Backroads Montana

Yep, sometimes, you just have to get off the interstates and major highways and just look for the beautiful, the eye catching, the strange, the donkey photo bombs….

And to save you time, I did it myself.  Just sit back and enjoy the backroads between Glendive and Miles City and back.  And yes, the donkey being photo bombed.  :D

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I know something in there made you smile, right?

Medora, Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Painted Canyon

Roaring down I-94 on the way to report for duty in Glendive, MT, I chanced to happen upon a rest stop/visitor center for the Painted Canyon. Not having a clue, I pulled over to check it out. And proceeded to fall more deeply in love with the Badlands. This portion of the Badlands sits just east of Medora, ND. Though still partial to our own Makoshika State Park, you will quickly see why this trip is well worth it. About an hour east of Glendive and perhaps half way to Bismarck from Glendive, it requires a side trip into Medora. No worries; this is a requirement no one could possibly mind.

And so, let’s revisit Painted Canyon first. the visitr center is located 7 miles east of Medora on I-94. Before you stop, be prepared to have your breath taken away! Also, be prepared to see Bison up close and personal as they do, on occasion, wander through and around the visitor center’s grounds.

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On this day, no Bison in the visitor center grounds, but there were a few on the canyon floor. This was the only one I could get a picture of. They are in their “summer” coat at the moment. And more intent on grazing than gazing at tourists. But never, ever say “moo” at them or taunt them in any way. They can outrun a horse so it’s a given they can outrun YOU.  And do some incredible damage to your car…

Painted Canyon Nature Trail is accessible from the visitor center grounds.  It is an 0.9 mile loop that will involved some hiking down to the canyon floor and back up. Take some water, watch your step and steer clear of the Bison!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is named after, well, Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy visited the Dakotas in 1883 to hunt buffalo. Like many of us, he fell under the spell of the Badlands. He owned two ranches in ND. His original cabin sits behind the visitor center at the entrance to the park in Medora, ND.

The park contains a 36 mile loop that has enough scenery to make anyone’s heart soar at its shear beauty. Their are hiking trails and trails for horseback. Don’t own your own horse? No problem. There are rental horses in the park and guided horseback tours available as well.

Camping? Oh my, yes, the park has that too.

And wildlife?  Wild horses, prairie dogs, bison, elk, mule deer, golden eagles and more!  And plenty of flora and fauna as well. There are scenic overviews along the loop. Be prepared to stop as the car in front of you may have spotted some playful prairie dogs or grazing bison. Travelers are not supposed to stop in the road, but, it will happen, so keep an eye on the car in front of you.

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If you plan to visit the parks, please make plans to visit Medora. More than that, make lodging or campground reservations and purchase tickets for Medora Musical. The musical is seasonal, so check it out when planning your visit. Just within the past month, Kat Perkins of “The Voice” fame performed there.

And don’t forget your camera and your wallet. Medora is a shopping mecca. But it will surprise you when you see it. It is NOT a mall or a shopping strip. It is tasteful, attractive and enticing!  You have been warned.  ;)

Turning the horses (in my Honda’s engine), I headed for home. Once again, I found that “Home on the Range” and fields of sunflowers. Sunflowers as far as the eye can see.

When traveling through North Dakota or Montana – in warm weather – one must open the windows and the car vents and breathe in that clean air scented by the flowers, the hay, the clover and the sagebrush! I wish I could add a “scratch ‘n sniff” feature; one has to smell to believe how incredible it is.

And there you have it for this edition from The Sandhills Sandbox. Hope you enjoy the journey and the pictures as much as I did. And for any of my home slices that want to come visit, just give me a holler. Friends and family are always welcome!  We’ll keep a light on…  :D

The rain, it cometh

The Badlands tend to give one the connotation of a desert like environment.  And, it does seem that way often.  After all, the sioux gave the land the name.  The word “Makoshika” translates to bad earth.  And yet, it is beautiful. No matter the season.  No matter the weather.

You’ve seen my pictures from spring, from summer and winter. So far, however, no fall.  Yet, today was the first opportunity to capture a storm approaching from the west from atop the peaks of the hills inside Makoshika.

There are one or two pics with blue sky.  The rest?  The sky is dark, dark gray; almost black by the time the storm hit.

I didn’t wait on top of the peaks for the storm as the roads back down are fearsome to drive when wet.  Still, enjoy the photos.  Makoshika takes my breath away every time I go.  Or walk out my door and look up at the cliffs.  Or happen upon the horses loosed to graze there.  Even when it is only there backsides and they are waving goodbye with their tails…

Hopefully, the beauty fills your heart with a smile.  Enjoy!

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It may be fair time if…..

The roads are congested by cattle carriers, or there are more cowboys than usual walking around downtown, or the fair ground is alive with the sound of laughter!

Indeed it is fair time.  And here in the land of farmers, ranchers and cowboys, here is just a taste of what you are missing by not being here.

Kudos to the Dawson County Fair Board (specifically Connie Hilger) on a Fantabulous job!!!!!

For those I have not yet run into and/or met around town, please stop and introduce yourselves to me during the last two days of the fair!

