We slept very well last night at Riverdale High Lodge, sleeping to a reasonable hour and then getting ready for the day and heading back to the Knights Bar and Grill for breakfast. We sampled each other's dishes and thoroughly enjoyed everything: the pancakes, the French toast, the overstuffed omelet, the crispy breakfast potatoes, the meaty bacon . . . another fantastic meal. Then we went back to our room for some quiet reading time before checking out, loading our belongings back into the vehicle, and driving off to the next destination on my agenda: Lake Sakakawea State Park at Pick City at the west end of the Garrison Dam (just a couple miles west of Riverdale).
We got a day pass, drove around the park to explore its many features, used a map to choose a hiking trail, and parked to get out and go exploring. We spent about an hour on the winding paths up and down the hills and through the trees and across the grassy bluffs near the lake, pausing often to remark on the vegetation or the insects and birds or the gorgeous views of the water below. Here are some highlights:
The park is on a peninsula that juts out into Lake Sakakawea from the south shore. On the west side of the park is this marina.
Not far from the marina, we walked down to the shore to feel the cool breeze and smell the fresh air off the lake and watch the flocks of birds frolicking in and above the water.
The girls also practiced their rock-skipping skills again.
For our hike, we chose the Shoreline Trail. This is a view of the bay beneath the picnic shelter at which we parked and from which we started our walk. The trail, as one might expect, winds along the shoreline, so we had great views of the water the entire way.
This photo was made possible by a bench situated atop the bluff, by the timer feature on our digital camera, and by Susan's knowledge of how to use said feature. Across the lake behind us is the town of Riverdale, and to our left (your right, Faithful Reader) is the Garrison Dam above the Missouri River.
After our hike, we drove back to the marina to eat dinner at Lago Vista Cantina, a privately owned bar and grill. It's relatively new. The folks who own and have operated the marina for a couple decades decided just a few years ago to turn the building (which used to be a bait shop) into a cantina, which is decorated with a tropical, ocean-y theme--the owners go to Mexico annually to dive and take photos of undersea creatures, and their photos as well as souvenirs from their travels decorate the interior of the small but cozy building. It's mostly a place to get a beer or a cocktail and a plate of nachos or onion rings, but we made a meal of a variety of appetizers and sandwiches, and everything was substantial and delicious.
The theme for the weekend so far has been "North Dakota nice," as in, "Everybody has been just so darned nice to us everywhere we've gone!" The off-duty Audubon employee who let us into the visitor center after hours, the bar staff in Coleharbor who called me "honey," the child-friendly tour guides yesterday, the lodge and restaurant staff in Riverdale who treated us like friends, the smiley woman in the booth at the park entrance (who gave us our day pass to the park), the chatty staff in the park's visitor center . . . they were the perfect lead-up to the owner of the cantina who visited with us and suggested food items from the menu and brought us special sauces that she thought we might like to try with our appetizers and told us stories of her Mexico vacations and let the girls choose beads that she had collected in Cozumel and fitted them with lengths of hemp and created necklaces for each of them while chatting with us at our table. We just could NOT have been treated better!
Now it's time for our next destination . . .