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New Website, New Blog, but the Old Blog Archive remains: September 28, 2023

After many years of wanting a real website, this month I finally have a website designed by the very knowledgeable Rey Rey Rodriguez ( TheMindOfReyRey ). My old blog,  Vacation-Travel-Adventure .com  continues with the same address but it is located in the "Archives" tab on my new website . The new blog which is a continuation but with much better resolution for 4K screens is now at .

Road Trip Part 2, Theodore Roosevelt National Park: September 8-12, 2020

After a very long, wet drive to North Dakota we arrived hungry at Medora. Medora is the town just outside the south entrance gate of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Looking forward to a good inside dining meal, we checked Trip Advisor and found Theodore's Restaurant. That desire was further cemented when we saw a Theodore's Restaurant billboard with a photo of a scrumptious beef entree. Also, there weren't many other dining choices in Medora.

While we have enjoyed all of the magical sites so far, our food choices have been few and memorable only for how bad they were. For comparison, our best meal so far was our lunch at Chipotle in Winnemucca, Nevada, the day we left California. In Yellowstone there is outside eating only. Everything is packaged in cardboard or plastic. Utensils are plastic. For wine, you must buy a bottle, open it yourself, and drink from 16-ounce plastic cups that don't stand up in the afternoon breeze. I miss fresh vegetables and fresh fruit. So, knowing that there was socially-distant, inside dining in North Dakota we were really looking forward to a normal, fabulous meal. Unfortunately, the restaurant was closed due to a labor shortage. We were directed us across the street to Badlands Pizza where we had a salad and pizza all eaten inside on plastic plates with plastic utensils. All the customers were wearing masks but it appeared optional for the staff. Sometimes staff had them on and sometimes not. The Wyndham Hotel desk clerk also was not wearing a mask. Masks aren't part of North Dakota's "Smart Restart" plan.

Our first morning in Medora we moved slowly because there was wide-spread frost outside and it was about 28℉ and icy. We hiked along the South Paddock Trail which because it had been raining for 2 days before our arrival, was muddy in quite a few parts before becoming so wet that the trail, for us, was impassable causing us to turn back. Along the way we saw lots of Prairie Dogs in their vast villages, a soaring Peregrine Falcon, possibly a soaring bald eagle, a rafter of turkeys, lots of elk/bison/horse/deer tracks, and swallows' nests.

I could have spent hours photographing chubby prairie dogs. They live in underground communities. Some prairie dogs were assigned to be watchful while others ate. When one of the guards detected danger, he/she Dean Screamed (a little higher pitched) and threw its arms up in stadium "wave" fashion. If we didn't move to quickly, they studiously ignored us.

As we drove the scenic drive we saw many bison and beautiful views along the way. At dusk on the way out of the park we came upon beautiful grayish mule-deer moving quietly and gracefully among the gray sagebrushes while two feral horses grazed nearby.

Badlands Overlook

Of this land where he had a home, Theodore Roosevelt said "this broken country extends back from the river many miles and has always been called, by Indians, French voyagers, and American trappers alike, the 'Bad Lands'." Cliffs, sinkholes, and creeks disrupt the land in all directions plus cacti are sprinkled over this land. And, then there are the prairie dog communities. I saw one prairie dog that had made its home within a wall of cacti. One of the park restaurant workers at Yellowstone told me that in Roosevelt's time, Roosevelt would stage foot races from one point to another and the racer had to figure out how to get to the finish line. 

Evening Traffic Jam

The next day we hiked the northern leg of the Petrified Forest Trail in a more isolated portion of the park. The information sign says:

Sixty million years ago, this land looked similar to today's Florida Everglades. Abundant water and warmer climate promoted the growth of large trees. Giant petrified stumps and logs are the remnants of this ancient wetland forest. Instead of decomposing, the bases of the trees turned to rock. For millions of years they lay covered in sediment beneath the Great Plains. Now exposed by erosion, these tree fossils are visible.

Between our hike to the Petrified Forest and another stop at Painted Canyon, we spotted a beautiful male pronghorn in a field next to the road. He stood majestically just long enough to get a few photos.

Theodore Roosevelt NP consists of separate parcels of land. We moved on to the northern portion where we stayed at Watford City which is the nearest city to the north entrance. The northern parcel, while still rugged, had more prairie grasses and just a little bit of fall color. We saw bison, deer, and prairie dogs.

We crossed paths with bison on every one of our hikes. We either had to detour around or wait at a safe distance for them to move along.

There was a bison on this trail so we detoured over a rocky hill. When we returned, the buffalo was near the trailhead we started at. We tried to give it a wide berth, but the land off trail was a muddy marsh. So, it was up and over the rugged butte to maneuver around the bison.

One of our detours

Bison, a trailhead barricade

Cannonball Concretions

Cannonball concretions were formed within the sediment layers of the badlands. Erosion has slowly exposed some while others are still hidden within the butte.

Another hike (Buckhorn Trail at the Caprock Coulee trailhead) over mostly flat terrain was to a prairie dog village; however, we had to wait for a herd of bison to saunter along the trail before we could safely get there.

We finally made it to the prairie dog villages and took lots of photos. 

While Dan took a photo of a distant prairie dog, another prairie dog just a few feet to his left watched him. 

After this hike we headed back to Watford City where we had an excellent late lunch/early dinner in a restaurant where we were two of just four people being served. The prior night we walked to a place across from the hotel. The dining area was spaced out but we were seated right next to the bar where people were sitting shoulder to shoulder. 

The hotel in Medora requested that guests use napkins to pick up breakfast items. At the Watford City Hotel, they were clearly catering to the oil field workers. When we had our breakfast most other guests were long gone. The hotel was following North Dakota's Smart Restart plan which does not include masks. The Covid precautions were posted at the entrance as well as in the breakfast room right next to the stack of paper plates individually inserted into plastic bags. At the hotel's entrance there was a basket of disposable shoe booties to put on if your shoes were muddy.

Leaving Theodore Roosevelt National Park the next morning, we took US Highway 2 across North Dakota from west to east.

We picnicked south of Highway 2 at Graham's Island State Park where we did some bird watching.

Our last night in North Dakota was at a Best Western in Grand Forks. Despite Best Western's website assurances that they were taking Covid-19 seriously and all staff were required to wear masks, the North Dakotans didn't get that memo.

Next stop: Ely, Minnesota