Sunday, September 23, 2012

Medora, North Dakota

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, southern entrance, in Medora, ND.
We arrived in the booming town of Medora, ND, population 100, which has the entrance to the south unit of  Theodore Roosevelt National Park.   Medora is a western town that does a great business in the summer time (the biggest attraction in the state of North Dakota) and while we were there they also had the  ND Petroleum Conference going on so things were popping in the small town.

Medora was named for the wife of the Marquis de Mores, who was an aristocrat from a wealthy French family.  His wife, Medora, was the daughter of a banker in New York who also was raised in wealth.  With backing from his father-in-law he moved to North Dakota and purchased 44,500 acres of land to take up ranching.  He tried to revolutionize the ranching industry by shipping refrigerated meat to Chicago by railroad thus bypassing the Chicago stockyards.  He built a meat-packing plant in the town he founded in 1883 and named for his wife.  He also built a 26-room house for his family in Medora which still stands today and is called the Chateau de Mores.

While the house was considered only a summer home for hunting by the de Mores family, it was quite the place in Medora, North Dakota.

They had many guests from New York who took a four day train ride to reach their home.

Many of the furnishings are original to the house and on display.

The kitchen where the meals were completed.  The de Mores brought their own staff from New York each time they traveled to the west. 

Privacy was a precious commodity in a house with servants so the Marquise ordered multi-colored paper in the pattern above to be applied to the glass on all interior doors.  The product was called, "Eureka Stained Glass, A Perfect Substitute for Stained Glass".  

This was the tub of the Marquis with his toilet to the left.  I still haven't figured out how that tub worked.

The Marquis bedroom.

The Marquise's bedroom was right next door.

Her commode was smaller but more elegant.

This was the main living room for the family and guests. Note the bison hanging from the wall.  Both the Marquis and his wife loved to hunt and she was considered the better shot by the locals.
An original turning book case.  The de Mores were avid readers and Teddy Roosevelt, who lived a few miles away, often  came for dinner and borrowed some of their books.

The smokestack is all that is left in Medora of the packing plant that de Mores built in 1883.

Alas, the Marquis was not the best at business and three years after he built the packing plant it was closed.  During those three years he got into several duels with the locals and eventually killed a man.  He was arrested three times, tried once and acquitted.  He and the family went back to France where he became involved in other political and risky initiatives that eventually led to a trip to Africa where he was murdered by some tribesmen. 

The Teddy Roosevelt National Park has a scenic 60-mile loop drive that we enjoyed.  The Badlands can be a very stark area.

The daytime temperature was nice but the evenings were cool.  The hardwood trees were changing colors which made the overlook of Medora from the park quite beautiful. 

Throughout the park were many 'prairie towns' inhabited by the local prairie dog.

You could see them everywhere in the park, there must have been thousands of them, and they were fat and sassy.

In the distance is the Little Missouri River.  The West has been very dry so the plants and animals are struggling.

The Captain at a Badlands overlook.

A beautiful view from near the top.

While in the park we came upon a herd of wild horses.  They were curious about us and stood their ground.

Several of the males got kind of frisky (if you know what I mean) but we deleted those pictures.

This big boy kept walking closer and closer toward us (I think he wanted the hat).  Finally, the Captain beat it to the car safely. 
Later we came across some bison.
This big boy was watching us.......

while this big boy was enjoying an afternoon snack alongside the road.
Interspersed among the bison were the ever present  prairie dogs who were smart enough to keep out from under their feet.
We stopped at the Painted Canyon inside the park to watch the sunset.

Just a few of the pictures we took............


Due to the crowds, we decided to take pictures of Medora on the way out of town.

It was only 9 AM so the streets hadn't been taken over yet.
We also left very quietly because the local mortician was up kind of early.  Must have been a bad night........I wonder if there was another duel.

And that's about it for North Dakota.  It was a stretch to keep busy for three days in this area but then, maybe that's just us.  On to South Dakota and Mount Rushmore.  Peace!




Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Leavenworth, WA, to Helena, MT

Beautiful views of the Cascade Mountain Range as we drive across Washington State.

The Columbia River by Wenatchee, WA.

