well. we had one big day in the south unit of teddy roosevelt national park (plus a few evenings), and one big day in the north unit. our third day was spent entirely on running a few errands (haircuts, car wash, post office, lunch) in nearby dickinson, nd. the kiddos and doggo were thankful for a day to sleep in. also, if you’re wondering, we do have beds for each kiddo, but this is sometimes how the sleeping arrangements frequently shake out.
after our day of rest and catching up, we were back at it. this time, while derek worked, the kids and i drove out into the very middle of the desert, to a trailhead on a remote edge of the south unit, that leads to a petrified forest.
we only planned to do an out and back into the edge of the petrified forest, instead of the entire like 9 mile loop. the kids weren’t all that enthusiastic to start with, but their were humoring me. and off we went.
the trail passed through some fun rock formations as we climbed, which sort of distracted us, maybe?
and then we were at the top. the prairie. with a decision to make. which way to head on the split to go around the loop. it seemed like they were both the same distance to get to the actual petrified stuff, so we randomly choose to go right. and off we walked. through the worlds boringest prairie trail. when suddenly we encountered a posse of bison, just hanging out on the trail.
we debated going way off the trail and around them, but the lidkids unanimously voted this down. we then thought maybe we could wait them out, while they took their sweet time grazing on our trail. but when they turned towards us, we decided the best course of action was to head back. (they were way farther away than this pic indicates, because we respect wildlife). after awhile, the bison that was closest to us stopped to rub on a sign post, and we were in the clear.
it was a tough sell, but when we got back to the trail split, i talked the kids into trying the other path. (something along the lines of we drove all the way out here and it isn’t that far and you have a few days off after this and i’ll give you a bunch of ice cream and i really want to see petrified wood).
it was definitely worth it. the petrified forest area was so cool.
the kids were agreeable to climbing around and all the photo ops.
we found some huge chunks of petrified wood.
and then, since it was really super hot, and we were running low on water, we figured we should make our way back. everyone perked up at the announcement we were leaving.
until we got here. the sandy hill of death. it was so steep. even with switchbacks. and it was hot. i said that. there were tears. but we survived (barely) and the rest was prairie and downhill so all was good.
we took our time heading back, stopping to smell the cactus flowers. or at least to photograph them.
i made good on all the bribes and the kiddos have probably forgiven me for taking them on this harrowing journey. until they read this blog someday.
for our final day in the greater teddy roosevelt national park metropolis, we tied up all the loose ends. junior rangers. gift shop shopping for stickers, t-shirts, stuffed animals, books, tokens, postcards. you know.
and then we were off to medora to do all the tourist things. ice cream, arcades, gift shops, playgrounds. and the main reason we came to medora was a theodore roosevelt one man show monologue type show. it was pretty awesome and we learned a lot about the man behind this park and basically all of the parks we have enjoyed in the last few years.
theodore roosevelt turned out to be way cooler than i expected, which is often the case for me with some of the lesser known parks. maybe i’ll remember this next time. (i still hate congaree, though).