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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Vulcan, Canada, MT & ND: Crashing a National Park, Chasing Trains, THE Big Cow, & Fargo Fine Food!

And now back, again to our road trip back from British Columbia, Canada to West Virginia! 
When I wrote the blogpost on Alberta, Canada, I neglected one short but Very Important stop: Vulcan, the Official Star Trek City of Canada!  While not named for Mr. Spock's home planet (the town was named by a surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1915 after the Roman God of Fire- Vulcan- and originally all the streets were named after gods and goddesses of the classical world such as JunoMars, and Jupiter), the town had the great, good sense to capitalize on Star Trek, and is now known primarily for that! Vulcan has a Star Trek themed Tourism and Trek Station, a replica of the Starship Enterprise, and hosts "Spock Days", drawing visitors from around the world! We made a bit of a detour to get there, and unfortunately the museum was closed by the time we arrived, but at least we got to see a bit of Vulcan, and hopefully we will Live Long and Prosper! 
Elisse sez: "Live Long & Prosper!"

Sunset on Vulcan...

Driving south and east, we stopped in Glasgow, Montana at Sam's Supper Club, for a nice dinner; Sam's was packed with happy regulars and very obviously THE place to eat in Glasgow!

Happy Dan at Sam's!

We began our short time in Glendive, Montana being checked into the Comfort Inn by a super-nice gal...  And being checked out by a total psycho with attitude. Pregnant one, with a pierced eye and lip to go along with her bad attitude, apparently a Choice Hotel Staff Tradition. We had our door banged on at 8:23a.m. by cleaning staff. Then our wake-up call at 8:30a.m. Then Another banging on the door at 9a.m., followed by a call from the front desk at 9:30a.m., reminding us that check out was at 11a.m., at which point I said “We got the message- you want us out! We got it!” Checking out we got an earful of ugliness from Ms. Piercings, along with someone else’s bill. When I got to the truck and realized I had the wrong bill, I returned to the desk; finding no one there, I went looking in the back offices, only to be greeted by a screaming Ms. Piercings, now yelling how the Manager was in Florida (“I already told her about you!” she screeched. What, pray tell, did she say? That we paid money to be abused by her?) when I demanded to see her. This loveliness culminated in her actually threatening to call the police (“Please do!” was my response), if I didn't give her back the other guest's bill she had mistakenly given me, and was followed by even MORE nastiness! What a lovely send-off... (This bit of delightfulness was included in our letter to the Choice Hotel CEO. We were told we'd be getting a call from the hotel and an apology. We're still waiting).

At Sleeping Buffalo Rock, Malta, Montana

We stopped at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum & Field Station in Malta, Montana, where we got to see and touch fossils and dino bones dug up right in Malta's backyard! We spent quite a while at the museum, and interested the lady who showed us the exhibits in Homer Hickam's book The Dinosaur Hunter...
We then perused all the exhibits at the excellent Phillips County Museum next door, which shows how pioneers, cowboys, and Indians worked and played through tools, toys, instruments, clothing, furniture, and historic photographs, as well as life-size replicas of a cowboy bunkhouse, a one-room schoolhouse, church, and mercantile. They have special exhibit on their native outlaw celebrity, Kid Curry, who began his "outlaw career" in 1894 by shooting 'Pike' Landusky, and then going on, with his gang, The Wild Bunch, to commit more crimes in Phillips County, including a train robbery west of Malta in 1901.
We also stopped at Sleeping Buffalo Rock in Malta, Montana, which reposes in its corral under a shed at the junction of US 2 and MT 243. It is an old rock indigenous to the area, part of a group of boulders that the local Indians held sacred. People often leave coins or tobacco as offerings. Roadside America which is what the link goes to) has some interesting info about it:  "Sleeping Buffalo Rock was found by my grandfather when he was a young boy while out riding the plains. Kenneth Arnold Ball was born in Saco, MT Jan. 24, 1908 to Nora Jane and George McLearn Ball, whom herded sheep and raised wheat and grasses. Kenneth went to school with Chet Huntley; they were good friends (Chet even states this in his book Boyhood Memories). The rock was actually carved by the Plains Indians and it was a symbol for the buffalo hunt. They would dance around it the night before the hunt as spiritual hope for a good hunt like football players huddle together for a good game.The Rock was placed near the school in representation of both of the boys, Kenneth and Chet". - Nora Mae, 09/20/2010 
Railfans that we are, we chased trains across the plains... and found lots of other cool things, too!

Harlem, Montana, Pop 808

One of the things that made us stop and turn around...
And with the owner's permission, Dan, who is US Army Ret. Aviation, and I, got to take a close-up look at her!

Pretty... and good eatin', too! :-)

The Sweet Grass Hills, Browning, Montana

Yes, there are dinos here!

Our next stop was for a nice lunch at Boots Bar & Grill, in the (then closed-due-to-the- idiot-sequester) Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Medora, North Dakota: elk burgers w/sweet potato fires, and a Beaver Beer sampler!

Beaver Beer at Boots Bar!

Dan bought us some local, ND wine in one of the little stores in the Park that was open despite the "sequester", and then Dan and I Broke Obama Law, throwing our lot in with our WWII Vets, and entered the closed-due-to-sequester Painted Canyon Overlook in the National Park, me climbing under a chain and dancing over a RR grating, with Dan following in hot pursuit! We photographed the scenic rocks, and on the way back to the car we saw someone apparently examining our car- we thought we were being ticketed for trespassing, but it was just 2 nice Park employees letting themselves in; the lady even held the gate for me! :-)

Elisse, ballsy as usual...

Driving due east across North Dakota on I95, I'm thumbing though "attractions" on our Garmin, and come up the bright idea of stopping to see Salem Sue, the World's Largest Holstein Cow. As we hit Salem, we also hit Snow, and as we climb the winding hill, on top of which stands Salem Sue, it becomes increasingly apparent that this was Not one of my brighter notions... We make it all the way up there, crawling our truck round and around the steep, snow-slick hill, see Sue, and then Dan oh-so-carefully turns the truck around and down we go...

Snow in Salem, ND...

Salem Sue

Salem Sue, in all her glory...

We drove through Bismark, ND, and had a bit of a rest at Keelboat Park...
Keelboat Park, Bismark, ND

Bismark, ND
Night falls over North Dakota...

and then, as night fell, we
 made for Fargo, knowing a wonderful dinner would await us at HoDo, where we'd had such a fine meal 3 weeks previously. Tonight we were treated to live '60s music on top of a great meal: a bon bouche of pureed iceberg lettuce soup with sturgeon, followed by nori-wrapped yellowtail with a sate sauce, and then short ribs for Dan, and milk-poached scallops and lemon-seared butter tender octopus with a wine sabayon for me! And then a lush chocolate cake with a gently-zingy chipotle pepper sauce. And wine. And scotch. And Dan got to schmooze the chef! And now our freezer of moose meat is hooked up and we're ensconced in a Jacuzzi suite at the Comfort Inn in Fergus Falls, Minnesota.
I know- we're gluttons for punishment. LOL

Another great dinner at HoDos!
Next: Wisconsin Dells: Ducks!

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