On the Horns of a MountainWestward Ho, Day 16: Sheridan, WY, to Billings, MT
After the fun we had yesterday with Half Empty's letterboxes, we couldn't resist searching for a few more this morning before leaving Sheridan. Not surprisingly, they did not disappoint. But our opportunities were still half full because a few more of his boxes were waiting on our route back to Montana.
|Bighorn National Forest (US-14 near Dayton)|
|Looking back down at the road from Dayton|
|There's a bear in there...really!|
Frequently in our travels we come upon some spectacular scenery or just an extraordinarily interesting location that is not hosting a letterbox. Since we have been led to so many intriguing locations in searches for letterboxes, we invariably think how nice it would be to place a letterbox in a place we stumble upon to attract others to this appealing spot. In fact, Ken has even developed a phrase to describe such a location: "Needs a box!"
|What's Ken hiding under that rock?|
Near the point, we saw some of Wyoming's many snow fences. A concept imported from Scandanavia in the 19th century, snow fences serve a variety of functions. Along roadways in winter, they reduce drifting snow and icing on road surfaces, while increasing visibility on the highway. The extra moisture provided by snow drifted along the fences nourishes spring growth of feed grasses and trees, a great benefit in Wyoming's high desert climate. And for livestock the fences can even offer a welcome shade in summer.
|Snow fence near Steamboat Point|
|Twin Buttes, Bighorn National Forest|
With several runaway truck ramps and ten percent grades a regular feature as the road descends into Bighorn Basin, some say that the A in 14A stands for adventure. But first the road climbs to an elevation of 9,500 feet, where it traces through subalpine meadows near the site of the Native American Medicine Wheel landmark which gives the byway its name. The gravel track to this holy place became a bit too muddy and slushy for us to risk it today, so we abandoned the attempt midway.
|The road to Medicine Wheel (before it turned ugly)|
|No sheep on the plateau today|
Our original plans from Billings would take us to Helena to see the Montana Capitol and from there up to Glacier National Park. After arriving in Billings, we heard reports about a winter storm headed for Montana that would interfere with our driving plans to those areas. We spent the evening scrambling to get into a hotel for several days to wait out the storm, finally finding one in Bozeman, so we'll head there tomorrow and see whether the snow really falls or it turns out like so many false snow alarms we've experienced in Georgia. After all, the Weather Channel is located in Atlanta.
- Miles driven: 201
- Letterboxes: F 4, P 2
- Weather: 30° to 59°, sunny to partly cloudy
- States: 2 (WY, MT)
- Lodgepole pines: 452,473
- Black bears: 1
- 'Use Lower Gear' signs: 12
- Runaway truck ramps: 4
- Hairpin turns: 15
More Photos from Today
|Steamboat Rock, from a couple of bends in the road away|
|Rock formations approaching the summit of US 14A|
|Coming down into Bighorn Basin|
|Looking back up at 14A, as we drive down into Bighorn Basin|
|A friendly and handsome Lovell resident who watched us plant a letterbox|