Sunday, May 11, 2014

Last Day Out

Today is Mother's Day and we are on a mission to get to my mother's house in Crosslake Mn. She does not know we are coming, it will be a surprise.

Had a small mishap closing up shop. We were bringing in one of the slides and I didn't make sure that the passenger seat was up far enough. The slide scrapped on the chair and took off some of the molding. Another thing to add to my maintenance list when I next bring the RV in. It looks like an expensive repair.

Then as I'm driving down the road I hear a banging noise from the rear of the coach. Turns out that the back window – the exit window is flapping in the breeze. The latch has worn away and is no longer catching it. Another item for the list.

We drove some back roads through Hawley, Sebaka and Pine River. It was fun seeing these small Minnesota towns that I've only heard about during Hockey playoff time or tornado season during the weather broadcasts.

My mother was totally thrilled and surprised. She rounded the corner and saw the rig and started screaming (with joy, with joy). I am so glad that we were able to pull it off. It was the first time she saw the RV in person and she was suitably impressed. I think it would be great fun to go on a road trip with her.

Tomorrow I head home

States I've slept in while in a Motor Home or Horse Trailer


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Buffalo River State Park Minnesota

Got up early to an overcast day. Guess what? It is a miracle – we have hot water. We quickly took showers before the tankless water heater decided to change it's mind. Nothing beats that clean feeling.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park used to be a Mandan Indian settlement. The CCC reconstructed some of the earth lodges. The park was also the home of the 7th Calvary which is the outfit that was lead by General George Custer and ended up at the Battle of Little Big Horn. We spent a couple of hours touring the museum and the Commissary before hitting the road. Oh – there was a history movie also.

Ended up back in Minnesota at the Buffalo River State Park. I was a little worried that there wouldn't be any room at the park because it is fishing opener, but this is not a fishing park. Got our spot and I took off on an hour long hike around the park. The Buffalo River is a good size river and is full into the spring rush, rapids and all. The park is fairly close to Highway 10 which means there is a lot of train traffic heard off in the distance.


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Long Road Back

Got up and lounged around a bit. My nephew Tyler just bought a farm and his dream was to raise bison. It will probably be awhile before he reaches his dream and I found the perfect present for him while he waits. I found the most perfect pile of buffalo dung, perfectly shaped, perfect size. I wrapped it up in a plastic bag and I just know he will love it. It will probably be the be the center piece of his farm.

Said goodbye to my beloved badlands bluffs. I really wish that I had more time to spend in Teddy Roosevelt. Since Barb is a working woman, we are limited on time and have to pull up stakes. I definitely need to come back and explore the area a bit more although I do find the bison rather intimidating.

We stopped at the Painted Canyon area of the park. It is sort of funny in that it is a rest stop and part of the National Park. The ranger pointed out some of the bluffs way out in the park that we had been hiking on the previous day.

Got to Mandan where we stayed at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park. The camping is right on the Missouri River. The highlight of the night was going to be taking showers. I have to admit, it had been several days since showers had been available. We needed showers in a big way. Barb goes first and there is NO hot water. What? No matter what we try, we can't get the hot water to work. Oh well, it will be another rank day.
On the other hand, we figured out how to get the DVD player working and we were able to watch a dvd.  Not that it made up for no shower, but it was a mild diversion.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Amazing Teddy Roosevelt National Park

Much as we enjoyed our site last night, we decided to check out all of the other sites just in case there was something better. Found a great site that overlooked the Little Missouri River and a bunch of bluffs. We walked the camping loop and ran into a couple of male buffalo grazing away. Barb hid behind some trees and took photos. They came with in a few feet of our campsite. Boy, are those things massive.

We lounged around the campsite waiting for the buffalo to leave and then packed up the RV and headed into Teddy Roosevelt park. They have a 36 mile driving loop that encircles the park. There was nobody on the road except us. The speed limit was 25 and most of the time we were going around 10 MPH. It took us almost 4 hours to go the 36 miles. The scenery was other worldly – huge vistas, towering rock formations and lots and lots of buffalo and wild horses. We only saw one foal, no calves, it was maybe a couple of weeks too early to see the babies, although the ranger said that there were 20 foals on the ground already in the park.

We stopped several times to do some of the shorter hikes away from the road. We went to Buck Hill which is the tallest point in the park. Jaw dropping views. Camera shots just don't do it justice. The road up to the Buck Hill trailhead was probably a 45 degree incline. It felt like we were off-roading.
I guess that is something different to do in an RV. Going up wasn't too bad, going down I put the RV into 1st gear but it didn't seem to be much of a speed deterrent.

