Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dinosaur skin and Lewis and Clark

What we saw of Bismarck was strip malls and industrial until we went in search of the Bismarck Heritage Center, which sits in a beautifully landscaped area across from the state capital. A statue of Sakakawea - that's the way Lewis and Clark's guide's name is spelled in her home territory and they ought to know - marks the entrance.

Where else can you see mummified dinosaur skin?
Judy had read about the mummified remains -  including skin! - of a duck-billed dinosaur known as a hadrosaur and wasn't about to miss it.

That was all we planned to see but the dinosaurs that once roamed the area and early inhabitants' artifacts drew us in.
Mammoth tusker. Photo by Judy Wells.

Tree bark instead of buffalo hide but otherwise quite similar to Plains tepees. Photo by Judy Wells.
Painted by Chief Sitting Bull. Photo by Judy Wells.
We stayed for over an hour seeing the tree-barked homes of the first North Dakotans, the wonderful winter count, drum and other implements drawn by Chief Sitting Bull and other interesting artifacts.

The excellent gift store grabbed and pulled us inside, too.

Wind machines became more common. Photo by Judy Wells.
On the road again, we paused to photograph some picturesque wind machines then headed to the spot where Lewis and Clark spent the 10 winter months of their epic journey into the west.

Sakakawea and Lewis and Clark portrayed outside the Interpretive Center. Photo by Judy Wells.
The Interpretive Center in Washburn, N. D., is an excellent introduction to what the trek was all about. President Thomas Jefferson wanted to know EVERYTHING about his Louisiana Purchase from its human inhabitants, their numbers and customs, to the flora, fauna, rivers, rocks and insects.

And boy, did he get his money's worth! Only Google may have learned more, though I doubt if the dot-commers of today would have the stamina of this intrepid group.

Fort Mandan where the expedition spent two winters. Photo by Judy Wells.
Just down the road is the location where they built Fort Mandan to spend the winter - about five months - both going and returning.

Officers' quarters where Lewis and Clark stayed. Photo by Judy Wells.
The original burned down but an exact replica replaced it in the 1900s.

Checking out the sergeants' beds. Photo by Judy Wells.
It and the center are one of the few North Dakota attraction you can view year-round.

Debi plays Sakakawea. Photo by Judy Wells.
Judy plays cold (it was in the '90s!) Photo by Debi Lander.
Of course Deb and I had to try on the costumes and put ourselves in the freezing North Dakota winter.

Statue to Seaman. Photo by Judy Wells.
One surprise was learning of Seaman, the Newfoundland that accompanied Captain Merriwether Lewis. A large statue of him stands guard over the river.

Surprises didn't cease there. You may leave home but you never quite escape, even in the emptiness of mid-North Dakota.

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