Day Six: North Dakota

It had cooled down overnight and was a very pleasant 70s.  Sadly, the wind seemed to have gotten stronger.  Sigh.

I needed diesel and some supplies, so I ran to Walmart first thing in the morning.  Oddly, it didn’t have a gas station, so I ended up at one of the truck stops where I, of course, had to use the truck plaza.  I feel like I’m getting the hang of using them and it went fine.

Back at the campground, I was hitched and moving by 11:30.  I got back on U.S. 2, but ended up driving 55-60 most of the way (speed limit of 70) as the wind was really pushing me around.  I burned through diesel like I had a hole in my tank–only got about 7.8 miles per gallon.  Not the most enjoyable drive, but I did pass through Rugby, North Dakota, the geographical center of the USA, so there’s that.  According to Wikipedia, Rugby has a population (from 2010 census) of 2,876.  And it’s the 18th largest city in North Dakota.  W.O.W.

I ended up driving the whole way without stopping, about 4.5 hours.  I’m in Fort Stevenson State Park, which is on the shores of Lake Sakakawea.  It’s near a tiny town called Garrison.  There is a huge campground, and the lake itself is large, with 480 square miles to it.  There are a lot more people here than I thought there would be, many of them double towing a camper and a boat.  It is Friday, so I suppose people are ready to get out of their homes and enjoy the summer.

It’s a really nice state park; if it were closer to Indy, I’d definitely come back.

Here’s a playground in the park.
Pano of the lake

I drove to one of the marinas and found an area off to one side that had parking and an information sign.  Curious, I drove over to it–it had a nice view of the lake–and discovered the marker gave information on the Black Tailed Prairie Dog, which the park has helped preserve.  I thought, ‘gee, it’d be nice to see one,’ then glanced to the side only to discover I was in the middle of prairie dog city!

This one started chirping an alarm as soon as I walked towards him
One of their many, many holes.
This one was still and silent until I got too close
How many prairie dogs can you count in this picture? Hint: there are 5

The lake itself is huge, from what I could see:

Lake Sakakawea.
It’s much colder here than in Grand Forks–low to mid 60s.
The lake was created by damming the Missouri River.

It’s named Fort Stevenson after a fort that was established in the mid 1800s that was located near this area (the original is now underwater thanks to the creation of the reservoir).  There’s a bunch of trails and some informational displays set up.

Replica cannon. Sign said the barrels were made in South Bend!
I thought the wagon was cool. All made of wood. Can’t imagine riding in one of these for any length of time.
When the Fort was first built in 1867, there were 30 million buffalo on the Plains. By 1889, there were 541 animals left.  These metal statues remind us of what horrors mankind is capable of inflicting–and of the hope that we make right what was wrong, as the number of buffalo on public lands is now around 30,000 and over 500,000 on private lands.

Tomorrow it’s on to Montana.  Closer and closer to my destination!

2 Replies to “Day Six: North Dakota”

  1. If you can ditch your trailer don’t miss the drive from Red Lodge to Cooke City. It’s the most spectacular mountain drive in USA. But this time of year skip Yellowstone unless you want nothing but traffic jams. And the Going-to-the-Sun highway in Glacier is another spectacular. The campgrounds on the east side (of GlacierNP) are much drier than on the west side and sometimes less crowded.

    Enjoy Montana. I was lucky enough to live there once.


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