After leaving the buffalo-jump place, we were ready to go back to the U.S.A. We weren't going straight home, though, because I wanted to see the Black Hills and the Badlands of South Dakota. The interstate took us right past there anyhow, and I had not seen that part of the country since I was a teenager.
There was a duty-free store just before we crossed over the Canadian border. I had been looking everywhere for a Canada sweatshirt to take home as a souvenir, and anything I found was either overpriced or had a hood on it. We keep our house pretty cool in wintertime, so I wear sweatshirts inside a lot, and can always use another one; don't need the hood, though. Luckily, I found what I was looking for right there on the border, at a reasonable price.
As we were waiting in line to cross back into our own country, we watched a guard carefully searching the car ahead of us. My heart sank, not because we had anything we shouldn't have, but because the back seat and trunk were so full, and everything was so messy (wet tent, remember?) that it would be embarrassing to have it all searched. However, we were asked a couple of simple questions and waved on our way.
Towns are few and far between in Montana, and many of the towns you do find are tiny. All of them seem to have a casino, though, stuck in the back of a gas station. According to the GPS, we would arrive in Billings between five and six o'clock. Billings is a big city spread out over a long, narrow valley, and we were confident we would be able to pull off the Interstate and get a room with no problem.
What we didn't know was that the state fair was going on in Billings. Every motel in town was booked up. I searched on the GPS for motels in Billings and called half a dozen before I finally gave up. We stopped at a Wendy's and got something to eat, because things didn't look too promising on down the road as we looked at the map.
It was almost eight o'clock when we found an old-but-clean motel in Stanford, Montana, a town even smaller than our little town; I'm sure the only reason there was a motel there at all is that it's in the heart of hunting country.
A couple had parked their Harley and were checking in just ahead of us; when they mentioned they were going to Sturgis, I panicked: We were going to arrive in the Black Hills at the start of the Sturgis rally! Once again, our timing was awful. Would we find a motel there, with thousands of bikers visiting? This time there was no tent to fall back on; we left it at a dumpster in mid-Montana.
Here we go again!