Stop #7, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, Mandan ND
It’s not Christmas yet, is it? Made my last run to the restroom and this park looks like a neighborhood vying for the annual best light display! Sarah & Sherry, it is a OMG display! But the blinking heart is a bit out of sync with the icicle lights and the black trash bag octopus on top of the trailer with the flashing eye lights and waving legs in the wind is a bit - - oh, I don’t know, go to bed Emily. What was that word I was using to describe this area. . . . . .?
Stopped by the RV dealer and the problem is going to be more than what I wanted to spend time on getting solved at this point. So will wait until I get home and take it in. The drive north was easy, beautiful and “serene”. I stopped at several places to look at the miles and miles of sunflower fields with their heads turned toward the sun - in North Dakota. I stopped and looked at huge herds of buffalo. I stopped at Lisa’s to give her the ribbon wind socks and, hopefully, get some pictures of her and her kids together; but the kids had gone somewhere with their step-grandmother.
The country changed the further north I drove, with more bluffs and canyons. It turned into a wide river valley with lots of farming. The farms become more numerous and so do the towns. I want to go back to a little town of Huff as I saw a structure from the road that intrigued me. I think it is a church. Along the river, there are several areas where other forts and historical points are. And being a holiday weekend, more people were out and around and in campgrounds.
I got into Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park around noon (we are so close to the time zone, I keep forgetting what time I am on). It didn’t take long to get set up, fixed a light lunch then decided to do a little exploring in the afternoon. The Heart River joins the Missouri River right here. The campground is full, as you could imagine and spaces are pretty close together. There are lots of families here having a good time. Mine fortunately, is on the outside of the loop and a bit small for most of the rigs I see here to fit into. It is a pull-through with electric and water hookup. There isn’t anyone immediately on either end of me and I am back up against a small hillside covered with lots of vegetation that is covered with berries - hackberries, chockberries, wild plums, black berries - and I get to watch the birds going after the berries and listen to them sing their songs.
In the afternoon, it was “party-time on the (sand) bar”. There weren’t very many boaters on the Missouri when I got here, but give them a few hours and it was as busy as a freeway going thru a city. On this side of the River, there are a lot of sandbars and they were lined with boats and the bars were covered with people just having a good ole time. Reminded me of pictures you see of spring breaks in Florida. I went to the Commissary, where they have WiFi, and sent family an e-mail letting them know I am here.
The On-A-Slant Village is located where a Mandan Indian Village was and many of the buildings are reconstructed earthlodges. Will visit there Sunday as well as the Custer House
where he and his wife, Libbie, lived. This was the last home of George. Okay I can’t resist “George was here”. I have run into “George” from west Texas at Fort Davis, and the Hays Ks area where I am from, to northward to here - that man was everywhere. As I remember, I think he was in the Gallup NM area too.
My airborne allergies have been giving me trouble for the first 24 hours after I arrive at a new place and it wasn’t any different here. I have an antihistamine that I take to stop the usual symptoms but I had so many allergens already in me. What happens when the allergens are overpowering me, is that I become sleepy. I had already had a nap after lunch of 90 minutes but after supper I wanted another one, slept for another 90 minutes. In 30 minutes after getting up from the 2nd nap, I had climbed into bed at 8:30 and slept until 7:30 Sunday morning! I felt better Sunday morning.
Sunday, was slow to get moving, took a shower at the trailer as the Park showers are a ways down. Maybe after everybody leaves, wouldn’t mind a regular shower. Monday is going to be a mass exodus around here with lots of diesel engines stinking up the air so have planned to get out of camp. Sunday I toured the On-A-Slant village
which represented how the Mandan Indians lived. They were primarily farmers so were not hostile. “Mandan” is really not a word in any language, but one made up to assimilate what the Americans, that came into the area, heard the Indians saying. It’s origin is from Canadian French Mandane and probably from the Dakota Sioux mawatana. Just like the Missouri River was not the “Missouri” but had more letters in it and became anglicized to Missouri. I also went on top of the plateau where the Infantry of Fort Abraham Lincoln lived within the garrison. Down by the River is where the Calvary men lived. Came away with a sunburn and beautiful views. Didn’t learn much new since I have visited so many forts lately - just that they had a nice view but I bet it was a damn cold place in the winter when the wind blew. Indians were much smarter with their homes covered with clay.
Hallelujah, I finally met the owners of another fiberglass trailer. They own a 2000 Scamp and are from the Newport, Oregon area. She is a member of Casita Club too and one of the very early members, I recall her name - it is Vivian W - on the Club. As soon as I gave her my nickname, she knew right away who I was. She came over later and we visited for a couple of hours and we had a great visit. Her husband is from this area, so she gave me some suggestions of what to see.
One thing she did mention is that North Dakota’s Walmarts do not have pharmacies. A law that the the pharmacist must own a minimum of 51% of the pharmacy is in place in North Dakota. And, since I am getting down pretty low on one med and could order another, will have to make a change of plans and head to the nearest Walmart pharmacy in South Dakota, which is in Aberdeen for me. It’s not much out of my way, and only messes me up here in ND one day. I am so glad she told me that. Am still going into Bismarck to Hobby Lobby to check their ribbons and beads out and do laundry at a Laundromat she told me about that is nearby.
