Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and Other Site

It’s hard to pass up a sign that says anything about smashed-in heads. For me. This place is a UNESCO world heritage site, but mostly for the sign I imagine.

Although after this sign there isn't much left to interpret.

It’s an ancient native American site. Apparently the braves on top of the cliff would get the buffalo riled up, then chase them over the edge of a cliff. Archaeologists speculate that they would kill all the injured buffalo with knives and that they left no survivors, since any survivors could go back and tell the other buffalo what had happened and thus spark an inter-species gang war.

This is the cliff from which they made the buffalo jump:

Archaeologists speculate that the cliff used to be taller.

It would have been cooler if there were actual buffalo jumping off the cliff. As it was, it just sort of seemed like a warm prairie with a visitors center.

OTOH, this is the house in which my grandpa was born in Cardston:

Although the tree was smaller back then.

For some reason it was closed — they usually give tours.

And thus ends my first post-hack blog post. Excelsior.


Custer’s Last Stand, My First Stop

Which is a little misleading in that I stopped in Chicago and spent the night at my brother’s place, then stopped the next night in Spearfish, So. Dak. and stayed at my other brother’s place. I also stopped at some gas stations, some fast food restaurants, and bought a new tail light off of Amazon.

First stop as a tourist.

The battlefield is like a battlefield. Some plains, a hill, a nice cemetery, and memorials. This one is interesting from the standpoint that the side that won the battle got to write most of the content even though the memorial is administered by the losing side’s parks service. About half of Custer’s army was born in Europe. And I’m wondering, after they killed their horses in order to give themselves something to take cover behind, how much optimism remained among Custer’s troops.

Custer's Last View (might have looked different then).

Also: There were a lot of bikers in the area. I guess the Sturgis thing started over the weekend. If you’re 70 years old, I’m not sure that wearing a jolly Roger bandanna makes you bad ass. Not entirely sure is all.


Fort Necessity and George Washington

“Fort Necessity” is arguably the answer to the question of “Where did George Washington become George Washington?” No one ever asks that, but maybe they should. Definitely they should.

It’s where George Washington sort of took over from aristocratic old-school British General Edward Braddock in the French and Indian War. Supposedly Washington also sort of helped spark the war by leading an attack on a different French fort. And at some point Washington decided he needed to build a fort or else his guys would be unprotected from the French (ergo: “Fort Necessity”), and so this happened:

Soldiers were smaller back then — to them, this was palatial.

The pathway for tourists was not original to the fort. I’m not convinced these are the original earthworks, either. “Unprepossessing” was the word that kept coming to mind.

I mean, if you were to claim that the French and Indian War is the event that precipitated the American Revolution and  that George Washington’s sort of chicken move on the position of a nation that his wasn’t at war with yet was indeed the start of the French and Indian War, then this is a really important historical location. Anyway. Valley Forge and Bunker Hill better name recognition; that’s tough to fight. Plus there’s nothing to see here.

The fort lies along US 40, aka “The National Highway”. This was a highway originally dreamed up by George Washington, who, as I learned at Mt. Vernon, is responsible for everything good in the world. That Pat Sajack movie at Mt. Vernon really made me dislike George Washington, who apparently looked like a 50-year-old when he was 30. Different trip to Virginia though. Highway was meant to connect stuff east of the Alleghenies to stuff west of them (i.e., The Ohio Valley). I think that just because he started the French and Indian War, ol’ G-Dub had to make out like the Ohio Valley was super-important.

I probably like George Washington. That movie at Mt. Vernon really sucked though. Whatever. There’s an old tavern that’s on the same parks service site as the fort.

I didn’t go on the tour, so I don’t know if this tavern’s actually important. The highway was sort of important in that it actually got built whereas the canal system never quite made it. Not long after they finished the highway, though, the railroads made it obsolete. Except that now if you want to drive from Pittsburgh to Richmond, it’s useful again. Everything’s cyclical.


The Reagan Library in Simi Valley

Went there in early February with HC12 and allotted kids, thereby concluding my series of visits to local presidential libraries.

The Old Air Force One at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley

Never again to slip the surly bonds of earth (probably).


  • Air Force One on permanent display (the *old* Air Force One).
  • It’s like a museum of my life from 1981-88. And I kind of liked being nine years old.
  • Well, plus it seemed like there was an unusual number of momentous events that transpired during those eight years (although it may just be that those were the years of my life where I first started becoming aware of Everything).
  • One of four surviving copies of the Magna Charta was on display!
  • I get teary-eyed at Reagan’s speeches.
  • Fantastic opportunities to discuss the question of which is more important: the reality of an individual or the idea of an individual. Although I don’t think the two are quite as separate from each other in Reagan’s case as they may be in the case of, say, Nixon or Lincoln. But maybe I’m just romanticizing the 80s. And romanticizing being nine years old. Plus Nixon and Lincoln are extreme cases. IMHO.
  • Reagan is much more well-liked than Nixon and nothing at their respective libraries lets you forget that.


  • Clear out in Simi Valley.
  • Per the docents, the most interesting thing about the Magna Charta is the humidity inside the case that stores it.
  • I felt bad for Old Air Force One. It’s like they’re trying to tease it by showing it the outside world even though they’re never going to let it get out there and fly again.
  • The fudge they sell at the in-library pub was merely okay.

And not really a knock on the Reagan Library, but the Johnny Rockets in Agoura Hills left a lot to be desired. I think even my nephews would say as much.

Comparing the Nixon and Reagan libraries, obviously Reagan was much more impressive (Nixon has one of three helicopters he at some point used, while Reagan has freakin’ Air Force One, for example). Nixon comes across as a politician, while Reagan comes across as an icon who would’ve been an icon even if he’d never been president of the United States.


(Happy St. Patrick’s Day — fortunately, my blog is already green.)