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STOP #213

"The Peace Garden State"
is our 34th visited state


North Dakota is the only state in the nation to never have an earthquake.
North Dakota has more registered vehicles than it has residents.

Today we traveled across another state line border into our 34th visited state. There was no mistaking where the state line was because the roadway height differed by at least four inches. With a bone rattling jolt we literally dropped into North Dakota from South Dakota.

You'd think the two states could come to some kind of agreement as to what a proper road height should be! But, according to a gentleman from South Dakota at our last campground, if their fierce high school sports rivalries spill over to the Department of Transportation from each state, that may not be possible.

Once ROVER and THE POD recovered from their less than welcoming entrance into North Dakota, I must admit the scenery did change over to something we haven't really experienced anywhere else on our travels. These multilayered-multicolored cliffs appeared very dramatic against the blue skies and green grasses, which captivated our attention as we wound our way through them in search of our destination.

This kind of scenery is found all over the western United States, but as you know we haven't really been west yet in our travels.

ND State Road 6 somewhere near Breine, ND

After our arrival at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, the premiere state park of North Dakota according to everywhere I looked online, we prepared to spend another four days unplugged.

With the fairly heavy tree canopy found over our site it will be a good test to see how well our current solar equipment setup performs under less than perfect, but normal everyday conditions.

Here at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park there are many sites with water and electricity, but the only sites that have an unobstructed view of the Missouri River are geared more towards the tent campers and do not offer electricity.

We elected to camp on one of these 15 waterfront sites and as it turned out, by the end of our weekend here we were the only RV to do so. All the other 14 sites were filled with tent campers and we felt right at home with them.

FRIDAY - This morning the campground is less than half full, but tonight and tommorrow there are no vacancies.

In an effort to avoid the crowds this weekend we are going to get our sightseeing done today. All of our planned activities are inside of the park for a change and first up on the list is to visit the Fort Commisary Building where we can purchase $8.00 tour passes for today.

The first Ranger led tour is of the reconstructed Custer House. This is the location of where Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer spent his final night with his wife, Libby, before engaging in the Battle of the Little Bighorn over in Montana.

The two day battle on June 25–26, 1876 resulted in Custer, two of his brothers, a nephew, a brother-in-law and 268 of his soldiers being killed. The U.S. Army was defeated by several thousand warriors from the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes as they were led by Crazy Horse and Chief Gall. This battle is commonly referred to as Custer's Last Stand.

Next up is another Ranger led tour of a mandan Indian Village, known as On-A-Slant Village, that existed here some three hundred years before Custer's arrival. We explored the insides of several earthern homes, a ceremonial hut and an extensive museum with a documentary film to enjoy.

Finally was a short drive up to the Infantry Post where several restored blockhouses still remain overlooking the river valley and surrounding area below. I was intrigued by the design and construction of these structures after I saw them featured on the State Parks website.


Our guide awaits to give us a personal tour of the Custer's House interior.
They sure had a strange way of hanging a photograph back then?
This is one of the few personal possessions of the Custer's that was left behind, his wife Libby's favorite rocking chair.
Most everything else are period pieces like this bed and matching night stands.
The soldier's barracks...
... and their Mess Hall.
The view from above and behind the village. It almost disappears into the natural surroundings.
You'll have to get close in order to see their mud homes.
The entrance way into one of their homes.
The center of the village is left bare for community gatherings and ceremonies.
One of three restored Blockhouses here in the park.
Notice how the second floor is rotated 45 degrees so that there are rifle windows pointing in every possible direction, no blind spots here!
The ground floor interior of a blockhouse.
The second floor interior.
Finally outside of the turret on the third floor lookout deck.
From the lookout you can see Fort Abraham Lincoln with Custer's House on the right and the barracks surrounding the parade grounds in the middle.
That tall tree center frame is in our campsite's back yard with convergence of the Heart River and the Missouri River in the background.

Our final morning sunrise at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan, ND

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STOP #212

We are expecting visitors tomorrow! We first met VerJean and Winston at the Big Meadows Campground of Shenandoah National Park in "Virginia in September of 2018".