Got the laundry done on Monday . Stopped at Walmart, as it was close by and picked up a few things, and stopped at Hobby Lobby and - again - spent too much, but have beads and ribbons to keep me happy for awhile making those ribbon wind socks. Think am going to make some in Casita colors. Need to get enough made so can sell a few here and there.
So far, a few of the bugs have been tolerable. In NE and SD it was the flies that were pests and so many of them - mosquitos were few. Then I got to Fort A. Lincoln and this must be “Gnat Capitol of the World”! They are awful, just everywhere and it’s hard to open your mouth without getting a mouthful! Now that the Parks is pretty deserted, the flies are becoming pesky as well as the mosquitos.
Tuesday, it was to the Enchanted Highway out west to see the metal sculptures and there will be time to run down to Huff to see the building that intrigued me from the road.
I ended up taking I-94 to Gladstone, stopping at New Salem to see “Salem Sue” and then south on the Enchanted Highway. Vivian had called Monday nite to warn me that the “Old Red Trail” wasn’t really that interesting and there was a section with gravel. I-94 was started in construction in 1952 and finally completed 25 years later. I thinks part of I-94 are around 40 or so years old. I can see (and feel) why ND is redoing a lot of the Interstate!
I really enjoyed driving down the Highway to Regent, beautiful country, there are 7 stops to see the sculptures: 1st is Geese in Flight,
raised in 2001 and in the Guinness World Book of Records as the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world. 2nd is The Deer Family; 3rd was the Grasshoppers in the Field; 4th Fisherman’s Dream; 5th Pheasants on the Prairie; 6th Teddy Rides Again; and 7th Tin Family.
I went to the little gift shop and bought some post cards and then had two scoops of the moooooooost delicious commercially made ice cream. I had Carmel Kodiak and Strawberry Cheesecake. That ice cream is made by Cass-Clay Creamery out of Fargo ND. It is soooooooooo good. It’s listed as my favorite ice cream under my Unique, etc, etc. Then I went over to the Cafe and had a grilled cheese and french fries. I could have eaten two of the grilled cheeses, they were so good.
I continued by trip back home on ND 21 to ND 6 to Mandan to get gas; and, then headed down to Huff to see the church. It is St. Mary’s Catholic Church built in 1941 and is made of prairie rocks. I am told there is another one in Center to the north, modeled after this one and a bit
bigger. That is a lot of rock gathering. I believe this area is all glacial area and so that would explain the reason for all the rocks that are rounded and the “mounds” of dirt” everywhere. Interesting geography.
We had 5 minutes of rain around 4:30 a.m., but understand storms were much worse north of here. I left one window open thinking it wasn’t going to rain much - Ha, foot of my bed got wet, though not as bad as several years ago down in Texas on the Rio Grande River near Langtry TX. Had 60-mph wind whipped rain that hit during the night and I couldn’t get my windows closed fast enough. There was 6” of rain that fell in something like 4 hours.
Brrrrrr, it was cold Wednesday morning when I got up at 7 a.m. - it was 42 degrees. Had my electric blanket on low during the nite and now glad I did.
PS. Interesting site I encountered at the Commissary:
Stop #8 - Mina Lake State Rec Area, west of Aberdeen SD
Made it to Aberdeen without any problems. Soon as you leave Bismarck, the land becomes flatter, if not flatter than at home. I headed south on US-281 at Jamestown (home town of Louis L’Mour); but,I first stopped for lunch and decided to try a Grizzly Restaurant. They had a nice lunch special of 1/2 french dip and a salad. Both were very good, I really like the salad of romaine lettuce, sliced red grapes, apple chunks, sweetened pecans pieces, topped with crumbled blue cheese and a raspberry vinaigrette. I had a Maui Tea because the pineapple and cranberry juice sounded like a good combination. I should have realized there was more to it than that - sitting on the barside and ordering the tea from the drink list! Da. It was so good tasting, I ordered another to finish off my lunch. Opps, got up after paying and oh la la, it was hard to walk a straight line! I made it to Aberdeen, got my medication and headed to Mina Lake. I had such a hangover by then. I don’t drink much, maybe a wine or two a month, a beer once in a while and a hard liquor drink very seldom. Here I had two.
The lake is a man made lake and surrounded 3/4ths of the way around with homes. US-12 isn’t too far away so there is highway noise; BNSF tracks aren’t too far away, so there is train noise; there is a rock crushing plant (or at least sounds like one) not too far away so there is that noise until 9 p.m. sharp (and starts again at 9 a.m. sharp); and then at 6 p.m. the tornado siren went off (for a test I suppose, cause it sure didn’t mean “get your boat off the water”) and kept going and kept going and the siren was just a 100 ft from where I stayed. It was a noisy State Park. Got a quick glance at the Campground hosts. Was glad to leave.
Stop #9 - Randall State Recreation Area on the Missouri River in southern South Dakota
Only stayed here one night, good clean park and well maintained, but vibes were wrong so left for Niobrara State Park near Niobrara Nebraska. George was here at Fort Randall too.
Today is September 11th. Let us not forget. Finish later this weekend.