Saturday, June 30, 2007

Fort Peck, Montana

I had a pleasant stay at the Lewis and Clark State Park near Williston, ND but there wasn't much to report. Computer problems consumed much of my time and effort.

As the title suggests, I have moved to the Fort Peck dam in Montana. I spent the evening of my arrival and much of the next day trying to get online without success. I booted the modem this morning out of habit and for some reason it immediately connected. I read elsewhere that HughesNet had some problems this week and that may or may not be related. I'll see how long it works.

Since things are more or less back to normal I'll tour the area this afternoon. It's going to be hot so moving around will be more tolerable than trying to work inside.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Same Lake, Different Place

Camped on Lake Sakakawea, 100 miles west of yesterday's location.

First things first. If you don't know who Sakakawea was go here:

There are several different spellings so don't let that confuse you. She was certainly a heroine of the young republic.

I took the secondary road that followed the Lewis and Clark Trail. The lake looked quite healthy for much of the way compared to the unhealthy state I observed yesterday.

I was surprised when I arrived at North Dakota's Lewis and Clark State Park. (Both Nebraska and South Dakota also have L & C State Parks.)

The lake level is quite low which has necessitated the closure of the marina and boat ramps. It's a beautiful park but not usable to its full potential.

At the same position looking southeast. The seemingly ever present wind is blowing hard hence the dirty brown color of the water. The designers of the campground did an excellent job by placing a windbreak of shrubs and trees. North Dakota is considered a prime location for the wind power industry for good reason.

Although the nearest town is beyond my normal limit of five miles, I have essential business there tomorrow.

I'll take the camera but it's primarily a business trip.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hike to Lake Sakakawea

I was on my way by 0700.

The lake is beyond the last ridge in the haze.

Finally, a view of the lake. With the water level low, the lake bed is covered with what I later saw were cottonwood saplings.

The trail had several climbs and descents and crossed "saddles" like this...

...went left of the ridge...

...and to the right. If riding, you really have to trust your horse.

At lake level. The trail goes left to right up the ridge.

Some of the land at the bottom is leased pasture. Most of the prairie dogs had gone underground by now but you can still see groups of the brave ones barking at me.

The lake bottom is the treed area to the right. About a half mile later I lost the trail. Talking to the ranger later I learned that it had become flooded and overgrown. In the mud, overwhelmed by insects and without a clear idea of how to complete my planned loop I yielded to common sense and decided to backtrack. It added a couple of miles and required climbing the ridge trail but you have to be a little more cautious when out alone. This was not the kind of terrain where you just make your own trail.

Most of the vertical climb is complete. I had a long way to go but here I knew I had it made. I would like to stay another day and hike more but I have to get some paperwork in the mail on Monday. Williston is the nearest large town (~10,000) so I'll move the 120 miles tommorow and complete my business on Monday.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Good Side of the "Bad Lands"

I started my hike early.
The valley was green and lush toward the southeast.

A little less so in my intended direction.

I lost the trail at one point and came to a dead end.

On the way back. I still have to go down and then climb the other side.

I heard riders coming. They were probably talking on their cell 'phones. I waited at a wide point since much of the trail was narrow enough to be one way only. I was very impressed with what horses can do.

Back on top. Tomorrow I will plan more, take more water and start even earlier. A strenuous and thoroughly enjoyable hike.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Near the Little Missouri

Today was a typical moving day. Pack up, hitch up, drive, dump, fill, drive, park, laundry, grocery, unhitch, propane fill, gasoline fill, laundry, hitch up, drive, park, pay, set up, point dish, unpack. You know, a typical moving day.

I was very tempted to stay in the Killdeer, North Dakota municipal park. It was pleasant and well kept but I wanted to see the "badlands" area.

The park entrance. It is over 5000 acres with numerous trails. Although horse oriented it is pleasant and the horse noises and odors are tolerable. It is going to be hot tomorrow but I suspect a good strong wind will keep the insects at bay.

For some reason these two as yet unidentified birds have decided that the area under my awning now belongs to them. They have fought other birds for it and have given me notice.

There aren't many radio stations available. I am presently listening to an American Indian station. The best description I can give is the council fire scene from a John Wayne western repeated hour after hour. Drums and vocals. Hour after hour. The weather is in English. It grows on you and fits the character of the region but I can't understand the words or meaning.

The plan for tomorrow is to hike in the morning while it is cool and work in the afternoon. I would like to get down to the water, and back. It's one of those hikes where the first half is easy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Another Quiet Day

As planned I took a morning hike along the Missouri.

It was a five mile marked trail. There wasn't much wildlife except for the mosquitoes. Some Deep Woods Off! and a brisk pace kept the annoyance to a minimum. I inadvertently removed paint once using Off!, so I keep its application to a minimum. I did surprise a couple of rabbits and flushed a pheasant. I don't know whether I or the bird was more startled.

Crossing a small tributary.

The same tributary as it empties into the Missouri.

I spent the rest of the day trying to guess when the world equity markets are going to return to reality. "Easy money" can't prop things up forever.

The terrain should change as I head toward the "badlands" or "breaks" as they are known. I think that the satellite image makes it look more green than it is. It may be a hot weekend baking in the sun.

Although I'll spend another week in North Dakota, I think I can add it to the States Visited Map:

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fort Mandan

This "chick" strolled in early while I was answering email. I guess the "word in the woods" was that there was a big turkey in Campsite 5 and she came down to check me out. After "gobbling" in disgust she disappeared in the woods.

