Montana and North Dakota (Day 7)

After Yellowstone, we sleep in Cody, Wyoming in a place called the Six Gun Saloon, or something along those lines, then drive as fast as we can into and through Montana.

We do stop for a little break, though, in Miles City, Montana. And while I'm rifling through the cooler for some nuts, out of the corner of my eye I catch a red, yellow, and white smear against the blue sky. I'm almost scared to look. An old farmer in a rusty pickup sees it too and slams on the brakes.

It flaps gangly though the air between an electrical pole and a building, not at all the way you'd think, and lands finally on a branch of a cottonwood tree. It's got to be five feet across. In its turkey-drumstick claws it hauls a squirrel with its head ripped off, dripping blood on the pavement below.

A bald eagle! Whoah, aren't they endangered?

You could see from the architecture and bygone amenities that Miles City was something more in the days than it is today. Down the road was the ubiquitous mom-and-pop gobbling Walmart Supercentre.

It's a day to put in miles but further on down the highway, in western North Dakota, we can't resist pulling into Roosevelt National Park, a showcase for the Badlands and everything Rough Rider.

I didn't get a shot of Teddy's cabin where he fled in abandonment of his pregnant wife (big man escape #1) and his daughter once his wife had died (big man escape #2), but legend has it it's where he shot his first bison (one of the last 300 left in North America) and both found himself and his big manliness.

We tour the cabin with a ranger, a young woman, who at least one Trumpy grouses isn't enthusiastic enough about the dead president. The ranger shrugs her shoulders when asked, "Do you even like Roosevelt?"

This was a "prairie dog town." Burrow after burrow, maybe a hundred dogs. You can see the sky is darkening. I think the whole town was out, barking (actually, it was more like chirping), portending the rain.

And then it came. You could see the entire system develop in the expansive prairie sky.

The Badlands, greener than I was expecting, at least in this part.

The Little Missouri River and the calm after the storm.