West 2021:
Day 4 - Bismarck, ND


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West 2021: [Day 1 - OakdaleI] [Day 2 - Fargo] [Day 3 - Beaver Lake] [Day 4 - Bismarck] [Day 5 - Little Missouri] [Day 6 - Miles City] [Day 7 - Billings] [Day 8 - Missoula] [Day 9 - Steamboat Rock] [Day 10 - Bay View] [Day 11 - Seattle] [Day 12 - Seattle] [Day 13 - Seattle] [Day 14 - Millersvania] [Day 15 - Yakima River Canyon] [Day 16 - Farewell Bend] [Day 17 - Bruneau Dunes] [Day 18 - Craters of the Moon] [Day 19 - Grand Tetons] [Day 20 - Buffalo Bill] [Day 21 - Buffalo] [Day 22 - Badlands] [Day 23 - Jordan] [Day 24 - Trempealeau] [Day 25 - Heading Home]

Thursday, May 6, 2021: Such a pretty sunrise over Beaver Lake.
Tom looks very comfortable in our cozy RV bedroom.
After a delicious breakfast of leftover Carbone's pizza (heated for Debbie, cold for Tom), we drove away from our wonderful campsite at 7:00 AM. We dumped the cassette toilet in the vault toilet, which is just one of many benefits to having a cassette toilet.
Tom spotted the first of many pheasants by the side of the road and Debbie took the first of many failed photos of it.
There was spooky haze in the distance.
We stopped at Prairie Bells: Grotto of the Holy Family.
Here's a closer look. A push button down the hill presumably makes the bells peal, but it was only 7:45 AM, so we decided not to test it.
There was a cool view of the haze from here.
Our next destination was Linton Cemetery.
We were here to see the Ostrum family grave and we found it very quickly, thanks to a photo of it on Find-a-Grave. Debbie's grandfather, Sigurd, emigrated from Sweden to North Dakota, assisted by this family, who were relatives of his best friend, Tage, who came with him.
We were surprised to find individual gravestones for family members. It helped us piece together the unnamed people in her grandfather's memoirs.
Adam Ostrum (born Adam Åström) is the "old man" who Tage and Sigurd wrote to asking for a sponsorship letter.
Adam's wife, Maria, had died before Sigurd and Tage emigrated in 1925. Her name had been Americanized to Mary.
Adam's son Harry died at the age of 15, ...
... and his son Fred had died at age 33 before Sigurd and Tage emigrated.
Adam's oldest son William is the person whose name appears in newspapers from the time, which is what Debbie used to locate the ranch where he lived with his widowed father in 1925. He is also the person mentioned in Sigurd's memoirs, so we think that he wrote to 71-year-old Adam ("an old man") but that it was 44-year-old William who sent the authorization, which is why he was mentioned by name.
As usual when we walk through a cemetery, we spotted some unusual monuments. This little angel holds two plaques, ...
... each of which contained a small boy's name, date of birth and date of death. The brothers died within four months of each other, Jakob aged six months and Franz aged two years.
Two of the graves were marked with beautiful Swedish-style wrought iron cross sculptures.
Back on the road, we passed a bald eagle's nest in a tree.
Zooming in, it was clear that both parents were on the nest and one of them was feeding the babies.
Welcome to Strasburg, Birth Place of Lawrence Welk.
We enjoyed another day of bird watching as we passed marshes, ponds, and lakes.
We stopped by the side of the road (after turning around to go back) to see a pheasant. He ran away through a field of harvested corn stalks while Debbie took one bad photo after another.
Our next destination was in South Dakota, which welcomed us.
A historical marker-style sign at the border told us that we are about to enter South Dakota.
There's a message on the other side for travelers leaving South Dakota to enter North Dakota.
The historical marker down the road a bit was in much newer shape.
Finally! We managed to find a pheasant who was willing to pose for us for a while. We used the full zoom capabilities of our camera to get these photos.
He's handsome and he knows it.
While Tom drove, Debbie read her grandfather's memoirs aloud. The memoirs cover the period from when Sigurd and his friend first decided to emigrate through his eventual settling in Waukegan, Illinois.
After taking a train to Norway, a ship to New York, and a train to Chicago, Sigurd and Tage took a train to Mobridge, South Dakota, where we headed next.
Mobridge was established in 1908, just 17 years before Sigurd and Tage arrived.
Apparently, a more famous pair of travelers had been through here before them.
We drove to where the train would have stopped when Sigurd arrived in town.
A shiny new post commemorated the Chicago-Mobridge train route that had brought Sigurd here.
