Friday, September 5, 2008

Need more time - so much to do!

August 28, 2008 – I really am so fortunate to have such smooth-traveling kids. They entertain each other (and me) every day. Today, they had a knit-in in the backseat to pass the time on what was SUPPOSED to be a short day on the road.
It was supposed to take us only about an hour and a half or two (tops) to Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, ND. Well, that was before we spotted Salem Sue, the world’s biggest Holstein, and other side trips.

and the tallest scrap metal sculpture – “Geese in Flight.” I knew this was the first of several such sculptures, and the girls were duly impressed. They wanted to see the rest, even though it meant a detour, so we veered south off US 94 onto “The Enchanted Highway.”

The modern art project began in the 1990s. It was the brainchild of a former school principal with no welding or art experience. He was from Regent, ND, a dying farm town. He wanted to create something that would draw people to the town, to breathe life back into it.

With the help of farmers and others throughout the community who donated or leased (cheap) sites for the sculptures, provided materials and labor the project has gotten off to a rip-roaring start. The seven sculptures are all fairly artistically done. (Hey, they’re made of crushed oil barrels – and I’m not all THAT into modern art.) They’re entertaining for the whole family. And they all have easy access and ample parking. The girls particularly enjoyed the rocking grasshoppers and climbing structure at “Grasshoppers in the Field.”

Since the idea of the project was to support the town, we opted to eat at the CafĂ© rather than enjoy our PBJ lunches at one of the sculpture pullouts. The pattimelt I had was PIPING hot and the girls didn’t look too disappointed in their grilled cheeses. We picked up some ice cream down the street and meandered through the gift shop before hitting the road again.

Just before dinner time we arrived at Theodore Roosevelt National Park where we discovered the back door of the trailer, the ONLY door into the trailer, wouldn’t open! It sounded like the lock was releasing just fine. And the knob seemed to be working fine as well. Still, the door just WOULDN’T open.

I was fiddling with it when Jeff Kyllo, a North Dakota farmer and business owner, crossed the road to offer his help. He was equally baffled. Next problem – the trailer was locked tight as a drum (all windows closed and locked, top locked down) because we’d been in the Big City (Bismarck). So there was no way in, really, except to remove the door (impossible without destroying it given the bumper construction) or to remove a window. I really didn’t want to remove any windows because that’s one thing I’ve never done and I had NO idea, really, how they worked. Further, the side windows don’t leak, and I wanted to keep it that way.

On the other hand, the front window leaks already when we’re going down the road, and there is no locksmith anywhere near Medora, according to telephone information. When I mentioned that the SIDE windows didn’t leak, we got to talking about the type of leake the front window may have. Finally, Jeff said, “Well, let’s take that one out, get the back door open, the we’ll seal up that front window before we put it back and solve two problems at once!” Well, sounded like a plan. (Good thing I carried a new tube of silicone with us!) I knew these were, for certain, my people when his wife grabbed this shot of me breaking in.

Once inside, we discovered that the striker plate, which had been a problem earlier in the trip, had again come loose, and the stripped out screw that let it all loose had slipped across the divide and was wedged between its spot on the door and the lock hole in the door frame. We were able to jimmy it all loose! WHEW!

Jeff helped me reinstall the front window (after applying a healthy ring of silicone). I’m hoping it won’t leak. But, hey, if it does it won’t be any different than before, and at least NOW I know how to replace (or remove, seal and reinstall) my windows!

We managed to get all that done in time to take in the 8:30 p.m. performance of the “Medora Musical.” I’d heard bits and pieces about this performance that includes local history and comedy, music and family-friendly fun. But I had NO idea the EXTENT of this facility and show! We pulled into the parking lot and were welcomed by two escalators down into the amphitheater which features North Dakota Badlands as its natural backdrop. The audience was friendly, the music was well performed and all of us were thoroughly entertained.

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