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Medora Magic

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bluebird Bob, from a couple of posts back, told us we had to visit Medora, North Dakota. I know that when Bob says you have to see something, you have to see it. So we left a day and a half to explore the South Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Monument in extreme western North Dakota. Medora is the little frontier town just inside the park. It has touristy stuff, which lots of people like. That's good, because it keeps lots of people there, and you can pretty much have the park to yourself. We only had eyes for the wild places.

I have to say that of all the parks I've visited, TRNM is the mostest. It's almost ridiculous how scenic it is, and stuffed with fabulous animals. Which are not stuffed. Which are alive and rockin'.

But let's set the scene. We were amazed at the colorful formations, the badlands we'd heard but never seen. The kids wanted to explore and climb, and Bill and I went along. We quickly found out that the many-hued formations were made of the slickest, most glutinous clay we'd ever stepped in. Yiiiikes. I went down hard and came up absolutely covered in wet clay. This put me in a very foul mood, because I knew I'd get it all over the car. Liam and Phoebe had slid down a hillside on their pants, not realizing that this clay was forever. So we were all instantly filthy and gummed up. I stripped the kids down, Bill dug their suitcases out of the overloaded SUV, and we changed them right then and there. Pah!

The day definitely improved from then on. We found some honest rocks for climbing and jumping.
And picture-taking.
The spaces went on for miles. We were happy again.

Nearby were some grassy hills to climb.

The little black dot is our first Medora bison.
Bill wants a closer look.

I drop to the ground in worship...
photo by Bill of the Birds

of blue penstemon.


Oh that clay! Bentonite I'm guessing, with which I once had a VERY sticky encounter well up a mountain in Wyoming, this after some rain and in no very agile Ford Explorer... I love these posts from out west. They are full of summer! All your readers will be getting in line to float the upper Missouri. And to enjoy those wide vistas of Theodore Roosevelt National Monument and the wildflowers too.

Nick from Ottawa

Posted by Anonymous December 3, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Love our prairie penstemons! I think that one is narrowleaf penstemon (penstemon augustifolius) with some tipsin (prairie turnip)foliage to the left as its neighbor. It's 11F at the moment on the prairie of western SD, I'd love to step outside and find some of those right now instead of my neighbor's blue Christmas lights :o)

I like honest rocks. Can't trust clay.

WOW--these posts that pop out of your summer experiences are wonderful.

Definitely bentonite. I discovered it in Alberta, basically the same geological formation. Take one step, five pounds of clay on each foot. Take another step, ten pounds...

That blue penstemon is the prettiest penstemon I have ever seen! The blue is almost the colour of the mountain bluebird! What a lovely trip you had!

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