West 2021:
Day 5 - Little Missouri State Park, 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]

Friday, May 7, 2021: We left camp before 8:00 AM after our very last breakfast of leftover Carbone's pizza.
We did our first sightseeing while waiting to turn right when we spotted some turkeys across the highway from us.
We got on I-94 heading west. We spotted Salem Sue when we approached New Salem.
We went into New Salem to get a better look but discovered that the road up to the top of the hill to see her was a dirt road, so we decided not to go. Instead, we got a zoomed-in photo of Sue on the hill.
Had we gone south from here, we could have followed the Old Red Trail Scenic Byway, but we just returned to boring old I-94.
We planned to visit the Enchanted Highway so we were glad to see signs advertising it.
Who can resist signs like this?
The first sculpture, Geese in Flight, was at the top of a hill next to the exit. This picture gives an idea of the size of this huge sculpture - look at the truck parked underneath it.
Here's the full sculpture as seen from the visitor lot.
The road leading up to the sculpture is lined with metal birds on posts.
The road leading north from here was a scenic byway, according to this sign.
But we headed south onto the Enchanted Highway. The next huge sculptures we encountered were flat silhouettes of leaping deer. Again, there's a vehicle in this photo for scale. This is the only one we didn't stop at.
We passed the small town of Lefor where we saw this display: Remnants of Lefor State Bank.
The next sculpture series was this grasshopper and smaller grasshoppers. Gary Greff is the sculptor who created all of these installations.
The theme continues with little grasshopper-shaped playground equipment in the corner for young visitors.
Even the fence around the visitor lot keeps with the theme.
This aquatic-themed display was especially colorful and fun.
Signs at each site tell give the names and distances of the sculptures up and down the road.
Pheasants on the Prairie was down the road and we could see it off in the distance.
Having watched for pheasants for the past couple of days, it took this sculpture series to educate us that we had only been looking for colorful male pheasants. Later that day, Tom started spotting female pheasants now that he knew what to be looking for.
This sign told us about Black Butte, shown behind it.
The next sculpture was Teddy Rides Again. A stagecoach in front of it was designed for kids to play on.
These three sculptures are The Tin Family. The trash barrel provides scale to see how huge these things are.
We spotted some deer off to the left. So pretty.
The small town of Regent is the last place on the Enchanted Highway and the home of the last sculpture. This one is called Wirlygigs.
This is the first of many, many oil rigs we spotted in the eastern part of North Dakota.
We stopped for gas and Debbie loaded up on snacks. After going to a Walgreen's in St. Paul just a couple of miles from the Pearson Candy factory and coming up empty, it was surprising to find Pearson's Salted Nut Rolls out here. The Old Dutch potato chips were another unexpected St. Paul company surprise.
We entered Little Missouri National Grassland for the first of several times over the next two days.
We stopped at the Painted Desert Overlook, a part of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The view was breathtaking and photos can't do it justice. This was just a fraction of the panorama we enjoyed.
Further down the road, we came to the entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park - South Unit.
These signs at the visitor center show where the three units of the park are located relative to each other, plus a map of the South Unit where we currently were.
The scenic drive through the park used to be a loop, but a portion of the road is now too dangerous. We checked in at the ranger desk inside and the ranger told us we shouldn't travel any farther than Buck Hill on the map before turning back.
We went through the museum in the visitor center.
This display discussed Teddy Roosevelt's affiliation with the Progressive Party, ...
... which is the political party Debbie's great-grandfather Schilling was a member of when he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly starting in 1935.
Teddy Roosevelt's Maltese Cross Cabin is located behind the visitor center after being moved there from its original location.
Each room has been restored and is protected behind glass barriers. Here's the bedroom, ...
... the kitchen, ...
... and the main living area.
We stayed in the visitor center parking lot for a while so Debbie could make sandwiches for lunch and Tom could call his mother for her birthday.
Tom had spotted this Stephen Tyng Mather plaque outside of the visitor center so Debbie got a picture of it as we were leaving. We had learned a couple of months ago that these can be found at multiple national parks, not just at the Grand Canyon where we first spotted one. This is the fourth one we've encountered.
Off we go! Let's see this place.
The first stop was Medora Overlook, where we could look down at the visitor center (to the left) and the large Medora Chimney (just right of center). The chimney is all that remains of the Marquis de Mores' meat packing plant that burned down in 1907.