Then just by accident we ran into them again while camping at Cedar Breaks Park in "Georgetown, TX in March of 2020", just before COVID-19 became a household word. We spent a few days apart before they camped next to us at Speegleville Park outside of Waco, TX. Then we split up for almost two weeks before they came to camp next to us at Palo Duro Canyon State Park outside of Amarillo, TX.

We were both kicked out of Palo Duro two days before our reservations were up when all the Texas State Parks closed due to COVID-19. We spent two days at a private park (just outside of the state park) before we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.

Now here it is 15 months later in "June of 2021" and we find ourselves once again in the same part of the country so we planned another meeting. This time at Indian Creek State Park in the northern central part of "South Dakota".

Each meeting is only for a couple of days and then we are each off in a different direction. It sounds like the kind of friendships we were hoping to create when we started traveling across the USA. When we left our long time friends behind in South Florida we didn't know if this would be possible.

All of this began because we introduced ourselves to them on a cool night in the mountains of Shenandoah, back in September of 2018 and invited them over to share a campfire.

Campsite #B90 at Indian Creek Recreation Area outside of Mobridge, SD.

We are once again right on the shoreline of the Missouri River.

TUESDAY - Today we're going to do a little sightseeing before our friends arrive this afternoon.

There are two places on our short list of things to see at this stop. The first one is the "Walleye Up" statue on the Missouri River just outside of Mobridge, SD. If you are interested in learning more about the artist I'll include a link here.

Apparently catfish and walleye are the two most sought after fish in the Missouri River. I've tasted plenty of catfish back in South Florida at Catfish Dewey's, but to my knowledge I've never tried eating walleye. I hope to change that before leaving the Missouri River area.

Our next and final stop is at the Sitting Bull Monument located on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation outside of Mobridge, SD. This stone carving was created by the same artist who would begin carving the Crazy Horse Memorial near Mount Rushmore in western South Dakota.

I'm including a link to a great explanation of why Sitting Bull's remains were moved to this serene location overlooking the Missouri River in 1953, after spending over 60 years buried somewhere else.

WEDNESDAY - Late yesterday afternoon our friends, VerJean and Winston from Michigan, arrived here and we sat outside talking about each others adventures since we last met 15 months ago.

Since most of our lives have been shared with this blog they knew pretty much what we've been up to. So much of the night was spent hearing about their adventures and just getting caught up with each other in general. Around 10:00PM it was just beginning to get dark out and we finally called it a night.

This morning at 8:00AM I saw Winston sittiing outside with his laptop so I walked over to see what he was doing. He and his wife travel around in their home-built 20 foot conversion van, so he spends a lot of time outdoors instead of sitting inside like we do.

We chatted for a couple of hours and planned our day together.

Around 2:30PM we both got in our separate vehicles, because neither of our vehicles are set up to transport four people at the same time, and we showed them the Walleye Up statue at the edge of town. While we were there a woman from town stopped to chat and told us the artist had other statue in town, this one a tiger, located outside of the local High School to represent their school mascot, the Mobridge Tigers.

Both of John Lopez's sculptures are made from mostly recycled metal parts and if you look close enough you can identify what they were in their previous lives. Like the VW hubcaps that create the shoulder armour on the tiger.

Next we were off to see the Klein Museum on the outskirts of Mobridge. This a history museum of Mobridge and holds many antique objects, such as photographs, newspaper articles and even displayed several lifesized dioramas of a 1920's barber shop, dentist office, post office, school classroom and other everyday scenes.

There were sewing machines, adding machines, printing presses, toys, cameras, and many other items from their eary days of existance. There was much more than we could possibly see in the hour and a half that we were there. All of this for the modest price of $5.00, which felt more like a small donation rather than a real admission fee.

Once we left the museum we headed to a restaurant that opens at 4:30PM for dinner and guess what, they have a Walleye Dinner, complete with rice pilaf or a baked potato and an all-u-can-eat soup, salad and desert bar. Y U M M Y !

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STOP #211

We arrived at our new campsite just around noon today and found that we had the place all to ourselves. When we bought THE POD three years ago and decided to travel fulltime this is exactly the type of experience we looked forward to.

There are no defined campsite spaces here or camp hosts to answer any questions you might have, but that doesn't mean there are no rules to follow.

