Durango, CO

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San Juan Skyway

Heading south from Montrose, the most direct route to reach Durango is US Highway 550.  The road is a part of what is called the “San Juan Skyway”, as it travels through the San Juan Mountain range of southwestern Colorado.  In particular, the portion of this highway between Ouray and Silverton is known as the “Million Dollar Highway”.  This road is hung on the face of the mountain and has narrow lanes, no shoulders, no guardrail and steep drops as you can see in the above photo.  A little dicey in a motorhome towing a car.  The origin of the name is in dispute.  Some of the possible explanations:  it cost one million dollars per mile to build; the fill dirt contains a million dollars in gold ore; or, I wouldn’t drive that road again for a million dollars.

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Sheridan, WY

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From Billings, we headed southeast and crossed into Wyoming after having been in Montana since July 15th.  In Sheridan we parked at Peter D’s RV Park.

Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument is located in Montana, just about halfway along the drive between Billings and Sheridan so we chose to make a day trip from Sheridan to visit there.  On June 25, 1876, approximately 260 of the 600 troops commanded by Gen. George Armstrong Custer were killed in a brief battle with a much larger force of Lakota-Cheyenne Indians commanded by Lakota Chief Sitting Bull.  Some 100 of the Indian fighters are thought to have died but it’s difficult to know since those who fell were removed from the battlefield.  The battle was bloody and brutal.  As you walk the grounds, read the placards and view the markers showing where soldiers died you can only try to imagine what it must have been like with arrows and gunfire raining down in all directions.  At the end of a very engaging Ranger talk about the battle, he said, “The ghosts here will speak to you.” Continue reading

Billings, MT

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In Billings we parked at the Billings Village RV Park.

Billings Visitor Center

Like many towns in this part of the country, Billings came into existence because of the railroad.  Named after Northern Pacific Railroad president Frederick H. Billings, the city was founded in 1882.  The railroad formed the city as a western railhead for its further westward expansion.  At first the new town had only three buildings but within a few months it had grown to over 2,000.  This spurred Billings’ nickname of the Magic City because, like magic, it seemed to appear overnight.

Billings is the most populous city in the state of Montana and the only one with population exceeding 100,000.  It has become an economic power for the region that encompasses eastern Montana, northern Wyoming and western North and South Dakota.  The Bakken oil development in eastern Montana and western North Dakota, the largest oil discovery in U.S. history, has been a force in the continued growth of Billings.

Next stop:  Sheridan, WY

St. Augustine, FL

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St. Augustine bills itself as the oldest city in the United States.  When we stopped here we parked at the Stagecoach RV Park just off Interstate 95.

The territory we now know as Florida was first claimed for Spain by Ponce de Leon in 1513.  On September 8, 1565, St. Augustine was founded by Spanish admiral Pedro Menendez de Aviles.  In 1763, the Spanish gave up Florida to Great Britain following the Seven Years’ War, only to regain control in 1784.  In the years following the American revolution, it became increasingly difficult for the Spanish to control the Florida colony so in 1819 they relinquished it to the United States.

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