People of Montana, People of North Dakota, Somewhere

Ranchers

Montana and North Dakota are huge ranching and farming States both presently and historically.

Teddy Roosevelt came to North Dakota after the death of his wife and mother on the same day.

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A man not to stand still, but who was overcome with grief made the decision to become a rancher long before he was a Rough Rider and a President.

Charles M. Russells amazing paintings of Ranchers, Cowboys, and Native American cultures give great insight on what it must of been like a long time ago. Iconic and amazing glimpses into history.

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The first rancher I met was in Montana. Actually it was his daughter on July 4th. Zeusy and I were looking for a spot to eat and sleep when two young ladies in a tandem kayak came down river. I had not seen people in well over a week.

Melissa Turnbull took an instant liking to the handsome one of our party, Zeusy.  It just so happened Melissa had a German Shepherd and well once you are partnered with one everyone you see becomes special.

When I inquired if she knew whose land I had plopped myself on and if they would mind an overnight camper, she responded with a big “Oh yea, this is my parents ranch, and they would not mind.”

Melissa pointed further down river and a group of people gathered around a couple of boats. She said to come on over because her family and friends were celebrating the 4th of July as she and her kayak partner began paddling that direction.

I secured the canoe, an got into some dry clothes.

Soon a gentleman showed up on a quad runner. It was Melissa’s father, Mr. Elliot Turnbull.

We introduced ourselves and I soon learned that he had been originally ranching/farming in Taylorville, Illinois and he and his wife had moved here in the early 80’s to start the life of a Montana ranchers. He also said he had been to St. Louis often to watch baseball games he enjoyed.

I hopped on the back of the quad and he drove me over to the celebration. I was introduced to everyone, who showed interest in my journey. Little did they know I had a keen interest in learning about them.

I learned that they had been working hard collecting the hay so needed for their cattle in winter.
At this latitude the agriculture season is short with the first freeze of the season around September 15th.

I also learned that the Missouri river freezes solid around December 1st. The frozen river is then used as an alternative roadway due so few bridges that cross the Missouri in this part of Montana. Can you imagine?

He also spoke of the flood of 2011, and how it reshaped cutbanks, sandbars, and beaches.
Some losing land, others gaining many acres by the torrent of a flooding Missouri river.

Soon they were off to celebrate the 4th even further someplace else.  I then retired to a stormy night with Zeusy on the Turnball ranch.

The next rancher was in North Dakota. The unfortunate event of Zeusy getting impaled led to my introduction to Mr. Herb Grenz on the Grenz Ranch.

Herb was one of the fine men waiting for us in the dark of the night as I landed on his ramp into the Missouri river used for pumps and pipelines for water so necessary to grow any living thing.You see a lot of these contraptions as you paddle this part of the Missouri.

Herb guided us into a safe landing using a flashlight. The area was full of dead trees and driftwood.

While riding out of the area I asked Herb how long he had been ranching. He chuckled a little as he said ” About 80 years.” He was not putting me on.

While Zeusy was recovering Herb moved the canoe weighed down with all our gear out of the water. The winds were high and Lake Oahe’s infamous waves could play havoc on the boat.

He even took the time to call Don’s motel to tell me not to come out because it was unsafe to paddle.

When Game Warden Erik Schmidt returned us to our canoe we met Herb again. A fun, firey conversation about politics and life in general was struck up.

Herb then described how he had fed a herd of 40 deer during North Dakotas serious winter. He also spoke of having to put down two fawns near a barn. The Winter had done them in. To weak and dying of starvation it was the humane thing to do.

But I sensed Herb’s dislike at euthanizing the fawns. An unpleasant experience I am sure.

I retrieved my canoe and gear but not after a friendly handshake goodbye.

I got the sense from these two men that little has changed since the time of Charlie Russell. The quad runner has replaced the horse but the honorable profession is still dictated by the angle of the sun. The change of the seasons, and the mood of the planet as they do the necessary work that feeds America.

And thank you both Gentlemen!

