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Lunch time scenery in Theodore Roosevelt Nat'l Park

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I’ve been hired, and start work tomorrow!

Yesterday, as we got back to the rig after our tour of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, my cell phone rang.  By the time I found my fanny pack and dug out the phone, I had missed a call from Arizona.  I figured it was just another one of those junk calls about a home security system to keep from being robbed that I’ve gotten lately.  I just ignored it.

After we had finished visiting the South Unit today, I noticed that I not only had missed another call from Arizona, but that they had left a message.  I listened to my voice mail, and here was the message:  “You have passed your drug test, and will now be a chef at the Radisson Hotel at the Phoenix Airport!”  What the heck??

“And by the way, could you report for work tomorrow at 6 a.m. ?”  Surprised smile  They also wanted me to call them back as soon as I got the message.   I planned to call them, but first I had to make up my mind about how I was going to get to Phoenix so fast.  Wise guy that he is, Kurt said he thought I got the offer because I watch so many food programs.  Smile with tongue out  I would also have to change my name to ‘Chef Leonard’.

I eventually called them back, and spoke to a young lady with a most pleasant sense of humor.  After I explained the situation to her, and that I was a little old lady in North Dakota at the moment, she jokingly said, “Does that mean you are not going to work for us?”  I told her two things.  First of all I just wasn’t sure how I was going to get there unless they sent a jet for me, and I’m a good cook, but didn’t think I qualified to be their chef even with a good drug test. Winking smile  What a hoot!  I hope Chef Leonard, whoever he is, gets the phone message.

Tomorrow is a travel day for us.   My plan is to drive around 325 miles to Columbus, Montana.  Very unusual for me to drive that far in one day, but I’m hoping to qualify for the PDD Silver Medal status…

I’m too lazy to post about today’s visit to the South Unit, but I’ll do that later.  I will leave you with a little preview, though.

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                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Theodore Roosevelt National Park–North Unit

This morning, we headed out on a 65 mile or so drive to the entrance of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park._MG_0859

Normally, my first stop would have been at the visitors center to watch any movie they had and get my Passport Book stamped.  However, the VC building has now been condemned, and you have to drive five of the fourteen miles into the park to pay or show your old fart’s pass.  We did that, and the present visitor’s center really had nothing to offer.  It’s just one little room with a ranger that gives you a map.  I did get my book stamped though.

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We took a tool around the campground, and I think I could only get my rig into one or two of the sites were I to come here.  Like many National Parks, they weren’t built to accommodate big rigs.  If you’ve read Sherry’s posts on this park, she goes into much greater detail than I will.  The cannonball concretions were amazing to me, and reminded me of huge brown chicken eggs.  One thing I didn’t like was the graffiti that was etched into one of the cannonballs…”F___ You!”  Disgusting!

Cannonball Concretions

How these cannonballs are formed and emerge out of the mountainsides through erosion is mind blowing.  What an interesting geological happening.  Sure wish Sue Malone was here with me to marvel and explain things further.

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The scenic Little Missouri River flows through the park, and we stopped at the River Bend Overlook to enjoy it.  I made it down to the overlook shelter and back up, but it made me a little sad.  Not too long ago, this would have been a piece of cake for me, but not anymore.  The ravages of time have certainly taken a toll on my hiking abilities.  Crying face

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I just don’t think pictures can do justice to the views we encountered today.  It was simply glorious.

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Kurt was really hoping to see Bison in the wild for the first time in his life, and we hit the jackpot.  Once we got up into the grasslands section of the drive, there they were. 

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We had our own little bison jam.  It’s so nice to be visiting this park in the off season.  We could really enjoy what we were seeing without being overrun with other visitors.  I’m sure we’ll see plenty of bison in Yellowstone, but this was a more intimate encounter today.

_MG_0853At mile post 14, you have one last view of the Little Missouri River before having to backtrack out of the park.  This view was the favorite of the ranger that we talked to, but I think I prefer river bend overlook to observe the beauty and ruggedness of this landscape.

