************Happy Almost-Over Valentine's Day! Valentine's Day is a non-holiday in our house. We pretty much haven't observed it since Kristen went away to college. Dan thinks it's all a ploy by the florists, candy manufacturers, jewelers and card makers. He absolutely refuses to take part. Although I was miffed in the beginning, I have come to agree with him. I don't need a dozen roses as proof of his love for me. He has shown me his love by warming up my car for me every cold morning this winter, and helping me do practically everything since I hurt my knee on February 2.
Unfortunately, my knee is no better. I have been using a walker - which, by the way, Dan had the idea to rent for me, as the clinic did not offer me crutches or walker. I took the full regimen of 10-days' worth of anti-inflammatory/pain pills, and still ended up with a pain scale of 10/10. The doctor at the clinic had told me that if the pills didn't work, the next step would be cortisone shots and/or physical therapy. Neither one appeals to me, especially the PT, since it did nothing for my hands when I had moderate-to-severe carpal tunnel syndrome last winter. I had ultrasound, hot wax and fluidotherapy treatments to no avail.
What did help my CTS (100%!) was acupuncture, so I have decided to go that route with my knee. I had my first treatment on Thursday afternoon. I'm hoping it doesn't take too many treatments (it took four for my hands). So I have been pretty much housebound for a couple of weeks. I never left the house at all the first week, and this past week I went to work but nowhere else.
My sister took me to lunch today, which was great, and then she did something even nicer. She offered to take me for a drive! I felt like I had been released from jail - or the loony bin. It was a beautiful day. It wasn't all that warm, but the sun was shining - a rare occurrence this winter. It was warm in the car, the snow on the pavement was melting, and I was free to sit back and enjoy the scenery.
IN DRY DOCK FOR THE WINTERWe took River Road north along the Missouri River. On the east side of the road were the majestic bluffs of the river valley, and on the west was the great Mighty Mo. The area is heavily wooded, interspersed with meadows covered by deep, untrammeled snow. The snow was dazzling to the eye against the brilliant blue sky. We had fun pretending that the snow-covered bluffs to the north were mini-mountains (the ND mountain removal project was completed some years ago - LOL!), speculating on the price of riverfront property and wondering about a tiny sign that said "The Road to Nowhere." (I wasn't able to - and she wasn't inclined to - check it out.)
USED BY LEWIS AND CLARK.
As we went along, I realized I was getting a mini history lesson. Bismarck has a wonderfully rich cultural heritage. It is comprised - in part - by the presence of the aboriginal occupants of this land, the Native Americans; the incredible journey of Lewis & Clark to explore the great unknown continent; the Indian Wars and the colossal Missouri itself, including the days of the paddle boat.
The land by the river in Bismarck is dotted by at least four parks, which contain monuments depicting the area's history. As we stopped at replicas and statues, I was dreaming of days long ago, when Lewis & Clark took on the Missouri with keel boats like the one shown above. What courage it took! In fact, if you want to read about L &C and their historic voyage, you can't do better than "Undaunted Courage" by Stephen Ambrose. (Forgive me, but we NoDaks consider Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to be our own. They went up the Missouri in 1804 and came back down in 1806. The first year, they overwintered with the Mandan Indians at Washburn, not far north of Bismarck, and found Sakakawea there. (Her statue is on our State Capitol grounds.)
The Lewis & Clark paddle boat is in dry dock for the winter. This boat is a pleasure boat holding dinner and evening cruises on beautiful summer nights. But I was imagining the summer day when another paddle boat, Far West, landed in Bismarck in 1876, carrying the news about/survivors of the Custer Massacre in Montana. The Bismarck Tribune telegraphed reports found with slain Tribune reporter Mark Kellogg and other news about the great national catastrophe. (Remember that I once worked for the Tribune - what a legacy!)
at United Tribes Techical College in Bismarck
And of course, there are the days when The People - the Lakota (Sioux), the Mandan, the Arikara, the Hidatsa and the Chippewa - held sway over the land. The days when the lands of The People spanned an area from the Missouri to the West Coast.
Over and over again, the Eagle theme presented itself to us. The case can be made, wouldn't you think, that the Thunderbirds statue above depicts eagles? This sculpture is meant to show four archetypal thunderbird myths from four geographical regions of the United States. This sculpture, along with the keel boat, is in Keelboat Park along the river.
Farther north, in Pioneer Park, we found "Rising Eagle, also created by United Tribe students.
And finally, my favorite sculpture of all, "Reflections" (below), an eagle whose wings surround a reflecting ball. This native sculpture is meant to represent Mother Earth and the area's natural beauty.
"REFLECTIONS" sculpture by UTTC students
Unfortunately, and sadly, both "Rising Eagle" and "Reflections" were vandalized during or shortly after installation. I don't even have words for these despicable acts and the people who perpetrated them. All I can say is thank God - or Great Spirit - that at least one group in our North Dakota population still respects and reveres Mother Earth.
There are more eagle sculptures in Bismarck that we did not explore today. There is a magnificent eagle in full wingspan in Custer Park in the center of Bismarck not far from where I live, and I understand that there are eagle sculptures at Dakota Zoo in Sertoma Park in the south end of Bismarck.
One of these days (but in summer time) I will take you to to the west side of the river - where the Mandan Indian population thrived in a stationary agricultural settlements along the Missouri, and to Gen. George Custer's Fort Lincoln - located in the same spot but centuries later.
I know, I know: Some of these pictures were taken in the winter and some in the summer. Not having a digital camera, I had to find the pictures on the Internet. But that will soon change, I hope. A dear blogging friend has offered me the use of her "old" camera as she updates to a newer one. Thank you, Miss S! (I will let you remain anonymous unless you want me to print your name.)