Eastern Montana North Dakota

I spent the last weekend of August on a great road trip through EasternMontana to North Dakota and Teddy Roosevelt National Park. I have beenwanting to visit this obscure, seldom frequented park that honors thememoryof the great conservationist, for a long time. Teddy Roosevelt is close tothe top of my list of great Americans, that played a major part inAmericanHistory. The North Dakota Badlands sprouted many of his personal concernsthat led to his later environmental efforts. He once remarked "I neverwouldhave been President if it had not been for my experiences in North Dakota."Our road trip started in Billings and took in a 600 mile round trip to seethe Park. The drive followed the beautiful Yellowstone River, for much oftheway. The Yellowstone is one of the last great rivers that hasn't beendammed,and screwed up. We enjoyed the simple beauty of the Park-the badlands, thegrasslands- inhospitable and barren but home to a variety of creatures andplants. There are over 200 bird species and we particularly enjoyed theprairie dogs that once were nearly extinct. Careful management saved them.Icould watch them for hours, they are a Gerry Corey personal favorite.The long drive back to Billings included a few road beers and stops atCowboy bars.One hole in the wall at Hathaway featured a 250lb. + female bartender andthree cowboy locals armed with fly swatters engaged in casual conversationand frequent fly kills on the bar. They even let me have a turn. I alwaystry to make friends with the locals and take in some of the culturalevents.Getting North Dakota on my state list was quite an effort. I now must getSouth Carolina and Arkansas to complete 50 state exploration. Ger and Iareplanning a trip to Hot Springs NP Arkansas and Charleston SC, but won'tgetthere before the milenium.Checked out the logistics for a climb up Montana's highest -Granite Peak.Itis close to Red Lodge where our friends the Ewalds are developing a ranch.This also will have to wait until next year. The time window for the climbisvery narrow.This trip wraps up an ambitious, exhausting August that included adventuresin seven Western States. I was planning on packing into the DesolationWilderness in California or the Gila Wilderness in New Mexico this weekendbut will remain in Arizona and catch up.

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