After spending a bit more than 2 weeks in MN, we knew that we needed to begin to the trek back to California. It was hard to accept that going home meant saying good-bye to Doug's family, especially his sister Jan, and this was a juxtaposition that I didn't like at all. After much deliberation, we decided to head north then west as the scenery along the route we chosen had the potential to be quite lovely. We felt like we needed some wide open spaces to think, pray, and soak in God's beautiful creation. We were not disappointed.
We did have torrential rain all across Minnesota. And it was in the 50's F when we left. Not a good temperature for the end of May. By the time we reached the 7th state on our journey, North Dakota, it was a frigid 41° degrees. How can that be?! We got gas outside of Fargo, ND and we were just hoping that we wouldn't run into Billy Bob Thornton! (TV show Fargo reference for the uninformed.) The rain had stopped however and it was even beginning to clear.
Interstate 94 pretty much goes in a very straight line through miles and miles of lush, green farmland. West of the capital, Bismarck, things started getting more and more interesting and just about an hour before our destination, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park popped into view. We decided a detour was in order. We were not disappointed.
The Badlands of North Dakota are breathtakingly beautiful. Layers of color and various rock formation took my breath away. The prairie dogs were adorable little creatures, scampering about, standing up on their hind legs to catch the sunshine and generally charming all who drove by. The areas where they roam are called prairie dog towns and there were several scattered throughout the park. The other animal that roams freely is the bison. These animals are huge, weighing up to 2,000 pounds! We even saw a mama and baby. They were on the run so the photo was blurry. Very cool.
Tanner desperately wanted to run around these gorgeous grounds but strict pet rules in National parks prevented him from doing so. Domestic animals and wild life do not mix so warnings about keeping your dog on the leash or in the car abounded. He did enjoy sticking his head out of the window when possible.
I was once again stunned by the diverse beauty of the United States. I've never been here before so it was a real treat. I was inspired to sing Home on the Range and delighted to discover that there is an actual town with that name just outside of the park! A 36 mile driving loop gives you a good lay of the land when you are short on time. The evening sun was just gorgeous. We felt so lucky to be ending our drive in this manner, especially after how lousy the weather was when we started. And it had warmed up to 57° so we weren't completely freezing when we got out of the car!
Our final destination for today was The Beavercreek Inn in Wibaux, MT. We had never heard of it either but good reviews and pet friendliness encouraged us to give it a try and I must say, I'm happy we did. It's a lovely little local spot which I love. Tanner is right at home and after a long day of driving, got on the bed before we did. He's a good little traveler!
Upon the recommendation of the hotel owner, we ventured into town to the Shamrock bar and grill. This place was great. I didn't have my camera which is unfortunate because a big 'ol longhorn cow head adorned the wall above the bar and the food was amazing. We deduced that having a loud discussion about politics or gun control would not be a good idea but I loved hanging with the locals in their place!
Driving back to the hotel, I told Doug that I didn't really think we were in the United States...it's just so different than what we are used to and yet...I love being here. I love tasting and touching this area of the US, seeing people just doing their thing, happy for a Friday night after a long week of work.
As for me...I'm happy to have a full belly and a clean bed. It's very quiet here in Wibaux, Montana, the 8th state we've now entered on this trip, and I'm pretty sure I'll have a good sleep tonight.