ContentsRearview Mirror - Summary of the past week
Pups Across America! - Chilly Mitzy and Poetry Pups
Headlights - Our schedule as to where we will be heading
(Note: click on any photo for a larger image/slideshow)
I took the Pups out pre-dawn into the brisk 41-degree morning. Soon Jan and I drove the two miles to the Tower Trailhead, stopping to view a really big porcupine making his way up a hill. By 6:25 a.m. we were working our way up the trail that goes around Devils Tower. We were the only ones there (so we thought), which was totally opposite from the parking lot of the evening before when it was crowded with tour busses, motor homes, and cars full of tourists. We thoroughly enjoyed the easy 1.3-mile trek, stopping often to take pictures and watch the red squirrels gather pine cones for the upcoming winter. As we listened to the birds and critters we heard another noise, and looking up we saw three climbers halfway up the hill. We later found out that they had scaled the Tower the night before, camped on the peak, and were now making their way down--probably trying to avoid arrest!. Just a wonderful way to start the day.
When we drove back to camp, a brown note was on our windshield. Just as I pulled it off and before I could read it, up came the serious-looking camp host, decked out in full National Park attire. He ominously told us that our dogs had been barking non-stop for the two and a half hours we had been gone (actually it had been 65 minutes, but no sense arguing with an official of the law no matter what their lowly rank), and it was against regulations to leave them unattended. He also said that several of our camping neighbors had complained (it was Sunday morning you know), and he could hear the racket all the way across the campground. I apologized solemnly and vowed it would not happen again. Over the next hour, Jan and I apologized to all our neighbors. However, they all said they either hadn’t noticed or hadn’t cared. It seemed that a ranger driving through camp got all worked up and sounded the alarm. I really wish we had heard them though, as I guess they started to howl like the big savage canines they are and it set off coyotes from all around to start howling--could have loved to have recorded that. To give you an idea of how the Kids can howl, here is a 20-second movie, “Pups Gone Wild.”
I spent most of the rest of the morning finishing up last week’s blog, editing pictures, and planning out the next steps in our RV adventure. Jan did some painting and, of course, met several of our neighbors, all nice people with their own unique life stories to tell. Here is the “mini RV” of one of our neighbors.
Just like when we camped at Vega State Park in Colorado, by coincidence, our stay at Devils Tower occurred at the same time as their annual Cowboy Poetry event. We walked down and enjoyed the poetry of an 85-year-old local woman and the singing and joshing of a bunch of old cowboys and ranchers who belted out old cowboy songs. They were quite good actually. Here are a few pictures, including some young cowboys jostling on the grass.
Late in the afternoon we took a country ride (bumpy dirt roads, of course) to the Black Hills National Forest, and at Jerry’s request, we took one more trip to Prairie Dog Town.
Monday: Labor Day at Teddy Roosevelt National Monument
I took the pups out early to a much warmer morning. While I was away, Jan started getting the coach ready to go, and after breakfast we left the campground promptly at 7:57 a.m.
Stopping at the entrance to the park to get our mandatory picture of the park sign for the blog, we turned left on 24 and drove to Hewlett. We passed through the little town of Alva, population 50, and on through Alladin, where the posted sign said that there were 15 residents. At least according to the map our road turned into Wyoming 34 and we continued on east, turning north at the 85 junction. Soon we were in North Dakota, and we stopped for lunch in the coach at the tiny visitor center at Bowman, where I got my official state map and other information on what North Dakota had to offer. At Belfield we fueled up and then turned west on I-94 for the 15 miles to the entrance of Teddy Roosevelt National Monument in the town of Medora.
We set up camp, and late afternoon we drove the 36-mile scenic route, seeing a few wild horses and prairie dogs.
Tuesday: Wild Horses, Bison, and PDs
Returning from my morning Pup walk and within 100 yards of BERT, we spotted two wild horses, a stallion and a mare. I quickly took the Pups back to the coach, gathered my camera and tripod, and then returned taking pre-dawn pictures of these equines eating grass and small plants with purpose. I stood out there for 45 minutes taking photos and admiring this handsome couple.