Lunch time view of the Bentonite Clay

On the way back out of the park, we chose the Bentonitic Clay Overlook to have our lunch.  Bentonitic clay is the grey/blue striations in the rock layers.  We just set ourselves right down on the parking curbs and munched away with this gorgeous view.

We took US Highway 85 to and from the North Unit of the park, and I just couldn’t believe the amount of big truck traffic on this highway.  One can only wonder about the impact of all this oil business stuff on our most wild places.

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                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Enchanted Highway

We headed out from the not so great campground in Bismarck this morning and leisurely made our way to the Red Trail Campground in Medora, ND. 

IMG_8495This time we were prepared to get a picture of Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, in New Salem.  You sure could see Suzie from a long distance.  I simply took the exit ramp up and over the highway and returned to I-94.  I had a plan to enjoy some other roadside attractions more intimately. 

With our early departure, and a time zone change, we made it to Medora just before noon.  We set up, and headed back east on I-94 to take a drive down ‘The Enchanted Highway’.  What a gem of an excursion this decision turned out to be for me.

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Our first stop was at the Geese in Flight sculpture that is readily available for anyone traveling along the interstate.  Would you guess that the stone formations in front of the sculpture are really just painted panels?

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The road up to the sculpture is lined with poles with metal geese along each side reinforcing the theme.  I had originally planned to park the motorhome at this first place, unhook the toad, and drive it down the 32 miles to Regent, ND.  I’m glad I changed my mind, drove ahead to the campground, and returned by car.  Some of the pull off areas would have been a real challenge to drive a rig into and out of.

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Kurt and I voted this one as having the best view of the area.  It’s up on a hill, and the views of the surrounding farms is stunning.

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Next up was the Deer Crossing sculpture.  There are presently eight huge sculptures along the 32 mile road to Regent. 

_MG_0799 A few more miles down the road was Grasshoppers in the Field.  This stop had metal wheat heads as the border around it.  There was a man mowing the lawn around the exhibit.  I pulled over, got out, and asked him if he was the sculptor.  When I was younger, I wouldn’t of had the guts to do that, but now I do.

_MG_0802As it turned out, it was Gary Greff that had this idea 24 years ago to create something that would attract people to his home town of Regent.  What an interesting chat we had with him!  Besides the huge ‘World’s Largest Metal Sculptures’, there is also a picnic area at each stop.  He leases the land around each site, and hopes to put up at least three more, if the local farmers will see ‘the light’, and lease him some more land.

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After our chat, we continued on to view the Fisherman’s Dream sculpture.  Kurt and I voted this one the best of the bunch.  It is the most elaborate one.

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Here we are posing with the rainbow trout to give an idea of how large these sculptures really are.  I got a kick out of the fact that lots of pigeons were living inside each of these creations.  Gary has had lots of help from local farmers who are good at welding._MG_0810We continued on to the Pheasants on the Prairie exhibit.  Just before we arrived here, a large family of pheasants was along the side of the road.

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Then there was the Teddy Rides Again iron sculpture.  We really liked this one as well.  It’s a shame that Gary doesn’t have greater support, as some of the areas are really in need of help and maintenance.

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                   Just two miles before Regent, was the Tin Family.  I got a kick out of the Mom’s hair.

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Last, and really the least, was the Whirligig that was in the town of Regent.  It was kind of a let down after the other huge displays.

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We had some fun with the Tin Family thing in town, and I had a bowl of ice cream from the Enchanted Highway gift shop to help support their efforts.

It was a great day, with the highlight of meeting and getting to talk to the man that dreamed up this idea to attract people to his dying town.  He said about 8000 people a year travel the highway, and it has helped his town stay alive.  This was truly a grand ‘Roadside America’ experience.

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                                                                                THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, September 15, 2014

Here we are in Bismarck

There was only one slight glitch to our leaving Tamarac this morning.  Because of the cold weather, I had put off crawling under the rig to spray and clean the levelers.  Of course, when I went to pull them up, two of them wouldn’t come all the way up.  Luckily the sun came back this morning, and the job wasn’t too bad.  Hardest part was getting back up after crawling under each one.

