Thursday, October 11, 2001

Hello from New England, North Dakota!

Start time: 0900

Start odometer: 18114

Weather: Cloudy, 47 degrees F.

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When I saw the town of New England on my map, I was curious to see what this town was like!  This is a community with businesses to support the agricultural industry in the region.  I soon learned that this is a great town!

While the skies were cloudy this morning, the sun was trying very hard to shine through.  I started my day by having a nice conversation with Doug Ellison, the owner of the Sully Inn in Medora.  I enjoy talking with local people to get different perspectives of current events, as well as learn about the history of the area I am visiting.  Doug had some interesting pictures on display for sale, including an old picture of a man with arrows in him.  He had been killed in an Indian attack.  I learned how particular tribes would cut up parts of the body due to beliefs that it would prevent the dead from using their legs, arms, or trigger fingers in the afterlife.  He also spoke of the hanging tree in town.  This is somewhat of a myth, since this town has had three hanging trees over the past half century.  It seems when the current tree is cut down, another in town will take its place as "the hanging tree!"

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The Medora Post Office

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Boardwalk along the street in Medora

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Old hotel

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Had dinner here last night.

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De Mores, the founder of Medora.


I drove and walk around town for a bit to see the old western buildings, then went to the Roosevelt National Park South Unit Visitor Center.  This was followed by a drive into the park.  Normally, one can drive a loop road through the park.  However, due to construction, the road is only partially open.  I drove as far as I could, and took a couple of hikes along the way.  This park has a similar landscape of the northern unit, and there were also many bison along the road.  One was five feet from the car!  I finally saw a coyote in the park today, and there were many prairie dogs (hundreds!)  

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Descriptive panel about the prairie dogs.

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A posing prairie dog!  They make interesting noises when communicating.

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Bison along the side of the road.

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Very large animals...

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...With mean faces!

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Rock formation along trail.

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Little Missouri River

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Examples of erosion.

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Returning back on the road, I find more bison along the road.

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He was kind enough to let me pass!

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Coyote leaving the prairie dog field, probably with a full stomach!


Towards the end of the return drive, I parked at an area overlooking the town of Medora and vicinity.  I was able to watch a freight train with 104 cars pass by.  At the stop, I met a lady from the San Jose area who was originally from New Hampshire and had spent time in Maine.  My car license plates catch the eye of many people!

Just a few miles east of the unit is the Painted Canyon overlook of the park, which was my next destination.  I met Debbie, a seasonal Ranger I was referred to by one of the Rangers at the south unit, and learned about some of the local gravel roads heading south.  Debbie was great to speak with and was an excellent resource of information, providing me with a pamphlet describing an automobile tour of the southern section of the Little Missouri National Grassland.  This guide is exactly what I was looking for, and after walking around and viewing the incredible scenery of Painted Canyon, I headed south, back onto gravel roads.  I drove about forty miles through this area, and the countryside was spectacular!  This was the same area General Custer traveled through on the way to his demise in the Battle of Little Bighorn.  One of the sites to see on the drive was a rock where two of Custer's men carved their initials into the rocks!  (Picture below)  This area is also being pumped and drilled for oil, so equipment can be seen at times along the road.  Finally, many cows are in these fields and on the roads, which make driving interesting at times!

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View of Painted Canyon, just east of the South Unit of Roosevelt National Park.  The bluff in the distance is seventeen miles away.

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Another view of the canyon.

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Oil pump with flame to burn off poisonous gas.  The majority of these pumps give off poison gas, some more than others.

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Sticking my camera out of the sunroof, looking behind the car at the road.

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Oil rig being prepared to be put in position to drill.

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Example of the road condition on the section towards Initial Rock.

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The protective building around the rock.

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Description of the display.

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First set of initials/name.


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Second set

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The positioning of both sets.

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These were watching my every move at the site!

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Great scenery!

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Description of the burning coal vein.

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The rough landscape in the area behind the previous panel.


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A panel describing the unusual junipers.

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One of many of the columnar junipers.

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Hike to interesting rock.


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Looking back at the parking area.

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I crossed about fifty cattle guards in two days!

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Interesting ribbon of road!  Also, pickup and cattle in view.


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Saw many mule deer at one point of the drive.



Late in the afternoon I finished my drive through the Grassland and returned to paved road, finishing the day in the town of New England.  I drove around the town for a few minutes, then stopped at the New England Creamery to ask if lodging was available.  The owner knew of a place that rents rooms and called to help with arrangements.  I drove to the house and after a few minutes, met Dan and Joyce Thompson.  They own the house, called Longbranch Lodging, but live elsewhere in town.  Dan went into the basement to light the hot water heater (I am the only one here tonight,) and Joyce showed me around the place and to my room.  They are a very nice couple with a wonderful place to stay, and it is especially quiet!

The lady at the Creamery and Joyce both suggested I eat supper at the cafe in town, so I walked over to the Arrowhead Lanes Cafe.  I had the creamed baked chicken dinner for $5.75.  I also ordered the dinner salad (an extra $1.40!)  This was one of the least expensive suppers of the whole trip, and one of the best homemade style meals!  Tonight was also when the New England High School girls basketball team played a home game.  After the game, some of the parents and kids came in and had dinner and talked.  It was also league night, and the bowling alley, with six lanes, was buzzing!  As I have said on previous days, this small town atmosphere is wonderful!  It was a great feeling to experience that environment.

After dinner, I decided to go back to the Creamery to give them some business.  After ordering an ice cream cone, the owner Georgiana, along with her sister Marlene visiting from Dickinson, invited me to sit with them to talk.  Another wonderful conversation, including visits and discussions with other customers stopping by, provided for an entertaining evening!  I like this town, but then I have always liked "New England!"

Tomorrow, I head south again!  After a stop in Rapid City, I hope to head towards the Badlands.  According to the forecasts, we will be getting a touch of winter this weekend.  Not sure how that will effect my plans, but I will keep them flexible.  Thank you for visiting!!!


Routes traveled today: Medora Streets - Roosevelt Park Road - US 96 - Forest Service Road 739 - FSR 740 - FSR 762 - FSR 143 - US 85 - ND 21

Hotel: Longbranch Lodging -  

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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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