The Mobridge State Bank looked very much like this when Sigurd arrived but it was originally located further up on Main Street. It is now privately owned.
We drove down to the waterfront a couple of blocks away from the train tracks. We found this amusing sculpture of a cowboy riding a giant fish, titled "Walleye Up."
There was a pretty little park right along the Missouri River.
Here's Sigurd's granddaughter, 96 years after his arrival.
We headed out of town using this bridge, ...
... while the railroad used the bridge to the north. Sigurd and Tage would have taken this route on the last railway leg of their trip from Mobridge to Selfridge.
We drove across the river to the land that faces Mobridge, to the Sitting Bull monument.
The plaque in front notes that he was originally buried at Fort Yates (which we would see very soon), but that his remains were moved to this location in 1953.
A monument to Sakakawea is located a short distance from the Sitting Bull monument (visible in the far distance on the left side of this photo).
There's a duplicate of the Sacajawea dollar portrait at the base of the obelisk. Note that we will use the local spelling of her name in this travelog where possible, but we're using the common spelling associated with the coin here.
A map of the area was nearby.
Back on the road, we passed more pheasants and couldn't resist one more photo.
Our next stop was McLaughlin, South Dakota.
We went to Redeemer Lutheran Church looking for Redeemer Lutheran Cemetery, and didn't find it, so we went to McLaughlin Cemetery instead.
We were looking for the grave of Olaf Sandland, the man who hired Sigurd to live and work on his farm two days after arriving in Selfridge. We didn't find his grave but we did find several Sandlands in the cemetery.
With absolutely no cell service in town, we used the Winegard unit on our RV to temporarily get some cell data long enough to get the GPS coordinates for "Redeemer Lutheran Cemetery." Find-a-Grave had the name wrong but the GPS coordinates right, so we were able to find it north of town ...
... but it was named Congregational Cemetery.
We spread out to search the cemetery and once again, we found Sandlands but they weren't the right ones.
The last place to check was on the other side of the field where the monuments appeared to be older. Perhaps these graves were in a different area because this used to be a separate cemetery.
Bingo! We found Olaf and his wife, Clara. Through online research, Debbie had learned that the two children mentioned in Sigurd's memoirs were named Lola and Lormer. Lormer's gravesite and obituary were easily found, but there was little out there about Lola and where she ended up.
We found her tiny headstone right next to her parents', with no last name to identify her, but we knew immediately who she was. When she was a little girl, she asked Sigurd if he was homesick, according to his memoirs.
With that task successfully accomplished, plus the added bonus of finding Lola, Tom took Debbie on a little walk back to the other part of the cemetery ...
... to see this upside-down dead bullsnake. We saw another one just like it the next day, except alive and right side up, slithering across the road at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
We headed back into McLaughlin to see where the railroad track turned to go north to Selfridge.
This is the route Sigurd and Tage's train would have taken, but the track now ends just beyond the yellow structure. If you look at the earth view of Google Maps between Selfridge and McLaughlin, you can see where the track used to be, as the route is still visible crossing fields.
This sign points to the Yellowstone Trail.
We passed this impressive bison ranch entrance on our way north.
We spotted several bison mixed in with a herd of cows.
Soon, we were being welcomed back to North Dakota where we would spend two more nights. We'd be returning to South Dakota later in the trip.
Horses! And a baby horse!
Remember that Lewis and Clark Trail sign earlier on this day? This one is just like it but is pointing the other direction, which is probably best when the trail turns to the right here.
We followed the Native American Scenic Byway for a little while to Fort Yates to see ...
... Standing Rock Monument.
Also in Fort Yates is the first burial site of Sitting Bull. A story Debbie found online about Alma Ostrum stated that her family was close friends with Sitting Bull and that her father, Adam, built his casket. True? Who knows? But it is interesting to think that Debbie's grandfather knew these people, whose ranch was just a few miles away from here.
This thing was in the ground nearby.
