Medora, North Dakota and Beyond

A black coal seam in the cliffs above the Little Missouri River

Medora Musical and Pitchfork Steak Fondue

The gates to Theodore Roosevelt NP were less than a quarter mile from our RV park in Medora, and the town itself was right on the other side of the gates. We heard from several people that we should not miss the Pitchfork Steak Fondue dinner and the Medora Musical during our stay in Medora. Steak Fondue evoked visions of steak smothered in cheese for Cal. The fondue part was actually a vat of oil, with steaks plunged into it by the pitchfork full. I wouldn’t normally be up for a deep fried steak, but it and the dinner was actually very delicious. They serve hundreds of people six nights a week.

The dinner was at the same place as the musical, which performs six nights a week. We had some time to look around between dinner and the show. We were on top of a plateau, so there was a great view.

These elk tried in vain to get into the show for free

The amphitheatre reminded me of the Muny back in St. Louis, but this only seats about 2,800. We had a long way down to our seats, close to the front, and there was still time to check out the set before the show started.

Theodore Roosevelt, of course, is a favored son of Medora. But there was also a Frenchman, Marquis de Mores, who founded the town and named it after his wife, Medora von Hoffman. A benefactor of the Medora Musical, and the town, was the Mr. Bubbles creator, Harold Schafer. All of these people were portrayed in the musical, which told the history of Medora. There was even a reenactment of Roosevelt’s charge up San Juan Hill. In between all the show-stopping songs, there was an acrobatic group called “The Chicago Boyz”. They were truly amazing but, unfortunately, I was so enthralled by them that I didn’t get any pictures. We both greatly enjoyed our evening.

Hiking on the Pancratz Trail with T. Roosevelt

Medora is very proud of all the new additions that are constantly being added to the town. One such item was their new hiking trail, the Pancratz Trail. Guided hikes on the new trail are offered, you guessed it, six days a week. Three days a week the hike is a moderate 30 minutes, and the other three are a 90 minute strenuous hike. I wasn’t sure which day was which and, as luck would have it, we were on the strenuous day. At the trailhead, we waited for our guide, and who should show up but Theodore Roosevelt himself? He is actually Joe Weigand, a Roosevelt impersonator. He has speaking engagements, performs a daily show in Medora as Roosevelt, and is an all-around Medora enthusiast and promoter.

One of Roosevelt’s favorite games was something called the “Point to Point” game, in which he would pick a point in the distance and a player had to get from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. A player could go “over, under, through, but never around”. Jogging was not a sport back then, but Roosevelt was known for hiking very briskly and Joe seemed to have adapted Roosevelt’s philosophy. He kept up a running banter even while going up hill, while we huffed and puffed behind him! He talked about all things Roosevelt and Medora, as well of the geological aspects of what we were seeing. Joe hikes this trail 6 times a week in the summer unless he has out-of-town speaking engagements, and only twice this summer has no one showed up for his daily hike.

If I was expecting a nice concrete and boardwalk trail, I was sadly mistaken. Pancratz Trail is a narrow dirt path and at times it was precariously on the edge of the cliffs. We had to climb up and down some rocks. At the speed we were going, it was all I could do not to tumble over the sides. To which I say, using Roosevelt’s own word, “Bully!” It was great fun. I could appreciate all they had to do just to create the trail, after Joe explained about its construction.

I love holes in cliffs. When we drive by, I want to fly up and explore them. Sometimes they are almost ground level, and I want to see if there’s a cave in there. In our drive through T.R.N.P, Cal made sure to let me know he wasn’t stopping for any holes. Well! There was a hole on the Pancratz Trail, and Joe stopped. The rock in this area is in a constant state of erosion between wind, rain, and drought, he explained, hence all the holes.

A view of Pancratz trail, from Pancratz trail

I didn’t take any other pictures on the trail – no time to stop!!

One thing that Joe, and the town of Medora, are very excited about is the construction of the new Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library on a plateau near the Medora musical. The opening is slated for 2025.

The Enchanted Highway

Gary Greff had a dream: to find a way to keep his beloved town of Regent, ND, from completely dying out. He decided to build huge sculptures and place them along the 32 mile stretch of highway south of I-94 leading to the town. He learned how to weld, and used cast-off farm implements, and the Enchanted Highway was born. Regent was a 75-mile drive from Medora, but we needed to sit after our hike anyway. After we saw the sculptures, we were on the highway, and then had a 40 mile drive back.

Here are some of them:

Tin Family to get a little perspective, see if you can find Cal!
Pheasants on the Prairie
Fisherman’s Dream

The local school closed while Gary was building his sculptures. He transformed it into the Enchanted Castle, a medieval style hotel with a tavern and a steakhouse. The latter two items were closed until evening while we were there, and I still think Regent has a long way to go. But kudos for Gary for living his dream.

This sculpture had a button you could press, and the whirli-gigs would spring into action
North Dakota country

Next time – we arrive in Duluth, Minnesota

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