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People of North Dakota, Somewhere, Zeusy

Hold on Zeusy, part two.

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After spending two nights at Don’s Motel in Linton, ND. Game Warden Schmidt came and got us.

Off we went to retrieve the canoe and gear parked at the Grenz ranch. Herb Grenz had moved it further on shore. High winds on the lake prompted putting it further up. He had also called the hotel that day to warn me not to come out and paddle. The winds were too high. This makes impressive swells and waves on Lake Oahe.

When we arrived we were met by Herb Grenz who had a lively conversation and I learned how the ranchers of ND. don’t hesitate to take care of wildlife suffering from the deprivations of hard winters. Great stuff!

Warden Schmidt and I loaded the canoe and all my gear into the bed of his truck. He was driving us to Beaver Bay campground where we can take it easy while Zeusy recovers.

We had a great conversation about NorthDakota, Wyoming, Linton, and I learned a lot. We also shared in the conversations that LEOs share wherever they come across each other in the World. We also shared the thrill of seeing Pheasants and the ND State Bird, the Eastern Meadow Lark.Warden Schmidt set us up in a great place. A restaurant and store are up the hill, and a 360° turn lays your eyes on the beauty of North Dakota.

Dr. Stacey was called and she advised us how to proceed with Zeusy’s recovery. She is the best!

We will be here until he heals. Zeusy is mostly sleeping and eating. I promise you I am fully using my canine loyalty until he is better. He does it when I am not well.

What are pals for right?

Thank you again Warden Schmidt, and the people of North Dakota!

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People of North Dakota, Rivers, Somewhere

Hold on Zeusy, they are going to get us out of here!

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I pulled the canoe over to get my bearings and let the man chase the waves after earlier leaving my two day paddling buddy and local expert Sander.

Zeusy was doing his thing when he suddenly gave out the most awful yelp he has ever made. He immediatly laid down. He wasn’t getting up.

Something terrible just happened. While running he didn’t see the tip of an old tree jutting from the water. My best pal and adventure buddy just got speared and impaled on the tree.

“Oh god Zeusy !”

I was on an island in the middle of Lake Oahe. The sun is going down.

I checked his wound and he had a three inch tear in his chest. I could open it and see muscle but
I couldn’t tell how deep the wound was. I packed it to stem the bleeding, and he quickly went into shock. I covered him in every coat I had, opened my sleeping bag and wrapped him tight.

He didn’t want to move. My dog never stops. This is bad.

Not knowing how I was going to get him to help I called Sander. This is his territory, his water, he would know who to call.

Sanders said to use 911 and call the Sheriff. Uh,duh!  What was I thinking!  I was always a part of 911. I had never called it!

In no time they had me connected to the North Dakota Fish and Game Warden Erik Schmidt.

Warden Schmidt advised me to paddle down several miles and meet him at a concrete ramp that a rancher,Mr. Herb Grenz, uses for his pumps and piping for irrigation.

“Hold on Zeusy they are going to get us out of here! ”

I packed him in the canoe. The tent lined the bottom. The jackets and sleeping bags covered him.

As I pushed off I was looking backwards and saw the sun drop below the skyline.

My heart almost sank with it. Lake Oahe is full of tricks. Stands of old trees, Logs, sandbars. This could get much worse, and I don’t carry the hi-powered lighting to navigate at night. A headlamp and a Solarpuff were switched on.

“Paddle ! Damn it Craig you have to paddle harder! ” , I said to myself over and over as I forced a fast, steady pace. I had already paddled twenty-one miles. Everything on my body hurt.

Darkness dropped. I was having a hard time, seeing any distance. I stayed about 200 yards from the East Bank in hopes of avoiding those trees. The huge cutbanks could be barely discernable by their lighter shade against the dark sky.

The phone rings. It is Warden Schmidt. We work at my location. He said he turned on his emergency lights to locate him.

I could see nothing.

He said listen for the irrigation pump.

Nothing.

