Wednesday - June 11
Sorry about the late update last night. We
had such a nice day in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP) that
we were a little late getting into Bismark last night. Pizza in Dickinson
didn't help. We also didn't notice on the map that we crossed another time
zone. Then, all the hotels were booked and over an hour later we ended
up in a Motel 6 - nearly our last choice. But, you know, the place
was clean and you can't beat $36 + tax. We had a bunch of picture
editing to finish up and finally made our upload at nearly 2am. By
the way, I corrected the misinformation in the Road Kill Diary from yesterday. I had
noted a number of items in MT when they should have read ND. I'm sure
you'll find that important.
In conversations with the locals, we're discovering this is has been
an unusually damp spring. Everything is still vibrantly green when
it would normally have turned to brown by now. TRNP was spectacular.
The green grass contrasted against the blue-grey sage, darker green
pines and the beautiful colors in the badland formations. It was not
at all what I expected. Having visited the South Dakota Badlands,
I was more or less expecting a repeat performance, maybe in different colors
or something. WRONG. This is a completely different type of
experience. The basic premise is the same - alternating layers of
clay and soft sandstone create fantastic displays of erosion as the layers
wear away. A couple of important differences, though. (168 miles
to Fargo) TRNP has much more vegetation on the formations, probably
slowing the erosion process. Juniper and pine trees dot the landscape
and the gaps are filled by sage and grass. One other important factor
is the addition of coal seams between layers clay and sandstone. Occasionally,
a bolt of lightning or grass fire will ignite a coal seam, causing it to
burn underground for years. The last one burned from 1951 until 1977
and covered several acres. These fires are very slow burning and
produce extreme heat. The heat bakes the clay, forming a natural brick type
material called Scoria. This
material has a rather intense red color
caused by the oxidation of iron in the clay.
Another highlight of TRNP is the Little
Missouri River. It provides an adequate liquid base to support a great
deal of wildlife, including deer, bison, elk (we saw all of these) as well
as a host of other smaller creatures. We caught a glimpse of some
medium sized predator slinking off with a prairie dog. Anyway, enough
of the natural history lesson. Suffice it to say we had a very nice
time. I'm not sure what the experience would be like on a hot summer
day with all the grass turned brown, though.
After the late night it was difficult to get up and going this morning.
I took a shower and made all sorts of noise but Michael didn't budge.
So I resorted to humiliation
. Unfortunately, that didn't work either (at least for getting
him up and going). As we were packing the car I noticed this sign
on the restraunt next door. It's advertizing some sort of
ethnic North Dakota food, I think. I'm not sure what it is, but it
seems cheap enough. (142 miles to Fargo) Apparently, the normal protocol
for eating in North Dakota is different, as well,? Here's the view
out the window currently
. I say currently, even though I took the picture over an hour
ago. The view hasn't changed much since then except the clouds are
gone. The view out the front window is not good at all
. It's still covered with bugs from last night, and now it's
even worse. (Fargo, 91 miles) Here's a couple of more what I
would call stereotypical views of North Dakota...
It looks like my dad already covered Theodore Roosevelt
National Park. Can't say that anything exciting has happened since then,
except that by the end of today I will have visited 3 states that I previously
have never been to. We entered North Dakota on Tuesday, crossed into Minnesota
(no welcome to Minnesota sign, so this one will have to do)
a couple hours ago (where we stopped for lunch
), and will be in Wisconsin in a few hours. North
Dakota was especially significan to me because I have now been to every
state in the western half of the US (excluding Alaska). Minnesota lisence
plates say "10,000 Lakes."
They must be toward the center of the state because I think I've only
seen one so far. Oh, and people are NOT kidding about the misquitos
in this part of the country. And don't be fooled by the flat landscape,
behind these trees
and less than two miles away, is the Detroit
Mountain Ski Area. I don't know about you, but I think I would at least like
to ski down a mountain that you can see over the trees....
It's now a little after 5pm and we're about an hour
out of Duluth, MN. We'll probably push on across Wisconsin before
dark. Our goal is Ironwood, Michigan. I hope we have an easier
time finding a room than we did last night. What a beautiful drive
across Minnesota. It's no wonder the Swedes chose to settle here.
The scenery reminds me so much of Sweden it's uncanny. The temperature
today is probably no more than 68. It's marvelous.
Here's a cute little barn and silo we passed.
Photo composition suffers at 70mph. oh, well... Chantel
called this afternoon and let me know that the big picture of Michael looking
out of the hole in the rock
didn't work. I've fixed it now. Here's a shot down the freeway
as we descended into Duluth, MN on Lake Superior
. There's no turning back as you approach Wisconsin.
The red roads
were nostalgic for me and quite novel for Michael. I remember lots of red roads in the Northwest as a kid,
but Michael had never seen them. The
tiny little bit of Wisconsin we visited
was quite beautiful. OK, we're 12 miles out of Ironwood,
so I gotta wrap this one up..