Lilies in Bloom

Denver Botanic Gardens

Bob Lilies 

A visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens today brought many pleasures including a large variety of lilies in the peak of their bloom. Temporary Dale Chihuly glass installations throughout the gardens (through November) draws large admiring crowds. I’ve never seen the gardens looking so good. We found we took as many flower pictures as we did of the glass. As much as we admire Chihuly’s creativity, Mother Nature is up to the challenge and holding her own.

 

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When You Go: Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver, CO, 720-865-3501, http://www.botanicgardens.org/.

National Grasslands Visitor Center

Wall, South Dakota

 

Grasslands

“These wind-swept seas of grass and wildflowers – four million acres in all – have witnessed the pageant of the frontier, the Dust Bowl, and the dramatic recovery into a great national treasure. Come visit the 20 publicly-owned National Grasslands administered by the USDA Forest Service.”

From the America’s National Grasslands brochure and website

 

Nt. Grasslands VCFour million grassland acres in 20 designated areas stretching across 13 states yet only a single visitor center is dedicated to the National Grasslands. The center is located in Wall, South Dakota surrounded by the Buffalo Gap National Grassland.

 

 

Flat GrassOn this trip alone we’ve passed through six of the Grasslands so it seemed logical to make a stop at the visitor center. A 25-minute video, “America’s Grasslands,” gives a historical perspective and explains their mission.

 

Exhibits feature plants, wildlife and history of the Great Plains, recreational opportunities and use management. Hands-on activities encourage interaction and we note youngsters at work on their Jr. Ranger program. We are pleased to identify some of the specific grasses and plants we had noted and left with a greater appreciation of grasslands conservation.

 

With a wet spring and early summer this was a very good year and time of year to visit the northern plains. Through Nebraska, North and South Dakota the rolling hills are a vibrant green often edged with sweet yellow clover. Grasses leaning with the wind to a horizon unbroken by fences give a sense of the possible scene two centuries ago, truly a national treasure.

 

NGVC - Owl NGVC - Hands-On

When You Go: The National Grasslands Visitor Center, 708 Main Street, Wall, South Dakota, 605-279-2125, www.fs.usda.gov/nebraska.

Wall Drug Store

Wall, South Dakota

 

Wall Drug

If your idea of vacation fun is jostling elbows with humanity intent on exploring every shelve of tacky tourist souvenirs don’t miss Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. Indeed if you’re traveling within a hundred miles of Wall it would be hard to miss. At every opportunity a Wall Drug Store billboard has been constructed. Imagine – Free Ice Water, Cafe That Seats 530, Donuts, Ice Cream, 5 Cent Coffee – on and on. Wow, can you stand the anticipation?

 

Wall Drug - Stagecoah

Dorothy and Ted Hustead purchased the only drug store in Wall, SD in late 1931 (in the midst of the Great Depression). Struggling to make a go of the venture in 1936 Dorothy came up with the idea of offering free ice water. The advertising campaign begun. The Hustead family still runs the business; and, gives out thousands of glasses of free ice water each day.

 

The large indoor structure is Wall Drug Roostersdivided into individual retail spaces similar to an indoor mall. it’s all Wall Drug. Jewelry, moccasins, shot glasses, books, Western art,  or perhaps you’re in need of a ceramic rooster – whatever your heart desires. And, yes there is a drug counter.

 

Personal Disclaimer: We went to Wall Drug Store on a hot July day after exploring Badlands National Park and having a less than satisfactory lunch experience in a local eatery. Wall Drug was packed, I was tired, grumpy and still had things to do and miles to drive before we slept that night. Perhaps at another time I would find the store fascinating, after all they’ve expanded and stayed in business for 83 years.

 

Wall Drug Ice Cream CounterI will admit to bellying up to the ice cream counter for soft serve with caramel topping so it wasn’t all negative. I bet if I’d looked hard enough I could have found a “Wall Drug – Been There, Done That” t-shirt. After all, two million visitors a year can say, “Been there, done that.”

 

When You Go: Wall Drug Store, 510 Main Street, Wall, South Dakota (not a chance you could miss it), 605-279-2175, www.walldrug.com. If you can’t make it to Wall you can always shop online!

 

Fort Mandan

Washburn, North Dakota

FM - Sign

 

Fort Manda

 November 3, 1804: “We commence building our cabins.”

From: The Journal of William Clark

 

Led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark the Corps of Discovery traveled up the Missouri River from St. Louis for nearly six months. Realizing they needed a place to spend the approaching winter they stopped along the river near present day Washburn, North Dakota.

 

Groves of cottonwoods provided the wood needed for constructing the triangular fort. Bunk rooms, store rooms and work rooms face inward with 16-foot picket exterior. In just three weeks Corps members were moving into the primitive structure, hurrying to finish the roofs before the worst weather arrived. More than 40 men were to spend the harsh winter in tight quarters at Fort Mandan until early April.

 

FM - Bunks 

November 20, 1804: “Capt Lewis & my Self move into our huts, a very hard wind from the W.”

From: the Journal of William Clark

 

FM - L&C Quarters

 

During those months the men hunted bison, established relationships with native tribes, and prepared for the journey westward towards the Rocky Mountains. Trading goods for food with the Mandan Indians living nearby was essential to winter survival. In late February men were assigned the task of carving four dugout canoes; they finished in 22 days.

February 28, 1805: “Sent out 16 men to make four Perogus  those men returned in the evening and informed that they found trees they thought would answer.”

From: the Journal of William Clark

 

Lewis and Clark compiled their observations, notes and specimens to be sent back to President Jefferson in the spring. It was here that Lewis and Clark hired fur-trapper Toussaint Charbonneau. When the Corps of Discovery left Fort Mandan in April 1805 Charbonneau, his wife Sacagawea and infant son Jean Baptiste served as interpreters and guides.

