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STOP #216

Once again our trusted Garmin RV-770 GPS led us down a dead end road. It wasn't exactly a dead end, but after we passed a sign informing us that we were headed down a private road we came to a rickety old bridge that I wouldn't have even felt comfortable walking across, let alone take our truck and trailer over.

All I can say is we should have seen it coming! Let me preface this story with the fact that in this region of North Dakota, if the road isn't an Interstate Highway or a State Highway, most likely it's going to be made of hard packed gravel and dirt.

So when we were instructed to turn off of the gravel road we were on (57th Street SE) onto another gravel road (120th Avenue SE) my only reservation was the fact that this new road was a single tract road with grass in the middle of it (i.e. not often traveled).

To make matters worse there was only a three foot shoulder with a two foot drop off on both sides of the road. In other words, NO WAY for us to turn around while towing THE POD.

I made the decision to go ahead and follow the suggested route against my better judgement.

Once past the Private Road sign the road makes a left hand turn and starts to descend down to a riverbank in a stand of trees. Once past that obstacle the road makes a turn to the right where we quickly see that there is a rickety looking bridge coming up. After I got a look at the bridge I stopped and decided this is where we cut our losses.

The road is still a single tract with grass growing in the middle, but at least the shoulder is still there and the drop off is much less scary looking than before. Off to our right is a field of grass, thankfully there were no crops planted in this field. Tricia got out to make sure the ground wasn't too soft for me to back THE POD into. I didn't say anything at the time, but I suspected there were no crops in this particular field because it possibly floods when the river rises over it's banks and the ground remains too wet.

With the go ahead from Tricia, I put ROVER in reverse and pushed THE POD down into the field at a near 90° angle, all while making sure to keep all four of ROVER's new Goodyear tires on the gravel roadway. We ended up making a five point turn to get flipped around and even though I knew it only took 2-3 minutes it felt like forever.

In hindsight, if I would have just stopped at the Private Road sign I could have backed the truck and trailer up for the mile and a half on the perfectly straight roadway to get back to the main gravel road and avoided the whole situation. Also not an easy thing to do, but it would have been a lot less risky.

Once we got back to the main gravel road we proceeded west to get back to the same road we took last Thursday when we arrived here at the park. Only today they had the road confined to one lane and there were tanker trucks laying down a new coating of black oil along the road. Not wanting any of that sticky mess on ROVER or THE POD we continued even further west to find a road that connected to State Road 46. Keep in mind our destination is east of here!

Anyway we managed to turn an easy 47 mile travel day into an 85 mile travel adventure. From here forward I'm going to start comparing the Garmin route to Google and Apple Maps to get a second and third opinion before hitting the road.

As if that wasn't enough drama for one day we had another surprise waiting for us when we opened up THE POD to finish setting up.

Today wasn't even close to the first time we have traveled with the roof vents open and running to help keep the inside of THE POD cooled off on hot days, but it will be the last time we do it when traveling for any length of time on dusty gravel roads.

After getting THE POD leveled and unhooked from ROVER we opened up the door to a nasty surprise. There was a thick layer of road dust EVERYWHERE!

While Tricia got busy cleaning up the dust I finished setting up our weather station and cell booster antennas, opened up all the awnings and began writing the check and filling out the paper work to pay for our campsite this weekend. When the paper work was all complete I placed the stub on the campsite post, hung the tag from our rearview mirror and walked back to the kiosk at the entrance to the campground to place our pay envelope in the Iron Ranger.

That's when it was my turn for drama. While I was depositing the pay envelope something buzzed close past my head. I wasn't sure what it was but it was fierce, fast and furious.

Turns out a pair of swallows decided the best place to set up their home was in the rafters of the information kiosk. Now when anybody gets near the Iron Ranger to pay for their campsite they are very aggressively dive bombed by both birds repeatedly until you move far enough away.

The front of the Information Kiosk and Iron Ranger at the campground entrance.

A rear view of the kiosk. Notice the pile of bird poop on the ground?

This is what's hidden in the rafters directly above that pile of poop.

And here is a short video of the price you pay for getting too close while taking photos.


Our $5 campsite complete with a vault toilet.

Plenty of room and a picnic table plus a firepit.

Sheyenne National Grasslands at Jorgen's Hollow Gampground

FRIDAY - A few photos from Tricia's early morning (6:00AM) walk today.

All three photos were taken from the outer campground loop road.

Tomorrow we are planning to take a short hike on a section of the 4700 mile long North Country National Scenic Trail.

SATURDAY - As promised I was up at the "crack of dawn" this morning ready to go on a hike with Tricia. Well, maybe not that early, sunrise was at 5:47AM where we're at in North Dakota, but by 8:00AM we were out and about.

At our previous campsite in Fort Ransom State Park we saw posts marking a trail as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Now at Jorgen's Hollow Campground we see the same sign posts again.

A little research informed me the trail is the longest National Scenic Trail in the United States at 4700 miles long. The western end is in Central North Dakota and the eastern end is 60 miles inside of Vermont, where it joins the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. In total it passes through eight different states.

Today we are going to attempt to hike about a mile and a half of it!


Our hike begins!
The fenceline separating the campground from the grasslands.
The rolling hills of the Sheyenne National Grasslands.
Some welcome shade along the trail.
The beautiful red blooms of the sumac shrubs.
Wide open spaces!
Fenceline of the nearby cattle ranch.
There is were we leave the North Country Trail...
...to take the shortcut to...
...the Oak Leaf Trail that will lead us back to the campground.
It's a nice meandering trail.
While Tricia stops to take a photo I continue on.
More wide open spaces.
Nearly back to the trailhead and campground.
We were surprised to see a gathering of tractors at the Trailhead Parking Lot.
How about this Red Beauty?
And of course there were John Deere Green ones too.
Four tractors showed up pulling passenger trailers.

While I continued back to THE POD to rest up after our grueling 2.8 mile hike, Tricia went over to the check out the activitites in the parking lot.

It wasn't long before Tricia showed up at THE POD to get some cash because they had lemonade and home-made mini donuts available for club members and the general pulic, for a small donation of course.

The Vintage Tractor Club meets once a month to take their tractors for a ride. Most of these tractors have been with the same family since they were new, sometimes that even spans generations. They even bring extra tractors for those who don't have one to drive. If you're not comfortable driving a tractor you can always hop on one of the four trailers to be chauffeured around.

They are typically out for around six hours and usually end up at some Bar & Grill type restaurant for lunch during their travels. Sounds like fun, but Tricia is still working and has already missed her deadline. Good thing we didn't go because today they were gone for nearly eights hours!

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