Theodore Roosevelt National Park: North Unit

We had a perfectly lovely day exploring the north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. After three solid days of heavy rain, the sun was a welcome sight. The temperatures were warm, but not too hot, and really, we couldn't have asked for better weather. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we explored the south unit of the park back in 2014, and you can read that blog post right here.

The north unit of the park is small and could easily be seen on a day trip without spending the night. We spent two nights in the park so we had a whole day to explore. It was five miles from the park entrance to the campground, and then there is a scenic drive that dead ends--spectacularly--at Oxbow Overlook. Here are some things we saw along the way.

Directly across from our campground was the beginning of the Buckhorn Trail. There are several hiking trails in the park...most longer and more challenging than we old folk wanted to attempt. Nevertheless, one could start a lengthy hike right here. We were more interested in the rock formations.

Erosion is the name of the game at this park, and the recent rains had left things quite a mess. We know from visits to other national parks that the line of rocks toward the upper part of that image above are called dikes. That rock is harder than the surrounding rock, and so the surrounding rock erodes around it.

Turn directly around from where the image above was taken, and you can see the Juniper Campground where we spent two nights.

We love camping inside the national parks because it is inexpensive, but it is also peaceful and lovely. Juniper Campground was located in a huge stand of cottonwood trees.

It was hauntingly beautiful.

The leaves were changing, giving everything a golden glow.

And you'd be disappointed if I didn't photograph every blooming thing, wouldn't you?

An earlier sign indicated there was a "demonstration herd" of longhorn cattle that could be seen, but we never saw a single one. Oh well. You can't have everything. We saw plenty of wildlife, as I'm just about to tell you.

Behind that sign, I took this panorama. Remember that you can make the pictures larger by clicking on them. This is a good example of what the North Dakota Badlands look like.

There was just one trail we planned to hike, and we were disappointed to find it closed due to the recent heavy rains.

Nevertheless, we were impressed by the size of this bison poop...although "poop" seems far too dainty a word for this. Watch your step, please.

And, really...mind your manners too.

Our next stop was the River Bend Overlook, which was stunning in its beauty.

From the parking area, this is what you see:

We noticed a post that seemed to be the place the bison liked to scratch themselves. The post was rubbed to a shine on one side, and there were bits of fur stuck to the wood.

Their hoof prints are almost as large as their, um, pies.

Here's what you see from the viewing platform of the River Bend Overlook.

That structure there was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. I've mentioned before how much I love coming upon these structures from days gone by. You can read more about the mission of the CCC in that link I've provided. Such a worthwhile project during such hard times.

Look to the right, and this is what you see:

Look to the left, and this is what you see:

Here's how it looks standing inside the structure.

There was a herd of bison hanging out on the surrounding hillside.

This fellow seemed to take a shine to Mike, who shot this picture from his window.

That image is going into my sketchbook. My word for this One Word Wonder: "Imposing."

Of course our shadow selves had to get into the act here. They haven't shown themselves yet this trip because the weather was a little too wet for them.

The park borders on a national grassland.

And it is vast.

Standing here, one gets a real appreciation for the size and diversity of our country.

We could see private farms just outside the park's borders.

The road was in disrepair, having suffered a mudslide during the recent rains. This is Bentonite clay, and it runs when it gets wet.

Nearing the end of the road, we came across this herd of bighorn sheep waaaaaay far out across the valley. What a thrill to get to see these shy animals.

This was the view at the end of the line at Oxbow Bend. Fabulous.

From there we drove back to the visitor center. I needed to check out whether they had refrigerator magnets and/or shot glasses. There was a bison hanging there...just munching grass, completely unperturbed by the humans around him.

And, indeed, I picked up my first refrigerator magnet of the trip.

From there we went back to the trailer and tried getting the kitties out for a walk. This was a short-lived excursion. Wanna see what a bad cat looks like?

Neh, neh, neh...there isn't a harness made that can keep me contained!

Yes, in less than two minutes, this little, um, sweetsh*t...I mean, sweetheart... had slipped her harness. We had some anxious moments corralling her again. We honestly thought we wouldn't be able to do it, and she took off running across the park, running and running, farther and farther away. Finally, Mike yelled "Sadie, No!" It seemed hearing the word "no" put some boundaries in place for her, and she allowed us to approach and pick her up.

And that was the end of Sadie's leash-walking career. No more walking for her...no way, no how. Smitty has been out a couple of times now, however, and he's been a perfect gentleman.

The light was so lovely at sunset, I couldn't help but take more pictures from our campsite.

I was motivated to put the starburst filter on my DSLR and experiment a little bit.

On the embroidery front, I've finally finished the first cluster of flowers, except for one green leaf.

Now I've moved my hoop to the next section, which should go a little faster. When that's finished, I'll be doing another cluster of flowers on the other side. The flowers are taking a long time.

As I'm writing this, we're staying the night at the fairgrounds in Minot, North Dakota. It's a great spot for just $20, and we have electricity. Yay! I've done a load of clothes, and we've visited a quilt shop.

I'll save all of that for future posts, however. We're just about to go pick up some stuff at a local department store. More later.


