Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A waterlogged crossing

Monday morning we bade Dan good-bye and he headed off to work as we set out for the North Dakota badlands, hoping to ride the Maah Daah Hey trail or at least camp and hike.

I see vermin!
We set off across North Dakota with a nice east breeze (nice for boosting the MPG) and gray but dry skies. The skies have not been dry often, as seen in this photo:

Nonetheless, we hoped that since it was dry today anyway, we had high hopes that we'd indeed be able to have a nice evening at camp in near Theodore Roosevelt park.

Driving through western N.D. was an eye-opener as to the extent of the oil business there. We drove over battle scarred roads, where you take a "bump" sign seriously. There was a continual stream of large trucks and equipment coming or going to work sites. We passed many operating wells, and many sites that were in the early phases of being built. Then we passed through Watford City. We expected the typical tiny rural N.D. town and found a boom town in full swing. There were many RV parks and mobile home type areas filled with oil field workers. We heard references to the "man camps" that have sprung up in these areas; it is not hard to imagine what those are like.

Finally we arrived at the CCC campground road near the Roosevelt park's north unit. This scorio (red gravel) paved road looked to be in good condition at first but then deteriorated in the lower areas:

As you can see, Arly had to do a U-turn and we headed back in a futile search for a better access road. Shortly after this it started raining, a sure sign that camping was going to be sketchy, at least in this gumbo-country.

So the pack "refueled" in a restaurant near Medora then set off for Glendive, Montana. The highway map showed some camping areas near there that looked to be scenic...but upon arrival we were informed that they were closed, the gravel roads leading to them were too soft for travel. So no camp adventure tonight, but we did go for a nice hike along the Yellowstone River. There was lots of good vermin hunting near the sagebrush there!

Register closed when Arly came by with the camera...

Next the pack jumped in to travel across to visit friends in Great Falls. There is just no fast or interesting way to get across eastern MT. However, we did stop in a great little town (Lewistown) and had the best meal of our trip at this little downtown Bistro. It had the kind of small-town attitude that we can appreciate, as the cash register was wide open when we walked in!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, rain was falling in various degrees the whole day. At least there were no tornadoes!

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