Saturday, August 6, 2022

Grand Rapids to Thunder Bay

 Not a very exciting day.  I'm sorry Minnesota but the road we took to get back to Ontario was boring. 

When we left our hotel, we went to see Paul Bunyan's chair, saw a bird house, and an old school.  

On our way, we saw Rocky Taconite so I stopped for a photo. Obviously!  That's part of  all the fun of a road trip! 

We stopped at Sugarloaf Cove - walked the little trail- which was supposed to be a mile - well, it was 3km full of mosquitos.  I don't know how many bites I got... argh.  It was a nice spot... no swimming, no paddling - it's a rocky shore.

While driving, we came around a bend.  All I could see was these downed trees/branches and I thought wow! there must of been some pretty strong winds!  As we got closer, we could see there was no storm at all!  This was "artwork" in someone's yard.  It's not my cup of tea... my yard would never look like that... to each our own!  It gets to people to stop and talk I guess! 

We got through the border no problem and then Thunder Bay for one night.  Next stop is a little motel past Terrace Bay.

There isn't much to see in Minnesota other than trees.

Farm Animals: 1 horse

Wild Animals: none - lots of insects at the cove - especially mosquitos.

Birds: raven, herring gull, merganser, ruffed grouse

Roadkill: raccoons and skunks

Random Thoughts:

  • Minnesota is pretty boring.  Trees, trees and more trees.
  • It's worse than going to Hearst.  They need to put rest stops so people can use the washroom.
  • If you are going to have a scenic route following a lake, maybe you should see the lake more often.
  • Why do you pay to cross the border into the states but not into Canada?
  • How do people put speed traps into Google maps? How does it come off? 

Friday, August 5, 2022

Art Alley in Bismarck to Grand Rapids Minnesota

We had 6 hours of driving to do today.  We did so many stops that it took us 11.5 hours.  That's how a road trip is done! 

Our Stops:

Art Alley: short alley with graffiti art on the walls.

Bird Watching in the Prairie Potholes - an area of North Dakota called this way because it's full of lakes and swamps - looks like potholes from above.  Some birds - nothing new. 

Largest Buffalo in the world + Frontier Village (Jamestown, ND)

Largest purple martin house of Minnesota (Audubon, Minnesota)

Largest Sandhill Crane

A very large Paul Bunyan

Roadkill: raccoons (looks like Minnesota has lots of them!) skunk, snake

Farm animals: Cows, 1 horse, 1 black cat and a truck load of pigs

Wild animals: white tail deer and baby - still polka dotted! 

Birds: sandhill cranes, wild turkeys, western and eastern kingbirds, baltimore oriole, baby horned lark, common tern, kingfisher, mallard, 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Glendive Dinosaur Bone Hunting

 Today was an exciting day!  We went dinosaur hunting!  There are all sorts of rules to follow... so if you are ever in Montana, don't just go anywhere to look for bones!  To be able to keep them, you have to find them on private property.  Obviously, you can't go in just anybody's yard to find them!  You'll get shot in no time.  If you find bones on public land, you can not keep them, they belong to the state.

We found a farmer that has a very large property which happens to have a section where you can find all sorts of things.  They bring you out, show you what to do, help you to identify if it's rocks or fossil and you get to keep what you find, unless it's part of a T-rex and some other dinosaur that I can't remember the name... "somethingsaaurus" 😆.

Our tools consisted of a screwdriver to dig and a bbq brush to brush.  We each got a bag with varied size bags and some tin foil to wrap the more fragile bones.

We had a fantastic day looking for, digging for and excavating our finds.  Everyone found something! 

  • Sophie found lots of turtle bits and a bone so she was on the turtle hunt.
  • I found lots of bits and pieces of bones, crocodilian teeth and alligator tooth, and a large bone that I will need to clean and re puzzle parts of it back together.
  • Rémi found a nice bone as well that he had to dig out, put some stuff on it so it would sorta stick together, wrap it in foil, turn it over gently and finish wrapping.

After digging, the rancher brought us to a dried up creek to find some agatised wood.  We found some nice specimens where you can see the layers the tree would've had.

