Saturday, September 11, 2010

2010-31 Montana


New Town ND
Watford City ND
Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North)
Terry Town Montana

Campground:  4 Bears Casino, New Town ND.  $6.76 Electric.  Parking lot.  Filled with very old campers and a few tenters.  They also have a full hookup area nearer the lake, but sites are double back sites and very crowded with many seasonal campers.  $20 per night.

Campground:  Theodore Roosevelt NP, Juniper campground.  $10 no hookups.  Water and dump station available.  Many sites are pull thru’s which is always nice.  Nice restrooms, manicured grass and treed sites.  Site #1 has elect. If you can get it.

Campground:  Small Towne Rv Park, Terry Montana.  $16 per night, full hookups.  Appox. 12 sites, half are pull thrus.  Basic in town campsites.  Park mgr and husband are very friendly and helpful with activities in the area and places to eat, etc.  Note:  Early evening hwy noise and train horns all night long.

Thru North Dakota and into Montana

North Dakota:

Traveling across prairie, I’m impressed with the number of small ponds circled with a thick band of bull rush or cottontail.  As mentioned in the last posting, the prairie’s have had much rain in the past couple of years and even though it‘s fall, the pastures are green.

I pass through Rugby and have breakfast at a local restaurant right next to the stone obelisk declaring it to be the geographical center of North America.  Imagine, in North Dakota.  But true it is.  They also have a wonderful statue of colored spires depicting the Northern Lights.  As they are very visible from this location along US 2 in North Dakota.

I drop down onto hwy 23 and pass through prairie land that is becoming more hilly.  Giving me spectacular scenery as I cross over the tops of hills and rising land before descending into the next set of rolling landscape and grass lands beyond.  I set up camp at 4 Bears Casino, a place I would only stay for one night, as it’s probably the most yucky site I’ve stayed at in ages.  I then drive back hwy 23 almost 25 miles to take pictures of the most awesome leaning barn on the prairie I’ve ever seen.  Taking easily 50 pictures of it and the old homestead.  And further down the road a lone white building that used to be a Twl Hall?  Stunning vistas that one just has to see in person to believe.

one of my favorite shots of the season

My destination is the T Roosevelt NP that covers much of the western side of ND.  This is home to Pronghorn, wild horses, Buffalo, White tail and mule deer and Elk.  I had to stop on the scenic road as a herd of buffalo decided to camp out on the road.  Making low guttural noises and eyeing we tourists taking tons of pictures of these massive beasts weighing up to 2,000 lbs.

The park is part of the ND badlands, where the prairie suddenly is transformed by deep gashes of natures own handy work, erosion.  Wild rock formations along the Little Missouri River provide a dramatic landscape that seems to drop out of nowhere from the grass lands that surround it.  Small boulders dot the prairie landscape having been transported over 400 miles, the only signs of the final edge of an ice age and it’s leading edge of glaciers before they receded back into Canada and further north over 10,000 years ago.  I wonder if Canada would like to have their rocks back?

Misc. notes:

All the barns in North Dakota are painted a traditional bright red with crisp white trim.  Farmhouses are always painted white.  The older ones, that have not been taken care of, have the paint blasted off by the harsh wind and blowing snows during the harsh winters.

The landscape has a soft look to it.  As even the low hills are covered in grasses, giving the landscape with it’s faded shades of muted greens, light yellows to almost white, at times, a feeling of soft moss or velvet.
The sky is huge.

Sunlight and clouds race across the vast landscape creating patterns of light and shadow.

In the town of Watford, the local museum has the original noose used in the last lynching in the state, back in 1931.  The town of approx. 5,500 has remained almost the same in size for it’s entire existence.
 Teddy Roosevelt had a ranch for a few years on the same land that the T Roosevelt NP now stands.  It is where he began his love affair with the west and developed a keen desire to preserve portions of it for the whole country.

In New Town, the Three Tribes Indian museum, they’re life is chronicled through picture and stories.  It begins with stories of tribe members remembering the Lewis and Clark expedition and Sacajawea and then proceeds to the most heart wrenching account being the decimation of the three tribes in 1935 by small pox.  Over 90% of the native plains Indians died.  One of the last Indian tribes to succumb to the western diseases as until the early 1800s they had been well isolated from the rest of the country.


edge of the Bad Lands, Eastern Montana

The next day I head out and take an alternate route as there is heavy road construction just south of the National park entrance.  Didn’t do me any good as I got lost on the back country roads, at one point ending up on a dirt road through more gorgeous rolling hill and prairie country.  Back tracking, I miss another turn but finally get on the right road heading SW into Montana.  But things aren’t so clear after all.  Along with intermittent rain and heavy winds, the road ahead has heavy construction and I’m forced onto a muddy dirt road for a couple of miles.  So all that effort to avoid it didn’t pay off in the end.  Guess I need to chalk it up to just one of those days.

While stopped at one of the rest areas, I whipped out my handy dandy Don Wright’s Guide to FREE campgrounds.  It also contains many that charge, but are low cost.  Found one in Terry MT and with it being only about another 15 miles down Interstate 94, I headed right for it.  I could have stayed at the city’s campground for free (no hookups), but opted to stay at the Small Towne Rv Park for $16 a night, just to have elect.  I’ve gotten spoiled with full hookups.  Besides I’m doing pretty well on cost savings this month.

Evelyn took many pictures with wolves in her pictures

The park owner loans me a DVD of Evelyn Cameron’s life, “Pictures from a worthy Life”, a PBS special.  The story of a English Lady who along with her husband came to explore the west and fell in love with Montana.  She eventually became a photographer along with running the ranch and her life is chronicled through her 35 years of diaries and thousands of glass plate negatives and photographs.  They lived in this small town of Terry Montana (pop. 600) and the town now has an entire museum devoted to her photography.  A great story and wonderful images of the west.  Later I would tour the museum and photo gallery and hear tons of stories about living out west.

A self portrait

With a little effort, one can find great stories in small towns.  Maybe even take in a local football game and get a free hamburger, chips and soda as well.

Please note, many additional pictures on my Picasa Web site.

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