JULY: The LAND CRUISE----East Grand Forks, Minnesota to Spokane, Washington and Back to North Dakota

My sister, Laurel, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska and I planned a surprise visit to our parents way back in February. The plan was executed on July 2nd. Carl and I walked into my parent's sunroom around 1:00 PM. My Mom was sitting in her recliner reading the newspaper; my Dad was on a ladder painting some trim. Neither one of them could believe their eyes when we walked in. My Mom said for a minute she thought she had died and gone to heaven! About two hours later, Laurel arrived. She drove a rental car from Red Lodge, MT where she was attending a family wedding. Had a great time visiting with my parents, Laurel and my sister, Cheryl, who lives in Rolla, ND about 20 miles from where my parents live.

Drove to York, ND to visit Carl's brother, John, and John's wife, Suzie. John and Suzie teach in Shismaref, AK but come back to their home in York for the summer. Their daughter, Sarah, was visiting them when we were there.The highlight of the visit was touring the Dakota Winery (ha ha ha)---more accurately, it was only one of the highlights. Back to the Dakota Winery, the highway sign totes a petting zoo and wine tasting. The petting zoo consists of two pens--one pen is full of turkeys and ducks; the other pen has goats. The wine is primarily made from fruits and berries (peach, raspberries, rhubarb, etc.) and sells for $13.98 a bottle. I was so glad the samples were thimble-sized because the wine was not good. Other highlights are: sleeping in John and Suzie's featherbed; playing with Sarah's dog, Lucy; and eating Suzie's excellent dinners.

The following pictures were taken at the Dakota Winery. First picture is of the Dakota Winery sign. Next is a picture of Sarah, Suzie and John Thoreson standing in front of the goat pen. Picture number 3 is Carl standing outside the wine tasting booth. Last is a picture of the wine bottles. I do not recommend any of these wines!!!


Left York for Montana on July 9. Stopped in Rugby, ND (20 miles from York) at the monument which marks the geographic center of North America.  Asked Carl to take the scenic route to Hardin, MT where we were staying that night. Exited I-94 at Rosebud to follow the Rosebud Creek all the way to Custer Battlefield. On the positive side--this scenic route has two historic makers (places where Custer and his men camped on June 23 and June 24) and passes through some beautiful country. The negative side is the road is not paved for about 40-50 miles and the road is like driving over a wash board!

The following picture is the Monument which marks the geographic center of North America in Rugby, ND.


To prepare for our visit to the Custer Battleground, I read two books. The first book "CRAZY HORSE AND CUSTER--THE PARALEL LIVES OF TWO AMERICAN WARRIORS" by Stephen E. Ambrose documented the story of what led each man to that fateful day at the Little Bighorn. The second book "CUSTER IN 76" by Walter Camp is a collection of personal accounts from survivors of Custer's Last Stand (those who fought with Captain Benteen and Major Reno); Indian Scouts and Indian Warriors who fought Custer. We arrived at the Little Bighorn Battlefield shortly after the gates opened. Reviewed all the displays at the Visitor Center and listened to three talks given by Park Rangers. The Park Rangers who are Crow Indians have a gift for telling the story about the three battles that took place on that field. I could have stayed and listen all day if they would have had more stories to tell. After listening to the Battle Talks, Carl and I went for a tour (on foot and in the car) of the entire battleground. One the morning of June 25, 1876, 611 U.S. Army soldier rode toward the Little Bighorn (a.k.a. Greasy Grass River) where 3000 Indians (Cheyenne and the 5 Sioux nations of Brule, Ogalala, Minneconjou, Hunkpapa and Sans Arc) were camped but ready for battle. Custer separated his troops in 3 parts---one group attacked the Indian camp from the south with Major Reno, one group stayed with the pack train under Captain Reno and the third group went with Custer to attack the Indian camp  from the northeast. Everyone knows how the story ends---Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull's warriors were victorious and approximately 225 soldiers and hired civilians lost their lives.

The following pictures were taken at the Little Bighorn Battlefield. The first picture is Last Stand Hill where General George Armstrong Custer and 41 men were killed during battle. The markers indicate where the person fell during battle. The second picture shows Custer's marker---it has black background and a pendant. The last picture was taken at the Indian Memorial. The following is a quote from Mrs. Spotted Horn Bull (Lakota). The quote is etched in granite at the Indian Memorial"Since the Sioux first fought the white men who are our friends now, they had not won so great a it was that the Sioux  defeated Long Hair and his soldiers in the valley of the Greasy Grass River, which my people remember with regret, but without shame.

