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Cooke City, Montana tonight.

The Badlands is a magnificent national park with wonderful scenery. We stayed in the town of Interior,SD with a population of 61. The only place to eat with a reasonable expectation of avoiding ptomaine is the Cedar Pass Lodge. Indian tacos were surprisingly good. We looked at Wall Drug and wouldn't consider eating there.

Next night was in Custer, SD. We enjoyed Mount Rushmore very much, then drove to Wind Cave National Park for a cave tour and picnic lunch. At dinner in Custer, my wife had the steak and I had the buffalo tenderloin. Both were tough, overcooked and flavorless. Anybody who finds themself in the area would do well to avoid the Sage Creek Grille, although they didn't charge us anything for corkage. The Stefania Syrah was the star of the meal.

Last night we stayed in Hardin, MT. It's a fast food and gas station oasis 15 miles from the Little Bighorn, which is worth a quick visit. Earlier in the day, we loved our visit to Devil's Tower National Monument. We figured we'd forget about any type of fine dining and eat in The Purple Cow. What garbage! I would have enjoyed potato chips and soda more than The Purple Cow. I've never seen such a putrid salad bar. My chopped steak was burnt to a crisp and the frozen French fries were mediocre at best. My wife's trout was at least edible.

Today we spent time in Red Lodge, Montana and I bought myself a real nice cowboy hat, and my wife found a biker belt she liked. We then drove the Beartooth Scenic Byway from Red Lodge to Cooke City, a spectacular road that Charles Kuralt called the most beautiful road in America, a claim I can't dispute. The road traverses the mountains in a series of switchbacks that crests at 11,000 feet. We'll be heading out for dinner in a couple of hours in this tiny town 3 miles from the entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We're taking a 2003 Martinelli Pinot Noir Reserve with us. I have moderately high expectations for this tiny restaurant.
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