Teddy and Bisons

August 18, 2017

We left International Falls in the rain and didn’t see the sun until mid-way through North Dakota. By the way, there hasn’t been any falls in International Falls since dams were built on Rainy Lake. I guess it is too much trouble to go through a name change. We did encounter an interesting tourist store in the middle of Ojibway country. The place was in a large A-frame with zillions of tacky and not so tacky items for sale. We ended up with wild rice.

We left Bismarck this morning and quickly drove to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We started the 30 mile loop road and soon found ourselves in the middle of prairie dog land. Thousands were too busy to pay much attention to us and the rest of the tourists. One old bull bison was close to the road doing a dust path. He paid no attention to us. His lice were the focus. He was an obvious outcast who has been cut from the herd. I thought his closeness was great but that would soon be topped.

As we rounded a corner, we saw two bison climbing onto the road. We stopped and turned the engine off. For the next 20 minutes we were surrounded by 70 to 80 buffalo of all ages. The ambled on both sides ignoring the two people snapping pictures and trying not to attract attention. We were stuck until they got by us. Since it is rutting season love was in the air and they ignored us. I kept thinking about the potential local headlines if things went bad. They didn’t and we had a great experience.

The park is dedicated to the greatest conservationist American President. Teddy came west to recover from the tragic death of his young wife and mother. He sought a clean break from his urban upbringing. Raising cattle in North Dakota was his solution to his emotional struggles. It is here that he honed many of his conservationist views that he put into action for the rest of his life. 

His Maltese Cross cabin has been relocated near the visitor center in Medura. The small cabin was all that he needed to read and write and practice the active life. Elaborate dwellings were not a priority. This is quite a contrast to the current White House occupant who finds the People’s Hoise a dump and can’t stand the idea of Camp David. 

Teddy found acceptance in the rough and tumble cowboy culture of the late 19th Century. He saw himself as one of the locals and strove to be a good neighbor. The small town of Medura was too busy. He relocated to his ranch 40 miles up the Little Missouri River and built his Shangri La with his nearest neighbor some 10 miles away. Peggy and I endured 30 miles each way on a gravel road to reach the 3/4 mile trail to the ranch site. We were quite alone with the cabin foundation stones being the only memory that there was a cabin long ago. Teddy would like it that way. We were also the only ones there at the time. There had been a few more this week. Since I am a big fan of Teddy, the trip was worth it.

We are enjoying a quiet night in Bowman, ND near the Soith Dakota border. Big day tomorrow.

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