“Look at the water tower on the West Bank in the City of Cannonball. ” “Could I see it? ”

“Yes!”

“We are across from there.” He said.

We were miles away. It got darker, and the temps were dropping. 50’s that evening was predicted. Not good for a dog in shock. The water tower had been consumed by the dark.

Warden Schmidt continued to call and orientate me about every thirty minutes. Still no emergency lights. No steady drone of pumps.

I was paddling so hard I soaked myself with the spray of the paddle. No worries. Zeusy has never given up on me, I never on him.

An eternity passed. The bank turned and there they were. I shouted out with joy! 

The “They” included the rancher Herb Grenz who guided me to a safe landing using a flashlight. His land, his territory.

“They were getting us out of here Zeusy ! ”

Warden Schmidt had notified Dr. Malmedal of the Linton Veterinary Service that we were coming earlier in the evening. He was waiting.

We packed Zeusy in the front seat and off to Linton, North Dakota we went.

It turns out this is where Warden Schmidt grew up. His town, his territory.

We reached Dr. Malmedal. He and his wife were definatly kind, compassionate people as they cared for my best pal!

No internal injuries detected.

I got dizzy and almost slumped.

My fear was over!

In no time Zeusy was full of meds with more meds in the bottles for his recovery.

Warden Schmidt made motel arrangments for us at Don’s Motel. He soon had us there. He inquired if I needed anything from the store. Ham and cheese sandwich and a Pepsi? ” , I asked.

“Sure” he said easily and off he went. But realizing what the time was he turned back. Everything was closed.

As if everything he did wasn’t enough the man went home, made me a turkey and cheese sandwich, brought two Sprites, two clementines, and two fantastic cookies his wife made.

In North Dakota I have met the most kind and generous people I have ever met!

As I write this Zeusy is recovering, I have “Linton ” t-shirt one of the cleaning ladies brought to me when she asked why I had a jacket on. The paddling t-shirt has two months on it. Great for paddling, not to run to the store.

Don, the proprieter of Don’s motel a devoted animal guy hooked me up with a leash. A pink one. ”

“Probably not your dogs favorite color ! ” He smiled. My gratitude will out weigh Zeusy being seen in a pink leash.

Thank you Warden Schmidt and the fine people of North Dakota!
I will never forget what you did for us!

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North Dakota, People I meet, People of North Dakota, Somewhere

Deputy Meadows

A big thanks to Deputy Cody Meadows and his K-9 Jack for giving me a lift to the store in Washburn, ND!

A true brother in the crazy world that is law enforcement.

They will always be my family ! wherever I roam now! 

Keep the faith all my family who wear that badge!

And please for god sakes take care of each other! http://www.mcleancountynd.gov/departments/sheriffs-office/

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People of North Dakota, Rivers, Somewhere

Knife River Indian Village, ND

Barry the Whitewater Kayaker who I met at the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone highly recommended going up the Knife river to see the NPS site called the Knife River Indian Village.

So when I found the Knife I took a right turn and upstream I went.
I paddled pushed, pulled and shoved until I arrived at Sakawea Park in the City of Stanton, ND and overnighted there.

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The next morning was more of the same. The river had dropped over night and we kept going until it became just too hot to drag the canoe any further.

You could not see anything at all over the banks at this point.

I had earlier phoned the site and found Mindy who greatly helped me figure out where I was in relation to the site.

Figuring I was close Zeusy and I climbed the bank only to find an even higher and steeper levee.
Over we went and we found a massive field.

Time to call Mindy again. After a few minutes comparing landmarks off I went.

I walked about a mile through the field when I ran smack dab into it!

Made it!

First person to find was Mindy and gave her a huge thank you!

Here we met Jeff who was very informative about the site.

Three villages were here for many, many years.

Using earth lodges as homes the people farmed, hunted and to a lesser extent fished for the substinance.

The lodges have been worn down to small mounds but still give an idea of the layout of the homes.

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Inside a re-creation of a lodge I spotted something I haven’t seen in months. A bed. Oh the temptation in the cool earthen lodge!