After breakfast we returned to the 36-mile scenic route. In the early morning we had much better luck finding critters. In fact, we saw well over 100 bison, sometimes quite up close and personal. We had to stop a few times to let them cross the road. We also had great luck with the wild horses, viewing 50 or more during our trip. Of course the highlight for the Pups were the hundreds of prairie dogs.
Really Big Trucks
After working a few hours it was time to move on. While I worked in the passenger chair, Jan took us east on I-94, then north on 85. Here you would have sworn that the Really Big Truck Convention was going on with long trucks, wide trucks, and a vast assortment of really big trucks heading in all directions carrying equipment and supplies for energy and agriculture. I never saw so many signs saying, “Oversized Load” or “Wide Load.” At Walford City I had Jan turn east on 23--big mistake! There may have been concrete or asphalt below us, but you would never have known it. For close to 30 miles we shared the rough dirt paths with more really big trucks through a construction maze. Finally, we stopped and camped at the Van Hook Resort, in New Town, ND. Long day.
Wednesday: Lake Metigoshe
I worked till 10:00 a.m., and then it was time to head out. We took 23 east for about 50 miles and then took 83 north, passing by Minot. At Highway 5 we went east to Bottineau, north on a county road for six miles, and east again on 43 for six miles to the entrance of Lake Metigoshe State Park. We found a site, and set up in this picturesque setting. This very popular park was mostly empty (post-Labor Day), and we enjoyed the solitude. The weather was just about perfect, and we ended the day with a nice campfire.
Thursday: Peace Garden
While working on the computer in the wee hours, I suddenly heard a noise. I opened up the door and heard stereophonic howling--the coyotes were at full yap. This made me a little more careful of the Little Ones when I took them out a little later. This was followed with Jan and I hiking on the Old Oak Trail, a pretty walk through the woods.
At 8:00 a.m. the family loaded into the car and we drove the three miles south, 16 miles east, and three miles north to the North Dakota-Manitoba Canada border to visit the International Peace Garden. This joint collaboration of two governments is just a marvelous place to visit. The tranquil 2,300 acres include lakes, formal gardens, sunken gardens, memorial gardens, woods with hiking trails, a campground, a chapel, a 9-11 memorial, a museum, café, and more. Yes, it is a little isolated, but worth the visit. Check it out at www.peacegarden.com.
I worked the rest of the day while Jan did some more art--see what you think.
Jan and I took the Pups out for an early morning romp, and Jan found a live dragonfly partially iced over in the grass. Jerry was very interested in giving him a smell, while Mitzy tried to eat him! Luckily Jan saved him.
After computer work, and a Swedish Skype, we pulled out of Lake Metigoshe State Park for a 300-mile trek around 10:00 a.m. We took 43 east to 3 south down to Rugby, where we picked up 2 for the rest of day’s travel through Devil’s Lake and Grand Forks. At Grand Forks we stayed on 2, passing into Minnesota going all the way to Bemidji, where we camped for the night at the Royal Oaks RV Park.
Saturday: On to the Porkies
We were on the road at 8:00 a.m., back heading east on Highway 2 driving the 100 miles of Midwest prairie through Duluth and on into Wisconsin. After stopping for lunch (I had the special) in the little burg of Poplar, we stayed on 2, passing through Ashland and Hurley. We again crossed state lines and came into Ironwood. We stopped at the Michigan Visitor Center only to find it closed on weekends (great marketers those Michigan recreation folks). Not to worry, I had done my research online early that morning and had a good idea where I wanted to take us. So at Wakefield we turned east on 28 for just a couple of miles, and then turned north on County Road 5-9 for 16 miles through a canopy of just-starting-to-change-color trees. We turned into the Porcupine Mountains State Forest and found a huge campsite, not more than 50 yards to a bluff overlooking Lake Superior. Jan cooked over the campfire, and we ended the day watching the sunset over the big Lake.
September 23-October 7: Markin Glen County Park, Kalamazoo, MI
October 8-15: ???
October 16-31: Visit Kentucky friends
November 1 to ???
??? to ???
???: Back on Pine Island
Have questions or comments--send them in.
See you next week.