We passed the first of many prairie dog towns.
There were mounds as far as the eye could see, and the longer we looked, the more prairie dogs we spotted.
Their fur color helps them blend right into the landscape.
Aren't they adorable?
The next overlook featured train tracks and a highway.
After fifteen minutes of driving, we wondered aloud where the bison were, and just like that, one appeared near the road.
There were lots more around the next corner.
We stopped to look at another prairie dog town.
Here's a cutie. Please note that we stayed in our rig for these pictures. The closeups are brought to you through the magic of our camera's zoom function.
A sign conveniently told us that when a prairie dog stands up and chirps at you, he wants you to leave. A prairie dog had done that to us just moments earlier. Sorry, dude.
Here's the other end of the road that was now closed. Prairie dog towns lined either side, ...
.. so we got another cute closeup as we turned around to get back on the scenic loop.
See this herd of bison on the right side of the road? That's it's lead guy on the left. We had to wait as every single one of them slowly sauntered across the road to join him. Trust us, they were in no hurry at all.
Further up the road, we saw another large group of bison off to our left. This adorable baby stuck by his mother, ...
... while these two were much braver and unconcerned by the passing cars.
We passed a sign that said something like "Coal vein fire - Don't report." Sure enough, there was a coal vein fire. We did not report it.
We stopped at Buck Hill and walked up to the top.
It was windy everywhere but especially so up here at the top of the highest hill in the park.
The views were beautiful in every direction.
There's our beautiful RV at the bottom of the trail waiting patiently for us to return.
It was too early in the season for wildflower blooms, but these juniper plants (or whatever they were) were pretty.
Google Maps really, really wanted to route us to our next destination by having us take a dirt road out of the park instead of heading back to the entrance and on the freeway. We debated and decided to try it. We turned around before even making it to the turn in this picture.
We wanted to get a nice picture of the Little Missouri River and a bison made the picture even better by posing in front of it.
We ran into this white Pleasure-Way camper several times during our drive. Not far down the road from here, we saw a snake racing across the road in front of us and we decided it was a bullsnake, the same kind as the one we had seen the day before.
After nearly two hours enjoying the park, we drove past the visitor center and said goodbye.
It was a 90-minute drive to our campground for the evening, which was surrounded by this beautiful scenery, ...
... Little Missouri State Park.
We had already booked our site so we just needed to pay our state park fee at the self-pay station, ...
... and get parked at our site. Debbie had selected the site next to the pavilion so we would only have one potential neighbor. It turned out to have the added benefit of providing a wind break because it was extremely windy out.
We opted to park sideways at the end of our spot, ...
... so we could be as close as possible to the view at the end of our campsite.
Oh, yeah, that's nice.
This beautiful bird was perched on a fencepost outside for a while. He's a male mountain bluebird.
We have a tradition of having pappardelle pasta for dinner every May 7, so we had to cook it before we left and bring it along in the freezer. A little reheating and we were all set to observe our tradition again this year.
Tom was out on The Ocho again sealing up a few more places that he found. Will it finally be waterproof? Wait and see!
Later, we went for a short walk. This picnic table was perched on the edge of the campground for anyone to use.
It offered beautiful views of the Little Missouri River valley below.
The area was under extreme fire hazard alerts, so we wondered if that was a wildfire we were seeing in the distance.
Here's a closer look at the river, ...
... and an even closer look into the valley where oil rigs were visible on the far left and a flare stack was visible on the right.
The campground had horse corrals, ...
... and our campsite rental came with two corrals to use too. We didn't have horses to store there, but we did bring a husband who can make horse ears with his fingers.
After great weather all day, storm clouds were starting to move in and rain was forecast for the evening. However, we didn't get any rain until the next morning.
Dessert was a backpacking creme brulee mix that just required cold water to make. It was a winner so we'll be buying it again for future travels.
While Debbie worked on pictures and captions for this very website, Tom continued reading "How the Canyon Became Grand," which he had started reading during our visit to the Grand Canyon two months earlier.
We went to bed very early because we hadn't quite caught up to the Mountain Time Zone yet. Here's the view out our window just before we went to sleep.

Day 6 >


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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