Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Devils Lake & Peace Garden to NE Montana

Sat - June 19th - Tue - June 22nd
We stayed over an extra day at Devils Lake due to strong winds that were supposed to die down by the next morning. As we started to leave the casino parking lot, John commented that it looked like traffic was moving pretty slow. I said it was probably because the highway looked like it might be a little wet from the spray that the wind was washing up on the road. Oh yeah, was I right and then some!
I wasn't kidding about how high the lake is. It was actually washing the paved shoulder away and throwing huge rocks and logs up on the road.

The snow plow was going back and forth just pushing the rocks and debris back into the lake, but it was a losing battle.

And it rained several more times the next few days after this. Hwy. 2, the main highway that we were headed to from here, was underwater in places a couple days after this. There were 50 mph wind gusts and, believe it or not, just a few miles down the road we met three cross country bikers loaded down with saddle bags and one pulling a trailer.

It wasn't much better at the peace gardens. They had 21 straight days of rain earlier and it rained several more days while we were in the area. It was a wet, soggy mess with swarms of mosquitos. This is a shot of the 120 foot Peace Towers. There is a double tower on each side of the border symbolizing people from four corners of the earth coming together to form two similar nations with a common base of democracy and beliefs.

The International Peace Gardens is a 2,339 acre garden with woodland walkways and two pristine lakes. It was dedicated in 1932. The last few years they have been doing lots of maintainance work on the buildings and drainage systems and adding lots of new gardens, trees and buildings, including a new interpretive center and conservatory. It should be really nice to visit in the next year or two with all the new improvements.

There is a little marker on the photo above that marks the boundary between the towers and the countries. This photo shows two more markers and if you zoom in, you will see there is a cutout all the way through the forest right on the border between Canada and the U.S.

This Old Historic Lodge was the first building built here by the CCC in the 1930's. It has recently been completely refurbished to it's original state and it's beautiful.

This is the Ducks Unlimited Dam on the Peace Garden Lake overflowing from all the rain, and we had more rain that night. I'm starting to feel like a duck.

This is the memorial at the North American Game Warden Museum dedicated to all the game wardens who have lost their lives in the line of duty. Each state and province has a plaque on the stones with names of those who have died. The markers on the side are for others who have passed away. Inside the building, all of the animal exhibits have been confiscated from hunters who have broken hunting or customs laws, along with stories of what they did or how they were caught.

This is an 18 foot clock made of flowers.

This was a touching little garden dedicated to children.

This is one of the new additions to the gardens. They are steel girders from 911 and there will be a garden planned around them.

They have athletic camps and music camps here for kids during the summers. We went to a concert put on by the music faculty members and it was excellent.

The gardens are in the Turtle Mountains. Several towns have turtle statues in both countries, but Dunseith claims to have the W'eel Turtle. It is made out of wheel rims. Dunseith is the Gateway to the Turtle Mountains and the International Peace Gardens.

Moving on we stopped at Rugby, the Geographical Center of North America, or so they claim. I've been told the exact center is a few miles away.

We rode bike around town and saw a few interesting things. This house is next to an old church that is now a Victorian Dress Museum. It was closed for the day.

This is three houses on one block that have been joined together and they are now a funeral home.

Just down the block is the 30 foot Niewochner Bell Tower containing 15 bells in front of another funeral home. There about 4 tons of bells in the steel tower purchased from auction sales, antique shops and churches.

As we were riding around on our bikes we spotted the line of boxer shorts hanging in a front yard and more underware scattered all over the front yard. No idea what was going on. Any ideas? It made us laugh, anyway.

Rugby also has this Northern Lights Tower dedicated to the aurora borealis, a stunning natural phenomena of the northern plains. The poles are painted all different colors with metallic paints and it is lit up at night. It's probably pretty cool looking, but they didn't light it up the night we were there. They also have a huge prairie village museum and a depot museum.

On to visit old friends from college in Velva. Tim offered us a beer and said he had beer on tap. We thought he was kidding. Oh no. When the kids grew up and left home, he bought an old fridge, cut a hole in it for the tap and Wallah! The Keginator! The freezer is plum full of frosted mugs and there is even a window between the garage and the dining room, so they can pass pitchers straight thru when they are having a party.

Needless to say Tim is a very popular guy in the neighborhood and the keg runs dry about every two weeks. He occasionally gets donations from friends and neighbors to keep his little enterprize going. The Schwan's man happened to stop by when he was setting up his operation, and he even stopped back at the end of his route to have a beer and socialize a little. So if you are looking for some new friends, give it a try. The Keginator. It works.

Scandinavian Heritage Center and Visitor's Center in Minot. Definitely the nicest visitor center we've ever seen. This is the Gol Stave Church Museum donated in 2003 by a doctor in Minot to honor his parents and pioneer immigrants from the past and to create a little bit of Norway for those who can't go there.

