The Devil and a Crazy Woman

Leaving South Dakota, we continued west into Wyoming. The plan was to drive to Devil’s Tower, spend a little time exploring there, then continue on to Gillette to camp for the night. We had plans to meet friends in Billings, MT for the weekend.

Native Americans and other early settlers developed many legends and folk tales around the Devil’s Tower landmark. And it’s not hard to understand why. When all the surrounding area is rolling hills, this monolith rises up seemingly out of nowhere. And the unusual structure has inspired stories of giant bears scratching the mountain with their claws.

A little closer view of the “bear scratches”

It is certainly an impressive sight to see, and we really enjoyed walking the loop trail around the base of it, seeing it from different angles and in different light. Around the base, there is no shortage of large rocks and boulders for an active 3-year-old to climb on, jump off of, take rests on… endless adventures.

Adding some people for a little size perspective

It’s amazing how many different games a stick and a rock can become in a 3-year-old’s imagination!

Staffan’s really proud of this one – and with good reason I think!  You may just find this one hanging on our wall someday.

More climbing and exploring. This was truly nature’s playground!

Family photo at Devil’s Tower. What you don’t see here are the 12 others I didn’t choose because one or both kids were screaming, or hitting each other, or struggling to get down.

But the devil, as they say, is in the details. We arrived to Devil’s Tower much later than anticipated, partly because we needed to restock some groceries that morning, partly because it took a little longer than we thought to get there. Emelie had such a good time climbing and exploring on the Devil’s Tower trail that we hated to rush her along. It’s important to us to nurture that curiosity and exploration whenever we can. But it takes time… like twice as long to walk the base of the tower as the guide estimated.

And then there was our second time driving past the “zero miles to empty” gauge on our car. Way past. Way, way, nail-bitingly shifting into neutral in the downhills, middle of nowhere without cell phone reception past. This time, the problem was not that we chose not to get gas, but rather that there was never any gas to be had. Apparently, in Wyoming, you can build a house somewhere and call it a town, complete with a nice big dot on the map. We saw no fewer than 7 “towns” on the map and figured that one of them would have a gas station. None did. So it was already dinner time, thanks to our extra long visit at Devil’s Tower, there was nothing as far as the eye could see, cell phones weren’t picking up any signals, and our car was telling us it was out of gas. With every hill new hill that appeared on the horizon, we thought we might be done for. But we finally made it to a “big” town with a gas station and filled up! We drove 14 miles past the 0 to empty mark. The next day we went out and bought an extra gas can to keep in the car.

It was almost 8:00 when we pulled into our campground for the night – oddly named the Green Tree’s Crazy Woman campground. The website says it was named for an old legend about a crazy woman in a nearby river. Something about her is supposed to be good luck? I never quite understood it, to be honest, but the pickin’s are a bit slim in Wyoming and we were just glad to find somewhere to sleep. We set up in the dark, with hungry kids screaming for dinner in the car. The electricity didn’t work and we had to go get the manager… it just wasn’t our day. When we finally had everything fixed, we headed down the road to Perkins for an unplanned but much needed restaurant dinner. Emelie offered to pray for our food and prayed, “Dear God, thank you for our troubles. It was very fun to be here. And thank you for my pancakes.” Well said, my sweet girl, well said.

I won’t do a full campground review, since we were barely there 12 hrs and forgot to take any pictures. The bathrooms were fine, the site was nothing special but just fine. There was a playground that the kids seemed to think was fun, but where I was actually a little scared to let Emelie play. There were plenty of other kids to play with, though we weren’t there long enough to play much. They apparently had a hot tub, but it closed before we got back from our very late dinner. The wifi worked. It cost $33 per night and they don’t take credit cards (which worked out okay since I had exactly $33.05 cash in my wallet that day).

So there you have it. On the day we visited Devil’s Tower and slept at the Crazy Woman campground, the devil was in all the details and the day just about turned me into a crazy woman.

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