Montana Mayhem III was a trip with Frank Bodden, Michael Olson, Michael "Max" Reeve, Gary Lemery, and Scott Nelson.  Unfortunately, Fred Wagner couldn't make it this year but we are all looking forward to 2013 when hopefully all six of us will again be stomping through history together.


[MONDAY - JUNE 27, 2011] - Montana Mayhem III for me started on Monday, June, 27, 2011.  I drove from Pierre, SD out to Sheridan, WY.  The drive was fine and uneventful.  Upon arrival in Sheridan I checked into the Alamo Motel.  I had a quick supper at a Mexican restaurant (fortunately I can't remember the name).  I also went over and found the site of General Crook's camp on Goose Creek.  After wandering around downtown Sheridan I headed back to the motel and called it a night.

[TUESDAY - JUNE 28, 2011] - Max and Frank flew into Seattle to meet up with Michael.  After a beer breakfast at Mac N Jack's, they boarded their plane for Billings.  Meanwhile, Gary flew in from Wisconsin.  I leave Sheridan and drive to Billings where I head immediately to the airport to pickup Gary.  After picking up Gary's luggage we head to Perkins for a late breakfast and then to the Best Western Clock Tower.  Our rooms were not yet ready so we wander over to Montana Brewing Company for a well deserved beer.  As we head back to the hotel, Michael sends a text to let us know that they have arrived.  We all meet up at the hotel, unpack, and get settled in our rooms.  Montana Mayhem III has begun.  After a stop at Target for supplies we have a late lunch at Mackenzie River Pizza.  Michael, Max, Gary, and I check out Angry Hank's and Yellowstone Valley Brewing Company.  We pick up Frank at the hotel on our way to MBC.  After drinks and appetizers we head back to the Clock Tower to form a plan of action for Wednesday.

[WEDNESDAY - JUNE 29, 2011] - We had breakfast at Stella's which is connected to the hotel.  During our email itinerary discussions we had decided to drive the Beartooth Highway down to Cody, Wyoming and take in the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.  We leave Billings and head west.  We find ourselves in Red Lodge at the Red Lodge Ales Brewing Company. 

We continue the drive on the Beartooth Highway.  There was still quite a bit of snow at the higher altitudes even though this was late June.  We had a pleasant drive over the mountains, stopping for photos.

We arrived in Cody and checked into the Skyline Motor Inn.  Upon the recommendation of the motel we decided to eat at the Proud Cut.  The food was excellent but no buffalo steaks.  After eating we watched a gunfight on the street in front of the Irma Hotel.  It was fun but highly inaccurate historically (Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp, and Jesse James all in the same gunfight).  We then headed back to the motel where we drank beer in Max and Michael's room and solved all the world's problems.

[THURSDAY - JUNE 30, 2011] - We had the continental breakfast at the motel and headed over to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.  This place is amazing with 5 museums under one roof.  A perfect place for anyone who is a fan of the Old West and American history.  After our visit we headed downtown for lunch before heading out for Buffalo.  We ate a quick Mexican lunch at Zapata's, gassed up, and hit the road for Buffalo.  After a nice drive over the Bighorn Mountains we arrived in Buffalo, WY and checked into the Bighorn Motel.  We have a tradition of eating buffalo steaks at the Occidental Hotel's Virginian Restaurant.  Thursday night is bluegrass night at the Occidental where local musicians have a jam session.  It is always packed so be prepared to wait for a table.  This particular Thursday was no different.  We all had the buffalo ribeye (highly recommended) except Frank, who had the salmon.  Frank likes his steaks cooked a certain way - like a blown tire lying alongside the road.  The photo below shows what happened to Frank when he tried to order a well-done buffalo ribeye at the Occidental.

After eating we walked back to the motel and sat around outside, drinking beer and planning our trip to Fort Phil Kearny and the Fetterman Battlefield the next day.