Our excursion was supposed to be 4 hours - we ended up being there 8 hours.  It was well worth it even though it was 41ºC and no shade to be found anywhere. 

After our exciting day, we drove to Bismark North Dakota where we will spend the night.

Farm animals:  You guessed it! Cows!  horses, sheep, cat, dog

Wild animals: chipmunk, mule deer

Road kill: snake and what looked like an opossum but they even live here so not sure what it was.

Malta to Glendives

Short driving day today!  We are only going about 3 hours away because we have an outing tomorrow in Glendives.  

Just a few miles from our takeoff, we came up to a town called Saco.  In front of a garage type building was these big pieces or artwork made of old car parts and things. Of course we stopped and took some pictures.

On our way, we had 2 stops Sophie wanted to do - both in Glasgow -The Loaded Toad and Mary's Mercantile - We got a drink at the toad and a couple photos outside and walked a block to Mary's - a store filled with odds and ends.  We spent a good amount of time there -probably more than an hour listening to the owners stories about the past.  She was very interesting! 

We then continued our drive to Glendive, stopping at a bar on the side of the road to use the washroom. 
Supposedly, bars are not a place to go unless you want trouble... no trouble was had. 

We arrived in Glendive, went out for lunch then had a bit of a nap.  It's really hot again - 34+ degrees.  

Makoshika State Park was our last stop of the day.  WOW!  What a beautiful park! Thank you Sophie for
wanted to go! If you've been to Drumheller, Alberta, you will have an idea of what this place looks like - except much larger! We hiked a few trails, walked on a natural bridge, saw birds, chipmunks and even a lizard. 

The grasshoppers are still ridiculous!  They are so loud it's almost like you are in a Hitchcock movie!  "Attack of the Grasshoppers".  When you walk, there are hundreds that fly/jump off hitting you.  Our car well... will need a major wash and I'm not doing it!  EWWW! We still have a state full of grasshoppers to go through! Man! 

Roadkill: 2 foxes and multiple little things including birds

Birds: violet green swallow, turkey vultures, robins, others birds that haven't been identified yet

Farm animals: cows, horses, sheep

Wild animal: ground squirrel, rabbit, lizard

Tomorrow, we go fossil hunting with a farmer. Should be fun!  Early rise to get it done before the crazy heat.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Pick up Sophie Day!

It's a special day today!  We pick up our beautiful kiddo from Whiterock.  On our way to Malta, we spotted a young cow walking along the wrong side of the fence.  We don't have phone access and wasn't even sure if we were supposed to report this or where.  Worried about the young cow, going on an adventure where she shouldn't, I stopped at a random farmer's house to inquire and let him know about the cow on the loose.  He was very thankful and said he would make a few calls to find out who's cow it was - maybe even his.  Next time, I now know to look for the milage marker so they know where to look and possibly which farmer to call.  Lesson learned! On our merry way we went, me feeling better that I reported the missing cow.  

These cows know how to
take advantage of a little shade! 
We decided to take  the back roads to get to where Sophie was so we might get to see something different.  We saw a gazillion birds - Sophie says horned larks and... I forget.  They are not the brightest whatever they are!  We probably hit a few of them.  We also killed at least a trillion grasshoppers too.  On our way, we saw a huge male buffalo.  Those beasts are so big!  Glad there was a fence to keep him off the road! They are wild roaming.  We didn't see much else interesting.  Oh!  We were "stuck" in a couple of cow jams!  Not in a rush to get out of the way! Those calves are just the cutest things around! 

We arrived no problem at Whiterock, where Sophie's team was stationed.  Met a few people and off we went.  Sophie had planned two stops for us:  Fourchette Bay and Zortman.

Fourchette Bay is an exceptionally beautiful place!  It's a "man made" reservoir - used to be a river, put a damn and voilà!  It's surrounded by huge mounds - I don't know what else to call them - it's just gorgeous.  Pictures never make it justice that's for sure.  Close by, when you are almost there, there is an osprey nest - right at eye level!  SOOOO neat to see!  You never see it at that vantage point.  It contained a young nearly ready to fledge. (pictures are on my camera in the car) 

Look! I found a
fossilized bear! 

The point of coming here, was to go fossil hunting.  We found quite a few fossils - I, of course, can't remember the name of any of them.  It was a neat experience.

