Day 2: How’s Custer doing these days?
Since I spent Day 1 picking on the Lakota, I thought Day 2 was an appropriate time to connect with someone else who had done much the same. After a leisurely breakfast with Joe and Sarah, I headed out to Little Bighorn.
(Truly — Quiet Canyon B&B. Go there.)
It’s about four hours drive time from Devil’s Tower to Little Bighorn. The miles sort of roll by because — and I hate to belabor this, but it’s true — it’s incredibly pretty up here. It seemed to get moreso after every mile. Then I crossed into that shithole Montana.
Of course I’m kidding. Montana is at least as amazing as everywhere else I’ve been in my whole life. (With all due apologies to Tupelo, Mississippi.) You’ll find yourself having to remember to keep your eyes on the road and not the rolling hills along I-90. You don’t want a collision, which won’t happen anyhow because I pass more people back home just merging onto an interstate than live in all of Montana.
The battlefield is vast. The battle contained some 650 American soldiers and 1,000-2,000 Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Dakota. This was part of the wide-ranging Great Sioux War of 1876 (technically, the “Damn, Custer Found Gold In The Black Hills War”), which the U.S. ultimately won, despite the outcome of this battle.
For many people, that info has to be researched. But this battle is colloquially known as “Custer’s Last Stand” so widely that most of us can’t remember the first time we heard about it. It left a huge footprint in our collective consciousness, especially since the last stand happened in an area less than half the size of a baseball diamond.
I’m far from an expert on Custer (though as I typed that, I realized I’m sitting in a Holiday Inn Express — honestly — so assume everything I’m saying is solid history fact). You can learn anything about him personally and as a tactician by simply tracking down a historian who reached the conclusions you want. They run the gamut from “Custer was a model solider will a brilliant mind for military tactics and who did everything right in this battle” to “G-Cust was an arrogant d-bag who was more interested in making a name for himself than keeping his men safe.” Personally, I lean more towards the latter — his ego let him believe the 7th Cavalry could handle anything and he wasn’t interested in verifying the number of enemy combatants or their weaponry (which, as it turned out, was superior to what Custer’s men had, not bows and axes at all).
But whatever you think about Custer, the site of his final battle is somber and moving. If you drive the longer tour, you see many other headstones too — the battle wasn’t just on that small hill.
Eventually, I had enough of this deep introspection crap and was ready to move on to stalking my favorite contestant on the supremely excellent reality show Survivor!
Bozeman is the home of Montana State University. (school president: Waded Cruzado. I am not making that president up.) It is also the home of Amanda Kimmel, one of the best players in Survivor history.
You’re likely thinking “Christian, your assessment of Ms. Kimmel may be based not so much on her game playing and more on your lizard brain, you pervert.”
That’s ridiculous. How dare you?
Okay, fair point. But she was a really good player, too. Appeared on Survivor three times and made it to the finals twice and… well… okay, she wasn’t very good at the final tribal council.
But she’s getting married this weekend. This was my last chance to give her the opportunity to say “Christian, I forgive you for never returning my calls! Please take me away from this wretched place before it’s too late!” Unfortunately for her, I’d slept in that morning and spent too long at Little Bighorn and hit a huge electrical storm in Billings. By the time I got to the clinic she runs, she was gone.
However, I may have dodged a bullet. This clinic is not really meant for medical procedures, but is rather for “cleansing,” which is fake medical terminology for “shoving a hose up your butt and putting you through the world’s worst rinse cycle.”
There is an old saying, I believe it’s Sumerian in origin. It goes: “No one is hot enough to be worth a siphoning hose up the pooper.” I’ve lived by that my whole life.
Sorry, Amanda. Good luck with the wedding. May your husband always be limber.
Now that Amanda and I have gained closure, I could move on to Helena with a clear conscience. (Helena, the city in Montana. I don’t think there’s been a Helena on Survivor.)
(Note: I made a lot of this up. I promised to get a picture of Amanda’s poop clinic for some people on the Survivor forums, but I had no idea what I was going to do if I actually encountered her. Or if I’d even recognize her with pants on.)
(More Note: It would be different if Kim Spradlin lived here.)
It was mostly dark when I arrived in Helena. My first impressions were that it was a small town that looked like the industry that used to power it had gone away — which is in fact the case. Helena sprung up as a result of the Idaho gold rush and later became a major railway hub. But the gold rush died down and the railroad industry has gradually faded in prominence over the years.
I would get a better look tomorrow.
Day 3: Walking into Mann Gulch, and limping back out