I left the Cartwright house early. I had a hard time sleeping, one of the few times on the journey that has happened. So, I got up early, 5 AM, and started getting things packed up to hit the road.
A deep sadness overcame me while I was getting ready to leave. Times spent with Carolyn's parents, Ken and Ev, passed through my mind. All a part of the past, no longer something to experience now. I might never enter this house again.
As I drove out of the Twin Cities area, lines of cars driving into the city, I reveled in the cool air that had entered the region. Maybe the high humidity is behind me.
Along I-94 huge electric transmission lines are in the process of being constructed. I wondered for what reason.
Stopped for breakfast in Alexandria, MN. Also tried to find postcards and at a drugstore I found the best variety of postcards I've found on the journey so far.
Washburn, North Dakota.
On the shores of Lake Sakakawea.
I gave a reading at the Garrison Public Library in North Dakota. I wanted to read here because Carolyn's father, Ken, worked on the Garrison Dam project in the late 40s to early 50s. Carolyn's two oldest siblings were born there. This was a special place for him and about 10 years ago he and I and Grayson and Chapin took a trip out here to revisit his past.
Four people attended. As I read I kept Ken in mind and it felt special. I only wish he were still here so I could tell him that. One of the people is an organic farmer. Cattle and hay. 2,000 acres. Certainly not like the much smaller farms back home. Jim told me that the smaller farms keep being swallowed up by the big ones.
After the reading I set up camp, in the dark, at Fort Stephenson State Park on the shore of Lake Sakakawea. A waxing moon shone through thin clouds, light reflecting on wind-rippled water of the lake. I sat for a long time taking in the scene. I was the only one camping in the tenting area. It seemed appropriate.
I woke early and broke camp right away as a bit of rain was heading my way. Before leaving the area I explored and took a number of pictures of Garrison Dam. Carolyn will be putting together a small booklet of her father's life to have at the Memorial Service they'll be holding in Minneapolis in late October. One photo from the Garrison project will be included.
Garrison dam tailrace.
I've never seen water towers labeled like this.
My next reading isn't till Tuesday so I decided to head to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in the Badlands of North Dakota. On the way I passed one of the oil boom areas in the state. Wells seemed to be everywhere, and even though a weekend there were a lot of trucks on the road. Passed a few of the "man camps" used to house the oil workers. Route 8, heading toward Dickinson is under reconstruction, expanding it to four lanes, I'm sure to accommodate the heavy increase of oil industry trucks. Also a ot of white pickup trucks everywhere, the signature vehicle of the oil/natural gas companies.
I have often passed TRNP on I-94 but never stopped. I was excited to have three nights of camping in this fascinating landscape. If the few hours I had before dark are any indication of the next two days, it will be an amazing stay.
I drove out a few miles from camp on the 36 mile loop road. I then parked and hiked about 2 miles on a trail out into the hills. The trail passed right through a prairie dog town. Dozens of the animals ran, stood, disappeared into their holes and almost continually vocalized their whistles and shrieks. A very noisy town. I wondered if the calls were because of my intruding on them or if they are normally this orally animated.
I stayed out on the trail till after sunset. As the sun descended behind a ridge, peaking out occasionally from the clouds, the badlands to the east were illuminated by the low rays. The multi-colored hills, red, brown, gray, shimmered in this sudden light. Yes, this will be a good few days.
My first cactus, prickly pear. I'm in the west.
Sunset from the trail.
Morning and evening outings in theTheodore Roosevelt NP.
Mid-day more publishing and journal work on the computer at camp.
Badlands landscape. The red rocks are called "clinker" or locally, "scoria" and
have been reddened by intense heat from lignite coal burning in the ground. The lignite
can ignite from brush fires and can burn for months. This heat "bakes" the clay and
sandstone above it, much like red bricks.
Mushrooms in bison dung.
Feral horses. Have seen a number of them at different times.
Squirrel on tree at my campsite.
Looking north near sunset from the top of Buck Hill, the highest elevation in the park.
Eastern view from Buck Hill. Notice the herds of Buffalo.
Moon and juniper tree.
A wonderful day outside the whole time. Great to have a few days of
down, non-traveling time. One more full day in the park tomorrow before
heading down the road again, this time to Rapid City, SD.