Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 21, 2009

West to Theodore Roosevelt NP

Early morning appointment to get oil changed then west. 

Stopped at Painted Canyon visitor center on east edge of TRNP.

They are called ‘Badlands’ but they are stunning.

painted canyon2 oainted canyon

On to Medora, ND.  Quaint little tourist town that pretty much shuts down after the first week in September.  The Park is open year round but limited access in the winter.  We toured the town (20 minutes walking slowly) and did the Park visitor center.  Good video and displays.  Also tour of Roosevelt's’ cabin which has been moved to the site. 


Roosevelt’s trunk



August 20, 2009

Knife River Indian Villages

Headed south by way of a national historic site.  On the way we went over a dam on the Missouri River.  Behind the dam is a lake named for the Native American woman who traveled with Lewis and Clark.  I put it that way because her name is spelled several ways and pronounced as many ways depending on where you are.  You know who I am referring to though.  Big lake.  Big wind.  Big waves. The Knife River villages is where Lewis and Clark met the above referred to woman.  Because of the gray, cold, windy weather we did not tour the village site but the replica of the family earth lodge is amazing.  These dwellings put tepees and and cliff dwellings to shame.  This building is over 40 feet across.

Hidatsa Earthlodge

The video here was excellent in describing life in the villages.  The narration was based on the words and recollections of a woman who was born there and grew up and lived there living the old ways.  Seeing the video and then seeing the things she described in the museum really made it come to life.


Hoe made from shoulder blade.  Rake made from antler.


Further south to Bismarck and a campground to the east.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

August 19, 2009

Scandinavian Heritage Park

Layover day in Minot, ND.  Nice town in the middle of nowhere. (There seem to be a lot of nowheres to be in the middle of) It does have a decent indoor mall anchored by several large stores, large Wal-mart, college, state fair, states’ first winery(started way back in 2002), and TWO Dairy Queens.  Nice place to visit for a short while but I would not want to live here, especially in the winter.

The north central United states have a high population of Scandinavian descent.  Minot has a park dedicated to showcasing elements of Scandinavian history and culture.  There are several buildings, some authentic that have been moved from old country and some replicas.  The most spectacular is the exact replica of a church.  It is all wood construction. There are no nails or screws used.  All joining is with pegs and wedges.  Lots of carving inside and out.  Inside smells like fresh cut wood.

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Sue with new friend at visitor center


Here is the Dala Horse.  The symbol of Sweden.

Dala Horse and Pete

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August 18,2009

Fort Union Trading Post

Day of driving with one (or two) sights along the way.  Fort Union was not a military post.  It was built by the American Fur Company (established by John Jacob Astor) to do trade with the Native Americans and trappers.  It is located near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.  A major crossroads for both land and river traffic.   The docent at the fort gave a very good talk about the protocol of trading.  It was not a simple exchange concept.  There was much ceremony and socialization in the process as well.  The fort/trading post is an exact replication of the original built on the original foundations.  The trade room is stocked with trade goods representative of the era which are for sale.  We did not have any hides with us so did not trade.  :)

A couple of pictures.

This is the front gate facing the river.  That small window to the left of the gate is where all trading with commoners took place.  Only special clients were invited in to the trading rooms just inside the gate. 


This area was still separated from the interior of the post by another gate.


Here is a view from the top of the fort wall.  When the fort was built, the Missouri River bank was at the tree line in the front of the picture. A distance of about 30 yards.  Now the river is just in front of that distant tree line.  Several hundred yards away.  The rivers course has changed that much since 1828.


From the fort/trading post we drove four miles east to the confluence information center.  We had hoped to view the joining of the rivers but the shore line is so overgrown with brush that we could not see anything.

On to Minot, ND.  The ranchers here are very frugal.  :)  They even cut and bale the grass that grows along the highway.

Monday, August 17, 2009

August 17, 2009

Pompey’s Pillar

Our days travel northeast included a ninety mile side trip to Pompey’s Pillar.  This is a sandstone monolith on the banks of the Yellowstone River in east central Montana.  On their return trip from the Pacific, Lewis and Clark split their party for a while in order to explore more territory.  Lewis went north top follow the Missouri and Clark went more south along the Yellowstone.  Clarks party stopped at this spot on their journey.  The Indians had known about this place for centuries, but Clarks’ party may have been the first white men to see it.  Clark named it ‘Pompys Tower’. He named it after Sacajewas’ son who had a very long and very French Canadian name.  Clark called him ‘Little Pomp’.  The name of the landmark got changed by historians who modified things out of ignorance.  (As a grown man ‘Little Pomp’  lived in Auburn for a while during gold rush era. He went by his given name which was still very long and very French Canadian )  For centuries Indians had been scratching pictographs on the sandstone.  Clark scratched his name and date of encampment on the monolith also.  Of all the miles traveled and places seen by the Corps of Discovery,  this is the only remaining trace of their journey.  Needless to say it is well protected from elements and people but is still able to be visited.

Click on picture to see whole thing.


Here is a duplicate that may be easier to read.  Click on picture to see it all.


Interesting historical note:  Custer and his army camped across the river from this spot days before they journeyed south to the Little Bighorn River.

Local residents:

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One more thing.  We now know what ‘Big Sky’ means.  Short of being on the ocean, you can not see more sky at one time than standing in central or eastern Montana and turning 360 degrees.

Here is a picture of last nights sunset. Click on picture to see all of it.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

August 16, 2009

Little Bighorn Battlefield and Crow Powwow

Yesterday we drove from Cody to Billings and beyond.  We took a less direct route to go by the Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area or at least the visitor center.  Probably the least inspiring we have seen.  Very low key with not very inspiring displays.  We stamped our book and moved on.  In Billings we shopped at Costco and Walmart.  Billings is the largest city in Montana and is busy with traffic.  We got outa town as soon as we were done.  We planned to see Bighorn Battlefield so we drove to Hardin which is the closest town.  As we were checking in to a RV park the manager mentioned that the annual Crow Agency Fair and Powwow was happening now.  We decided to add another night so we could spend some time at the powwow.

Today we went to the ‘fair’ about 9:00am and drove through a sea of teepees.  They were everywhere.  We wondered where the promised morning parade would go.  People were setting up chairs on every road it seemed.  We finally just decided to park in a likely spot and wait.  Turned out we parked on the first turn right after the start of the parade.  This parade is a long progression of Native Americans on horseback followed by those on trucks and floats.  All dressed in their finest native attire.  Some very nice things.

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Here is the Fair Princess.  She was throwing candy bars to the crowd.


There were lots of kids.

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From the parade we moved down the road a mile to Little Bighorn Battlefield.  We listened to an excellent presentation by a ranger about the events leading up to, including, and after the ‘Last Stand’.  We then watched a video which retold the story graphically.  After that we walked the area to see the actual spots.  The places where each combatant fell have been pretty accurately marked for about all of the soldiers and some of the Indians.

DSC02881 DSC02882 The stone with the black marking is where Custer fell.

The officers who died that day were reinterred in various cemeteries in the east.  The soldiers were eventually buried in a mass grave at the foot of this marker.


Studying fields of battle is not our thing so we took a last look and headed back to the Powwow which was getting under way.  We walked the rows of trinket and food venders several times and decided to have Indian Tacos for lunch.  The opening ceremonies and dancing got under way in the afternoon.  A couple of pictures from early on.

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