Sunday, August 13, 2006

Little Missouri River Bank

We spent the afternoon on the sandy banks of the Little Missouri River. Our campground sat on the opposite side of the river from the National Park. Conor and I came down here first to hunt for agates, which we found in abundance. I also found my first arrowhead, made of reddish stone, to add to the collection.

After seeing our prizes, Chloe wanted to go to the river. We returned this time with a chair and water bottles. It was a hundred degrees with little shade, but very dry. I felt like I had to apply Blistex every 20 minutes. I sat staring at cliffs in the Park, which had to be 300-500 feet high. Across some of them you could see coal veins. It was burning coal that baked the clay in the hills, creating the red-colored stripes. I could have sat there all afternoon writing in my journal, except that red ants were crawling up from the sand and biting me on the legs.

Chloe and Conor crossed the river and ended up in knee-high grey clay on the other bank. Neil had told us about this clay when we were horseback riding, but I can’t remember the name. It’s used in all sorts of manufacturing processes like cosmetics and some milkshakes. I had no ideas of possible dangers there, so I was more relaxed than I might have been at home. Were there any poisonous snakes in the river? I asked a park ranger afterward, not mentioning that I had let my children play in the river before inquiring about dangers, but she assured me that there were no water snakes in North Dakota. Besides, she said with this heat you won’t see any land snakes either.

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