Just the Basics: This is the last day we plan to be in Williston; the forecast for tomorrow is holding at cooler, and with favorable wind conditions, so we'll be back in the saddle tomorrow.
- Changed rooms at the Super 8 - we were VERY lucky to get a room at all, let alone for 4 nights, due to the holiday weekend and the very high local occupancy rates (vacationers and, even more so, oil-well and dam-building workforces) - so, today we had to change rooms due to folks with earlier reservations.
- Had a Super 8 "complimentary" breakfast: coffee, OJ, cornflakes and raisin toast - we've been bringing our own raisin bread to the breakfast room - we're finishing off a loaf.
- Walked back into town to join Marv Baarstad (see Cut Bluff Overlook, below) and some of his friends for coffee and blueberry biscuits. On the way back to our motel we checked out the new trees planted in the park for Arbor Day - this is a "Tree City" and Marv is very much involved in planting and caring for trees and open spaces.
- Cleaned and oiled our bike chains.
- Had a great lunch in our room: Iced tea we made using our in-room coffee pot; Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese; Ah-Mak sesame seed whole wheat crackers; Purple cabbage; and Chopped cantaloupe and bananas topped with Ben & Jerry's vanilla ice cream. YUM! We'll finish off the crackers, cheese, and cabbage on the road tomorrow.
- Had dinner at the 2nd Annual Williston Rockin' Ribs Cookoff (think we got that right). Local businesses and civic and religious groups form teams to compete for the Local Favorite Trophy. A section of Main Street is closed for the day and many businesses and crafters and artists have sidewalk sales. Teams start cooking as early as 7 a.m. At 5:30 samples are ready. The Chamber of Commerce sells $1 tickets (and t-shirts and raffle tickets). 1 ticket gets 1 rib from any competitor. The competitors donate the food, so all the money paid for tickets goes to local charities. A missionary group offers beans, potato salad and a soda for a donation to their campership fund. Very clever and very big fun, although the temperature was still 101 F when we left for the concert at 6:45 p.m.
- Went to a free band concert in the park - country-style music in the style of the Sons of the Pioneers by a very good ND-MT band. At the concert we saw 2 people whom we knew from our earlier local adventures. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans was giving away free ice cream bars and helium balloons - wonderful!
- Ended the day with margaritas at Don Pedro's. = ) =)
Today's Photos: (1) A view towards Cut Bluff' (2) Marv Baardstad pointing out details on copies of the Corps of Discovery maps.
Tomorrow: About 50 miles on U.S. 2 to Tioga, ND, a town of about 1200 folks, with its own newspaper.
For Those Who Want More:
Cut Bluff Overlook Park: This is too long a story to tell adequately, even "For Those Who Want More," but we'll take a stab at it. If you read yesterday's blog, you already know how Andy, from Dakota Car Rental, hooked us up with Marv Baarstad, developer and overseer of Cut Bluff Overlook Park, who promised to take us out there at 7 last night - which he did.
The Park is located on a bluff above town, from it, you can see the Cut Bluff area mentioned in Lewis' Journal for April 21, 1806. The Park, itself, is not on Cut Bluff, but is where The Corps of Discovery camped for the night and from which they took sighting 6 of the 7 they took that day, precisely locating Cut Bluff, itself - in other words, we stood right where they camped. According to Marv, this is the only place on the entire trail where one can say with absolute certainty that they stood precisely there.
Marv is the person who actually figured all this out. He is a retired surveyor and a lifelong Boy Scout and Scout Leader, with a passion for Lewis and Clark which began in 1988. He knew they had camped near here but no one knew exactly where. Using his own powers of observation, he noticed Cut Bluff as a geographic feature and began to figure things out. From the Lewis and Clark record, he knew the compass readings they had made for Cut Bluff, he got copies of their maps, he corresponded with contemporary scholars, he made his own compass readings - and now everyone knows he actually found the spot where they camped.
With the help of Boy Scouts and others, he has developed a park at the site. They planted trees (labeled with their scientific names), developed some trails, added pit toilets, a picnic shelter and a well, put up permanent display boards with copies of relevant portions of the Journals, installed bird houses - it's an absolutely wonderful site! The park officially opened in 2007 but continues to evolve. Folks are allowed to camp there and sometimes campers help with maintenance, but Marv is constantly out there mowing and weed-whacking and painting and gardening. There's a new shed this spring - the materials were bought with donations and the building was built by kids in the high school shop.
A quick review of how we happened to make this wonderful visit to Cut Bluff Overlook Park: We spent Monday night at the Kings Inn Motel in Culbertson, MT. Diane, our hostess, clued us in to the need to be aggressive about getting motels in this area, for the reasons noted above. She got us our place in the Super 8 here in Williston. She also suggested we rent a car from Larry's Dakota Car Rental in Williston on Wednesday to go out and see the Fort Union Trading Post and the Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Center. We did.
Andy Chandler, of Dakota Car Rental, talked to us about Lewis and Clark and said we shouldn't have skipped the Cut Bluff Overlook Park on our tour of the area. He contacted Marv on our behalf and arranged for him to take us out there - and that's the chain of great folks whose kindness led us to the exact sort of experience we hoped to have when we started dreaming of this trip.
Postscript: While we were out of our room working on bikes or something, someone "in a brown uniform" came by the hotel and left 2 copies of a neat little booklet for us at the front desk - Passport to North Dakota History, a publication of the State Historical Society in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Service. We assume one of these great folks arranged for this but don't yet know whom to thank - but we're working on it.