Joe and Nancy

Joe and Nancy
Our Home on Wheels (Click on image above for our web albums.)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

When arrived at Watford City with our broken windshield, we didn't know whether we were going to be stuck there or able to drive on the next day.  I made a few calls and found out that it would be safe to drive to a place for repairs, so long as it wasn't "mushy".  This was from a glass repair shop, so I assumed it was a technical term. :))  Well, we wanted a little more safety, so we went down to the Ace Hardware and baught a roll of clear packing tape and covered most of the cracks, in hopes of not allowing them to expand anymore.  After the patch job, and fortunately none were in my line of sight, we fired up the Diplomat and drove on towards Medora, ND and the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  We camped at the Red Trail Campground in Medora, ND, and parked the big wheels around 3 PM on Friday afternoon, July 20.
 I must admit, I had never heard of this park, and didn't know to expect or what it was noted for.  After doing a little online research though the evening before, I learned more about it.  Roosevelt first came to the North Dakota badlands to hunt bison in September 1883. During that first short trip, he got his bison and fell in love with the rugged lifestyle and the "perfect freedom" of the West. He invested $14,000 in the Maltese Cross Ranch, which was already being managed by Sylvane Ferris and Bill Merrifield seven miles south of Medora. That winter, Ferris and Merrifield built the Maltese Cross Cabin. After the death of both his wife and mother on February 14, 1884, Roosevelt returned to his North Dakota ranch seeking solitude and time to heal.  We toured the cabin with a volunteer ranger.  It was relocated from it's original location to a place just behind the visitor's center.
From Wiki:  Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a National Park comprising three geographically separated areas of badlands in western North Dakota. The park was named for U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. The park covers 110 square miles (285 km2) of land in three sections: the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit.
 Above, note the brand of the ranch burned into the end of one of the wall logs.  Below, Roosevelt's personal desk where he wrote many letters and books.  It was in the Elkhorn Ranch house.
 The white cabinet was from the original Maltese Ranch.  Not sure about the kitchen stove.
Mural from inside the visitor's center.
 Rear view of the cabine, and the original chest of drawers from the Maltese bedroom of Mr. Roosevelt.  Note the two pics of Roosevelt, and to the right his first wife.
 After our visit to the cabin & visitor's center and the video, we drove into the park and took the 25+ mile car tour.  This poor wild stallion has been wondering around the tame riding horse corral for over a year, so the folks told us in the stable, with the hopes of starting his own "harem" of mares.  They paid no attention to him and he just stands there staring & pacing back & forth trying to get them to come over for a little horse play.  No luck!
 About five miles into the drive we came upon a large herd of about 100 bison, including about 20 calves, one nursing right in front of us.
 So cute, but we could tell we were interrupting luch, so eased on around them.
 We ran into another herd on the other side of the park, and they appeared to number about a hundred or so there too.


 As Roosevelt said, the country has an allure of the strange beauty and wildness.  We also ran into two different herds of wild horses, and even a philly nursing in the distance.
 They sure made it easy for us to get close-ups.  And they were even a little curious and appeared to want to get close to us.  Guess they see many folks driving through.
 Certainly could have spent hours just sitting and looking at the surrounding features of the park.
 Saw us a few turkeys and even a lone Mule Deer snatching a few strands of prarie for a snack.
 And of course, Prarie Dog Town.  There were two towns in the park, very large population in both towns.  Thousands.
And even a statue to Howard the Duck, above.  Can you see it?
 We visited Badlands National Park last year, near Rapid City SD, and there many similarities between the two parks.
 It was a very hot & humid day, but plent of breeze, so it was an enjoyable weather day in the park.  It was overcast at times, and even sprinkled a little, but not enough to wet the road.
 Strange geological formations all around us.
 Found this little philly bouncing and hopping around the herd and just curious about us, but ready to pose for the cameras.  She had a bushy, stubby little tail.
 Hey Nancy, turn around!  Gotchya!
 We walked this little one mile trail and learned about the lightening strikes that ignite the coal seams and burn underground for months, and the ground above collapses into the burned out voids (below).
 The heat from the burning coal then bakes the red caly into brick-like textured rock, and is all around the hill sides.  It is called Scoria.
Well, that pretty much winds up the story about our visit to the Theodore Roosevelt NP.  On our drive from the NP, I noticed our coach was developing a vibration.  A serious one!  Couldn't figure out right off what was causing it, but finally determined that our tires on the drive axle were wore out.  Oh wow, windshield first, now tires!  Can it get any worse.  Guess we'll be looking for some tires soon.  Tune in next time to read about that episode.  Not Pretty!  Till then, Joe & Nancy headed for Minnesota and the Mall of America.  We left Medora, ND, Sunday morning, July 22.