Friday, June 12, 2015

Canada at Last

There are many oil wells in northwest North Dakota.  It was fascinating to see them all - and to see how they are changing life and the look of this part of the country.  There has been a lot of talk about the good and back aspects of fracking.  

There are new roads, new electric lines, new homes and businesses.  I am very sure there are many new millionaires in North Dakota!  Much of this is great for these little communities.

But, there is also a down side.  We saw dozens of work camps, upscale RVs on makeshift RV Parks, and double wides claiming to be hotels - all to house the hundreds, maybe thousands, of oil well technicians, managers, maintenance workers and others needed to keep them running.  Regular hotels are housing many of these works for hundreds of miles around the area...many living in hotels long term.  Hotel prices are up in small communities.  I'm guessing it has also driven up prices in local restaurants and grocery stores as well.   Interesting!  

Here we are crossing the mighty Missouri River just before entering Montana near Bainville.

We followed the Missouri River on Route 2 across much of Montana. It, too, has a big influence in this part of the country.  There are dams in several sections of the river - which means cottages, resorts, boats, and marinas.

Lots of sights to see and things to learn about the Lewis,and Clark Expedition in this area as well.
Old Army Posts are shown on the maps even those most of the forts are gone...their influence lives on.
We also began to see Native American Reservations and how they affect these communities.  Really quite fascinating

From Bainville on the border with North Dakota to Havre it seemed like a desolate and somewhat desperate environment.  This comes form a very casual passer by...but the cities seemed run down, broken, poor, and somewhat depressing.  The land was poor...lots of sagebrush...not many crops.  Small herds of cattle roamed the fields but not much else seemed to be happening.  People lived in remote spots.  I found myself saying, "I'm glad I wasn't born here.  I might not have been able to get out!"  I couldn't seem to bring myself to take any pictures...I didn't want to remember the details.

The town of Havre seemed pretty was the largest town we had seen along a couple hundred miles of Route 20.  And, as soon as we left town on the west side, everything seemed to perk up.
The fields were neat and clean...and a beautiful green.  Suddenly, it felt like there it was a completely new community and way of life...the grain fields were beautiful.

Actually I suddenly wanted to sing America The Beautiful.  I could picture the amber waves of grain!
There was hope!  

    Big grain elevators....Big Sky....

Big grain silos....big fields...

The train tracks were parallel with Route 2 most of the way across the state...busy train tracks...

We have also seen many cross country bikers on Route 2!  One guy actually looked like he had everything he owned with him - kinda like he was moving.

The flat  fields went on forever.  You could go 70 mph on a two lane road...

Mountains appeared to the north...almost an awakening in those miles between Havre and Shelby where we turned north towards Canada.

We arrived at the border at about 2:45, Friday, June 12th, 1795 miles from home...

Now the vacation week with our kids and grandkids begins!  They will all arrive tomorrow and we will meet up at a resort in Canmore, near Banff National Park!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Theodore Roosevelt National Park North Unit

Welcome to the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt NP.  It is located about an hour north of the South Unit. Between the two farther west is Roosevelt's personal ranch called Elkhorn Ranch.  It lies on both sides of the Little Missouri River.

The North Unit has a different look and feel with several features new to me.  These first four pictures
show you samples of Canonball Concretions.

This one fell off the Rockwall.  Usually they are embedded right into the wall.  

This sign greeted us as we made our way up the mountain...

 We took the hike on the Caprock CoulĂ©e Trail.  This was our first look up the trail as we started.  

Innocently walking up the path...

A bit down the trail we came around a corner and looked up to see this beautiful rock formation...

And this amazing creature right in front of us!  We watched and took pictures for about 20 minutes.  Fortunately he was more interested in grazing than messing with us!  Since he was blocking the trail, we headed back to the car...

Just minutes later farther up the mountain we enjoyed watching this guy!  He walked along our car up the road a bit.  Then He seemed to have some kind of itch that needed scratching!

At the very end of the road, Oxbow Lookout, we had 360 degree views which were incredible!

Every single angle was magnificent....

Another view of the Little Missouri River in the distance...

I'm reminded over and over again just how very clever and creative our great God is!

Saw this shelter made by the CCC in the 1930's at River Bend Overlook on the way back down the mountain.

This little critter was enjoying the sun near the shelter.

It was a wonderful morning in this gem of a national park!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit

We drove across North Dakota first opportunity to be in ND!  The farms were large and flat. The ponds and lakes were plentiful.  We actually saw a couple of Pelicans...I never knew they lived inland before...especially not that far north.  We saw a few oil wells along the way.  It was interesting and fun.

We got settled into the Cowboy Inn and made our way over to the Painted Canyon Visitor's Center.  What wonderful views of the canyon.  We discovered there was a trail that takes you down into the canyon...and we couldn't resist.

We had gained an hour as we entered Mountain Time, so we also,had time to enjoy the 36 mile ride and hikes in the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  What a treat!

The overlooks were magnificent!

We hike up one overlook and could see 360 degrees.  It was chilly and windy, but so much fun.

Have no,idea how far we could see...

The clouds were dark and threatening...but did not affect our visit.

Andy got cold and hurried off to get back to the car...

The very last stop tookme to beautiful views of the Little Missouri River, at Wind Canyon.
Andy had enough by now so he stayed in the car.

God is so wonderfully creative!  I am so inspired and encouraged by the beauty, majesty, colors,
and power of this park.  So grateful we got to experience it!

Enjoyed a nice dinner at the lively Boots Bar & Grill in the touristy little town by the entrance to the Park.

We had an interesting night in the highly rated Cowboy Inn.  First there were dogs barking constantly at the house behind the Inn.  Andy called the front desk to see if anything could be done.  We found out later they called the police who came back twice.  The owners were gone and had left the dogs out all day.  We turned the fan for the air conditioning to cover the barking.  And we slept pretty well.

Twice during our stay I was jolted when one of the legs to the bed broke loose and the bed became tilted and slanted my way!  Actually, it was pretty funny!

In the morning I went to the office to find out where the Post Office in town was located.  So I casually mentioned the broken bed..  The innkeeper was astonished to hear about the bed and felt badly that our night had been so disrupeted.  He actually raided the till and gave me $50.00 back.  I insisted he didn't need to do that, but he was adamant.  Bonus!