If you can zoom in on this, there are three statues. National Amateur Ski Jumping Champion, Casper Oimoen, member of the U.S. Olympic Team in the 1930's. Sondre Norheim, Father of Modern Skiing, from Telemark, Norway. He died in McHenry County and is buried in nearby, Denbigh, ND. And Leif Eiriksson, Icelandic Explorer, to honor the Icelandic Ancestors. Here John is visiting with Hans Christian Andersen, Denmark's beloved author of more than 200
children's stories, including The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid. They are standing in front of a Danish Windmill and the display of flags from U.S., Cananda, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

This is the Dala Horse, the national symbol of Sweden.

This is the Stabur, or storehouse, sent here from Telemark, Norway. It is a replica, built by a Norwegian craftsman, of one built in 1750.

This is the Sigdal house, built in Norway in 1770. It was dismantled, shipped over here and put back together by the same person. I said the only thing I knew in Norwegian to the lady inside and she understood it. My Dad used to say it and it meant, you speak so foolish all the time. I can't imagine why he said that to me so often.

This is a view of the two bedrooms inside and the rosemaling on the doors. The family who lived here had ten children. There was a small bed in the main room for the parents. Just the 3 rooms.

Drill baby, drill! Between Minot and Williston there are many new oil wells pumping and many more being drilled. Most all of the campgrounds and motels along the way are filled up with workers. I read somewhere that there are between 8,000 and 10,000 job openings in North Dakota all the time. I'm sure the majority are in this area, the Bakken formation of the Williston Basin. We saw lots and lots of trucks of every kind, construction equipment, tankers, gravel, etc. One of the oil drilling rigs like this was just surrounded by Halliburton trucks. We didn't stick around this area long. We were afraid someone might want to give us a job. And to quote our friend from Velva, "I'm retired!"

Trivia: Williston has the only drive-in movie theater in North Dakota.

A little ways into Montana is the little town of Culbertson. This was taken in front of their visitor center and museum. They have a really awesome museum. Be sure to stop if you are ever there.

Supper with Uncle Tony in Lewistown tomorrow, and on to Helena and the grandkids for a few weeks.
No blogs for a while.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Valley City to Devils Lake, ND. 2010

Tue - June 15th - Fri - June 18th

Valley City State University, our alma mater. Valley City is known as the "City of Bridges". There are 8 bridges and there is a walking tour to see them. They have a very nice visitors center with a preserved train car inside. It was the Superintendent's Coach and is really nice. Just behind us here, is the walking bridge over the Sheyenne River to downtown.

Back in 1972 one of our friends drove his VW over the bridge. Someone else tried it in 1992, causing the bridge to be closed down for two years due to structural damage. Before it was reopened in 1994, these brick flower planters were placed on both ends to put a stop to further pranks.

This is the Veteran's Memorial on the main drag downtown. Jay's Pizza Corner is on the right with the blue awning. We went here for lunch to relive a date from long ago. The place is about three times bigger, but the "Triple P Pizza" is as delicious as I remembered it, loaded with chopped dill pickles.

The Medicine Wheel Park is on a hill on the east part of campus. It was built by the science classes on campus. The sun is at the center and boulders representing the planets are spaced from the sun on a scale with one foot equaling 3 million miles.

The first three closest planets are shown here with the earth's orbit represented as the outside of the circle. If you follow the walking path around a curve, down a valley, up a hill, down another valley and across a parking lot, you will come to pluto. Along the pathway are the rest of the planets.

The wheel's circle measures 213 feet around. 28 spokes radiating from it's center represent the number of days in the lunar cycle. Six spokes extending way beyond the wheel are aligned to the horizon positions of sunrises and sunsets on the first days of the four seasons. So it's a calendar and a clock. It's really pretty cool.

Fom the top of the walking path this is a view of the High Liner Bridge. The big building just to the right of the big center tree, is the hospital where our little "Dawnie Marie" was born.

The Valley City High School, where we did our student teaching, is known as the Hi-Liners. John and his crazy roommate walked the train trestle bridge one night when their judgement was somewhat impaired, if you know what I mean.
Although, he may not be the only one to have walked this bridge, he thinks he might be the only one, who has also run with the bulls in Spain and bungee jumped in New Zealand.

Baldhill Dam and Lake Ashtabula north of Valley City. A very nice recreation area.

Here's where we camped just on the eastern edge of Hannaford. A nice little city campground.

Sully Hills National Game Preserve Overlook at Devils Lake. We did the auto tour drive thru the preserve.

We saw this herd of about ten bison with one calf and a white tail deer. There was supposed to be elk, but we didn't see them.

There was a little prairie dog village. These little guys were so cute, standing up with their ears perked for danger.

This is the Devils Lake Vista from the preserve. It's so huge, it looks like the ocean. In March 1993 the lake area was 44,230 acres. In April 2010 it covered 177,100 acres, 208 square miles. 1n 17 years it has grown by more than six times. It has overflowed into the Sheyenne and Red Rivers at least twice in the last 4,000 years. The last time occurred less than 2,000 years ago. If it rises 7 more feet without some diversion project, it could wipe out the towns of Lisbon and Valley City. I walked down here from where we were camped at the casino. Gives some idea what's happening.
I don't know if you can tell in this picture from the casino parking lot, but the road continues all the way to the other side of the lake and there is another one that intersects with it near the horizon. The water doesn't have to come up very much further and these main roads will be under.