Another hike was the Wind Cave Hike. Extreme cliffs and beautiful wind sculpted rock formations.

I really hate being near an edge and this hike had lots of cliff edges and not very many railings. There was a bunch of wild sage growing along the path and it was all Barb could do not to pick any to bring home.

Got back home to our new site and pulled a couple of lawn chairs down to the Little Missouri River for Happy Hour. It was a very happy Happy Hour. Sun was finally out, nice breeze – scenery breathtaking. I wish that when you take a photo that it would do justice to what you are photographing. Tons of frogs croaking and I tried stalking a few of them, but as soon as you get close to the sound they stop so I never saw a frog.
This is our Happy Hour View:

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Rain Sleet Go Away

The night started out a little loud. Lots of cars coming and going and several gunshots going off (they sounded like they were right outside the RV). Side not - according to my niece, Everbody on the Rez carries at least one gun. It is very much a gun culture. Anyways things finally settled down and I was able to sleep. During the night the rain started, a strong rain, but the troubling thing was the wind. All I could think of was that I was going to have to drive in this weather the next day. Not fun and pretty scary.

When we woke up, it was foggy misty and not much visibility.  Barb and I decided that because of the wind, it would be too hard to try to drive to Fort Union Trading Post, my last NoDak national Site.  We decided to settle for the Juniper Campground which is the Northern Unit of the Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  Driving was horrible, nothing worse than a cross wind - in North Dakota there is nothing to stop the wind. It actually started to sleet and I had frozen sleet on my windshield.

We drove into Juniper and again there was modify around. Guess nobody wants to camp when it is sleeting out. The drive into Juniper was very impressive, from the six buffalo that greeted us as we walked in, to the amazing rock formations along the way. Looked very much like the Bad Lands that everybody has seen as they drive west along 94.  Drove into the campground, looked around. Since the road that you can take to tour the Northern Unit was closed, there was not much to do - forget hiking, we would have been sucked into never never land with the mud. After much consultation, we decided to drive another hour and a half down to the Southern Unit. It was a little closer to home, there were more open trails and just more opportunities for fun.

When we got to the visitor center in the south several momentous things happened. One, the sun came out for a minute or two and secondly, I found a wood tick attached to me. The first one of the season. We watched an orientation film about the park and then found a lovely campground site that is nestled in the juniper trees overlooking some of the hills. Again, no water or electricity but nature makes up for that.

Barb decided that after all that terrible driving I would need to be plied with wine. She is a good travel buddy. I'm rather enjoying this part of the journey.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


It poured rain all night long.  It was a pretty hard rain, but we had no leaks in the RV.  When we woke up, it was a gray, chilly morning.  Got off to a slow start - I hiked the Shoreline Trail.  It was sort of a misty foggy and very very wet morning.  Lots of birds, a few fishermen.  We finally got on the road about 11:30 and headed for the Knife River Indian Villages.

The Knife River Indian Villages are a National Historic Site.  There were three nations that resided on this spot and built earth lodges.  All that remains are these depressions in the ground, each one maybe 40 to 50 feet in diameter.  There happened to be a school group there at the same time on a field trip.  As a consequence, besides being extremely loud (young voices do carry), we learned how to do some native games that they were teaching the kids.  We wandered down to the Knife River, the sun had come out and we sat on the river bank and lounged.

Then we headed over to the Ft Bethold Reservation where my niece Brittany lives with her husband Zach and their two kids Kellen and Takoda.  It was so nice to see Brittany, I really don't get to see her enough.  Zack took us out in his pickup to see the Ranch that his grandfather owns.  It is about 700 acres.  He raises cattle and horses.  They are allowed to free range it.  The north section of the property is totally wild.  Zach drove his pickup like he was four wheeling which I guess he was.  I must admit, I was a little scared when you look out the window and there is nothing there but straight down.  The views were very primal - this is an ancient land here.  Zach talked about his people, where they first settled  on this land.  We then went to Grandpa Titus's house and saw their new llamas and also Britt's horse BlueBell. 

Zach's land where we went up and down these hills:
Kellen and me shooting

Twin Buttes is a tiny little town.  What is interesting is that on the short little street that Britt lives, her mother in law lives a couple of houses down, you can see Zach's brother's house out the window.  The kids all run back and forth between the houses, nobody locks their doors.  It is a very close community sort of what I imagine it used to be in the olden days before we all got so urbanized. 


