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Trip to North Country

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#1 DesertHawk

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 08:14 AM

Summer Trip to Minot

We made a 3 day trip to Minot, North Dakota last week. We left Las Cruces, New Mexico on Tuesday around 4 pm. We had a good trip, I-25 to Las Vegas, NM of 345 miles, overnighted at Wal-Mart. Arrived around 10:25. The cool night proved to be great sleeping weather. Found we needed some repair on my repaired converter cover. I bought some Gorilla glue at Wal-Mart to do the repair. We were able to get a fairly early start the following morning.

The trip via I-25 from Las Vegas to Wheatland, WY was for another 495 miles. We had a good drive through Colorado Springs & Castle Rock and Denver was not too heavy into rush hour when we got through it. We enjoyed a good night at Wheatland's Lewis Park (where we had stayed going & returning last year) which offers free camping with electric hook-up (there is a donation box). Three very long & noisy trains came by during the night, the campground being very close to the tracks. We got another fairly early start the next morning.

The next morning we got off I-25 at Douglas, WY on to WY 59 to Gillette, WY & I-90 to Spearfish, SD, then US 85 to Teddy Roosevelt Nat'l Park North Unit near Watford, ND. This trip added about 504 miles, plus the miles to drive the tour drive. The first 6 or 7 miles from the entrance is under construction, very dusty and slow going. But we got to see many Bison.

Friday morning found us sleeping late. We had less than 200 miles to drive. But they proved to be slow miles, using much gasoline. Fuel wise and ease of driving, I believe if we had gone to the South Unit, then followed I-94 to Bismarck, ND then US 83 to Minot it would have cost less in fuel. US 85 is at times very rough, with a lot of hills and dells, ups & downs. At Watford where we took ND Route 23, it is much the same. Both have many large dump trucks and tanker trucks roaming them as well.

From Teddy R's North Unit to Minot AFB proved to be 157 miles. We left at around 12:15 pm Central Time and arrived around 4:30 pm at the AFB with a stop at Wal-Mart in Minot and to eat a very late lunch. Total miles would be about 1501 plus 18 added on at T. Roosevelt.

The 2009 Ford F-150 worked like a charm, very little strain towing the Scamp & very comfy for us with the long bed. Gas mileage varied from 13.47 mpg to 18.5 mpg with us doing to math. The inboard computer Average Mileage was always higher? With our own averaging we had two at 16.36 & 16.20 between Las Cruces & Pueblo, CO; the 18.5 to Cheyenne, WY; two 14.71 & 14.8 to Belfield, ND and the 13.47 mpg to New Town, ND.

We saw the usual Pronghorns along the way from Las Vegas on. We got to see some very long coal trains between Douglas & Gillette as well as a good size Bison herd. On the tour drive at Teddy R's we saw many Bison and when we were leaving the campground many were bedded down across from the dump station.

We arrived at Minot AFB in time for their annual air show. We went to the small show for base personnel on Friday as well as to the one on Saturday open to the public. Amazing what men & their flying machines can do. I especially liked the fly byes of an old WWII P-38 with a new fighter jet together.

Of course our highlights and the reasons for our trip are getting to see our two grand-daughters ages 3 and 1. They are a delight.

We are using the Scamp as sleeping quarters while here. It fit just right in their drive way.

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Edited by DesertHawk, 19 July 2009 - 03:58 PM.


DesertHawk* Las Cruces, New Mexico USA

2015 Lance 1985~Casita de Campo~23' 4" Tongue to Bumper with Dinette Slide

160 watt Solar Panel, GoPower Solar Controller
2009 White Ford F-150 Reg. Cab
Long Bed with A.R.E. Molded Fiberglass Topper
Previously ~ 2005 16' Scamp

#2 Marianne

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 08:35 AM

Sounds like a great trip. The Dakotas are on our 'must see' list. Maybe next year. biggrin.gif

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#3 Dutchman

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Posted 19 July 2009 - 10:56 AM

The colors and slight fuzziness of the grazing bison makes it look like a Charlie Russell painting. I had to look twice; It does stand out. Thanks for the update on the T.R. North unit entrance road being rough ohmy.gif . I am heading that way but now may opt for the south unit instead, then head for Lake Sakakawea.

