Day 11 (June 7): We headed up to Devils Tower National Monument first thing in the morning;
another detour that we both decided it was worth going to see. You could see the incredible structure from miles away, and we were among many who stopped at the roadside to take pictures as well in advance of actually arriving.
We finally did arrive, and had our first opportunity to use our
America the beautiful pass! The visitor’s center was closed, but we chose to do the 1.3 mile hike around the base of the huge rock structure and even though it put us behind schedule, it was worth every second. The columns that shaped the landmark seemed too incredible to be real, and the only trouble was keeping our eyes on the path.
Thurs. June 3rd 1852 It rained a little when we got up. We started late. Cloudy in the forenoon Pleasant in the afternoon camped opposite chimney rock. Good grass. Poor water. But little fuel. Traveled 23 mileshttp://www.oregonpioneers.com/SolonShedd_diary.pdf
We finally headed back to the trail, picking up where we left off by going straight to Chimney Rock, arriving at almost 4:00 due to getting stuck behind a whole lot of slow-moving traffic on Tulane roads. My favorite was when we were stuck behind three tractors and an army truck going about 30 mph on a 65 mph road.
We were too late to go through the visitor’s center museum, but that was all right, because the structure itself is what I was here to see! As one of the top three landmarks I’ve been wanting
to see, I was almost giddy with joy when I woke from a nap to see it rising in the horizon. Even those who haven’t studied the Oregon/California Trails know about Chimney rock! One of the scenes in my book features this structure as the setting during a turning point in the main character’s life, so being able to describe the scenery accurately means a lot to me!
You can only imagine my delight that we also managed to secure a camping spot in this historic location. We took a ton of pictures, found a cemetery that held at least one grave site of someone who died near Chimney Rock on the trail, and set up our tent facing the amazing landmark.
Now we are sitting here, sipping wine and enjoying the beautiful weather as I contemplate whether to make the chimney rock cake recipe from my Oregon Trail cookbook.
There it stood, a lonely sentry in a lonely prairie, and Elizabeth couldn’t decide if it was offering hope, or warning them away.A Picture of the Past