There were miles and miles of pear tree fields along the river.  Eighty percent of the Washington pears are grown in this area and the state supplies over 40% of the pears to the rest of the country.  They also grow a lot of apples.

The first route across Stevens Pass was built by the Great Northern Railway in 1892.  The town of Leavenworth was named after Captain Charles Leavenworth whose company purchased the land that is the present-day downtown and laid the streets parallel to the new railroad tracks.  In 1903, two brothers from Iowa built the second largest sawmill in the state.  It became the headquarters of the Great North Railroad until the 1920's when the railroad relocated to the town of Wenatchee.  This greatly affected Leavenworth's economy and the city struggled until 1962 when the Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone) Committee was formed to transform the city into a mock Bavarian village to revitalize the community.

Our greeting as we entered town.

On the main street this young fellow was trying to find a way back into the hills.  Or maybe it was the mayor......

Throughout the town all the buildings were decorated in Bavarian style.

The downtown theatre where musicals are performed throughout the season.  Two other venues near the town also have live performances to entertain the crowds.  

It was busy while we were there but Oktoberfest is their biggest festival.  During the three week event, the downtown streets are blocked of all vehicle traffic.  
Everywhere you looked there were beautiful baskets of flowers in full bloom.

And a beer wagon........

and an "oompah" band.

Some of the establishments had misters spraying water to cool off  the tourists on the hot days.  We sure enjoyed it. 

One of the beer gardens in town where we ate brats and beer.  Yummy!

A statue in the beer garden.
Even the Subway shop had a Bavarian theme.
Leavenworth has many outdoor activities for all ages.  There are hiking trails, rock climbing, and biking everywhere.  The town is nestled below mountain ranges that offer alpine skiing and other winter sports.  There are two main rivers, the Wenatchee and the Icicle, within the town along with other smaller streams that feed into them.  Fishing and boating, along with river rafting, are also very popular in the area. 
For many years, timber logs were floated down the rivers to Leavenworth to the saw mill.  You can still see the remains of some of the logs in the rivers along the town.

The shadows in the water are a school of salmon resting during the hot day before they continue their swim up the Wenatchee to spawn.
A mountain view from one of our hikes.  The trails are very steep and difficult to climb.

On one of our hikes we saw a "no fishing" sign posted in English, Spanish, and Russian.

The rivers can become very full and turbulent when there is snow melt and there are warnings about dangerous undercurrents.

Part of one hiking trail that used an old pipeline as a bridge across the river.

These are blue elderberries that are tasty but mostly used for jams or jellies. 

Okay, after stuffing our faces in Leavenworth, and checking out all the shoppes, we finally headed east to Montana to spend some time with Brett's mom.
On the way, heading into Spokane, Washington.

Beautiful Coeur d'Alene Lake in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

Topping McDonald Pass in Montana with the valley opening below.

While in Helena we got to visit with some of Brett's aunts, uncles, and cousins which was a lot of fun and we also helped his mom, Joyce, with some projects around the house.  We had a great time but the week was a little blurred by the wildfires in Idaho and Montana that sent the smoke our way.  Helena sits in a valley between many mountain ranges and the smoke settled heavily into the area.
The 'Sleeping Giant' in the Big Belt Mountain range overlooking the valley.  The smoke was less intense earlier in the morning.

Another view of mountain ranges partly clouded by the smoke.

The sun fighting to come up through the smoke.
The sun in the afternoon from Joyce's deck.  The smoke was definitely present.
The air was heavy burning your eyes and clogging your nose.
But the neighbors took it in stride and even came to visit.
Leaving Helena, the air became clearer and we got this shot of rock formations.

A view of the Missouri River as we traveled.

Max snuggled up for the drive.

Lucy hogging the couch, as usual.
Havre, a small town in northern Montana as we drove up to Malta to see Brett's Aunt Leona.

I'm not kidding when I said northern Montana........50 miles left and we would have been in Canada.
Last, but not least, I thought I had seen every type of accessory one could buy for their auto until I spotted this one at a grocery store in Washington..........

Of course, it was driven by a young lady.  Now that is imagination.
And now its on to the Dakotas with the first stop, Medora, in the heart of the Badlands.  Peace!