– little girls are playing in the puddles outside. They are femininely attired in pink stripes and also sport 6 guns with matching pink holsters. We must be in the west. They eventually sat and rolled about in the mud with no adult seeming to care. At least they were having fun.
– I needed to use up the rest of my blueberry purchase so it was pancakes again for breakfast. We had to wait for the fog to lift so that we’d actually be able to see a long view in the park so there was plenty of time for a cooked breakfast.
– our national parks pass is the best thing we purchased since retirement. That $10 has gotten us free admission and half priced camping in lots of beautiful places.
– first stop was the visitors center. I wanted to get a stamp for my book, see the exhibits and watch the introductory video. The park service does a great job with explanations and interpretive signage.
– this park features a 36 mile loop road to get you up close to the badlands landscape. Badlands are semiarid regions with sparse vegetation that experience high rates of erosion. Water and wind, instead of carving gentle hills and broad valleys, sculpt soft sedimentary rock into intricate mazes of narrow ravines, v-shaped gullies, knife-sharp ridges, buttes, and colorful pinnacles.
– There are quite a few pullouts with amazing vistas (360 degrees in some cases) and a few side roads.
– an early pullout was next to a prairie dog town. There were hundreds of them out and about. We sat and just watched and listened for a while. They have a sort of squeak for their voice. Most exciting was when a coyote sauntered through. Thankfully he wasn’t eating anybody, just passing by.
– then there were cars parked along the road which always indicates a sighting. In this case it was bison (that is the correct scientific name although buffalo is acceptable). A small herd passed close by. A few hundred feet down the road, we pulled into a parking spot so that Brett could read a sign. He got out and I noticed that a rather large bison was headed his way. He didn’t get back to the truck as soon as I would have but he made it before the bison did. No kidding, this big boy was right in front of the truck.
– there were a few more bison along the way but this was by far the best encounter. It was also fun to see a young man taking a selfie with the critters but from his sunroof while the car was moving (so no stupid tourist trick with that).
– we took a side road up to Buck Hill. From the parking area we walked a few hundred more feet to the top and were afforded one of those 360 degree spectacles. We could hear a dog barking inconsolably from one of the cars. They aren’t allowed on any of the paths so the family had to leave it there and it was loudly unhappy about it. I can’t say that it improved my wilderness experience much either.
– it rained all night and some while we were touring. We noticed that this seemed to enhance the smells. The air was heavy with sagebrush.
– there is a campground in the park so we went over to check it out. It would have been tight for The Whale. The roads are narrow with lots of overhanging cottonwoods. Lovely spot but no amenities and we did need to do our laundry.
– I packed a picnic lunch. There was a picnic ground. Lunch happened there.
– on the way home we stopped to buy tickets for tonight’s Medora Musical. It is billed as “the rootin’-tootinest, boot-scootinest show in all the west! There’s no other show quite like it. Set in the outdoor splendor of the rugged North Dakota Badlands, this professionally produced, high energy, western-style musical show is proudly dedicated to the legacy of America’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, and the time he spent here in the Badlands of the Dakota Territory. Each show pays tribute to American patriotism and the Old West.”
– of course, the weather forecast now shows a 50% chance of rain at show time.
– we also got tickets for the outdoor meal: cowboy barbecue and pitchfork steak fondue. I will report back on that.
– it was pouring rain at 5:15 but we headed over to the venue anyway. Yup! Dinner is still on. As we walked in, we saw people cooking the ribeye steaks. They put half a dozen on a pitch fork and then put them into hot oil. This is because it would take too long to grill that many steaks. A host assured us that normal North Dakota folks grill their steaks as well.
– Brett got steak but I wanted ribs so we were sent to separate stations. We got cowboy beans, garlic bread, baked potatoes, salad, cole slaw, drinks, Cinnamon doughnuts (cowboys like doughnuts) and brownies. The beef short ribs were excellent and Brett said the ribeye was great too.
– we sat beside a long haired motorcycle fellow who had interesting tales of his travels. Then an older couple sat down. They were on a mystery bus tour. You pay, know you will be gone for 5 days and then show up with your suitcase but you aren’t told where you will be going. They were from Wisconsin and were with a group that filled 3 tour buses.
-Medora has a population of 112. They bring in people from all over the world to work the season.
– we also struck up a conversation with a South Dakota cattle rancher. His grandfather rode with Teddy Roosevelt chasing Pancho Villa all over Mexico.
– we were let into the seating about 30 minutes before the show. It’s an enormous outdoor amphitheater set into the side of a badland. We see the stage and then behind that the stunning scenery.
– and we began with the national anthem and a horse with a rider carrying a flag.
– I would never call myself a country and western fan but this show is quite wonderful.
– there are people in the audience who have been coming to see this show every year since 1965!
– I expect a gig at this show would look good on a resume.
– the reenactment of the Battle of San Juan Hill was rather stirring and the cannons were very loud.
– everybody we’ve met from the Dakotas seems so proud of their heritage. And all these years I’ve just thought basically nothing of either Dakota (except maybe South Dakota, gateway to North Dakota ). Sorry about that. It’s a beautiful place you have here; full of nice people.
– and just as we got home it started to rain again.