Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Klaus House Goes West: Day 1, Grand Forks to Great Falls (June 8, 2013)


We (my mother, brother, and myself) were on the road around 6 A.M., and for the first hour or two it seemed like the road belonged only to us, the truck drivers, and the golden light of the rising sun. As we passed Fargo and headed west on I-94 we were gradually joined by more travelers like ourselves. 

The travel highlight of the day was stopping in the Badlands at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. As always, the Badlands are an inspiring sight. You drive across generally flat grasslands and then suddenly, without a warning, the earth opens up and the scene is dominated by jutting red rocks and stunted trees. Each layer or rock seems to be a different rosy shade, which contrasts sharply with the greenery that manages to find a foothold in the sandy soil. This trip was especially memorable because the buffalo that inhabit the park decided to come and say hello to all the visitors. My family has been visiting the Badlands for longer than I can remember, and we have never had the buffalo willingly come and graze so close to people! It was a slightly crazy but amazing moment, and one that will probably never happen to me again no matter how many more times I visit the area. :)

That dark shape sitting at the edge of the cliff in the center is a buffalo!

Family Time!
In my family the Badlands are filled with memories of happy camping trips and a reverence for the beauty held within the park. Do you remember in the Lion King when the hyenas shiver at the word "Mufasa?" Replace "Mufasa" with "Badlands" and you have our reaction in a nutshell! If there was one place I would tell everyone who passes through ND (or live there for that matter) to go, it would be Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Seriously guys, please, if you get the chance or if you have to change your schedule to make it, do yourself a favor and just go there

After the Badlands we headed through Dickinson (yes, that is its real name... but feel free to take a few seconds to snicker if you feel the need) and through to Montana 200. The road is a two lane highway with many hills, so keep your eyes peeled for the escaped sheep/cattle/antelope that has wandered onto the road. Other than that and the occasional hairy pass to get around a truck, this portion of the drive was uneventful. The terrain we went through was empty grassland dotted with cattle and the occasional beaten up looking ranch or town. 

TIP: Fill up in the last city in North Dakota before you continue into Montana, because there isn't another gas station until you hit Great Falls! 

We pulled into Great Falls around 6:00 P.M. and I am forever grateful to our family friend Sue- she had dinner cooked up and waiting for us. There are few things more lifting to ones mood than being surprised with delicious food after a long day in the car! During and after dinner there was happy chatter as we all caught up with one another, but by 8:00 P.M. we travelers were weary and soon found ourselves fast asleep in our beds. 

And Thus Ended Day 1 of the Klaus' Trip West.

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