Saturday, July 12, 2014

A new state, North Dakota

July 12th, Glendive, MT to Medora, ND
63 miles, 12.3 average speed. Max 29 mph Time riding 5 hours, trip time 7 hours.
We entered Montana on June 23rd and left it on July 12. We were in Montana for 20 days!

Medora is a cute tourist town I was surprised to see more cowboy boots and hats in Medora than I saw through the whole state of Montana. 

Medora is in a shale oil boom area. One person we met is a rancher and he said that a well near his land had a brine spill which leached into a creek where he had pastured his cows and young calves. They notified him of the spill but didn't advise him whether it would be toxic to his cattle or not. (The company cleaned up the well site itself but not downstream). Every one of his calves died because of the toxins (the brine itself is highly saline plus it has other chemicals in it). The company won't admit to any fault so he is hiring a lawyer. The more frightening thing to him is that the water may not be any good anymore because of the spill and that would make his land worthless. He also does not own the mineral rights on his land so he can't prevent fracking on his land.

It's clear that the oil boom has brought prosperity to North Dakota. The signs are everywhere in the towns, from new hotels, new housing, a brand new community center in Dickinson. We saw well sites in every stage of development.  But, whatever you believe about fracking, spills like this are unacceptable, especially since the company apparently isn't taking responsibility for what happens downstream.

Well anyway...The area around Medora is gorgeous. There were badlands and our route was on lightly travelled Old Highway 10 for the most part. Theodore Roosevelt national park is a place that I would like to visit again sometime. The terrain was rolling and seemed to have more trees, a welcome sight after the immense plains in Montana. 

We had been told that the North Dakotans are friendly. Well it must rub off on others because even though many of the folks we met in the campground are from other places, they were helpful and interested in our tour.

Yes we were glad to leave. 

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