June 1, 2007
I slept better and we got an earlier start than on Thursday. After another Country Kitchen breakfast, we drove west to Medora, home of the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I made my first bad music choice of the vacation, Disc One from Guilty: 30 years of Randy Newman. Newman is an acquired taste, and my wife hadn't heard more than a song or two. Plus it's too quiet and nuanced to be good road music.
I love badlands, so naturally TRNP was fantastic. The 34-mile loop drive was beautiful, even though it was overcast (I did some heavy editing to liven up today's photos). First we saw some prairie dogs.
I dragged my wife out of the car for a couple of short hikes on the Ridgeline Trail and the Buck's Hill Trail. The park was fairly soaked, but the park ranger had recommended those trails for their dryness.
We saw about ten bison along the road.
Check out the dumbass who got out of his car to take pictures (sorry he's cropped). Apparently no one told him they can run up to 35 m.p.h.! Too bad I didn't get any shots of him being gored.
A few miles further along the loop road, our drive was interrupted by half a dozen wild horses.
Then our day turned sour. One reason we went to TRNP was so my wife could go horseback riding. At Peaceful Valley Riding Stable, we learned that there were no trail rides due to the sloppy trail conditions. The owner said that the trails should be dry tomorrow morning if they got a few hours of sunshine. But we weren't planning to stay another night I had intended to drive at least a short distance into Montana today. After reminding myself that it's a vacation and we shouldn't be slaves to our itinerary, I let my wife reserve a place in the 10 AM ride with a personal check. The stable manager said how shocked everyone is that they accept out-of-state checks. I remarked that I could drive 40 miles north of home to Wisconsin and not be able to write a check, but here I was two days from home and I could.
I called the Nodak Motel and reserved another night. I figured we could make the best of our extra time by driving about an hour to the less-visited North Unit. First we went back to Medora for lunch. As we ate hamburgers, it started raining again. So much for visiting the North Unit. We browsed in a few shops, and then I drove south to collect four more counties. We listened to a fun bootleg of the Turtles at Chicagofest in 1983 and a compilation of live recordings by Lily Allen. My wife really liked Allen; she thought her British accent was cute. It rained almost the entire time, sometimes heavily. By the time we got back to Dickinson, we were certain that Saturday's ride would be canceled. We checked into the Nodak Motel again, and I ate my third Country Kitchen breakfast in 22 hours (at least I ordered different things each time).
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