We had a nice uneventful drive of 258 miles to Bismarck, ND.  Along the way we passed the world’s largest bison, and the world’s largest sandhill crane.  Couldn’t get any pictures, but tomorrow we’re planning ahead to get a picture of Salem Sue the World’s Largest Holstein Cow. 

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Shortly after 3:00, we arrived at Hillcrest Acres Campground.  This place will never get the congeniality award in my book.  What a crabby lady in the office.  I had emailed in a reservation last week because I knew the place had a lot of permanent oil/gas workers staying here.  They never acknowledged the reservation, and when we called twice along the way today no one was in the office.  We did get two voice mails that said I didn’t have a reservation, and when we got there the women was put out that we hadn’t paid a deposit ahead of time.  For Pete’s sake, we tried!  She said she had one site left with only electric…30 amp.  I took it.  We’re only staying overnight, but I probably wouldn’t stay here again. 

We had a nice dinner of smoked pork loin, sweet potatoes, and pineapple slices.  Our plans for tomorrow include arriving in Medora outside of Theodore Roosevelt Nat’l Park for three nights.  Besides Salem Sue, I’m hoping to visit some other roadside treats along the way.  Then when we get set up, I have an important phone call to make to Oregon.  More about that when I know the results.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nurse Ratchet and a Spiedie Fest

I headed off for Fargo yesterday morning to pick up my brother, Kurt, at the airport.  He flew in from Mesa, AZ, to be my traveling companion on my fall trip down to Arizona.  His plane was actually early in arriving, but I still managed to get there with time to spare.  I did notice while waiting that I was about the only one not electronically connected to something.  I guess I’m sort of a dinosaur.  I never even thought to bring my new I-pad with me.  I just people watched while I waited for his flight to arrive.

While we were in Fargo, I had to make one more stop at the Sponge candy store and the Bread Smith store.  Who knows when I’ll have a chance to pick up these favorite things again?  I also needed a loaf of crusty Italian bread for a Spiedie Fest that I was planning.

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‘Nurse Ratchet’ arrived without his Red Cross hat this time, and wore a ball cap instead.  Winking smile  This morning, I gave him the royal tour of the refuge and asked him to pose on the bridge over the Otter Tail River for the obligatory blog photo.  Coming from triple digit temperatures in AZ, he is suffering a bit (and not silently) about the cold windy weather here.

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If some of you are wondering what a Spiedie is, I’m going to tell you.  It’s a regional dish that comes from Binghamton, NY.  I lived near there for 18 years and always enjoyed Spiedies.  John and Bridget had never heard of them, so I told them I would fix some before I left.  Time was running out, so tonight was the night.

77 Tamarac NWR 201410There is a special sauce that you make, and marinade the meat in it for a couple of days.  This time I used boneless, skinless chicken thigh chunks.   Originally lamb was used, but any kind of meat can be used. It is put on skewers and grilled, and always served on a crusty slice of Italian bread.  You just put the slice of bread in your hand and wrap it around the Spiedie and pull the skewer out.  No condiments are added.  It is delicious.  (Can you see the remnants of my ‘Mohawk’ hair cut?)

_MG_0778Of course, no Spiedie dinner would be complete without salt potatoes to accompany it.  I asked Brenda to fix those.  You boil new potatoes in a ton of salty water, squish them down on your plate, and drizzle with melted ‘real’ butter.  We had to eat pretty fast as you can see we are quite bundled up and a cold wind was blowing.  Emma’s nose was working overtime, and she was a willing crumb picker for any dropped morsels.

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Recently arrived volunteers, Ward and Pat, provided fresh made Cole slaw and brownies alamode for desert.  We sure didn’t have to worry about the ice cream melting.  Good friends, good food, and rousing conversation… a great time!

Tomorrow, everything gets packed away for our departure on Monday morning.  I hope it’s a little warmer outside for that work.  I’m ready to move on, but will miss my good friends here on the refuge.

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As for Nurse Ratchet and me, we have agreed that I will do the cooking, and he will do the dishes.  Hey!  I haven’t had a dishwasher in eight years.  No more dishpan hands for me!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A parting treat for Emma

My final days here at Tamarac are winding down, and today the staff took me out for lunch at Ice Cracking Lodge.  I had to have one last Thunder Burger. 