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Am I Back In Texas?

This weekend, I had brief flashbacks to Texas.  Well, actually the Interstates in Texas. Specifically, commutes on the Interstates in Texas.

I mean, I saw this every day on during the I-30 5:00-hundred: IMG_0200 copy

Or during the daily transit of the I-20 6:00-hundred…IMG_0232 copy

Or on any trip through or anywhere near Charlotte!

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Then again, sometimes when travelling down life’s highways, we find a treat that brings on a heart-smile: a wishing well full of just what we would wish for!

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Or we may be on a trip and find reasons to count our blessings.  For example, I am thankful that I have never crossed paths with a dentist using THIS drill.  IMG_0007 copyNow THAT is a drill!

And, of course, we sometimes come across something riding through life that brings back happy childhood memories.  All my Pinehurst peeps may remember one very similar to this back on Mr. Sally’s private village behind his house on Short Road.  Raise your hands if you do:

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Other days, we just have so many reason to be happy.  It’s a wonder that more of us aren’t jumping for joy over all the blessings that we have:

There are days that life, seemingly, throws us for a loop.  Those days, we do our best and just hang on for dear life:

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Other times, we are just happy to be surrounded by our toys and have the opportunity to play with them:IMG_0194(copy)

The best days, however, are those days the Good Lord takes us to our Happy Places. And now, I have another place (besides the beach) where I am content, happy and at peace just by being, breathing and soaking it all in:

Life is full of gifts and opportunities and moments to cherish and treasure.  These are some of mine.  You have some, as well, right?

Why Do I Love Montana?

That is the one question that I get over and over. I could say that it’s just a great place to live. Or that the people are great. How about there are tons of things to do?  Places to go?  Fresh air.  Wide open space.  Great speed limits.

But none of those seem to get the point across.

And so, without going into details, here is what my weekend consisted of.  As I hope you can see, there is something for everyone! But it’s not just any one thing… Montana is a state of mind.  Can you see it?

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Supermoon Over The Badlands

Supermoon Over The Badlands

Every full moon is a glorious sight.  A supermoon even more so. But a supermoon over the badlands?  Well, judge for yourselves.  Photos are a bit grainy since I was trying to keep it light enough to actually see the badlands.  It is what it is.  There are a few bonus photos taken while I was feeding the mosquitoes and waiting for the moon to appear…

Just sit back and enjoy!

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Montana, Part II: Badlands

Well, I cannot  complain about how the day started.  Not a cloud in the sky.  By the time I hit the road, the clouds were gathering, however.  Still the raindrops kept the temperatures down.

On the bright side, by the time I reached the Badlands, it was picture perfect weather.  Not a bad view to live in the midst of, is it?

Well, no words can do justice so just enjoy the photos.  Oh, by the way, I finally found that home on the range…  LOL!!!

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Montana, Part II: Windblown

Well, awoke to nasty dark and stormy looking clouds.  Pretty much what has hit this area for the last two days….

SO, I needed the smile I got when I saw this sign and thought of my favorite German.  :)IMG_0013

 

It always does a body good to soak up some sunshine, inhale fresh clean air tempered by the smell of “fertilizer” on fields of crops and think of all the hard working farmers that support and feed this country!

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After two very long days of watching all manner of RVs on the road (including two teardrop trailers) I finally found a classic Airstream.  This is for all you Airstream fans and aficionados out there.  :)

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I love to look for interesting and fascinating things along the way.  This trip, I have been trying to find anything to look at besides orange cones and work signs signalling traffic delays.  How’s this?

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Pretty as a picture, isn’t it?  It was a beautiful day for part of the trip.  Ended up with rain and VERY strong winds.  But, enjoyed these moments:

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This was near the very end of today’s journey.  The sky was dark but the very dark strip was a line of one VERY dark cloud.  I was able to snap it only because traffic was at a standstill for a serious accident.

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And now?  Rest and thinking forward to being “home” tomorrow!

Montana, Part II: I Hit Missouri

Yes, I did!  I showed them.  Missouri, that is.  I aimed for them.  Hit them, too.  Twice!  :)

Started the day in Kentucky and ventured into lower Indiana and Illinois.  Than came Missouri.  I managed to cross the Missouri River three times.  Nice to see it again.  And again.  And again…

Got to the the arch in St. Louis for the first time since I left Fayetteville, Arkansas.  That, and the fancy bridge.  You would have enjoyed pics right?  Meant to get them.  But, I didn’t.  Was too busy driving and sightseeing.  Next time?

Anyway, from there, all the way across Missouri into Kansas just long enough to say, “Toto, we’re back!” and then I wasn’t there anymore.  I was back showing Missouri.  LOL!!

And there I still am tonight.  I landed in St. Joseph for the evening.  11 hours.  11 LONG hours behind the wheel.  Had mac ‘n cheese.  A nice, hot shower.  Something cold to drink.  And now, I bid you a good night.  Until tomorrow…when… if I can find it – I shall return to visit my friends in Fargo, ND.  This time without the blizzard.  And frozen engine.  And train derailment.  Maybe…  ;)