From the Little Bighorn Battlefield drove to Bozeman where we stayed with Carl's sister, Anne. Anne's home served as our headquarters for the remainder of the month. Enjoyed the Bozeman city activities such as the Tuesday night and Saturday morning Farmer's Market, Music on Main every Thursday night and Friday Art Walk (wine and appetizers at the various art galleries). In Bozeman we also visited with Carl's Dad, Bill, who is staying in an Assisted Living Apartment. Anne's daughter, Jesse, also lives in Bozeman along with her boyfriend, Patrick.

Carl, Anne and I went hiking one day up to Palisade Falls above the Hyalite Reservoir. Another day, Anne's friend, Tess, joined us for a float down the Madison River---what fun. We rented a big raft and then tied our cooler in a small inner tube. It was a great day for a float (hot and no wind).

The following two pictures were taken at Palisade Falls. The first one is Carl just relaxing while watching the waterfall. The second picture is of Carl and I .

I had to take the following picture of Carl and Anne trying to unwind the line needed to tie the raft to the top of Anne's van. Here is a guy that is so handy with lines and knots on a sailboat!

Drove up to Big Sky to visit with Carl's nephew, Eric, who is works for Spanish Peaks. Eric supervising the grounds crew for the Spanish Peaks golf course. Eric was facing a deadline to have 9 more holes completed by the first weekend in August. He was very optimistic--he always said, "They will be done on time." Eric gave us a tour of Spanish Peaks (lots with million dollar homes, golf course, club house, ski area). Went for a hike down to Counsel Falls and then drove up to see the Big Sky Ski Area. While at Spanish Peaks, we saw a young moose and on the road back to Bozeman in the canyon, we saw a big black bear.

The following two pictures were taken on our trip up to Big Sky and Spanish Peaks.  The first picture is of Eric and Carl standing on one of the Spanish Peaks greens. The second picture is of Eric, Carl and Anne at Ousel Falls.

One very warm day, Tessa, Anne and I hiked up to Lava Lake. This is a 3-4 hour hike with a 1400 foot ascent.  The trip up was a killer--I needed lots of water and I wondered if it was worth it. When we finally reached the top, the beauty of Lava Lake made the hike worth it. Also, it cooled off when we sat by the lake and splashed the cold water all over us.

The first picture below is me sitting by Lava Lake after the hot ascent. Next picture is Tesse and Anne.  

Drove north of Spokane, WA to Doug and Gail Dateline's place on Deer Lake. Carl met Doug when the two of them were in the service in Korea. Doug and Gail have a beautiful home in the mountains--surrounded by flowers, overlooking a lake. I loved sitting on their deck watching the hummingbirds at the feeder. Doug and Gail took us to Horseshoe Lake to go kayaking. What fun. When we return to Lake Michigan for "good", we will most likely buy kayaks to use. One night we drove into Spokane for dinner at a Moroccan Restaurant---sit on pillows at a low table and eat everything with your fingers or scoop it up with bread.

The following three pictures were taken on our trip to Spokane. The first picture is of Doug and Gail's house. The second picture is the view from the deck and the last picture is "the happy Thoresons kayaking"!

Returned to Bozeman from our excursion to Spokane for one night and then headed down to Yellowstone Park. Drove both loops and hit the high points since we would only be there for a 50 hours. My tour guide said you could do the high points in a day and a half (we did it in 2 days). Stayed in small, rustic cabins (very clean and affordable). It was quite hot when we were in the Park so the wildlife was sort of scarce--did see lots of Bison and elk. Good thing we saw a moose and a bear up in Big Sky!

The following pictures were taken in Yellowstone. The first picture is me at Mammouth Springs (it is NOT ice or snow). The second picture is from the geyser and hot springs area--I loved all the colors.  The third picture is Old Faithful and the fourth picture is Yellowstone canyon as observed from Inspiration Point. Note: Before an earthquake on 6/30/75, the observation platform extended 100 feet farther into the canyon. The main tremor measuring 6.1 shattered a portion of the cliff holding the platform sending it down into the gorge! Glad we were not there that day.


Before we left Bozeman, Anne and I went on three more hikes (Carl joined us for the Sourdough Canyon Hike). I really enjoyed the hikes with their breath taking views and Anne's company.

These are hiking pictures. The first picture is Carl and Anne at Sourdough Canyon. The other two are from hikes the last two days that we were in Bozeman.

Left Bozeman on July 30th heading for Bismarck where we stayed the night. In one month, we traveled across North Dakota, across Montana and into Washington. Visited lots of family and friends and enjoyed some of the most beautiful scenery in the good ole USA!

Submitted by:
Marilyn Thoreson
August 3, 2007