Monday, August 17, 2009

You Can't Rollerskate in a Buffalo Herd

You remember the song "You Can't Roller-skate in a Buffalo Herd?" Well, we certainly found that to be accurate in the Badlands of North Dakota with Harleys also! It clogs up your roller-skate wheels and it also is slippery when you have to ride through it on two wheels!

We arrived in Medora on Wednesday night with plans to spend some time in the park on the bike before the kids arrived on Friday evening. Lovely Daughter and Lars took some time off and planned to meet us for the weekend. Lovely Daughter loaded up her Harley and they arrived about 9 o'clock Friday night. Prior to their arrival Ole and I made several trips through the park, dodging the buffalo piles and enjoying the scenery. I think the buffalo are getting lazy and taking the path of least resistance - the hard surface roads - in their travels leaving their signs along the way. There's always been buffalo poop on the road in previous years, but this year either they're eating extremely well, or they're getting smarter and not wading through the tummy high grass but walking on the hard surface roads instead. Uffda!! Ole thought I should take a picture of it, but I really didn't think that was necessary - what do you think?

The first time I went through the Badlands I was 5 years old - I still remember that trip very vividly. That was back in the days when my father was working road construction and we lived like gypsies in a trailer house following the work. We had a 1953 Hudson Hornet and pulled a 25 foot trailer house through the Badlands. There were no hard surface roads back then - just the red scoria which is western North Dakota's version of gravel. There was barely room enough to meet another car, let alone pull a trailer house through the park. I remember how terrified my mother was which didn't help my situation. I spent most of my time on the floor in the back seat so I wouldn't have to see the twists and turns and switchbacks that my dad negotiated.

Since that point in time I've visited the Badlands more times than I can count and never grow weary of them. There's a mystique here that I just can't explain. I love it. Ole and I spent time here on our honeymoon 42+ years ago, have been back regularly since and enjoy it more each time.

Unfortunately, the weather didn't cooperate this past weekend for Lovely Daughter and her Dad to do a lot of good riding. It was cold and windy, but we got in as much as possible. Lars is enthralled with the Badlands also and rode on the back of the bike with Ole, which left me driving the Expedition with the two doggers in the back.

We had an "experience" going through the park on Saturday afternoon. I got separated from the bike crew when I stopped to take a picture of wild mustangs, which are numerous in the park this year. The dogs had been whining a lot so I opened the window in the tailgate so they could get a good whiff of everything as we were traveling down the road. NORMALLY they don't jump out EVER. They stay with the vehicle as they've been taught to do (via Ole who hauls them around in the back of the truck and they NEVER leave for fear of being left.)

Anyway, they were busy enjoying all the sights and sounds and smells of the Badlands going down the road when I came upon a herd of wild mustangs and stopped behind a car in front of me that was taking pictures. The next thing I knew Beau was out the back and chasing the stallion barking and nipping at his heels. My heart sank as I just knew I would be chasing this dog across the hinterlands as he ran after this stallion, or else retrieving a dead dog after he got kicked in the head with a sharp hoof. The stallion snorted and whinnied loudly and the whole herd took off as everyone around me booed and hissed because they no longer could get pictures of these mustangs. I jumped out of the car, ran across the ditch and yelled various expletives at Beau when he decided to stop and came back. Meanwhile, Daisy sat in the back of the Expedition and watched the entire scenario. What a lady. Beau and I are still not on the best of terms (snicker).

So that was our excitement for THAT day. That night required a trip to the "local establishment" to relax just a bit - the one that used to be known as the Ironhorse Saloon, now the Boots Saloon since it's changed owners. We had a most fun time. It's one of the few establishments that's not owned by the Medora Foundation - it's privately owned by a local individual - and he was there that night and spent quite a bit of time at our table. There was karaoke that night - lots of fun. Then there was Kevin - a local young man who loved to spend his time at the saloon so he could party with the tourists - to quote him. He was a lot of fun - a senior at Dickinson college - a young man helping his father on the ranch for the summer and getting ready to go back to college within a couple of weeks. And did he party! He asked the bartender for the biggest Miller lite he could get and they gave him a pitcher! I saw him consume three - and when we left he was still standing. I have to say he was very entertaining - and even though he was very inebriated he was still a gentleman and not obnoxious like some can get. He was a true cowboy. We were home (back at the RV) by eleven and all of us bushed.

Sunday was spent in very low key mode as it was windy and cold. Not a good day for riding the Harleys in the park, so we watched movies and waited until about 7:30 in the evening and then took the Expedition through the park anticipating lots of wildlife at that hour. Not to be - I guess the temps were too cool.

This morning dawned sunny by very cold and windy. The kids packed up and headed for home taking both doggers. There was discussion as to whether Daisy was going to stay with Grandpa or go home with Lovely Daughter, and she won. So Daisy will be on vacation for a couple more days until we get home.

Neither of us were truly ready to head for home this morning as was the original plan, so we decided to head north from Medora to Tioga where Ole has a cousin that he hasn't seen for a number of years. We stopped by her house and had the most delicious berry pie and coffee then went down the road and ended up in Minot. I thought Fargo was on the edge of the world, but we can't hold a candle to Minot!! From here we'll head for the International Peace Gardens and then possibly south through Devils Lake and the casinos. Who knows - maybe we'll come home after winning a pile of money at the Indian casinos (dream on.) I have relatives in that area so if the fancy strikes us we'll hook up with them for a few hours and then who knows.

Isn't retirement wonderful????? It just depends on which way the wind blows in the morning as to what you do that day!!! I can feel the envy from here (snicker).

Love Lena


Memaw's memories said...

Love all the comments and the video of your travels. And yes, I'm very envious of your retirement. If your opinion, what is the best time to visit the badlands and where is the best place to go.

I have 5 girlfriends and we've been discussing a trip out there, but don't know where to start.

Lena . . . said...

Hmmm - the best time to visit the Badlands and Medora is just about anytime with the exception of winter of course. The little town of Medora pretty much closes up during the winter, although everything stays open through the fall hunting season. Things get going on Memorial weekend and go full bore until Labor Day weekend. So anytime during the summer is nice, but late summer is the best as in August all the wild flowers are blooming. This year was exceptionally beautiful as the area has had record rains so things are greener than I've ever seen them in all the years I've traveled out there. Normally it's quite dry and brown by the end of summer. Make sure you make your hotel reservations early as the weekends are usually pretty booked up if you're looking for a weekend. A really fun place to stay is the Rough Rider Hotel - a hotel that was established during the time that Teddy Roosevelt stayed in Medora and is still in operation. It's been kept quite original and is a fun experience. Also, if you're interested in history make sure you tour the Chateau De Mores. Google it online and you'll get the entire history. He was a French marquis who was way ahead of his time in growing and transporting beef cattle. There's also a replica stagecoach that will take you on a trip down the Missouri river banks - quite an experience to see how people used to travel back then. It's a wonder they got anywhere. Hope you enjoy it and make sure you let me know when you go.