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June 11, 2005

Manitoba to North Dakota

On Friday May 27th we headed west in Manitoba along Highway 2 to Souris. DSC_0198 This town is on the Souris River which flows into the Assiniboine.  One of the well-to-do residents in the early 30s built a swinging foot bridge over the river so that he could easily get into the town.  It still stands today and at 582 feet is the longest swinging bridge in Canada.  The town now keeps it in very good repair and it was used constantly by the residents during our time there.DSC_0206

We headed south into North Dakota to Rugby, the geographical centre of North America, and then west to Minot.  On Saturday we went in to Minot so Ross could do some train watching as it is a junction point for the CPR and Burlington Northern Santa Fe.  We arrived at the station just as the Amtrak “ Empire Builder” arrived on it’s way west.  We were surprised at the large number of people that boarded it there.

On Sunday we went south to the Garrison Dam on the Missouri River, which caused the formation of Lake Sakakawea.  The lake is named after the young Indian girl who was the guide for the Lewis and Clarke Expedition.  This is the 200th anniversary of the Expedition and all along the route there are celebrations, special events and a lot of hoopla.  Apparently there has been a drought in the Midwest for the last number of years and some of the states down river are taking legal action to try to force North Dakota to release more water through the dam.  The water level in the lake is already about 30 feet below normal.  The dam is huge – it is earthen and is over 2 miles long, 1/2 mile wide at the base, 276 feet high and 60 feet across at the top.  The highway runs across the top.

DSC_0213At this point we are seeing quite different landscape from the prairies of Manitoba.  The hills appear as if some giant took shovels full of earth and haphazardly threw them around.  They are grassland and there is very little cultivation.

Sunday night outside Bismark ND we had our first experience staying at a Truck Stop overnight.  It was behind the building and certainly not the quietest location but all we did was sleep there so we didn’t need anything fancy.  We have found the 5r to be very soundproof and it proved itself that night.  It cost us $10.00 US and we had full hookups (water, electricity, sewer).  That is cheap as we are probably averaging around $26.00 Cdn.  

It has been raining most of the time we have been on the road and continues to do so.  I must admit that we are getting very tired of wet and dull.  Also, as you can see, none of our pictures are very bright without the sun. 

On Monday we headed out toward the North Dakota Badlands and set up in the town of Medora just outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  A real western town on the Little Missouri river – population 100 permanent residents.DSC_0224  Tuesday we spent touring the Badlands and encountered a buffalo right at the side of the road.  There also were a number of very large prairie dog towns with hundreds of burrows and dozens of animals.  This land is very stark, beautiful and dramatic.  Many coloured layers can be seen in the eroded cliffs and ledges but there is also grass that supports wildlife.  This was one of Roosevelt’s favourite areas and he was instrumental as a conservationist in the formation of this park as well as Yellowstone and others.DSC_0022_edited

On a cliff overlooking Medora is the “Chateau de Mores” , a “hunting cabin” built by a French Count.  It has 10 bedrooms, 4 room owners suite plus kitchen, pantry, parlor and formal dining room.  It has been completely restored even to original wallpaper.  His meat packing plant failed and thus the house was used only for about 3 years.

Tomorrow, Tuesday the 31st, we head out for Montana.  Stay tuned


Posted by Ross at June 11, 2005 09:42 PM