Last week I took a train to North Dakota for an adventure in the Theodore Roosevelt Nation Park before winter takes hold. The trip was a great success. However, last night some very strange folks came knocking at my door as they tend to do every year about this time. The Gilchrists, a friend of Bridger’s , and Taylor’s gang graced my living quarters with a frightening presence as you see in the photo above.
One day I decided to go hiking in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. I contact my sister Deb and her husband Rex asking if they would be up for meeting me in Williston, ND for a few days adventure in the Badlands.They were up for it so I hopped on Amtrak, which arrived three hours late, and away I went. Thank you to Dennis Lindseth for taking me to the train and patiently waiting out the three hours; not an easy task. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is very beautiful and worth visiting. Due to damaged roads we weren’t able to get to all my favorite places but we explored new places I had not been to before and we were treated with areas of recent light snow fall.
THE RIDE :
Since the train got off to a three hour late start and we were not in sink with the regular schedule of train traffic we had to pull over for every freight train along the way. In the end we arrived at our destination 7 hours late. Be that as it may, I didn’t mind as I Deb and Rex were comfortable in a motel and the train ride was enjoyable and relaxing. The scenery along the way was displaying its autumn colors.
I was surprised at the number of Tamarack or Larch trees that were growing. You can’t see them in the summer but in the fall they turn yellow and lose their needles. These beautiful trees go by either name but in reality the Larch trees are much larger and live longer than the Tamarack. Larix laricina, also known as a Tamarack or Larch, is a deciduous conifer whose soft needles turn golden in the fall, drop from the tree and return each spring. They grow here in my area as well.
MOVING ON: Once the train reached Browning, MT, home of the Blackfoot people, the scenery changed rapidly into foot hills and then open prairie.
Not long after dropping out of the mountains the train comes to Cut Bank, MT, a place somewhat bitter-sweet to me now. My long time friend Jan Maher and her family lived there and several times I visited them. In fact for Sophie and Teagan’s first train ride we went to spend a few days with Jan. The girls were little so that was pretty exciting stuff. Then, one day without warning, Jan was diagnosed with cancer and before I had a chance to see her again she was gone. Her family moved away. They had a huge house on the edge of town overlooking the river. When the wind blew the house moaned in protest. I miss the Mahers.
Soon clouds developed in the west and night came upon us with a somewhat forlorn sunset and the rest of the plains became obscured in the dark.
We arrived in Williston, ND at 2:00am the following morning instead of 7:27pm the night before as was scheduled. Deb and Rex, bless their hearts, were waiting for me and were concerned. I was the last person to get off the train as no one told me we arrived. Just by chance I looked out the window and saw the Williston depot sign and rushed out carrying my things helter skelter. Rex was just going to tell the conductor I hadn’t gotten off the train when I came charging out. We had changed time zones and my phone had not yet recorded the change. I thought I had another hour of travel before arriving.
Just as a point of interest the train ride was delightful. The coaches are fairly new with wide, spacious seats, and electrical outlets at every place. The train was not crowded as it was the last time. I brought my own food but their coffee was hot and good. Early on one man was obscene, erratic, and shouting racial slurs. At Sandpoint, ID, he, along with his belongings, was put off the train to fend for himself. The railroad does not put up with inappropriate behavior.