The reconstruction of Fort Mandan, the winter quarters of the Lewis and Clark party in 1804. I consider this area one of the key sites on the Lewis and Clark Trail. Had the expedition not survived the first winter in good condition the entire mission would have been in jeopardy. They developed a mutually beneficial relationship with the Mandan Indians and survived in good shape. I generally don't care for reconstructions but this one was extremely well done. The museum, called an "interpretive center" in Newspeak, was also excellent.

The reconstruction of the officer's quarters at Fort Mandan.
The Taylor log cabin dated 1869. You might think that the occupant would have been poorly educated yet Taylor published three books and became the newspaper editor while living here.
One of the last ferries that operated on the Missouri. The stern wheeler was retired in 1962 when the highway bridge was completed.

I finished the tourist agenda today. Tomorrow I'm going to do a five mile trail along the river and work "at home" the rest of the day. Early Thursday I head for the "bad lands".

Monday, June 18, 2007

On the Missouri

A quick shot after the storm. It's a good thing I don't believe in ghosts and goblins.

On the backroads of the Lewis and Clark Trail.

Is this really the way? Yes, sixteen miles of dirt road before the park.

Another tight spot. I almost gave up on the dish and then caught a weak signal.

A pristine part of the Missouri, looking north.

The same place looking south.
The price for wandering through the tall grass. I caught a fourth as I typed this. They are very difficult to kill. You have to fully crush or split their exoskelaton or they will crawl away. Yes, you could say that they "take a lickin' and keep on tickin' ".

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pollock, South Dakota

On Saturday I drove the four miles into Pollock. I've found that every town, regardless of size, has an interesting history.

The original Pollock was formed in 1901 as a railroad terminus. It's formation caused the abandonment of a town just a few miles to the east. Pollock in turn was condemned when the Oahe Dam was built.
As part of the "deal" in moving the town a lake was constructed by building a causeway across the valley where the old town was located. That way the water level would remain more or less constant. The old town is under the new lake. It's named Lake Pocasse after an Indian Chief with whom Lewis and Clark met when they camped in this location in October, 1804:

"12th of October Friday after Brackfast we joined the Chiefs & Indians on the bank who wer waiting for us, and proseeded to the 1st village and Lodge of the Pocasse, This man Spok at Some lengths, to the Sam[e] purpote of the 1s Chief, & Declareing his intentions of visiting his great father..."

They rescued the old jail...

...and the old Ford fire engine which still runs.

I decided to remain until Monday when I plan to leave early and take the back roads along the Lewis and Clark Trail.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Quiet Day on the Lake

Today was very quiet except for the sounds of the birds and those are good sounds. Although the park is well used by fishermen, I am the only occupant of the camping area. I'm sure there will be other campers over the weekend but it's unlikely that there will be a crowd.

Lake Oahe from space. The dam is north of Pierre just off the bottom of the photo. My location is very near the top of the picture. It's a very large lake.

There are a lot of deer, pheasants, rabbits and various small birds.

Deer tracks near the water. There were even some tracks through my campsite that weren't there when I set up the satellite yesterday.

My current campsite. Although I had first pick I took a site that wouldn't appeal to those seeking shade. The internet is very useful in planning my moves. I get directions, the latitude and longitude (for setting up the dish), a satellite photo for site selection and a topographic map to find the high ground. I knew beforehand that this was the site I wanted and even knew that a road that looked like a dead end did a loop. It's very useful.

Near the water this morning, the walleye were jumping out of the water. During a walk this afternoon, I stopped at the fish cleaning station.

They had all reached their daily limit in about three hours with some beautiful filets as you can see. The record in that group was 26 inches.

Looking north from the park entrance. It's an artifical lake so the trees are still decaying. In fact the nearest town had to be moved when the dam was built. I still like to think that the ridges are much as they appeared two hundred years ago.

On Lake Oahe

Between moving, bad weather, computer and satellite connection problems I've lost several posts. Let's try it again.

When I stopped for lunch at an historic marker this little prairie dog did his best to give me the Italian "evil eye" and let me know that I wasn't welcome.

I moved closer to "make nice" and he assumed the fearsome "prairie dog attack position". He then went down his hole and I made lunch.

Looking southwest from my present location. There are a lot of pheasants and I saw deer tracks in the mud. The ground is quite wet after the recent heavy rains. The "rig" did well on the muddy roads although it was a little "iffy" at times.

Looking west across Lake Oahe (Missouri River). The opposite bank is the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The division between CDT and MDT runs along the river in this area.

My general plan. I want to follow the Lewis and Clark track as closely as possible at least to western Montana. I'll avoid the "Oregon Country" although I may enter "Spanish Territory" when I turn south.

This is a small state park and wasn't even shown on my road atlas. I am alone, so far, which is pleasant. I'll be interested to see if there is much activity this weekend. The weather forecast doesn't sound promising so I may have it to myself. Let's see, I have water, food, an internet connection and there isn't anywhere to go. I should be able to get a lot done.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Pierre and Fort Pierre, South Dakota

This view from my office helps me concentrate, right?
I have read about this meeting several times and was gratified to stand at the actual place.

The actual confluence of the Bad River (left) and the Missouri River (right).
The view from the site much as the Lewis & Clark party and the Teton Sioux would have seen it.
The stone set at the Verendryes Site above Fort Pierre. The Frenchies were pretty good at marking their territory. One of these tablets was found just several years ago.
The view from the Verendryes Site. Not the highest ground but the highest ground with a good command of the river. A good choice.
The old business district has many fine old buildings. Unfortunately, many suffer from the "modernize and update" disease. A thoughtful renovation would be better.
Pierre appears to be much larger than its recorded population. The state capitol building is large and impressive.
I found the first school house. Unfortunately I couldn't take any pictures of the interior because there was a class in session.

I'm going to post this without editing because there is a storm brewing and I want to get it out before the dish blows over.