little Bighorn, we didn’t pass through a settlement. The town of Crow Agency was just north of where we left the 212 and we didn’t see any reason to stop.
We had a short stop at Little Bighorn Battlefield where we watched an interesting video about the battle. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention, but I don’t see how they thought Custer could win. He was horrendously outnumbered and fighting in enemy territory. The little I know of the back story it sounded like a ridiculous amount of broken promises and I can understand the resent that some Native Americans feel towards the government for the constant change forced on them. Moving them to the Black Hills only to discover the gold and force them to leave shortly later being just one of the times it seemed they were screwed.
We were only about 15 miles from Hardin and we were off US212 as we had reached I90. The wind that we had been riding in to all day continued and being back on the interstate meant that the ride was just dull. Turning up my iPod nice and loud helped me get through and I was glad to make it to Hardin where, as for the last few days, we had nowhere to stay.
My GPS came out and we went round the churches. 7 churches later and no answers and we were starting to get a little tired. There was a KOA campground in town, but they’re $25 which is a lot more than I am willing to spent. I spotted a house with a yard sale and suggested we speak to them. C was sure they wouldn’t be able to help, but as she was unable to come up with a better option I walked over to talk.
I explained our trip and asked if they knew if it was possible to camp at the park across from them. The boy, Neo, said that there were sprinklers and that the police kept it clear so we couldn’t. I asked if they knew anywhere else and we were pointed towards the local police station to ask. I thanked them and we headed over. We got to the front of the police station and saw Neo and his sister running towards us. They told us that their mum had sent them to find us and we could camp outside their place which we gratefully accepted.
We headed back to their house where we were shown where to put up our tent and introduced to the family. The bathroom in the house was having some issues, but we were told that we could get changed and clean up in the caravan in their yard. We spend an interesting evening talking to the family about being a foster parent and the lack of support provided by the local authorities.
Outside Ken’s house
2nd video with Ken