 

November 4, 1804: “a french man by Name Chabonah, who Speaks the Big Belley language visit us, he wished to hire & informed us his 2 Squars were Snake Indians, we engau him to go on with us and take one of his wives to interpret the Snake language”

From: the Journal of William Clark

 

FM - Woodworking FM - Candle

 

When the Corps returned on their homeward journey in 1806 they found that the fort had burnt to the ground.

 

The Missouri River has changed course over two centuries, it is believed the original site of the fort is now underwater. Nearby a replica fort has been constructed, furnished much as it would have been during the 1804-05 winter.

 

Interpreters give guided tours; during our visit our guide was very knowledgable, bringing time at the fort come to life with fascinating details. He noted that several of the doors are hung incorrectly – they swing outward which would have made it impossible to open after the heavy snowfalls. As today’s temperature hovered near 100 degrees it stretched our imagination to feel the -45 degrees the Corps suffered. Many of the men experienced frostbite but all survived.

April 7, 1805: “Sunday, at 4 oClock …we Sout out on our voyage up the river in 2 perigues and 6 canoes, and proceded on to the 1st villg. of Mandans & Camped on the S.”

From: the Journal of William Clark

 

 

FM - Guide FM - Kids

 

A large hands-on activity area in the visitor center attracts youngsters to try on outfits, don hats and climb into a replica dugout canoe.

 

When You Go: Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Washburn, North Dakota (38 miles north of Bismarck), 877-462-8535, www.fortmandan.com.

Scandinavian Heritage Center

Minot, ND

 

Gol Stave Church 1

The Scandinavian Heritage Center celebrates the heritage and culture of five Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Located in a peaceful park setting next to the Minot Visitor Center, the site honors immigrant ancestors who settled in the area. The centerpiece is a full-sized replica of the Gol Stave Church built in the early thirteenth century and now located at the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Site in Oslo, Norway. The intricate construction reflects rich symbolism traditional to Norwegian stave churches.

Storehouse

  Windmill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately the church was not open when we visited but we met a young local couple who were married in the church four years ago. They return each year on their anniversary for photographs.

 

Other structures in the park include a Danish windmill, a grass-roofed stabbur (storehouse), a colorful, 30-foot tall Swedish Dala horse, and a 230-year-old log house from Sigdal, Norway. Sculptures represent a famed ski jumper, a Norwegian skier, Leif Eirikssen and Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. A walkway winds through the neatly landscaped grounds, and pass a pond, waterfall, Plaza Scandinavia (granite map) and Eternal Flame.

HansDala Horse Gol Stave Church

When You Go: Scandinavian Heritage Center, 1020 S. Broadway, Minot ND, 701-852-9161, http://scandinavianheritage.org.

 

 

Cemetery – Fort Buford State Historic Site

 

North Dakota

 

Fort Buford Cemetery

We tramped through the old cemetery at Fort Buford State Historic Site (southwest of Williston, North Dakota) today for a look back in Western history. Fort Buford is probably best remember as the site where Sitting Bull surrendered in 1881, bringing an end to the Sioux Indian Wars.

FBC - Brain AbcessAn active military fort from 1866-1895, Buford had hospital facilities. However, it’s interesting to note that the majority of deaths were not due to enemy warfare but disease (brain “abcess”, Bright’s Disease, mumps, acute gastritis, pneumonia, typhoid fever, consumption) or mis-spent life style (murdered, drowned, killed by road agents, inebriation, shot by accident, poisoned, suicide).

Non-military “citizens” and Indians were also laid to rest. For instance, “HE THAT KILLS HIS ENEMIES SCOUT” died of wounds. Today only eight burials remain. The military burials were moved to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Cemetery, Montana, in 1896.

FBC - Killed by Indians

FBC - Brain Abcess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The markers we see today were restored in 1980 by the Fort Buford 6th Infantry Association. Through their efforts we have a better understanding of life – and death – on  the Western frontier.

 

When You Go: Fort Buford State Historic Site, Williston, ND, 701-572-9034, http://www.history.nd.gov/historicsites/buford/bufordhistory2.html

 

Cheese Buttons

Dickinson, North Dakota

 

Ukrainian Cultural Institute

Last night after dinner we meandered around Dickinson to get a feel for the tidy town in the midst of the Bakken oil boom. Outside the Ukrainian Cultural Institute I noticed a sign offering fresh Cheese Buttons on Wednesdays. What are Cheese Buttons? We guessed, maybe something to do with cheese curds. Later while reading local brochures I saw another reference to Cheese Buttons. My curiosity clicked into gear.

 

This morning while at the Dickinson Visitors Center I inquired about Cheese buttons, only to find out they are what we know as pierogi. Still curious and since it was Wednesday, we made a stop at the UCI to purchase Cheese Buttonns before leaving town. After sampling, I chose those filled with sauerkraut over the potato or cottage cheese, $6/dozen.

 

 

 

We’re told:

The Czechs call them “vareniki”

The Germans call them “kase knoeph”

The Polish call them “pirogi”

The Ukrainians call them “Varenyky or pyrohy”

The Americans call them “Cheese Buttons or Dumplings”

 

Now we know, they have nothing to do with cheese curds and indeed sometimes no cheese at all is involved. We’ve been enlightened and have partaken of the local speciality – Cheese Buttons. If you’re ever in Dickinson on a Wednesday stop at the Ukrainian Cultural Institute and try them for yourself.

 

When You Go: Ukrainian Cultural Institute, 1221 W. Villard, Dickinson, North Dakota, 701-483-1486, http://ucitoday.org

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