It held a small Corps of Discovery II commemorative disk, one of many placed along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
Next, we drove toward Selfridge and passed the ranch that used to belong to the Ostrums (and might still for all we know). This place is described in Sigurd's memoirs as being seven miles east of Selfridge, and that is exactly how far it was.
The ranch is huge.
Here's the road that leads to it. It's hard to imagine what it would have been like for Sigurd to be riding up this road for the first time 96 years ago.
We got to Selfridge, where we planned on seeing where the railroad tracks were, along with the location of the old school, continuing our quest to see places that are mentioned in the memoirs, ...
... but the road into town was the bumpiest dirt road we had encountered so far, and it shook our little RV so badly that we immediately gave up and turned around.
We passed some interesting scenery as we continued north.
The prairie came to a screeching halt when we reached the Mandan city limits.
We were thrilled to be back in the land of car washes.
We went to the Wash Barn and Tom worked hard to clean all of the dried mud on The Ocho.
Then we crossed the river to see some interesting things along the waterfront. Here's a vintage boat of some sort.
This cool eagle sculpture is called Reflections.
This even cooler one up the road is called Thunderbirds.
Here's the other side of it.
Here's the Lewis and Clark Riverboat.
These sculptures represented Lewis & Clark and Sakakawea.
We headed back down the river road to get this historical marker, because apparently we collect those now too.
It turns out that The Ocho wasn't fully clean, so we went back over the river to Wash Barn again.
The Ocho was gleaming after its second bath.
Next, we drove through the Cathedral District ...
... on our way to the North Dakota Capitol.
Nearby is a beautiful statue of Sakakawea.
We were happy to find the North Dakota Merci Train boxcar in this complex.
Here's the front of the boxcar which is in great shape.
In addition to a very old metal plaque on a rock, newer signs told the story of the Gratitude Train. This sign also said that restoration work was done in 2004.
Here is the other side. It had been embellished with a United States Seal and a Merci Train logo on both sides, which is something we had never noticed on any of the other boxcars we've visited.
The informational sign on the other side gave some great details on examples of the gifts.
There were small plaques on the ground all around the complex, each with a number and the common and Latin name of a tree.
Near each plaque was the tree it identified, such as this downy hawthorne tree.
We were glad to learn the name of these very cool trees with thick bark at the base and white bark higher up, which are ...
... Richard's White Poplar. We're guessing that these are all trees that are native to North Dakota.
We had to visit the infamous Pioneers of the Future sculpture. Created in 1989, the children are supposed to have wonder in their eyes instead of looking like they're tripping on acid. Tom briefly joined in on their childlike wonder/bad drug trip.
We thought we were done photographing bison sculptures, but this one was really beautiful, ...
... and it appeared to match this gorgeous horse sculpture nearby.
We finally finished sightseeing for the day and checked into Hillcrest Acres RV Park. We had a delicious dinner of cheesy Rice-a-Roni in a cup, with diced chicken from home mixed in.
We each had refreshing showers in the tiniest bathroom ever, then hung up our quick-dry towels using S hooks through grommets that Debbie added to the ends of each towel. They doubled as bedroom curtains as they dried.
Tom got the squeegee and wiped down the shower walls and floor so it could return to its primary function as a bathroom once again.
The park was nice but we didn't have a view of anything other than other RVs.
Here's The Ocho looking beautiful at sunset.
We finished our evening by playing a few hands of rummy before bed.

Day 5 >


West 2021: [Day 1 - OakdaleI] [Day 2 - Fargo] [Day 3 - Beaver Lake] [Day 4 - Bismarck] [Day 5 - Little Missouri] [Day 6 - Miles City] [Day 7 - Billings] [Day 8 - Missoula] [Day 9 - Steamboat Rock] [Day 10 - Bay View] [Day 11 - Seattle] [Day 12 - Seattle] [Day 13 - Seattle] [Day 14 - Millersvania] [Day 15 - Yakima River Canyon] [Day 16 - Farewell Bend] [Day 17 - Bruneau Dunes] [Day 18 - Craters of the Moon] [Day 19 - Grand Tetons] [Day 20 - Buffalo Bill] [Day 21 - Buffalo] [Day 22 - Badlands] [Day 23 - Jordan] [Day 24 - Trempealeau] [Day 25 - Heading Home]

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