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#38 Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit, ND

The entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park South Unit is located in Medora, ND. It's a cute little town where people still ride their horses down the road and everybody knows each other.

It's also where Teddy Roosevelt came to grieve for his wife and mother, who had died in his house in New York city within hours of each other on Valentine's Day in 1884. He loved them both very much and in his diary on that day there is a big black "X" at the top of the entry followed by one sentence.

"The light has gone out of my life."

Teddy, I know exactly what you mean. Profound grief changes one forever. We may smile and laugh again, but it is always colored by grief and loss. We are forced to have one foot in this world, while one foot is in Heaven with our loved one. We feel resentment for having to be here and to carry on when we only want to be there with them. We never ever "get over" our loved one, but time teaches us to integrate the grief into our existence here. Grief is the expression of the great love we had for our loved ones. We shouldn't hide love...ever. I believe it is our ability to love and what we choose to do with that love that defines us.

Teddy Roosevelt became known as the conservationist President. He believed deeply in managing and preserving our natural resources and lands. I encourage you to read more about his incredible life and efforts to encourage the National Parks and Monuments to thrive. Aside from his conservation efforts here in the states he took on one of the most dangerous rivers in the world in 1912 after an election defeat. The book is called, "The River of Doubt". I read it years ago and let's just say it is a page turner.

Well, it's time to enter the park and explore, run, and try not to get killed. Gotta love these construction signs! But it's not the construction that will kill you...keep reading.

The vistas in Theodore South are just lovely! Climb to the top of any bluff and you can see for miles and miles.

Buffalo grazing.

The wildflowers were abundant and colorful!

Of course, there are always friends to be made along the way...if they don't kill you first.

This rattlesnake and his friend were curled up on the side of the trail. Thankfully, someone had been there before us and notified the ranger. The ranger was standing there quietly and instructed us to do likewise as we approached. I thought there might be a buffalo around the corner, but it was these two chaps lying too close to the trail. As you all know by now, I hate snakes! The ranger told us to move slowly and to speak quietly and we should be ok. Is that the operative word, "should"? I have to say it was amazing standing so close to these snakes! I should have been screaming and running, but a sense of curiosity I had never felt before took over. He rattled a little when I took this shot and so I stepped back and he remained calm. In case you're wondering...there's no zoom on this photo folks, a little crop which results in a tiny bit of zoom. Yup, that close...

Notice how well he blends into the dirt on the trail in the lower left hand corner. My advice? If you are hiking in rattlesnake country, walk slowly, or make your husband go first. I doubt we would have seen them if it hadn't been for the ranger and that probably would have ended badly for us.

His friend had the sense to get off the trail a little further.

Well, that was exciting! Time to change my underwear and start running...on the road. Only after sending Fred away in the car (to pick me up at the junction about 5 miles away), did I notice large amounts of buffalo chips on the road and plenty of curves and hiding places for them. Many dirt wallows were right on the side of the road! It didn't really occur to me that the road was going to be just as dangerous as the trail, I was just glad to be away from those rattlesnakes. My plan became to zig zag on the road near curves and hiding places so not to surprise any of them. If there are no trees around, which there aren't, the element of surprise is not one you should use. Dear ones, you cannot outrun a buffalo. After I got back into the car near the junction, Fred told me there was a really big guy right around the corner. So these pictures are of him. So grateful Fred picked me up! He was rolling in the dirt right by the car and i would not have wanted to be on foot and encounter him. They are massive and can be ill-tempered!!!

Thanks for the show! Time to get to Theodore Roosevelt North Unit. Do not miss reading that one. There is a geologic wonder there that I still can't believe is real.

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