[FRIDAY - JULY 1, 2011] - For reasons unknown, Michael got up and went running along Clear Creek.  Frank, Gary, and I walked downtown to check out some of what Buffalo has to offer.  I picked up a much needed hat at the Sports Lure.  Max and Michael contacted us and said they were walking downtown and would meet us for breakfast.  The night before, as we were walking down to the Occidental, we noticed that Tom's Main Street Diner was open.  This place had been closed the last couple of times we were in Buffalo so we decided to have breakfast there.  After eating we drove out to Fort Phil Kearny and checked out the bookstore.  We also had a chat with Bob Wilson, the superintendent about our plans to walk to the Wheatley-Fisher rocks.  After giving us much appreciated helpful information to assist us with our quest, we walked around the site of Fort Phil Kearny.  Here are two photos of Max and Frank looking through a window in the stockade at Fort Phil Kearny that prove how a simple change in the photographer's position can cause a complete change in a photo's appearance.


After looking around the fort it was time to hike the Fetterman Battlefield.  We have hiked it before but this time we had a special purpose - to see the Wheatley-Fisher rocks.  Sometime in the past the rocks were carved to identify them as the famous rocks where civilians James Wheatley and Isaac Fisher with their Henry repeating rifles, along with a handful of soldiers, would put up a stand until overrun by Indians.

Bob Wilson had mentioned during his talk with us that they had killed a rattlesnake earlier in the day on the very ground where we would be hiking.  As we set off on the trail (all wearing shorts I might add), we tried to keep our eyes open for snakes.  As we were trying to find the Wheatley-Fisher rocks, Frank stepped off the trail toward a larger rock to investigate.  He noticed a snake skin lying on the side of the rock and said to me, "Check it out.  Here's a snake skin.  Cool.  I hope the snake it belonged to is not around."  About that time we heard the rattle.  Frank took off at a run and may have unofficially qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics coming up in London. 

After this long hike it was time for a beer.  We drove to Sheridan to make our ritual stop at the Mint Bar.  We left the Mint and headed over for supper at Sanfords.  Here we met up with Scott Burgan, another Plains Wars enthusiast.  Scott brought along several documents that he had found during his research.  After supper, we wandered over to the Black Tooth Microbrewery.  After a bit of lounging we headed back to Buffalo and the Bighorn Motel.  Frank, Max, and I walked a few blocks to an ice cream stand and then back to the motel.  It had been a long day and Saturday would also be long so it was time for bed.

[SATURDAY - JULY 2, 2011] - In the past we have had breakfast at the Occidental, sitting alongside Clear Creek.  We intended to that again on this trip.  When we showed up at the restaurant, we found it full with no end in sight.  As we were planning on doing the Rosebud Battlefield, we decided to eat elsewhere so we could get on the road and found ourselves at Pistol Pete's.  From here we drove up to the Battle of the Rosebud, winding our way back into Montana.  The Rosebud Battlefield is a very pristine site and I think there were only one or two other cars there.  We took a drive around the field and then decided to hike a ways up toward where Crook had setup his headquarters.  After several looks at the map and a few discussions, we decided to halt the hike and get back to the vehicle.  We drove onward and stopped for a break at the Kirby Saloon.  After getting refreshments we were ready to work our way to Hardin.  We hooked up with Highway 212 and followed it west where it meets I-90 and the Little Big Horn Battlefield.  We stopped here and ran through the visitor's center, all except for Michael, who walked through the cemetery taking some photos for a project that he was helping out on.  Frank met up with Ranger Steve Adelson who invited him to come and listen to his battle talk.  We drove into Hardin, checked into the Super 8, got settled, and headed back out to the battlefield to hear Steve's talk.  We ate supper at the Custer Battlefield Trading Post and bumped into Scott Burgan who introduced us to Joe Medicine Crow.  Then it was off to the battlefield.  After Steve's talk we drove out to Calhoun Hill.  As we were driving back toward the visitor center, we noticed a car that was "parked" in a ravine near the Keogh sector of the battlefield.  We guessed that someone had driven the car out there off Highway 212 that runs near the battlefield.  Using binoculars we were unable to see any people in the car.  When we arrived back at the visitor center Frank notified Steve Adelson that the car was down there and he said he was going to notify law enforcement.  As it turns out, a couple of tourists had parked their car, got out, and did some exploring (perhaps the Keogh-Crazy Horse Trail).  Somehow the car rolled down into the ravine and could not be seen from that area of the battlefield.  When they got back to their car they thought it had been stolen and reported it.  A ranger was giving the couple a ride to their hotel in Billings when Adelson notified him that the car was found.  They found that the car's engine was still running when they retrieved it from the ravine.  After this excitement it was back to the Super 8 to drink beer and discuss whatever it was that needed discussing.

