The trip from Ft. Peck into North Dakota and Theodore Roosevelt National Park was anything but fun. We had no more than got started when we were stopped by a train crossing. The train just sat there for over 10 minutes and then once another train went by in the opposite direction, it finally started moving and cleared the crossing – total delay about 15 minutes. I also bragged about US2 being so great too soon. About 50 miles from the MT/ND border it started to get bad and by the time we were 14 miles from the state line it disappeared! They had replaced it with this gravel road for the whole 14 miles. We could only drive about 20mph for that stretch. I thought we were back in Alaska. They don’t repair roads up here like we do in the south. I guess the short period of time they have decent weather factors in. Where we might run a new road alongside the old one, or even go down to one lane while the other is replaced, here, they just rip up the old one entirely and start from scratch! Not only did we have to contend with the bad road, we had a very high northerly wind the whole day. The steering wheel stayed cocked to the left about 30 degrees the whole time we were headed east just to stay on the road. We also noticed about half way between the train crossing and the gravel road that the Mothership has developed a crack on the driver’s side windshield. I don’t know when it happened but where it is positioned, I think I would have noticed it if it was there before today. The Mothership has really taken a licking on this trip. She will be glad to get back home!!
We thought we had arrived here at the campground about 12:30 but discovered we are about two inches inside the Central Time Zone so it was really 1:30! We don’t plan on changing our clocks as we will be back on Mountain Time when we leave here Wednesday to go down to the South Unit of the park. The campground here is very nice just no hookups at all. We also don’t have Verizon unless we go back out to the park entrance, about five miles of torn up road. Oh yeah, the whole length of the road inside the park, all 19 miles of it, is under repair and most of it gravel. As a matter of fact, they are closing the nine miles of it past the campground for the next three days while they chip seal it. That forced us to go tour that stretch of road this afternoon where we normally don’t do much on the day of arrival. Didn’t I say today was a great trip??
The Theodore Roosevelt National Park is actually two parks – the North Unit and the South Unit. The North Unit is in the upper left-hand corner of North Dakota and the South Unit is about 70 miles further south. We plan on spending two days here at the North Unit then two or three days at the South Unit starting on Wednesday. The North Unit is made up almost entirely of badlands with a few meadows thrown in here and there. They were carved by the Little Missouri River and its tributaries and remind us more of the Painted Desert than anything else we have seen. You have all of these badlands on the sides of the canyon and then the Little Mo’ at the flat bottom with small green forests on each side of it. We saw all of this on the short, unplanned drive this afternoon. Tomorrow, we plan on hiking a trail or two and just relaxing for the rest of the day.
Tuesday we hiked the Little “Mo” Nature trail. It was a cool morning, about 60 degrees with around 40% humidity (eat your heart out Florida), and the hike was invigorating. We first hiked down to the river, then up on a butte, then back down in the meadows. The only wildlife we saw was a few birds but we did see a lot, and I mean a lot, of evidence of bison. There were a lot of patties all over the area but no live bison today. We did see a herd yesterday as we were driving the road through the park. Doris was disappointed this morning when she woke up and there were not bison all around the Mothership! We did have a famiy of turkeys come through the campground though!
We are heading down to the South Unit tomorrow and plan on spending 2-3 days depending on what we want to see. We think we will have cell service there but the campsites have no hookups again.