Walks with Ella: Corn, Crickets and Buffalo

A resident of Prarie Dog Town in the Badlands. Ohh, Ella wanted to chase these guys.

A sign for the restaurant, a vegetarian's nightmare. We ate there once and the meat was pretty good.

People harvest the hay growing near the roadways, and we saw these round bales everywhere. And corn fields, which I opted not to photograph this time.

We did our obligatory visit to Mt Rushmore. It was startling to see how many people from around the world were at the monument - it's not an easy place to get to. But it was worth it.

The Frontier Town

An island in a sea of wheat, South Dakota.

That big black chunk is the largest of the gallstones removed from George along with his gall bladder. (I think it was implanted by aliens. ;-) The round thing to the right is a quarter. My cell phone camera wasn't the best . . .

The World's Largest Buffalo built of steel, wire, stucco and cement in 1959.

Bowers of Black Eyed Susans were along every roadway. These were near a 'buffalo jump' (a place where Natives chased buffalo to fall to their deaths) in Wyoming.

There were solitary oil derricks in fields as we drove south from ND.

We had planned to head from Sauk Center to South Dakota, the Black Hills, Badlands, and Mt. Rushmore. But we discovered that it was time for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally - camprounds, RV parks and hotels were full. So we diverted to Jamestown, North Dakota with the intention of interviewing an expert on Louis L'Amour. But things changed . . .

Dad, however was another story, but when he got up, pawed the ground and snorted, Ella hid behind me.

Ella wanted to chase the buffalo, but was oddly respectful of the young one.

This was our backyard at Patterson Lake near Dickinson, ND. The tracks are in front, and the whistle sounded, often - mostly at night.

The RV park we landed in was part of a 'Frontier Town' complex that included a restaurant, buffalo museum, and "the biggest buffalo in the world." Unfortunately, the RV park was the bastard child of that complex and lacked any sign of normal care. Still, Ella and I walked to the frontier town, and past corrals with buffalo. One morning we saw a white tail deer in the nearby fields. And we heard crickets at night. We'd been missing them.

We found ourselves spending a lot of time here. George checked in pain, ended up with gall bladder surgery and was there for three days. We were grateful to be where there was a hospital.

Flat, as far as the eye can see. The campground here at Patterson Lake near Dickinson ND was the filthiest we have seen. Rotten food on the ground, trash scattered everywhere, dog poo, flies, butts, and, to top it off, electricity that kept going out and a busy railroad track.

We saw fields of sunflowers in both of the Dakotas. I guess you don't have to go to Provence for them, but I'd like to.

We had our close encounter with Devils Tower, Wyoming

Belle Fourche (bel-FOOSH) tractor. This small city is the geographical center of the 50 states. Seth Bullock (yes "Deadwood" fans, THAT Seth Bullock) was the father of the town with his clever business ways.

Deadwood. Not at all what I expected. Mostly it is 'old timey' gambling casinos, so some things stay the same.

Salem Sue in New Salem ND is the "worlds largest holstein cow." That last 'stick' to the right on the hill ridge is a person. This is dairy country! She was built of fiberglass in 1974, and has a couple of ballads written about her.

In the Black Hills. We stopped a short while after this for a picnic. What joy to be in cool forests and hills after months of hot, flat prarie.

A grazing baby goat near it's mama in The Badlands. Ella steered clear.

The Badlands.

More Badlands

And more.

Yet more.

Clouds shadows dotted the valley while I took a photo of a formation that reminds me of the Parthenon.

George & Ella held down the fort chatting with a tribal jewlery salesman and some motorcyclists.

In spite of all the attractions, we were happy to move to another RV park for a week where things were cleaner, quieter and in good repair so George could do some mendin'. Altogether we spent two weeks in Jamestown ND, we never did get that interview. But we were happy to move on.

We parked Hardscribble in Sturgis SD and did a whirlwind tour of the area: Mt. Rushmore, Sitting Bull, Deadwood, Belle Fourche, Black Hills and The Badlands. We felt the best was definitely last. I would love to spend more time in the area.

We loved the many faces of the Badlands, and blessed those who protected it by making it a national park. It had become a bombing range during WWII. Wounded Knee is just a wee bit south of the park.

And thanks to our new friends from Kansas, who took this pic.

Crossing the Dakotas off our short list of never visited states, we headed west, to Wyoming and toward Montana.

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