Today is the last day of our 3 day marathon run to get to what we are calling the beginning of our trip to Alaska. Once we reach Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western ND, we will officially start the trip. Everything up until now has been aimed at putting miles behind us.
After a very restful night at Cass Lake, coffee and breakfast are in order. When I was planning this trip I didn't think we would be cooking in the van. To compensate for this, I brought a Coleman 2 burner propane stove to setup and cook on. Turns out that as long as one person remains at the other end of the van and the second is manning the cooking area a harmonious balance can be achieved. By using the Fantastic Fan located conveniently over the kitchen/bathroom area offending odors can be quickly evacuated to the out of doors. I never did use the portable stove or even take it out of the storage tub riding in the cargo hitch carrier.
The roads in MN up to this point have been pretty rough. My SIL, who is a long time MN resident, assures us that the roads after Bemidji are much better. So, we head west towards North Dakota still on Hwy 2. Not much to talk about except for the ponds and lakes along the road in ND. They are quite frequent and full of water fowl. That made the trip go easier. Another thing is the agriculture in this area. Huge farms, with fields stretching to the horizon and larger than life farm implements. I play a video game called Farming Simulator 2017 and always thought the implements seemed out of scale. Well, after seeing them in real life, I realize that they are sized correctly. These things are massive! I guess they need to be when you have farms that are in the 10,000 acre range.
Our goal was to take Hwy 2 to Minot, ND and then turn south on Hwy 83 and then after a few miles turn west on 23 to Watford City and then south on 85. This will take us down to the park. This park is broken up into two units. There is a North Unit and a South Unit. Our goal today is to make it to the North Unit.
The drive goes through the huge oil patch that was found recently. There is a LOT of activity with oil and water tankers running continuously between the oil rigs and the terminals. There is also a lot of construction going on building new terminals and the oil rigs that will supply them. Lots of money being invested in this area.
Finally, we reach the North Unit of the park and we stop at the temporary building that houses the entrance area. We ask about the campground and are given directions to drive about 5 miles further into the park. Bison are found along the road. After arriving at the entrance to the campground we see a fellow sitting in front of what appears to be an unused building. He turns out to be the campground host and gives us the poop on what to do. We continue on another 1/2 mile to the campground loop, grab a pay envelope and make several laps around the campground until we find our little patch of heaven. We were surprised by the number of people who were here.
This is dry camping, no hookups at all. No showers but they do have flush toilets. We choose a pull-over type site with a small patch of trees between us and the road. The other side is a large open field. Everything is paved. No leveling needed, just pull forward and park where you want, and you are camping! We fill in our pay envelope, insert a check for $7 ($14 for you younger folks without a geezer pass) and walk over to the iron ranger to pay. The host is back at his campsite and we talk to him for awhile. He sounds like he is from Boston but claims Houston as his home. He comes up here every summer to host and get away from the sweltering Houston heat/humidity. He pulls an Airliner A frame type popup with a Subaru Outback!
So, we loop back to our spot and tend to our daily duties and some time relaxing. We can now slow down a bit and start to enjoy ourselves.