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Painted Canyon, The Little Bighorn, and Billings, Montana

Left Bismarck this morning and headed due west through miles more of farmland, eventually giving way to rolling grasslands and endless panoramas as we roared across the high plains. 

What comes with grasslands? Grasshoppers. Big grasslands have big grasshoppers. What comes when one mixes big grasshoppers with a motorcycle moving at around 92 miles per hour? A BIG, yellow SPLAT! Both the bike and me looked like we'd been in a paintball ambush. I've never been so thankful to have a windshield before. As it was, my pants and arms are still pretty splattered. 

Yamacraw looking pretty battle weary...both bike and rider are...covered in yellow bug guts. 

The rolling fileds were soon replaced by terraced canyons. I stopped for a photo at Teddy Roosevelt National Park. 

Here's an attempt at getting the full effect of Painted Canyon.

Tough to get a perspective of how big and grand it looked. Awe inspiring. 

Soon we crossed into Montana, where the speed limit is 80, and rarely enforced...so we dropped the hammer, opened up that big ol' 111 cubic inch engine, and I let the big fella run. 

By the afternoon we had made it to the Little Bighorn Battlefield, where George Armstrong Custer grossly underestimated the number of Indians he was about to attack and paid for it with his life.

They have a pretty good little museum there with lots of cool exhibits.

Some of Custer's personal effects, donated by his widow.

Portraits. Custer seemed to enjoy the camera.

His West Point coat, a dress cavalry coat, and his buckskin outfit.

A collection of weapons used in the battle.

A representation of the Indian brave.

And the typical cavalryman.

And accounts from the survivors. The scout, Curly...

And the scout, White man runs him. 

Some amazingly detailed dioramas.

Then on to the battlefield itself. This is a shot looking uphill at Last Stand Hill, where Custer and 41 others met their end. 

Custer's brothers died here with him. 

Looking downhill. From the top of the hill is one of the most beautiful views I've had all this trip. One can see for literally miles. It's hard to believe that this was the site of such a terrifying end to so many lives.

Where Custer fell. His brother, Tom fell close by.

Looking out over the landscape. 

The victors who fell here are also remembered.

Indian art and legend are retold here as well in a stone monument to the Indians nearby.

NO visit to the Little Bighorn could possibly be complete without also hitting the trading post down the hill...where the Crow sell all kinds of really cool stuff. 

This is Joycie. She's a beautiful young Crow lady who showed me around and let me leave one of my cards with her. The Crow people were very friendly to me. They especially liked my bike. There are no Indian motorcycle dealerships anywhere in Montana, so Indian bikes are rare here, so when they see one, they are always very interested in knowing if it's a good bike and if I like it. They seem proud when I tell them how awesome ol' Yamacraw has been. 

Finally, made it to Billings. I'm bunking in the Dude Rancher! Seems legit! 

God bless all y'all!

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Post Script

The ride home from Murrell's Inlet was an easy run right down US 17. For the first time, I didn't need a GPS. It was also the first time since Vermont that I wasn't cold. Finally, I was able to ditch