[SUNDAY - JULY 3, 2011] - Woke up and had the continental breakfast at the Super 8.  This was also laundry day.  The Super 8 has laundry facilities on-site and we all took advantage.  A quick lunch at Taco John's and we were off for the Little Big Horn.

Upon arrival we drove down to the Reno-Benteen Defense site.  We walked the trail around the area and explored the markers, rifle pits, hospital location, as well as Water Carrier Ravine and the site of the village.  Gary got sidetracked and spent the time giving a tour of the site to some other tourists who were there.  After we were finished at Reno-Benteen we took a slow drive back to the visitor center.

From the visitor center we drove down to the Administration buildings to try and get a better view of the Ford D area, which is on private land.  From the ranger quarters parking lots we were able to get some decent photos of the area.  Interesting stuff.  Then back to the Trading Post where we had some cold drinks and pie.  Then back to the Super 8 and Hardin.  Another tradition of ours is to have pizza at the hotel one night, drink beer, and discuss the battle.  Sunday was pizza night.  We gathered in Frank's room, ate pizza, talked, and watched baseball.  There was an impressive thunderstorm that blew through Hardin that night as well.

[MONDAY - July 4, 2011] - this was the last full day of Montana Mayhem III.  We got an earlier start today, checked out of the Super 8, and headed back to the Little Big Horn Battlefield.  We had a quick lunch at the Trading Post and then went over to the battlefield.  Michael, Max, and Gary hiked down Deep Ravine and checked out some of the flood damage including where part of a ravine wall had collapsed.  While they were hiking Deep Ravine, Frank and I checked out the visitor center museum where I got some cool photos of Sgt. Windolph's Medal of Honor.  We also had a great talk with Ranger Jerry Jasmer who gave us some tips for Montana Mayhem IV.  Frank and I also took in a cemetery tour with Ranger Steve Adelson.  Good stuff.  Max and Michael walked down the Keogh-Crazy Horse Trail while Gary, Frank, and I cooled off at the visitor center.  We then purchased the last of our books, maps, and other souvenirs before heading out west to Billings.  The conversation during the drive to Billings was riveting, as evidenced in this photo of Gary.

We arrived in Billings and checked back into the Best Western Clock Tower.  Our original plan had been to end Montana Mayhem III on the 4th of July at the Montana Brewing Company.  We were disappointed to find the place closed, along with the rest of downtown Billings.  In search of food and drink, we ended up at the Montana Rib and Chop House.  Wow.  I had the best buffalo steak I have ever eaten.  Perfect.  Then back to the hotel where we sat around the pool visiting for one last time.  Frank had an early flight and left a little early.  The rest of us weren't far behind.

[TUESDAY - July 5, 2011] - Frank left early for the airport.  The rest of us had breakfast at the McCormick Cafe.  I hopped in my car for the drive back to Pierre.  Max, Gary, and Michael went to the airport and caught their planes home.  Montana Mayhem III was over.  A great trip to be sure, except for the fact that our com padre Fred was not there.  Hopefully in 2013 all six of us will be able to attend again.  We missed you Fred.