Blogging on the Fly

As I'm writing this, we've been out of touch for a couple of days. We're stopped for lunch overlooking beautiful Lake Sakakawea in New Town, North Dakota...the Great Plains. I'll have to tell you more about the lake and the overlook later. For now, I'm on limited battery time, and I want to cut and paste something I wrote days earlier after we left our Harvest Host in Miles City, Montana.

Cutting and pasting now:

As I’m writing this post, I’m seated at our table inside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There is no electricity, save what we can generate with our generator, and there is no wi-fi or cell signal. This is a minor inconvenience (yes, I’m listening Florida), except that the words pile up in my head. So today I’m trying something a little different to see how it works. I’m going to write my posts in a word document, and then copy and paste them into Blogger when I’m able to get online again. The only downside of this arrangement is that I won’t be able to upload any pictures to my word document. That part will have to wait until I can get online again. And this too is a minor inconvenience in that I use my pictures as I write to remind me of what I wanted to say. Oh well. It’s an imperfect world, in a pretty darned good life. This narrative is offered only as an explanation…not a complaint, by any means. We’re counting our blessings these days.

So, to get on with it, we left Miles City, Montana, and drove into North Dakota and the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park on Saturday. We’ve visited the South Unit before, and you can read my blog post from that visit in 2014 right here. Our tour book suggests that the North Unit is the more beautiful of the two, and we noticed that right away as we drove in. But I want to back up to our last morning at the Harvest Host site where we stayed. Harvest Host asks that we not mention the name of our host, and so I won’t; however, I can show you some pictures. It rained for three days, and it rained hard while we were there. The rain let up a little bit that morning, and I was able to get some pictures of the place.

The host, Marilyn was quite a gardener and had some beautiful flowers growing around the place.

We were parked right next to the tasting room, and it was a quiet night. 

As I mentioned earlier, there were lots and lots and lots of kitties running around. Marilyn offered to allow us to take a couple of kittens with us. “Don’t tempt me,” was my reply. I would dearly have loved to take a picture of their pretty grapes, ready for harvest, but they were all covered with netting to protect them from birds. Instead, you’ll have to settle for this picture of their winery logo.

We saw Marilyn in the grocery store before we left. She noticed we were purchasing tomatoes, having used all of our CSA tomatoes. She asked us if we’d like some of the many from their garden. Would we?!? Yes! And so we left their place with some lovely tomatoes.

From there it was a rainy day of driving. Because of the drippy windows and windshield, I didn’t take many pictures. We passed into North Dakota.

There happened to be an oil train stopped on the tracks where the signs were. We’ve seen a lot of trains…long, long trains loaded to the max with coal and oil. This is an oil boom region. We have also seen some large refineries.

We noticed on the map that the roads in North Dakota are straight, mostly running east to west and north to south. That is because the region is flat. There aren’t a lot of mountains to cross over, and it allows the roads to run in straight lines. We passed through the Little Missouri National Grassland and grass is pretty much all you see.

We noticed the leaves are starting to change color

We’ve seen a few abandoned homesteads along the way. This was the first one that I had the camera ready and was able to get a picture. Sorry for the drippy windshield.

The Homestead Act of 1862 was created to encourage westward expansion. Any American who had never taken up arms against the United States could apply and public lands were given away free to those folks hale and hearty enough to settle and cultivate it. When we see these abandoned structures, I consider that a family once lived here and I wonder what their lives were like. No doubt life was hard in this climate and without modern conveniences. I wonder how long this dwelling was inhabited, and why it was abandoned. There are stories here, but no one to tell them any more.

As we approached the park, we started seeing more of the characteristic geology of the North Dakota Badlands

As we approached the park, we passed over the Scenic Little Missouri River and into Central time.

This was just before we reached the turn off for the park. 

Mike was so excited that his navigation unit had calculated our arrival time to include the time change that he missed the turn. It ended up being a good thing because just up the road, we could make a u-turn at this scenic overlook. If you look just left and above the center of the image, you can see the bridge. The national park encompasses everything you see to the right of the image.

Shortly after we crossed the park boundary, we spied this one lone bison.

We drove on just a little ways to find the campground where we dumped our tanks and filled our fresh water, then settled in for the night. After three solid days of heavy rain, it was wonderful to wake up to a sunny day.

There’s been no time for sewing so far on this trip, and there probably won’t be until we start heading south into warmer climates. For now, we’re moving east fairly quickly, while still taking some time to see the sights. There’s been plenty of time for needlework, however. I’m making progress on the center block for the Sundress quilt

The stitching is fairly time-consuming with all those tiny chain stitches, but I’m enjoying it. When we stop for lunch, Mike likes to take a short nap, and that’s the time I use for my stitching. Both of us are happy.

Okay...back to real time...we're on our way to Minot, North Dakota, where we'll spend the night, and I'll have some time to catch-up on blogging about what we saw within the national park boundaries. I'm hopeful of visiting one of the four quilt shops located in Minot as well. For now...back on the road. Hoping for internet access, and time for another blog post before we head across the border into Canada.

I've had very little time to proofread this post, but we need to get on our way, and so I'll apologize here for any typos. Like I said earlier, I'm blogging on the fly.