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#4 DesertHawk

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Posted 20 July 2009 - 07:37 AM

smile.gif Dutchman have a good trip, the road into the park North unit is pretty dusty, with some waits for a guide car in one spot, about 6 miles into the park. At least up to the campgound plus about a mile or so.

I have always liked Charlie Russell's work. biggrin.gif

Marianne, the Dakotas are pretty neat, some places we have missed which sound neat as well. We have enjoyed seeing the Bison & other big animals & some small in the Two Units of Teddy Roosevelt NP. The area around Lake Metigoshe State Park near Bottineau is very nice. Some Forest Campgrounds in the area as well as the State Park.

If you need a campground in Bismarck or Mandan and if you can get into General Sibley Park my son said it was really nice, but was filled up when they were there. http://www.bisparks....ties/sibley.asp

They stayed at a small place in Mandan. Colonial Motel & Campgrounds 4631 Memorial Hwy, Mandan - (701) 663-9824 We had passed by it in 2007. It is in an commerical area, not very resort like from the entrance off Memorial Hwy, however later on we rode by the back side on a bike path and it looked good. As it turned out it had water, electric and sewer hookup for $19. The bike path leads accross the river and by the zoo and a nice park.

From the web site Gen. Sibley is $20 with water and electric but the setting is much better. Closer to the river. Both have trees. At Colonial the sites are very close together. Sibley they are space out. Sibley has over 100, Colonial maybe 20. It did not fill up while my son was there. http://maps.google.c...l...2&ct=result

Fort Lincoln State Park also has a nice campground & neat things to see (It was where Gen. Custer was living before he went on his last ride):
4480 Fort Lincoln Rd
Mandan, ND 58554
(701) 667-6340‎ http://maps.google.c...l...1&ct=result


In July of 2007, we stayed at the KOA Bismarck, over priced and dusty. We had passed the Colonial campground but it did not look very inviting from the entrance, but seemed OK from the back. Not a bad price with water, electric and sewer for $19.

South Dakota: we have stayed in the Custer area both using Custer State Park Campgrounds & a Black Hills Nat'l Fores Campground. We liked the Bismarck Lake Campgound very well. This became our staging area for the next six days last year. To condense these six days down: we went sight seeing each day to some degree. We were all able to go in our son's four door Dodge pick-up. We went on the animal view loop twice, not seeing any Bison the first time and only a few the second. However, at one of the entry "gates" a Custer State Park gate keeper told us where Bison had been reported that day. We did see many Bison/Buffalo after we got there. Slow going because of Army National Guard Exercieses in the area at the time. We spotted several Pronghorns, some deer, donkeys, and Prairie Dogs as well. In the campground, we kept hearing a sound much like a car alarm going off. My wife finally spotted a small bird not much larger than a humming bird making the sound. She could see the throat of the bird moving when the sound was being made, and the sound would stop when the bird was pecking the tree for food. It was so high up in the Ponderosa pine trees she could not get a good look at it. We could not ID it from bird books. My wife described to our daughter the basic colors she had seen, the size, a long pointed beak. From those Whitney was able to ID the bird using a web site Bird Field Guide which also has the bird calls. She came up with a list of birds, she would play the call over the cell phone. On the second or third call, we had found our mystery bird. Red-breasted Nuthatch, she could not see the red, until later when she spotted it with binoculars. Later I spotted a White-breasted Nuthatch in T. Roosevelt Nat'l Park.
photo one at Metigoshe State Park
photo two at Bismarck Lake Campground
Signature photo is at a Custer State Park Campground South Stockade Lake.

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Edited by DesertHawk, 20 July 2009 - 07:46 AM.


DesertHawk* Las Cruces, New Mexico USA

2015 Lance 1985~Casita de Campo~23' 4" Tongue to Bumper with Dinette Slide

160 watt Solar Panel, GoPower Solar Controller
2009 White Ford F-150 Reg. Cab
Long Bed with A.R.E. Molded Fiberglass Topper
Previously ~ 2005 16' Scamp