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Soon I was back to the Knife river and after an easier 3 mile trip downstream we returned to our journey on the Missouri river.

I would also say thank you to the employee who gave up her lunch tupperware so Zeusy could have some water. I am sorry I did not get your name because I was really excited about being there!

Here is the link!

http://www.nps.gov/knri/index.htm

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People I meet, People of Montana, People of North Dakota, Rivers, Somewhere

Great people and cheeseburger breakfast!

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While Zeusy and I were eating a fantastic breakfast of grilled cheeseburgers I reflected on how this fortunate event came to be.

Yesterday I was one day away from resupply and around 1pm I had long past smoked my last one and was down to one potato and one small can of green beans.

This is when a gentleman named Barry showed up looking at the confluence.

He asked how I faired in the storm the night before. I told him we did well. A little more discussion and it turns out Barry for the last 15 years has been chasing hardcore whitewater rivers to paddle his kayak down.

Even more so he spent 8 months circumnavigating New Zealand paddling a bicycle.

Wow!

In no time Barry was giving me a lift into Fairview, Mt. to buy smokes and a pepsi.  If you know me well those are my vices.

As we drove he shared with me some great stories of his adventures while also saying that he is a Musher near Yellowstone (park) during the Winter.

Born and raised in ND Barry now lives in Bozeman, Mt.

He said his whitewater days may be coming to an end. He has lost a few friends to such extreme adventures and may be getting into something like long distance paddling.

A great guy to talk to and I am sure whatever he is into next will be thrilling. (Did not get a pic, crap)

So later in the evening when I had drank the Pepsi and smoked almost all of smokes of the pack I bought earlier I was sitting there contemplating a few things.

Should we go to bed now and why did I need to use up a lot of my water after flushing my eyes out.
Why I kept my eyes open when spraying insect repellent on my head I have no silly idea.

So two more guys show up to check out the confluence. Shortly after they came over to talk canoes. Renting mine.

There was a Girl Scout troop at the other end of the campground that had six canoes on it. He wondered if those were for rent first. They wanted to paddle around in the confluence.

I told him I had no idea about the other group and was initially negative about mine. I really thought he was just messing with me !

So after talking for a few minutes I realized they really wanted to paddle around in the confluence.

After they reassured me they wouldn’t sink it and were very good swimmers we dumped out the mess of rainwater and mud and in they went.

They paddled accross the Missouri into the fast current of the Yellowstone. They looked like pros.

Soon they paddled back in returned the canoe and we talked for a bit.

Jake and Waylon work over at the Casino in Trenton, ND. and were just out sight seeing. (Pic above)

The both hale from Belcourt, ND which is the Turtle Mountain reservation. Their people own the casino in Trenton.

We talked further about geographical locations of the places they mentioned and Waylon said he likes the very cold Winters because of Ice fishing on his local Lakes. That is sounds like a ton of fun!

Jake says he is going to go to Lewis and Clark State park in ND and do a 13 mile canoe paddle they have there.

We exchanged names and such and they got ready to leave but not before they hooked me up with more smokes and a warm coke with the name Jessica on it as Cokes ad Campaign. I told Waylon all the Jessicas I know are hot so I will take it.

Off they went.

So I sat for awhile enjoying the sunset and they fact my eyes no longer burned and found Waylon on Facebook.

In no time I had a FB message that said they were bringing me food and asked if I needed anything else.

A short time later they returned with their friend Blake with bread,cheese, raw hamburger, a bunch of Mountan Dews. Many large cans of beef stew and chicken. Topped off with a small bag of charcoal to cook the burgers !

Wow!  I was floored ! They didn’t have to take the time to do that for us!  But so grateful I am they did.

The mosquitos made any more socializing an impossibility and off the went to kick around in Fairview.

I went to bed excited. These four guys truly made my day with their kindness to this complete stranger. And for that I thank each and everyone of you !!!!

By the way, Zeusy loved his cheeseburger breakfast too!

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