Monday, May 5, 2014

Intro to NoDak

What is the deal with North Dakotans? You are driving along the freeway and you see signs - “Live Buffalo!!! Stop and See!!!!” You round the bend and there on top of the hill is a huge herd of buffalo. As you get nearer you realize that they are just metal cutouts standing on top of the hill. It is not only buffalo, along the way we saw elk, boars, deer – all metal standing in the middle of a field or under a tree. Very strange.


Today was more of a travel day. Did stop at a rest stop which was rather unique in that it looked like a gas station out of the 50's.

Stopped at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center but just looked at the gift shop. It was late in the day, tired, hungry and it just seemed like too much effort to actually tour the place. More buffalo sculptures here.

Crossed over the Garrison Dam. We crossed over a spillway first and thought we had crossed the dam. The spillway was massive but it was only maybe a twentieth of the size of the Garrison Dam. We have stopped at Lake Sakakawea State Park(third largest man-made lake in the U.S.A.) and we are the only campers here. There is electricity but the water hasn't been turned on yet for campers. We are parked right on the water. The shore is unique in that there is no sand, but all of these red flat rocks. Great skipping rocks.
This is a wonderful park - the aloneness, the view, the birds.  After two days of driving, it is good for the soul.   

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Getting on the road

Today was the first day of travel to North Dakota. I'm a little nervous about going. This will be my first trip with an outsider. I've only traveled with Tony or by myself for a good many years. This time I'm with my sister-in-law, Barb, who I've only known for 38 years.  This will the first time in a long time we've spent an extended time together beyond family holidays.

Getting the RV ready to go this time was really different. The last time I had lists up the kazoo, but this time I'm sort of winging it. Food, clothes - throw them in the RV and go. If I forget something , oh well.

I drove up to Barbs house and it turned into a family gathering. Sister-in-law , nephew, great niece - all gathered to check out the Palace On Wheels. I must admit, I do get a charge out of showing it off. Austin was particularly impressed with my laundry system.

It was a nice drive, nothing outstanding except for a monster fire that was along the freeway. Pictures to follow. I did half of a Five Hour Energy and I talked Barbs ear off. Poor Barb. I am extremely sensitive to Five Hour Energy - it is like 12 Hour Energy for me. I am basically flying off the walls.

We drove to Barnesville Minnesota and stopped at a campground called Wagner Park, a small county park which was basically pretty much a bare field with a scuzzy bath house. We had water and electricity and sewer for $22.  We are the only ones there. Not too much to do or see, but it beat camping in the parking lot of Walmart.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Tickets and Trips

I thought it was time to update a few outstanding items.

Remember way back in March, March 17 to be exact.  That was the day of a sleet storm in Minnesota and it was also the day I slide my pretty little car into an intersection and got smashed into.  What was it - about six weeks ago?  The big news is that I have my car back - I didn't realize how much I missed it until it came back.  It is like a new car - trying to remember how to do all the little things like 'How do I hear my horoscope?"  Yes, my car tells me my horoscope.  The final bill ended up being over $11,000.  Wowzer.  Seems weird that the insurance company didn't total it, but all that matters is I have it back.

On March 17th, I also got a ticket from the attending officer for "inattentive driving".  Say what?  I made an appointment to go see a hearing officer to discuss this ticket.  The fine was supposed to be $126.  I show up at the hearing officer headquarters and there is a very jovial hearing officer ready to discuss my case.  He says, gee, normally when there is an accident and there are no witnesses, we just dismiss the case.  But it looks like the officer marked the citation as an injury case. (Remember the little staple in the head incident?)  Because injury is marked, the best I can do is lower your fine to $86 which comes with a plea of guilty.  OR you can go to court and throw yourself on the mercy of the court.  I decide I'm going to court.  I have nothing to lose except $126 plus court fees plus......
The next available appointment is October.  Wow - that is a long way out.  I decide I don't want to go to court in October, that is prime riding/traveling season.  I now have a court date in November.  It will be interesting to see how it goes.  I did ask my hearing officer if I would be running into Judge Judy or the likes of.  He says no.

So, I've been back home for three weeks.  Getting itchy feet.  My sister-in-law Barb says to me - let's go visit our niece Brittany up in North Dakota.  NoDak....hmmmm.  Not on most people's bucket list, but it will be fun.  We are leaving Sunday through Monday the following week.  We will hit a couple of National Historic Sites, Lake Sakakawea and Salem Sue - a five story tall Holstein cow!!!  How friggin' cool is that?   We are also hoping to hit the Enchanted Highway which is 32 miles in the middle of nowhere where there are giant sheet metal sculptures.