After our fossil excursion, Sophie wanted to take us to Zortman - an extremely small place - it literally has one house, one store and one jail 😂 When you opened the door, it's a very small room -maybe 4x4 with nothing in it.  Would be a boring time! 

Such a small place why did we bother going? Sophie wanted to visit the little store one last time.  I  think Sophie loved this place -some of her favourite colleagues lived here and so it holds a special place in her heart.  We were happy to stop by so they could get a t-shirt.

We had dinner in Malta - at Joe's in and out.  Wasn't anything amazing but the ice cream!  Oh my!  I had apple pie flavoured ice cream and cheesecake bits (sort of like a blizzard but better).  It was delicious! 

All in all, a good day! 

Road kill: good day!  only a couple little things and little birds.

Farm animals: Cows, horses and goats

Wild animals: bison, mule deer, white tailed deer and pronghorn

Birds: harriers, kingbird, shore birds, tern, pelican, western meadowlark, sage grouse, barn swallows, gulls, great blue heron, not identified bird of prey - maybe an eagle?, night hawk, kill deer, crow/raven, mourning dove, and others I can't identify.

Wind swept prairie sunflower

Sunset starting

sunset over Nelson Reservoir

Monday, August 1, 2022

Mission Canyon, Little Rockies

This morning's adventure brought us to Mission Canyon in the Little Rockies - about an hour away.  As we left, an unlucky little prairie dog ran in front of my car and didn't make it.  Sorry little buddy!  You should look both ways before crossing the road!  I can't believe the first prairie dog of the trip and I kill it...  1/2 a km later, we saw a dead badger on the road - stopped and took some photos for Sophie.  What a beautiful animal! 

Anyways, enough of roadkills and on with the adventure.  Mission Canyon... as you arrive, it's a small gravel road between 2 huge rock walls.  Beautiful!  We made our way to the trail head where we hiked 2km.  Pretty much 1 up and 1 down.  The trail brings you to a natural bridge and a "hole in the wall".  This tiny single track trail on the edge of the mountain reminded me of the Alps.  Not as glorious, but that feeling of fear of falling.  Not a pleasant feeling.  There are actually 2 natural bridges in the canyon.  One we hiked up to see, the other was right on the side of the road.

After our hike, in 34ºC weather, we made our way back to the hotel to just relax a little. Probably will go for a swim later on.  

Tomorrow we finally get to see Sophie!  Looking forward to seeing where they worked for the past few months! 

Birds: pelicans, western meadowlark, crow, flicker

Roadkill: badger, prairie dog (my own roadkill), other little creatures, something that looked like a rabbit -could see a white pompom amidst the mess

Animals: Cows, horses, pronghorn

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Lake Bowdoin Animal preserve

We had an "easy" day today.  We drove around Lake Bowdoin this morning - that took almost 3 hours.  We saw tons of birds.  This is also where I ran 3km.  Bowdoin Lake is completely dry at the moment.  How sad! I don't know if this happens every year or this is usual... it's just a big white patch of dirt.  Supposedly during migration you can see a ridiculous amount of birds here.  Not in the summer that's for sure!  If you ever have the chance, take the time to drive around (it's 15miles) and stop often.  Bring some bug spray!  I don't know what those biting things were but they were vicious!  There were also millions if not trillions of grasshoppers!  It made running interesting!  Trying to dodge them flying at your head, hitting your legs and arms - good thing they don't bite! 

After this, we went back to the hotel, watched some tv, just relaxed.  We went for a paddle - the water was so gross!  Remi fell in twice... I'm thankful I didn't fall in!  The water was just full of little bits of algae.  I guess the water is so low - the motor boats are must mixing everything up and it comes up to the surface.  A big old YUCK! 

I watched the beautiful sunset and plan on doing that again tomorrow! 

Not sure what we will be doing tomorrow.

Birds - too many to name them all - red tailed hawk x2, lots of different ducks, nighthawks, kingbirds, yellow warble, pelicans to name a few.

Wildlife - pronghorn antelope mixed in with cows, rabbits in the back of our hotel

Road kill: none

Lark Bunting
Cows are branded early...