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Parenting Perspectives: Medora memories made more vivid through eyes of own children

Eve and Owen Hashbarger take a photo with “Cowboy Lyle,” a well-known figure in Medora, N.D., at the Burning Hills Amphitheatre. Sherri Richards / The Forum

As I think back on the summers of my youth, the memories blur together into the same sun-soaked routine. Morning drives into town for swimming lessons. Afternoons exploring the farmstead. Bike rides to the dam a half-mile away.

Standing out amid those lazy days are the two family vacations we took before my brother Larry, the closest to me in age, graduated from high school.

There was the trip to the International Peace Garden, with a pit stop at the Geographical Center of North America monument in Rugby, N.D., and a photo op with the W’eel Turtle in Dunseith, N.D. And, a couple years before that, we trekked west along Interstate 94 to Medora.

I was thinking a lot about that Medora trip this month as Craig and I loaded up our two kids (and tent and sleeping mats and cooler and luggage) to make the same drive.

That first trip, I was about 8 years old. I remember huddling under a blanket at the Medora Musical, walking dusty trails through Theodore Roosevelt National Park and admiring the finery at the Chateau de Mores.

During the summer of 2000, as a college student on summer break, I made several trips to the tourist town, visiting my now-husband who had an accounting internship there. We’ve been back a couple times since getting married.

But this trip was different. It was the first time we’d brought our children. And it totally changed the experience.

It wasn’t about seeing the musical or the Painted Canyon or the wildlife. It was about my kids seeing those things.

Eve, our 6-year-old, gasped as we entered the Badlands. It was love at first sight.

Owen, 3, excitedly pointed out every horse he saw. “Horsey!” he’d yell, whether it was a saddled bay on a trail ride, a wild horse in the park or a dappled gray pulling a buggy.

It was easy to get swept up in the aura of the Old West town when viewed through their fresh, excited lenses.

My favorite part of our four-day trip was watching Eve watch the musical, her eyes growing wide at the dancing and singing cowboys and cowgirls. She made the show magical for me, too.

We’d barely been in Medora a day when she wrapped her arms around my waist and declared her love for the town, this vacation, our family.

In that moment, I was so grateful that I was able to share this with her, to relive that family vacation from my youth and to pass something from my childhood on to hers. I’m hopeful she’ll carry memories of the trip into adulthood.

I also hope one day she’ll take her children there, to see them take in the same sights I once watched her watch.

Sherri Richards is mom of 6-year-old Eve and 2-year-old Owen and Business editor of The Forum. She can be reached at

Sherri Richards

Sherri Richards has worked for The Forum since 2002. She is the features and business editor, overseeing Variety, SheSays, Farmers' Forum, the daily Business pages and Saturday Business section.     Have a comment to share about a story? Letters to the editor should include author’s name, address and phone number. Generally, letters should be no longer than 250 words. All letters are subject to editing. Send to

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