Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bully About Medora

As I write this, we are at the Heartand RV Park in Hermosa, SD and, as you can see by our States Visited Map, we have now stayed in all of the lower 48 in our rig. The places we have seen and the things we have done continue to be wonderful.
We stayed a week in Medora, ND just outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park and when we first walked through the town, all of ten small blocks, we wondered what we would do here for a week. It turns out that Medora is a great destination with plenty to keep us busy. The park includes a north and south unit and the remains of Roosevelt's Elkhorn Ranch. We did all our exploring near the 37 mile loop road in the south and found plenty of interesting sights. The national park, the only one named for a person, honors Roosevelt's ideas about nature and conservation that he developed while visiting here in his early life. These years are well documented in David McCullough's book Mornings on Horseback. It is fortunate that these lands were set aside for a park as the surrounding Little Missouri National Grasslands are the site of a huge oil boom and there are many wells surrounding the park.

A must see in the park is Painted Canyon overlook at sunset. The colors were spectacular and we saw many elk and buffalo off in the distance.
Much of the red rock, scoria, is from the natural burning of the underground coal that turned the clay into brick-like rock. As someone who grew up in a coal town with a coal furnace I can honestly say I never thought of those waste piles as beautiful but in this setting they really are.

The Little Missouri River flowing through the park. This spring they had the worst flooding in years and the entire valley was under water.

We saw a lot of wildlife and were really up close with many of them. We saw these wild horses grazing on the short grass prairie in a typical Western setting. Only when we downloaded the picture on to the computer did we notice the horses standing on the ridge.

Shown at the top are elk and at the bottom is a mule deer.

There are a few hundred buffalo in the park and we saw several herds. These ones were right by the road. The calf was trying to eat and at one point mom even kicked it away. This bull was giving us the evil eye so we moved on.

There are several prairie dog towns in the park and you could take a thousand pictures of these "cute" little critters. We like these two hugging each other while surrounded by a herd of buffalo.

Another day we went on a trail ride. We have not been on a horse for many, many years and Rudy with Jim and Zinger with Nanc where well suited for two novices. There is a trail ride in Medora but we opted for the one at the Peaceful Valley Ranch is inside the park. When they saw our name as we checked in, the owner told us her vet was Dr. Tidball. The only place I have ever met a Tidball that was not a close relative was in Montana almost 50 years ago so there must be a Western branch on the family tree.

There were only four riders on our ride and guess who got to eat the trail dust. I did see much more then horse butts. We went through the middle of a prairie dog town and got an up close look because they are used to the horses. We also saw a small herd of elk and rode along a ridge with great views of the park. I did not get good pics as I was busy hanging on.

Near the Visitors Center is the original Maltese Cross Cabin that Roosevelt had built near here as part of the cattle operation he invested in when he visited in 1883. The chest by the bed and the rocking chair were both owned by TR.

Another stop is the summer home of the Marquis de Mores who started an ill fated cattle business and built the town of Medora, which is named after his wife. The plan was to slaughter the cattle here and ship them in refers cooled by ice by rail to St. Paul. The chimney is all that remains of the slaughter house. The tour of the 26 room home was very interesting as it was in the de Mores family until it was given to the state so most of the furnishings are original.

Another major attraction is the Medora Musical, a very entertaining show of Country and Cowboy music that celebrates the history of Teddy Roosevelt and North Dakota with songs and dance. Also included in the show was an act by Rudi Macaggi, a circus acrobat. We really enjoyed the show and all the things we did in Medora.

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