Sunday, August 9, 2015

Westbound! And a bit of a change, all good!

I know it's been awhile since my last post but we've been busy, uh, driving west, our favorite direction.  We left you heading for the Bemidji area, Walker, MN to be exact.  We wanted to explore a bit around this area for several reasons, one, we've never really spent any time here, and two, one of our Food Network favorites, Amy Thielen, lives and does her show from near here.  And, although Jan carried around her cookbook just in case we ran into her for an autograph, it never happened:-)  Also she has mentioned on the show that her family has a oldie time meat market, considered to be the best in Minnesota that wasn't too far away, that we wanted to visit, Thielen Meats.  

So that's what we did amidst the rain and showers.  It truly is the land of 10,000 lakes, they are absolutely everywhere, pristine and clear, and the topography is lush green, lots of trees, and green green grass.  It seems that everyone you pass on the roads is towing a boat, and also there are miles and miles of paved bike paths, at least that is what they call them in the summer, think snowmobile paths in the winter, absolutely everywhere.  Jan and I took a long walk on one at our campground entrance.
The path near our campground

Leech Lake, an enormous lake near us

We drove over to Park Rapids, Bemidji, yes the same as in the show and movie Fargo, no we didn't see Billy Bob, and then went down to Pierz, where the meat market is.  And we can readily say we helped to keep them in business, with homemade hot dogs, there own world famous bacon, fresh side, can't find that very often, short ribs, rib eye steaks, center loin pork chops, and even some homemade jerky.  The hot dogs, bacon, fresh side, and rib eye were superb, now we wish we had bought even more!  Jan made sure our freezer was empty before we went.

Since then we have been flying west.  We have gone from the rolling lush green forest, grass and lakes to flatter and flatter land interspersed with more fields and dairy farms.  Over through Fargo, ND, no we didn't see Billy Bob there either.  As we proceeded farther west, the rolls came back to the ground, and fields full of sunflowers sprang up here and there, like neon lights, they were so bright with the sun on them.  Amber waves of grain mixed with corn and beets.  Then as we continued, evidence of oil wells in the midst of fields, our visibility opened up to miles and miles, fields with huge round bales of hay scattered all over.
The glow of the sunflowers


One of many farms

Round bales 
We stopped at a "campground" just short of Bismarck, ND for the night and we have to admit when we got there we tried to leave.  It was a small, maybe 35 sites right along the interstate, with self checkin, and it looked mighty bad, broken down units of every description, stuff all over, not a warm and fuzzy feeling, so we looked at each other, said I don't know about this and then called several other places within a reasonable distance, and you have to remember that ND has very few campgrounds, and Sturgis was just finishing up and filling many places.  So bottom line, we couldn't find anything else, so we grit our teeth, checked in and squeezed in between two rigs that didn't seem too bad, and spent the night.  It turned out fine, and we needed to leave very early this morning anyway.

After we got in and hooked up we went to review our plans for the next few days.  We had planned Medora, near Teddy Roosevelt Nat'l Park for 2 nights, then on to Belle Fourche, near Sturgis for 2 nights, then on to Buffalo, WY for 4 nights.  Well, there were several recent, as in the last two days, reviews that said the place near Medora was NOT suitable to anyone higher than a 12' rig, and that the trees were not trimmed and they had done damage to their rig.  Definitely NOT for us.  So Jan and I pulled out the maps, campground guides and did some figuring.  So what we ended up with was a total rework of our plans for the next two weeks.  We decided to forgo Medora and Belle Fourche and go into Montana instead to a campground in Garryowen, MT for 3 nights, move our 4 nights in Buffalo, WY forward a day, and add a day to our Denver campground reservation to make 4 nights in all.  We have to replace our windshield in Denver so an extra day will come in handy.  We managed to get all that taken care of and settled in for the night.

Today we drove 425 miles to Garryowen, MT to an absolutely superb campground for 3 nights.  We have never had a view like we have here!  We are at the top of a tiered campground looking out miles and miles across the countryside.
Our campsite

We had a great drive with the topography changing constantly as we went along.  The fields gave way to prairie and free ranging cattle with a few antelope here and there.  More rugged relief to the ground as we also climbed a few thousand feet.  Now clumps of sagebrush popped up and some pine trees along the ridges, cottonwoods along the streams and rivers, much more rugged relief, and oh yeah, the humidity kept dropping.  Yes we love the west!
A bunch more roll to the terrain

Yellowstone River from a viewpoint

Pretty day

Oh yeah!
So now we plan to explore Little Bighorn Battlefield and Custer's Last Stand and take a look at the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area before heading down to Buffalo, WY in a few days.  Hopefully we can work in a hike or two.


Sandy Smith said...

Ahh, North Dakota, state tree is the telephone pole and state flower is a beer can. Spent 3 years there one winter. Every kid in the state was born in August, September or October. But having I-94 go right through the Roosevelt National is really nice.

Bill said...

Funny, but it wasn't that bad:-) A bit grim in that campground, and I imagine with all the oil workers laid off right now makes it worse. It is quite a big change from the very eastern point of the state to the very western point of the state. And I sure wouldn't want a winter there!!!

Nancy said...

Hmmm, I thought I left one but it isn't here so I'll try again. If you can try to get a Native American tour for the battlefield. We had one who was excellent, factual and interesting. He was able to present both sides impartially. None of the expected comments about how the Indians were treated. Very good and very interesting even for me who does not find history very enticing.

Sandy Smith said...

True story. When Custer's scouts went out to search the area around Little Big Horn for the Indians,er, Native Americans, er, Citizens of the First Nation. Anyway only one scout came back out of 20. He was riddled with arrows, bloody and had been drug through cactus. The General came over to him and asked if he had seen the enemy. The scout reached up to touch the Generals uniform. In his weakened state he said, "General, I have bad news and good news..." "What is it son!" the general barked. "Sir we are surrounded on all sides by blood thirsty Indians who want our scalps." The General looked at his lieutenants gravely, "what's the good news solider?" The scout replied, "sir we won't be going back to North Dakota."

Bill said...


Too late now, but would have been a good idea. We listened to a ranger tell the story and it was interesting, and she made sure to say, "Both sides felt they were fighting for the correct cause". They have added Indian markers to the battlefield as late as 1999. And there is now an Indian Memorial built in 2003, as I don't know when you were there.

Bill said...


Now that is funny!!!!