Here at Richland Dam Recreation Area there are only two posted rules:
1) No ground fires. Propane and butane stoves are permitted, but no charcoal or open flames.
2) Pack-it-in and pack-it-out. If you create trash while here, take it with you when you leave.

There are no check-in or check-out times to adhere to, however they do have a 14 day stay limit. There is also a new (as of MAY 2020) vault toilet building on site, which is a huge luxury for the tent campers who visit here. They always seem to set up near it for their overnight stay.

My hopes are that as long as visitors continue to simply follow the rules, these places will remain open and FREE to use.

Like I said we arrived here at noon and had the entire place to ourselves. That didn't change until around 6:00PM when two trailers pulled in together and set up camp about 75 yards from where we are set up. That's a solid distance away and perfect boondocking etiquette.

Around 6:30PM a large SUV with roof racks pulled in, but they went straight down to the shoreline of the lake and started fishing.

Around 7:00PM a converted bus and a car came in together and after looking all around decided to park way off in a corner all to themselves, once again perfect boondocking etiquette. We couldn't even see them behind the trees.

Finally around 10:00PM a motorcycle drove through the campground and quietly set up a small tent for the night.

So we ended up with five campsites in this 8-10 acre field and nobody appeared to be crowded. This is not always the case, we have read blogposts where someone has gone to bed in a dispersed campground the same size as this and woke up with a trailer setup no less than 10 feet from their front door.

That's the downside when there are no designated campsites. They were perfectly within their rights to park so close, just extremely poor etiquette.

SATURDAY - As promised I went walking with Tricia this morning, not at 5:45AM like she does during the week, today it was at a more tolerable time of 8:30AM.

We walked around to the back side of Richland Lake on a not so well worn footpath over the earthen dam that helped create the lake. From there we got a new perspective on our campsite and surroundings.

We only walked about 3/4 mile in total but it was enough to stretch our legs and see something new. Just before returning to THE POD we got this perspective on our campsite and I thought we would share it with you also.

We've been here for two full days now and we finally once again have the place all to ourselves.

I decided today would be a good day to fly ROVER II (my DJI drone) and take some aerial photos. I'm 99.9% sure drones are permitted here, but wouldn't you know it, the minute I got the drone out and was making preparations to launch it, a Forest Service truck drove into the campground for the first time since we arrived.

I waved and he just drove on by and a few minutes later he left. Anyway here are a couple of shots from today's flight.

Our campsite on the southern edge of the campground.

The vault toilet building is on the opposite end of the campground.

SUNDAY - Things were rockin' & rollin' in THE POD for several hours last night!

The reason is probably not what you're thinkin'. Around 10:00PM a storm blew through and the winds were gusting to 47MPH according to my anemometer.

We prepared for the storm by putting away all the awnings and closing all the windows for the night. The winds were hitting THE POD broadside which made it feel much worse than it actually was. By midnight it was all but over and we fell back asleep.

At 7:00AM we awoke to some still angry looking skies and a forecast of more light rain and winds of 25MPH, but nothing like what we experienced last night. The good news is it should all be gone by early afternoon and the high temperature forecast today is only 81°F.

This will be our coolest day since Memorial Day and we are also expecting the same for tomorrow, when we pack up to leave for a new destination.

Sunset on our final night at Richland Dam Recreation Area near Pierre, SD

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In a previous post I mentioned that starting in July the email notices sent out by the Feed Burner service would cease to occur.

Several people have made the move of signing up for our Facebook Group in order to continue receiving notices of new posts. As best I can tell there are still 18 people on our email list that have not signed up on Facebook.

If you are just not a Facebook person, like I was before starting our Group Page, I understand. I am willing to send out a personal email to a few people who are known to me if you would like.

In order to keep your email private, I'll need you to comment at the bottom of this post (yes I'll turn Blogger commenting on for just this post) with the first three letters of the email address you are currently using to recieve notices. With that info I'll be able to include you in the BCC section of a group email to protect your privacy.

I'm hoping all 18 members chose this option. If you have any questions or concerns you can inquire in the comment section, or if you're lucky enough to have my phone number, just give me a call.

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