Fall is definitely arriving in northern Minnesota with high temps today only in the 50’s and a predicted low for tonight down into the 30’s.  Brrr!  Time to move on.  I spent the chilly dreary morning restocking the kiosks one last time.  Had to run the heat in the truck rather than the AC to be comfortable.

I’ve taken down the hummingbird feeders and packed them away.  Just about all of the hummers have headed south, and if there are some that haven’t, they had better be on their way.  I do a little more packing up each day.

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As I was pulling the hummingbird feeder poles out of the ground this evening, the new intern, Morgan, asked if she could take Emma with her for a little run.  My answer, “You Betcha!”  So off they went down the hill.

I’ve felt kind of bad that I haven’t been able to give Emma the proper amount of exercise with my back problems for some time.  Emma has always been willing to go off with anyone for an adventure.  No separation anxieties in that dog! 

_MG_0756While I was waiting for their return, I saw one of this year’s fawns moving down the hill.  It’s a pretty good size, but if you look closely you can still see some spots on its coat. 

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                                              It suddenly sprung off to get back into the woods.

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                     And here’s the reason why.  Emma and Morgan were returning after a five mile run.

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      Emma picked up the scent of the deer and really would have wanted to go after it, I’m thinking.

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Morgan kept her in tow though, and Emma came back to the rig wonderfully worn out.  How nice of Morgan to give Emma this special treat.  I’ve never been a runner, and envy anyone that can just go run five miles.  Thanks Morgan.  We both appreciate it!

As you might guess, Emma is zonked out for the night.  I’m hoping to bundle up in the morning, and do my last half day of mowing here.  Arizona is calling me…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, September 8, 2014

Finally decided on five pics to enter

About a month or so ago, I posted around a dozen photos and asked for your input on which ones to choose for the Tamarac NWR Friends’ Photo Contest.  I appreciated all the comments and suggestions made by readers.  I had an awful time deciding since I could only pick five photos total, with only two in any one category.  I also had a couple of more favorites that I took since that post.

Well, with the deadline for entry being this coming Friday, I had to make a decision.  Tonight’s pics are what I ended up choosing.

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                                                 “Honest Dad, I’m not getting wet!”  (Recreation)

I went off to the CVS store in Detroit Lakes last week with a thumb drive containing my 13 possible entries.  I don’t have a printer, and I needed to submit the photos on glossy 5X7 paper.  That was a challenge in itself as half of the photos came out all rumpled up, and the cost was over $25.  After complaining, a manager came to produce the photos individually, and I wasn’t charged for the messed up ones. 

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                                                           “Hanging out at the VC.”  (Wildlife)

Then today, I also had to get the digital images onto a CD to submit, and fill out the paperwork.  After a couple of attempts, the computer finally formatted the CD and I copied the photos to it (I hoped).

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                                                         “Pelicans in the Mist”  (Scenic)

The photos are judged on the printed version, and the pelicans just ‘popped’ in print.  This afternoon, I headed into headquarters to be sure the photos were on the CD, and they were.  No problems like I encountered with my Flat Joey CD last year.  What a relief!

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                                                            “Where’s Mom?”  (Wildlife)

My decision of what pictures to choose was finally made a little easier when I realized that I could send five more pictures for next year’s contest.  So I can submit my other five favorite pics next year since all submissions must be within a two year time span.  That’s when I’ll enter the fox and the Sherry and David pics.

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                                                     “Damsels in ‘Caress’”  (Nature’s Abstracts)

Of course, I’m just one of many that are submitting photos.  Remember when Robyn and the grandgirls came to visit in July?

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Well, I know I’ll be competing against this pic that Robyn took while she was here.  The competition is stiff!  I hope we both get a ribbon. We’ll find out near the end of October how we did.  It’s fun for me no matter what the outcome is.

The plan is to head out a week from today if the winds are favorable.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this excursion to Arizona, and it brought to mind the fact that Nurse Ratchet normally eats out one or two meals a day.  I, on the other hand, only eat out about once a month.  Could be interesting.  Eye rolling smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy