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A shot of yet another attractive Art Deco building in Madison.


We had a lovely ride into Chicago today. We were heading for Rockford initially but some sort of glitch in Norm's GPS meant we overshot the mark. Not to worry we still saw and rode plenty of minor roads so it is officially farewell for a few months to the lovely farming country we have seen and this is a shot of a tidy family farm unit. Liked the the different sorts of barns.


And an example of a community size collective for storage.


And a more seriously commercial one.


Getting closer to Chicago we came across an attractive little town called Sycamore and this is the Dekalb County Courthouse there.


With plenty of time on our hands I managed to convince Norm I could cruise through some nice houses. This is in a relatively new subdivision called Fox Mill on the outskirts of St Charles.


And this is in St Charles in a well established area.


As is this one.


And lastly a lovely garden. Beautiful leafy and colorful mix without being too structured.

Bits and Bobs:


A shot of 4 cute butts at a rest stop this morning.


And a reminder for us that as well as looking ahead to what is coming up we also need to reflect on what has passed so we can savour the moments as they happen and once they have passed as well.

And that's it for another trip until, I get home and do a debrief of what worked / didn't, what was different to last year and other plans for next year.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Best Western Plus Inn on Park, 22 Carroll Street, Madison, WI 53703

Gracious comfortable place and room very nice but a lot of furniture which reduces space overall. Free parking and wifi. On site bar restauarant and pool. Breakfast not included but available. Staff helpful and engage well. Comfortable bed and fridge so cold water to take tomorrow. Reasonble value. Lovely area and it would be nice to have an extra day to explore. 


Tonight's Accomodation:

Hotel Baker, 100 W Main Street, Saint Charles, IL 60174

Lovely Art Deco building which looks very cool and has been beautifully maintained. Comfortable roomy suite with outlook over the river. Complimentary deluxe continental breakfast, parking and wifi. On site restaurant where we dined on the last night last year but decided on the new Mexican restaurant tonight.


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Thumbnail is a shot of a fountain in the warterfront near our hotel, the column has a statue of a great eagle on top. Beautiful.


Today we chose the road less travelled again and were rewarded with minimal traffic and winding roads rather than the opposite on both fronts as well as being rewarded by an absoloutely delightful ride. We rode through beautiful lush country alternating from intensive cropping on tablelands and narrow to broad valleys with just trees and little pockets of sweet corn or grassland and beautiful ascents or descents along limestone bluffs. What a treat. This is a sign we came across which explained the strip planting of crops we had seen. What a gutsy move by all involved many years ago and it continues today as they have seen the positive results. 


And this is a small example.


And the big old sandy Wisconsin River. No matter where we came acoss it there were large areas of sand evident.


Lunch in Fennimore saw us across the road fom the Railroad Museum and a model train ride. A universal attraction for all ages and they did good business in the time we were there.


A County building in Dodgeville as we tried to find some locals to get diretions to the Frank Lloyd Wright Building we were trying to track down.


And this is the waterfall at the entry to 'Talesin' at Spring Green and what a treat it was to visit the property. The Architect lived and worked here on the property his Maternal Grandmother's family lived on. Apparently this was a favourite picnic spot, This was a waterfall built by Frank Lloyd Wright to dam the flow of a natural spring on the property. It was a beautiful place and was no doubt of great solace to him as he rebuilt the home two times after it was burnt down, the first time when his second wife died in the fire, so we saw a combination of the original farming buildings used for the Apprentices and Fellows in his Architectural School to live in, his Studio and his own home. We got there just in time to go on a 2 hour tour of the home and property but that meant we got in much later tonight than we intended.


And a shot of what was once part of the dairy and is now apartments for some of those doing an Architectural Fellwoship here.


And a shot from the garden towards what is known as the Garden Room which used to be an outside open area until Samuel Guggnheim was coming to talk about Frank Lloyd Wright building a Museum for him and Wright thought it was desireable to have it built in and set his Apprentices the task to do it in a very short space of time.


And a view from the garden across the property which was just lovely. I took heaps of photos but outside only as no photos are allowed indoors even so I just love the look.


When we did get into Madison tonight we discovered our hotel right on the park which surrounds the Wisconsin State Capitol Building and here it is.

Bits and Bobs:


A truly profound sign we saw as we headed out of La crosse this morning. Norm was about to head out onto the road to take it full on when a police car pulled up so he thought .... perhaps not.


And a more friendly sign we came across in Viroqua where we had a coffee and found some beautiful homes as well.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Courtyard Marriott La Crosse, 500 Front Street, La Crosse, WI 54601

Lovely comfortable room and hotel. We have had great beds all the time we have been here with one exception but this was the best for me. Ahhh. Staff very welcoming and facilities designed for relaxing guests. On site pool, bar and bistro. Comfortable patio overlooking the Mississippi River complete with gas fire pit. Included parking and wifi. Spacious comfortable room and good value overall.


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Thumbnail is a shot of a City building in Minneapolis, one of many which we love which surprises us as we are not city people. By the way, the hotel staff told me today it isn't a power station next door but a steam distribution point from the steam generated out of town by the rubbish furnaces.

Today's ride has been just lovely. Norm plotted a course so we could have more country road riding than interstates and it has been a delight and a huge bonus is that the traffic, once we lost an hour in stop start traffic on road works getting out of Minneapolis, has been minimal so a treat. The countryside has been gently undulating to small hills and bluff areas and heaps of farmland, mainly cropping with some dairy along the way, and not dairy as we know it but in barns and the fragrance of all that concentrated excreta is NOT fragrant. That aside, most of the activity is on the flat to undulating land and for the most part the hills have been smothered in luxuriant forest growth somewhat reminiscent of the forest areas we rode through last year in the east of the state though the colours are many shades of green rather than being clothed in a fall mantle of orange red and gold though we did find one plant along the side of the road today which was totally confused as to the season and was a brilliant combination of fall colours.


Soon after we left we came to St Croix and this was a quirky railway bridge we found crossing the river. We didn't find Ellsworh Falls which were supposedly close to here , not sure how we missed them.


Then into Ellsworth For a coffee and this is the Pierce County Courthouse, one of the most significant buildings in town as they often are.


One of the things we enjoyed about the ride today was that there was pretty intensive farming in small holdings with lots of communities small and large along the way and that is close to an absolute opposite of the land and communities we experienced as we followed the Oregon Trail heading west, even where water was plentiful on the Trail the terrain lent itself to large broad acre holdings so communities were sparse on the ground. This is an example of a tidy little farm, one of many we saw on our travels.


And this is an example of a community hub ahead.


We called in to see Crystal Lake but most of it was covered in a green growth of some sort and not so crystal clear so we proceeded on to Black River Falls, but the only remains of the falls we could find were beside the dam wall to hold the Black River back. Ah well.


Ths is a shot of another significant courthouse the Jackson County Courthouse in Black River Falls. This was only about a third of the building and the Police / Sheriff offices were beside it and extended at least half the distance again on from that so substantial.


And a street scape shot again in Black River Falls. This was a substantial and well maintained town.


And here we are in La Crosse and this is a shot of the waterfront on the mighty Mississippi River.


And another courthouse, this time the Courthouse and Law Enforcement Building, a more recent build than those already shown today.


And the Weber Centre for the Performing Arts which is next door to our hotel on the banks of the Mississippi.


And this is the bridge across the river literally next to our hotel.


And a shot under one side of the bridge at the edge of the car park. 

Bits and Bobs:


The little town of Black River Falls, apart from having many Art Deco buildings, had lots of murals and dedications to their history both significant historically and to the regular population. This is one example of the latter.


And this was a bike stand near our hotel tonight in La Crosse which looks great.

Last 2 Night's Accommodation:

Best Western Normandy Inn & Suites, 405 South 8th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55404

A nice welcoming hotel with multiple options of places to sit and relax, comfortable space in our room and bed lovely. Restaurant and bar on site but many options close by as well. Included parking and wifi.. On site guest laundry, gym and swimming pool. A handy spot to the downtown and good value.


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Thumbnail is a night shot of some of the skyline visible from near our hotel. The Foshey Tower on the left was once the tallest building in Minneapolis .... a long time ago I'm thinking.


Heading out this morning feeling fresh and enthusiastic. A shot with an interesting mix of buildings on our way to breakfast at the 'HenHouse Eatery' which was delicious after a big sleep in. We ultimately nearly walked our legs off today, so much for having a quiet day but we decided we like Minneapolis. It sort of has a Chicago feel about it in that there are lots of different architectural styles in buildings without really detracting from their neighbours. There were many low rise Art Deco examples again around 3 - 4 storey only but also much higher with beautiful brickwork and lots of much newer interesting shapes and styles which works well together.


And a street sculpture after we turned into the walking Mall with foot traffic only except for buses and emergency service vehicles. Lots of eating options here as well as the majority of retail options and also connected overhead by walkways to many shopping malls in the 1st storey of office buildings.


Great efforts have been made to incorporate lovely leafy areas around hotels and residential apartment areas. Loved it. This is one near the Hyatt Hotel and many apartments on our trek to the Loring Park and Sculpture Park.


And I found this squirrel which was so still I thought it was a cute sculpture in the park until I saw the fluffy tail and it managed to stay still long enough for me to fish out the camera. Yay.


There were many areas for sports activities on our way to the Sculpture Park as well as some pretty gardens and this is a shot across some gardens to the bridge across some water.


And the apparently world famous Spoon and Cherry Sculpture which we hadn't heard of until last night.


Heading back to the city area we came across this lovely fountain where we sat to cool off and enjoyed seeing the local children cooling off in the water.


A nifty address (1221) and a quirky view of the building and it's neighbours.


Another interesting street scape.The building with the big veranda looking extension is the new Public Library.


The ancient Stone Arch Bridge.


And a shot of St Anthony Falls, dam and lock to the left hand side. Quite a level drop in the lock.


And a shot of the Guthrie Theatre from the rear but I just didn't have it in me to find the front.


This area was known as the Mills Area where flour was milled for many years and these ruins at the front are pretty much all that is left and the buildings behind are now apartments. Looks good.


And last but not least, figured you wouldn't believe us if we told you there was a power station next door to our hotel in the middle of Minneapolis so here is a shot to prove it. Hotel left hand side, power station on the right.

Bits and Bobs:

We were having a coffee in a Caribou Coffee shop today and amongst a lot , of other guff we read we came across some words which pretty much describe Norm and I and how we seem to have the capacity to egg each other on and have come up with what we think describes us ...... " When What if runs away hand in hand with Why not". Ha ha, be interested to see if our kids agree with that statement!


All but one we saw were on the leash.


A cute idea in the middle of a predominantly residential apartment area.


And a temporary fix ... I hope.

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Thumbnail is a shot of the Indoor Pool complex at Craguns Hotel and Resort and yes that is carpet. The bar and cafe tables are behind me as I took the shot. Incredible and as I said somewhere yesterday this is a great spot for families to relax and have fun but also for water sports and golfers. Sharen and Ken should have been with us because we got 2 complimentary walk the course golf games and since we don't play they could have had 2 each on a choice of courses while we went to the State Park and got eaten by mosquitos. Cragun's are very excited about their courses and tell us they have all been designed by very important people in the golfing world and from the untrained eye (mine) they all look impeccably well groomed and very attractive.


We decided to head north around some lakes today before we headed south to Minneapolis to do more riding on smaller roads and less on Interstate grade roads and it was an enjoyable ride through lush forest and farming land intersected by lakes large and small. We stopped for a photo opportunity on the shores of Serpent Lake at Crosby and discovered a very impressive Serpent beside it and considering it was between the lake and a caravan park and across a car park from a very impressive playground I wish them well with their 'Please don't climb on the serpent' sign.


Next stop was Deerwood and of course there had to be a Deer there.


Then onto Aitkin which had some lovely little quaint shops and this is their Rialto Theatre again with a neon sign.


And the brickwork on this building is what caught my eye as we rode along the main street which made me turn up the street. Don't know if I like it or not but it does catch the eye.


And an excuse for a break and a stretch and to get off the bikes at a Scenic Overlook of a lake .... but they didn't tell us which one.


A bit after lunch I got the nods really badly so we stopped to catch 40 winks under an interstate overpass and given the size of some of the ants we have seen the bike was the safest place to settle in on. Whoever woke up last was always going to be snapped, I was just relived it wasn't me. Apparently I stood on something dry in the grass as I was about to snap Norm and disturbed him hence the embarrassed grin on his face.

From there before we knew it we were in the suburbs of Minneapolis and rushing headlong with half the world for the CBD area, it was a relief to finally get onto a ramp which descended in between towering buildings and onto a city street. We didn't have far to go to get to our hotel and we will be here for 2 days so I'm doing the blog while my washing washes and dries and am thankful it is the first hotel laundry which is a comfortable cool temperature. We will do some exploring tomorrow.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Craguns Hotel and Resort, 11000 Craguns Drive, Brainerd MN 56401

A really intrigueing spot to visit. Comfortable space to sleep and relax in our suite with fridge and microwave so capacity to be partly self sufficient. Arm chairs to relax and a gas log fireplace and balcony. Also outside fire pits for the outdoors types and many sporting possibilities with boating, beach volleyball, lake swimming pool as well as the largest indoor pool we have ever seen complete with bar and cafe and carpeted area as well as balcony views from some rooms. Multiple eating options from dining room, bar and restaurant. Included parking and wifi which works well. Great spot for families with multiple accommodation options including lodge suites and self contained cabins. Not bad value given all the entertainment options on the doorstep.


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Thumbnail is a shot of a great neon sign on the picture theatre in Fargo.This is one of many such signs in Broadway. Really enjoyed seeing them.


And a shot of St Mary's Cathedral on our way out of Fargo on Broadway which I took Norm on to see all the cute flower baskets, neon signs and Art Deco buildings.


Where yesterday's geography was undulating plains with intensive broad acre agriculture disappearing off into the distance to low lying ranges. Today we have ventured into Minnesota the State of 10,000 Lakes, or so their vehicle registration plates say and I could believe it. We seemed to climb up onto tableland which is incredibly green and lush with lakes from tiny to huge and every size in between scattered randomly across the land and as a result there is much less intensive broad acre farming but still a lot of farming and the trees aren't just growing along the waterways. Quite lovely really. This was our first stop out of town in a place called Detroit Lakes so I guess the lake is called Detroit Lake but who knows?  By the way, the black line on the top left hand side of the screen is a stick hanging on a spiders web.


Next stop for lunch was a quirky little town called New York Mills where we had lunch at a Subway store situated in a tin shed! Looked the same as any other Subway inside thankfully. This is a shot of some of the main street, very cute.


And a little out of town when we were making sure the few bits of compilations of old farm machinery really was the Sculpture park we found this sorry sight, a poor old barn has finally succumbed to lack of maintenance neglect and time. Going on the condition of the little house next to it I suspect the smaller one will suffer the same fate. Norm said sometimes at the end of the day he feels like the barn looks ... can't be pleasant.


After we booked into our accommodation on Gull Lake we headed off to visit the Crow Wing State Park which was a nice spot for a picnic or camping or fishing so long as you can keep the mosquito repellent handy. There used to be a town here called Crow Wing and was the site of a great Indian battle between the Dakota and Ojibwe in 1768 to gain possession as it was a prolific fishing and hunting area situated on the Mississippi River where the Crow Wing River merges with it around the Crow Wing Island. Ultimately fur traders set up here and a thriving industry with timber and trade and Ox-wagon crossings developed however when the railroad eventually got here they decided to cross the Mississippi at Brainerd which ultimately led to the demise of Crow Wing. This is a shot of the Mississippi and while it might not exactly be 'mighty' yet it was running strongly and clearly had fish in it which were jumping. Glad the mosquitos are a bonus to some. The park reflected a lot of what we had seen on the way today and I'll sum it up by saying "Uhm thinkin there's a lot'a huntin an fishin done in these hiya parts".


As we were heading back to Gull Lake we took a shot of this Art Deco inspired hotel in Brainerd and this was one of many buildings of this era.


And another of the water towers in Brainerd.


And a shot across Gull Lake from our accommodation. This is a huge resort which is used summer and winter and caters well for families and sports enthusiasts. They have accomodation for 1,000 people and their best season is summer but they also have snow boarders and ice fishers here in the winter with 2 feet of ice on the lake in winter!!!

Bits and Bobs:

A Travel tip learn't by sheer frustration for all those who have wrestled with feather pillows which seem to flaten the instant your head settles in them and when you put one on top of the other they just manage to wrap themselves about your face in an attempt to smother you. Norm having come across this problem on several ocassions stumbled on a soloution some days ago when in frustration he shoved a second pillow into a pillowcase with another pillow and lo and behold, it was solid enough for him to enjoy a good nights sleep!


And this shot shows you how the City of Fargo keep their flower baskets looking good.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Radisson Hotel Fargo, 201 Fifth Street North Fargo, ND 5812

A lovely hotel, comfortable room and bathroom, furnishings well proportioned, undercover parking available for $3.00, Included wifi which worked well, on-site bar, lounge, business centre, day spa and restaurant. Lovely comfortable spaces to relax in and Staff very helpful. Breakfast not included but a reasonable cost. Definitely the quality we have come to expect with the brand. Very good value.


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Thumbnail is a shot of a Church we took as we went for a stroll after our dinner in Bismarck last night. We were amazed at the acres and acres of empty car parking spaces around University Hospitals and all sorts of Medical suites. After sleeping in this morning they were all full. We also spotted an Oil Refinery on the outskirts of town coming in last night so we know where a lot of the oil is going, and lots of oil tanker trains today.


After the glut on mountains we have had we expected flat featureless plains today but enjoyed the rolling plains we experienced with lush agriculture and land disappearing in patches to low ranges in the distance. Clearly the access to water varied as did the crops and it made for an interesting view as we passed. Again, the development is fast and furious. We were on an Interstate Highway all day but most of the towns / localities which now have access on and off the Interstate are new and many of the access roads lead to dirt tracks so a promise of access and development to come I guess. Early in our trip this is a shot of a Veterans Memorial Garden behind the Kidder County Courthouse in Steele ND.


And I took a shot as we headed into Medina to give an idea of the rolling terrain but in a 2 dimensional view it looks ridiculous so instead this is a shot of the very cute Water Tower with Silos on the rail line behind.


We lunched in Jamestown, the largest town since we left Bismarck and this is St James Church.


And a shot of a house to give you a taste of the quality of the town. The towns / villages / localities up until here have been pretty much all transportable buildings or close to it.


Not far out of Jamestown we saw this massive Silo Complex again on the rail line across paddocks. We saw many of these both smaller and larger today.


Next stop was Valley City, the self proclaimed 'City of Bridges' and this is one from the town area across to the Valley City State University (VCSU) a Teacher's University.


And a shot from the other side toward the University which was nicely laid out.


And a streetscape in Fargo.


And a shot in a residential street just one behind the commercial stuff and yes she asked me what I was doing but was happy I was just clicking away on holidays.

Bits and Bobs:


This is a shot of two long legged birds, one the 'World's Largest Sandhill Crane' in Steele ND and one little old me.....not surprised this is the largest known sandhill crane.


And as we negotiated the detour and unmade road in all the confusion as we made our way back to I-94 this is a shot Norm got of a very 'Oversize Load'. They were trucks with a tank each we got stuck behind in the rain yesterday which had pulled onto the road from a muddy yard and in the course of their travel washed the underside of their vehicles clean from all the downpour we had which was sheeting across the road. When I got off my bike for our first stop once we passed them I had a collection of mud and gravel on the seat between my legs. Cannot believe local municipalities allow this and every road coming in had mud stripes coming in .... mind you, it looks like the development in this area (related to oil) is barely keeping up to demand.

A shot of the 

Last Night's Accommodation:

Radisson Hotel Bismarck, 605 East Broadway Avenue, Bismarck ND 58501

Comfortable hotel but room appears unnecessarily small with 2 beds and a large armchair jammed in the space. Tiny but practical bathroom. Generous amenities but no refrigerator. Restaurant on site which was good for dinner and just as well as we walked for blocks afterwards and all we found were hospital and related medical buildings, car parks and some residential buildings. Nice furnishings but the laundry service they are using is letting them down. Table linen in the restaurant is just washed and folded and looks awful and the bed linen is not any better, a bit surprising overall given our experience with the brand in other times and this and other countries.


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Thumbnail is a shot of a cliff face as we headed into the North Unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Many things the same as the South Unit and many different. Probably if I could only visit one I would pick this one as the road climbs up through the clay canyons onto the tableland above and I enjoyed that sight as well as down into the canyons and across the Little Missouri River.


We headed off in pouring rain which just got heavier but we were hopeful since the worst of the weather was supposed to be heading east from where we started and we were heading north and then east and ultimately we came out of the rain albeit covered in mud from all the trucks coming onto the road off the dirt. What a mess, I felt sorry for Norm because he cleaned both the bikes up last night and now they look dreadful, but once we were out of the rain we remained dry and comfortable for the rest of the day. Yay. This is a shot in the North Unit overlooking a bend in the Little Missouri River.


And a view from the Ox Bow Lookout at the end of the trail in the park.


And another example of some hoodoos which won't last for many more rain showers I suspect. The grey coloured clay becomes liquid when it is exposed to water so literally runs off as sediment.


Norm beside a concretion to give you an example of the size.


And some more examples on the edge of a clay canyon.


From here we headed for Waterford City for lunch and oh my goodness, talk about boom town city. Some distance out we became aware there was some massive construction happening with tip trucks and building materials of all description and practically no cars but huge numbers of what the Americans call trucks as in huge utes. We had seen a few oil donkeys in paddocks before we got in and assumed that the activity was oil related and were later proven correct. As we started to get toward the outskirts we came across some hastily developing suburbs and stop start traffic waiting for a traffic light change. We ended up driving up the emergency stop lane for several hundred metres to turn into a lunch spot. After lunch we fueled up and headed east and for some 200 plus Kms through rolling farmland full of cattle and hay bales we weren't out of sight of oil donkeys, storage tanks, larger oil derricks, flares or pipeline construction work and as for trucks! We saw hundreds sitting in yards, hundreds loading up at storage tanks or waiting to load and oil trucks in all directions on the road. It was good to get to Halladay and head south and basically left the majority of the oil activity and traffic behind. This is a shot of a facility with donkeys, flare and storage tanks before we got to Halladay.


And this is an actual oil rig / derrick under construction. There were working ones each side of it.


We saw a sign to the Knife River Indian Village and headed to have a look. When we were at the Great Falls Lewis and Clark Interpretive Centre we had heard of the Villages as they had spent a winter with the Mandan and Hidatsa people and ultimately taken on a French-Canadian fur trader as a translator with his wife Sakakawea (a Shoshone) and she especially had been integral to managing negotiations with tribes in the trip. Lewis and Clark had been staggered by the large numbers of people in the villages and while the circular timber and earth huts are no longer present the base of them in two villages are still present along the river and this was an example at the Historic site we visited where we enjoyed a DVD depicting the life of a woman who grew up in the village.


From here we continued on to Cross Ranch State Park and negotiated a crappy gravel road to get in to discover it was a great place for camping and fishing but that was about all and considering it was already 6pm we decided it wasn't for us and headed for Bismarck. Norm stopped to get a shot of the road and this is me coming back up out of the park.

Bits and Bobs:


A shot of the massive umbrellas outside the Chuck Wagon where we had breakfast the last two mornings.


And a cute seat across the street from there in front of the Pizza Bar and Saloon and you can get a view of the other side of the street in the window reflection. We had dinner last night at the Rough Riders Hotel in the background and it was delicious..


A couple of stickers on the side of a truck at Halladay. 

Last 2 Night's Accommodation:

Badlands Motel, 501 Pacific Avenue, Medora, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND

Motel itself reminiscent of the one in Jackson but clean and well maintained and in a lot better overall condition. Re-furbished room in refurbished wing. Nicely done, comfortable space with room to sit and move around. Stand alone shower. Included parking and wifi which works. No refrigerator restaurant or breakfast but literally within short walking distance to lots of options. Given the remoteness of the location good value.


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Thumbnail is a shot of the log cabin Theodore Roosevelt lived in when he came back to the North Dakota Badlands to mourn the loss of his wife and daughter in childbirth and of his mother from Typhoid in the same house on the same day in New York. He ultimately became a rancher in this rugged area he loved and credits his time here with his desire to develop a conservation consciousness within the population of the USA and was ultimately responsible for establishing the National Forest Service and ensuring one tenth of the country being made National Parks Forest and Grassland. Quite a legacy.


We woke to hear a second storey shower fairly drumming.......hang on the motel is single story and that water was fairly thundering down. DOH. So much for clear skies for the next few days. Not to worry, it was still raining when we went for breakfast and headed for the National Park Visitor Centre. This is a street shot in Medora across the street from where we had breakfast. The whole town is built in the old west style.


Just before we got into the National Park area yesterday we had travelled through National Plains Grassland right up until the base of the country we are in now known as the North Dakota Badlands. An interesting geology story exists for why they are as they are but I won't go into that here. This is a colourful cliff face of multi-colour clay. The area is changing with every rain shower and snow thaw as the fine clays wash down the hillsides as we saw in many spots on the roadside today.


An example of the clay washing away and stronger layers of sandstone remaining forming verandas over the receding clay.


This process eventually leaves precarious structures referred to as Hoodoos and this is a distant shot of one, sorry it is a bit fuzzy.


And an example of concretions..


And the great sights just kept changing and developing. Too many photo opportunities will never be enough!


And a shot out over the Badlands from a scenic look over.


And climbing up the Wind Canyon.


And some resident Bison. I was happy to see the one near the road lie down as it had been digging up dirt with one of its front legs before that and I wasn't confident I could do a U turn before he got to me.


And some wild horses. Both were feeding on the native grass and the wildflower with a fine golden yellow flower with a fragrance reminiscent of wattle. There was also sagebrush present (grey green bush) and combined the soft fragrances were sublime on the damp morning air.


Back to Medora for lunch and here is the Billings County Courthouse again styled in the western style.


And finally we headed for the Painted Canyon lookout and realised we had already seen some great examples of the red painted look but this was with good perspective. The colour comes from coal seams catching fire after a lightening strike and the heat baking the clay above it. This makes for some interesting shapes as the buttes disintergrate and we should see some good examples of that tomorrow when we check out the North Unit of the Park as we head off for our next destination.


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Thumbnail is a marker marking where Lt. Colonel George Custer fell at the Battle of Little Bighorn June 25th 1876.


A shot literally from our hotel window this morning of part of the Boothill Cemetery. About time they cut the grass around the cross's.


We found our visit to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument a very moving experience with walking paths throughout the battlefield and markers where all the men fell including the Indian Warriors. This is where the last 40 Cavalry men fell including Custer on what is known as Last Stand Hill. This is where they gathered and shot their horses to shelter behind to shoot until their ammunition was exhausted and where they were overrun by 1,500 to 2,000 braves. You do have to wonder just what Custer thought he could achieve. The remains of the soldiers, scouts and civilians who died in the battle are buried at the top of the hill under a granite monument other than those removed and taken elsewhere. The Indian dead were removed by their people and placed in tipis and on scaffolds and hillsides. The view is down the hill to the Visitor Centre and what is now a National Military Cemetery. 


And a shot of part of the Indian Memorial which was built in 2003 and is really tastefully done. I feel great sorrow for the plains Indian people, their lifestyle had already been destroyed at that point with the rapid demise of the Bison which their survival depended on and the actions of the government officials was one of lies and treachery. Having said that, even had they not been hounded onto reservations then their lives couldn't have been the same as they were facing starvation. A tragedy all round, the soldiers were following orders and the indians were doing what they had to do to defend their people and lifestyle. No winners in a personal sense. The Indians were a strong civilisation with great spirituality and there was great arrogance on the part of the white man. The Indians desire for real peace expressed in so much of the Monument sight is generous and enabling.


And a shot of part of the National Military Cemetery.


We called into Hysham to fuel up and there were supposed to be sculptures in the town but the only ones we could find was a bear at the servo and some at the Yucca Theatre. A big number of buildings were built in this style.


The ride today was long but where yesterday we enjoyed the early morning fragrances of the forest today it was the sweet fragrance of recently baled hay which reminded us of our childhood so a good start to the day again and we rode through huge areas of grass plains and farmland surrounded by stony ridges. There were countless rolling hills and fields in tiers which seemed to rise in steps until they met surrounding stony ridges. Even when the plains were huge the same step process seemed to be in place so our view went back and forth from close views of rocky mountain ridges to really distant ones. This is a close view from the side of the road.


We had lunch in Miles City and this is their 'Natural Oasis' or so the sign said complete with lifegaurds.


The City looked in good shape with some very substantial buildings including many Art Deco ones and other older brick buildings. This is a shot in the main street.


Geetting later in the day and a bit weary we stopped in Wibaux for a cold coke and looked across the street at what we thought were a couple of bars and headed into the Rainbow bar. It was an experience and before we left another 4 bikers arrived so we enjoyed a bit of good fun banter before we headed out and found the bikes surrounded.


As we headed for the Theodore Roosevelt National Park we started to come across even more rugged and beautiful outcrops. We had seen some in the distance earlier which looked like the painted Desert we have seen photos of and this was the first chance to stop and take a shot.

Bits and Bobs:

Interesting to find that burnt diesel here smells more like jet fuel than diesel at home. Love it.


A sign we obeyed at the Little Bighorn site this morning!


And a sign I spotted at the Rainbow Bar. Loved it.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Boothill Inn and Suites, 242 E Airport Road, Billings MT 59105

Good sized comfortable room. Included breakfast, parking and wifi that actually works.Yay. Helpful staff, comfortable lounge in foyer and comlimentary tea, coffee and juice throughout the day as well as cookies on check in and at supper which I forgot to grab. Also complimentary shuttle bus to and from town (which is a bit of a hike) but we walked a short distance to dinner. Gym and swimming pool on site. Good value for money.


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Thumbnail is a shot of what we have seen hundreds and hundreds of and let me tell you they don't hold anyone up, just about the only vehicles which travel faster are the yellow school buses!


We had decided to head for the #89 highway again so we could travel through the Lewis and Clark National Forest which was a real treat. We had a big day ahead of us as my bike was booked in at a shop in Billings to get a rear tyre fitted at 2pm so we headed off just after 7am and as it turned out that was a good thing because it got into the high 90's this afternoon. But, to our ride south on 89 to Interstate 191. It was an absolute treat and once we headed down 89 we started to climb through the Belt Creek / River Canyon (cannot remember if it was a creek or river) but later we saw a sign to the Big Belt Mountain Range. Not sure which direction as we were surrounded by mountains all round. In any case this was near the beginning of the canyon.


We came across a big number of deer still grazing near the edge of the road...and enjoying the warmth of the tarmac which was both a treat and a bit un-settling. We fuelled up last night but unsure what services we would come across we fuelled up again in White Sulphur Springs and had a hot drink because we were pretty chilled at this point. This shot is a bit after we climbed out of the town and a look back to the hills we had come through.


The ride through the National Forest was just beautiful. Mountains, conifers /pine trees, galloping water beside the road, great ascents and descents with awesome views and grassy plains at each end of the forest. Also, we came across what is left of a town which was the biggest producer of silver ore in the country in the late 1800's to early 1900's. I was amazed how far this extended. We could see on our GPS that there was an area of private ownership within the national park and this is the township of Neihart. A shot from an information rotunda.


Another shot of surrounding mountains.


And here we are about to turn onto the Interstate 191.


And a reminder that many many centuries ago this valley was cut out by the river wandering downwards from here. 


And into Billings and we dropped our luggage off at the hotel and headed for the bike shop. From here we headed into town for a bit of a look around before the bike was ready. This lovely Art Deco building is one of many of the era in the town. This was the Montana Power Company Building (and still may be, don't know) but the ground floor at least is now the Montana Brewing Company and a very nice bar and restaurant where we had some nachos. It was nice to sit without moving for a bit.


Billings is literally jammed in between canyon walls each side and this is a shot of one of the canyon walls from the back of Norm's bike as we returned to collect my bike.


And a shot at the town's original Boothill Cemetery literally a short walk up the hill from our accommodation. The Cemetery was named because many of its occupants went to their deaths with their boots on! This cemetery was the burying ground for Coulson, Montana, existing from 1877 to 1885, on the edge of what was to be Billings. The most famous person buried here is H.M. (Muggins) Taylor, a scout who took news of the Battle of the Little Bighorn between George A.Custer and the Sioux and Cheyenne Nations on June 25th, 1876, from the battle area to Bozeman. By the way that isn't fireworks in the distance but lights on a heap of radio towers.

Bits and Bobs:


And this is why they call these vehicles trucks!


And an interesting load Norm spotted in a rest stop.

Last Night's Accommodation:

Best Western Plus Heritage Inn, 1700 Fox Farm Road, Great Falls M 59404

Nice comfortable room and bed, pleased we beat the rain in. Surprised at the size of the town and the hotel. Included breakfast, parking and wifi (proving to be pathetic at this point, OK for email and nothing else...come on people!) nice restaurant on site as well as pool and gym and bar (with live guitarist ...very good) as well as attached to a casino....what more could a traveller want for????

I somehow managed to delete the photo Norm took so I will eventually grab a shot from the hotel website...but not tonight!

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