Days 10 & 11: Teddy Roosevelt National Park, North and South Units, with a side of politics.

IMG_1123Well, it has been some long driving days and limited cell access, so I’ll try to catch up now.

Yesterday, I headed out of  Fargo on Interstate 94 for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It was a long drive on one of Eisenhower’s first interstate projects.  Straight and fast, people plow down the road going an average of 75-85 MPH and you really need to, otherwise, you’d be on that road for-evah!

A brief stop in Bismark to re-fuel and a quick peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a roadside rest stop were my only two stops.  I wanted to get up to the North Unit before 4 PM so I could score a campsite and it paid off.  I lucked out with a choice spot right under a large cottonwood tree with a view of one of the many buttes.

So, risking another pun, I have to say that this part of the world is butte-tee-ful.  Once I got of Int. 95 and drove up Highway 85, I started to see why Teddy Roosevelt retreated here to recover from the grief of losing both his young wife and his mother on the same day:  Feb. 14, 1884.  He was only 25 years old, and he wrote that his life ended that day, he was so grief-stricken.

But he came here and had a couple of Mainers build him a little cabin and there he rocked on his rocking chair and attempted to become a cattle rancher.  Well, that didn’t work out when he lost 60% of his cattle during a very cold winter, and so he moved back to New York and started his political career.  He was quoted to have said, that without the Dakotas, he would never have been president.  Thankfully, for all of us, he did become president and made it his mission to preserve our natural parks.  Thank you, Teddy!

So, at my campsite, I met Arliss.  She was a sweet “prairie dog” from near Fargo and she loved her state.  She is retired and travels about in a Class 3 camper van, and winters over in Texas.  She is a birder and not a fan of Trump’s.  Yay!  In fact, most people I have met are NOT Trumpsters.  Could be because I am camping that that sort of culls the herd, but I also am detecting that most people are starting to find him a joke if they already haven’t.

Richard in Duluth told me he was a “conservative” by nature, but he thinks Trump is a clown and is destroying the farmers.  John from Minnesota, carries a 9mm when he hikes (for the bears) but also thinks this administration is a joke.  And then the park’s employee cleaning the bathrooms this morning told me that the entire Washington scene was ineffective and ridiculous.  No argument here!

But I did have ONE encounter with a Trumpster this morning.  Linda, from Wisconsin asked me (after overhearing me call Trump an asshole) if I couldn’t find SOMETHING good Trump has done.  No!  But then she said what about all the jobs he created.  Oh, dear.  I asked her what KIND of jobs these were and that after being laid off 4 years ago the only jobs I can find are low paying and without benefits.  “Oh, I’m sorry for you, but Mr. Trump is doing a great job,” she replied.  Then, she said, “you should talk to my husband.”  Uh, no thanks.  I would but, really, what good would that do?  Plus, I had to go see the park.  I shook her hand and said, “I’m sure if we had a beer together, we’d find out that we have more in common than we don’t”.  And I left it at that.

 

Driving down Highway 85 to the South Unit was a frightening experience.  Big rigs hauling oil and gas drive 80 MPH down this two lane road and shake my small Rav4 each time they pass.  I have to hold on for dear life.   Up and down this stretch of road are oil rigs with roughnecks working them and living in boom towns like Dickinson and Watford City.  These “cities” popped up in the last 10 years when oil was discovered and drilled.  The men live in “camps” of trailers and cabins.  Very depressing and odd when compared to the natural beauty of the parks.

 

And my how they are beautiful.  Buttes and rivers, bison, elk, and prairie dogs.  Hiking along these paths are awe inspiring.

 

I could write more, but I have to get on the road again now and get back to my camp before nightfall.  Will post more soon.

Love to you all from this solo road trip.

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