Saturday, July 21, 2012
I was all set to write a blog post about our return visit to Medora, North Dakota and its Pitchfork Fondue and Musical when I decided to check my journal from the year 2001. Sure enough, I found our previous visit logged there on August 30, 2001. So what follows is the narrative from 2001, but the photographs are from this year's visit since I didn't get a photograph of the steaks from the Pitchfork Fondue the last time around. I've already blogged and posted photographs of our visit to the south unit of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park but this post has a little bit of additional information.
Thursday. August 30- Denny started the morning off by changing the oil in the truck, then we dropped off the old oil. I had packed a picnic lunch and grabbed the cameras, so after that we headed for Medora and the south unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It was about 33 miles away, and we stopped first at the Painted Canyon visitors’ center where we purchased a great bird book, then lunched while overlooking the Badlands. We then pushed on to Medora, the town on the edge of the park and decided we’d have to check out the town after doing the park, as it was all rustic buildings. We stopped at the Harold Schaefer center for our tickets to the Medora Musical that I had ordered, and Denny got to talking with an elderly volunteer who explained who Harold Schaefer was; he grew up in Bismarck, and was enamored of Teddy Roosevelt, and started marketing a product called Glass Wax, which became a huge hit, and then later he marketed Mr. Bubble, which was an even bigger hit. He wasn’t into the manufacturing end of the business, he’d just find a good product he believed in and then marketed the hell out of it, making the product successful. It worked, and he began pouring money into Medora to rebuild it. They have a nice little museum about his life and his company and it was really interesting. Anyway the old guy talked us into trying the “pitchfork fondue” dinner before the show, so we bought tickets to that also.
We headed into the park, and right away found the prairie dog cities. These were right next to the road, so the little guys just ignored the cars since they were so used to their presence, unlike the ones at the north unit where you had to hike back a mile to see them, so they were unused to people and no cars were around. We saw several elderly male lone bison, which the volunteer had explained were males no longer to fulfill their duties as stud and herd leader, so they were chased out by the herd to live out their remaining days alone. We also saw a herd of wild mustangs in the distance, but were unable to get close enough to take pictures. It is an awesome area and well worth the trip. After exploring the park, we wandered around town a little, then sat on a park bench and read the newspaper until it was time to head up to the dinner and show. The dinner consisted of crudities and dip, coleslaw, cubed melon, baked potatoes with butter and sour cream, rolls, baked beans and brownies and a big rib eye steak which they threaded on a real pitchfork and dropped into huge vats of boiling oil, deep frying them. It seared the outsides and kept the juices inside. Boy were they good, and it was easy to cut them with the plastic utensils we were given. All this while sitting on top of the canyon overlooking the Badlands while the sunset and the almost full moon rose. Not bad. We chatted with one of the ticket takers for a while since we had an hour to kill, then went down to our seats for a really good show. When they introduced the members of the band we were very surprised to hear that the guitar player was from Beavercreek, Ohio! We certainly didn’t expect that! There was lots of singing and dancing, a stand up comedian, a family of trampoline artists and horses and Teddy Roosevelt and good fiddle playing by a young lady from St. Louis, and fireworks and it was fun! It was a longish ride home on a very dark highway as we were tired, but it was a great day!
2012 version; this year immediately after dinner at the Pitchfork Fondue there was a "trick golfer" who supplied entertainment while we waited to be able to be seated for the Musical. He did everything from standing on a ball on a table while hitting a golf ball to jumping rope on that same ball to hitting the ball left handed with the right handed driver being held backwards/upside down. Denny and I spoke with him privately while waiting for our meal and Joey said that he practice 14 hours a day for years to develop his act.
Before we could be seated for the show, a thunderstorm rolled in and the show was cancelled. We exchanged our tickets for the next evening. This is the view of the stage from our seats.
The show starts off with "The Star Spangled Banner" after the cowboys ride onto the stage.
It was children's night so there was a "bit" where all kids were invited on stage to receive a gift and be told a brief story.
There are songs and dancing and a live band provides the music.
Since Teddy Roosevelt built a cattle ranching business and a home here, there's always a section about Teddy.
And some audience participation during a segment involving long distance spitting and a spitoon (all pretend of course.)
It's all good clean fun. And just to see who is paying attention--because the show was rained out when we exchanged our tickets we were given a second set of tickets to be used any time this year or any time next season until September of 2013. If someone would like to see the show while traveling in North Dakota this year or next, let me know in the comments.