Tuesday, August 22, 2017
It was so nice to sleep in this morning. Our first priority as we left Cheyenne was to find a car wash. Our car was so covered by dust that neither of us wanted to touch it. We found a manual car wash where, for $2, we were able to wash a significant portion of Wyoming down the drain.
We drove as far as Omaha today, with no adventures, just the pleasure of driving 80 mph.
Wednesday, August 23
I have lived in Minnesota for five decades, and have driven past Pipestone many times on my west or back home, but I’ve never visited Pipestone National Monument. Mark had visited many years ago, so he was interested in seeing it again. It proved to be a nice break in our drive home. It was a perfect day to walk between the tallgrass prairies in the park to access the pipestone quarries at this site.
Native Americans have been quarrying pipestone here for three millenia. Many tribes accessed these quarries in peace. It was a place where differences were set aside to allow each other to work. The pink-bright red, durable yet relatively soft, stone was prized by many Plains tribes for making pipestones. In the 1800’s, the stone was named Catlinite, for George Catlin who sent a piece of the stone to Boston to be analyzed. It was previously unrecorded in modern science. The catlinite occurs between layers of quartzite. It gets is color from iron compounds in the soil.
We enjoyed a short video about the history of the quarries and about the modern Native Americans who still quarry the stone by hand. We then headed out to see the quarries.
We left with a memento of the visit – our very own peace pipe.