Written by RoBoNC on 09 Jun, 2012
I drove the four hour drive back from Dickinson to Fargo, where I would spend my last night before flying back home. Fargo is North Dakota’s largest city and along with Moorhead, Minnesota separated by the Red River makes up the metropolitan area.…Read More
I drove the four hour drive back from Dickinson to Fargo, where I would spend my last night before flying back home. Fargo is North Dakota’s largest city and along with Moorhead, Minnesota separated by the Red River makes up the metropolitan area. When I first landed at Hector International Airport, I immediately grabbed my rental car and headed west. So my last night in North Dakota, I wanted to explore Fargo before heading home. After checking in at the hotel, I went to the Fargo Air Museum located near Hector International Airport. It sits right across from the Fargodome, which is where the North Dakota State University Bison football team plays their home games. The museum is easily recognizable by the large US missile standing erect outside. As I pulled into the parking lot, I was stopped at the entrance where a man wearing a traffic vest wanted me to pay $10 to park. I was flabbergasted when he asked me to pay. That was until I found out that my visit to the air museum just happened to be on the same day that NDSU was playing their first home football game of the year. They use the parking lot since it is directly across from the Fargodome. When he realized that I was just there to visit the museum, I was allowed to park without paying. Although it is free to park, there is an $8 admission fee. The museum has a nice collection of flying and static aircraft. Some of their flying aircraft consists of the P-51D Mustang, known as the best fighter plane of WWII. There is a F4U Corsair, which was also used in WWII as well as Korea. The plane is known for its gull wings which can be folded in. There is a Grumman TBM Avenger which was a torpedo bomber in WWII. There are only about thirty Avengers that are still airworthy. There is a Douglas DC-3 that has its own website. "Duggy…The Smile in the Sky" could be considered the mascot of the Air Museum. It travels often to air shows and educational programs. It gets its name from the big grin on the nose of the aircraft. There is also a nice selection of static aircraft such as a Huey Army Helicopter, B-25 Bomber, and a full scale replica of the Wright Flyer. As I walked out to my vehicle, I noticed that the parking lot was filling up very fast with tailgaters. I decided to drive through the campus before it got too crowded. I made it halfway through the campus before traffic was stopped due to the Bison Marching Band playing the fight song as they marched toward the stadium. NDSU fans take their football very seriously as I quickly realized. It makes sense considering how successful the program has been, where they have won eight national titles in Division II. I then paid a visit to Fargo’s most famous son, Roger Maris, who has a museum dedicated to him in the West Acres Shopping Mall. (There is a separate article on the museum itself.) Visiting museums make me hungry and thirsty so I set out to find a place to eat. I found JL Beers in downtown Fargo which serves hamburgers and has a large selection of draft beers. There are four JL Beers in the area, downtown Fargo, West Fargo, Moorhead, Minnesota, and Grand Forks, about an hour north. There is one in Sioux Falls, South Dakota that just opened and one is coming soon in Bismarck. JL Beers offers the classic hamburger along with the Humpty Dumpty served with an egg, JL Burger served with grilled onions, cheese, and special sauce, BLT BLU served with bacon, lettuce, tomato and blue cheese, and many others or you can customize your own. For sides, you can choose fresh cut fries or chips. The beer selection is phenomenal especially if you prefer local and microbrews. They have 32 different beers on tap from light pale ales to dark stouts. They also have a selection of 40 different imported bottles and 14 domestic can beers. The food is excellent and the beer is ice cold, but the only problem is perhaps getting a seat. Their website touts that they have seating for 1,000 people but only 24 at a time. That must be their stab at humor. I got there just in time to get a seat. By the time I left, there was a line outside the door. It was a fun filled trip that was very educational and it allowed me to mark one more state off on my list of states still to visit. I don’t know when I will ever get back to North Dakota, but perhaps I will check out some of the other less known areas and hopefully be surprised as I was on this trip. Close
As I set out on my quest to visit all fifty states, I realized that certain states would be harder to visit than others. North Dakota is one of those. There are not many tourist attractions and because of its location, I felt…Read More
As I set out on my quest to visit all fifty states, I realized that certain states would be harder to visit than others. North Dakota is one of those. There are not many tourist attractions and because of its location, I felt that I needed a reason to go. As a history buff and admirer of Theodore Roosevelt, a symposium is held every year at Dickinson State University in Dickinson and I saw this as my reason for visiting North Dakota. Because North Dakota is the 3rd least populous state, there are not many major airports to fly into, especially near Dickinson. Most of them are regional airports and those that have international in its title is because of Canada. Airline tickets into any of the regional airports were so expensive that I decided to fly into Fargo, the state’s largest city, and drive to Dickinson. It’s a four hour drive on Interstate 94. To break up the monotony of a boring drive, I decided to stop at any city or unusual roadside attraction that I could find. I found my first roadside attraction an hour and a half away in Jamestown. Sitting directly off of the interstate was a large sculpture of a buffalo. I took the next exit so I could visit this enormous buffalo and I ended up in Frontier Village. This village consists of twenty-four original buildings which were moved from around the state to recreate a prairie town. Each building is open to visitors and is filled with original and time period artifacts. Visit a post office, jail, general store, saloon, and many others. At the very end of the boardwalk, is Louis L’Amour Writer’s Shack. This shack celebrates Jamestown’s most famous son and has a collection of all his works on display. I walked my way through Frontier Village and as I looked up, I was greeted by a 26 foot, 60 ton buffalo nicknamed Dakota Thunder. It is the world’s largest buffalo monument and has been a popular roadside attraction for over 50 years. Dakota Thunder symbolizes Jamestown’s nickname, The Buffalo City. Just around the corner from the large buffalo is the National Buffalo Museum which tells the story of these animals from prehistoric times to the present. Adjacent to the museum and Frontier Village is 250 acres where a herd of buffalo roam on the open prairie. Be sure to look for the three rare albino buffalo, which are the prize of the herd. Another hour and an half drive on Interstate 94 brought me to Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota. I wanted to get a bird eye’s view of Bismarck, so I went to the largest building in the state of North Dakota to do it, the State Capitol building. This 19 story building in no way resembles the traditional dome in most other states, but then again North Dakota is not like most other states. The Capitol sits at the heart of a 160 acre campus surrounded by other government buildings such as the State Library, Transportation Department, North Dakota Heritage Center, and many other buildings. Just around the corner of the campus is the Governor’s Residence. Inside the Capitol building, I was given a free guided tour and since I was the only one on the tour, I could take my time and ask all of the questions that I wanted. Before we went upstairs, she was quick to point out the North Dakota Hall of Fame with pictures of Theodore Roosevelt and Phil Jackson. Pictures adorned the walls with famous people that have had some connection with North Dakota. We went to the legislative floor where there was a swarm of people buying and selling goods along the massive corridor. She told me certain times of the year people come here to sell and buy products which are made in North Dakota. I took a moment to sample some Kuchen, a German word for cake. After I was done sampling desserts, we stopped in for a few minutes to see the House and Senate chambers. The legislative session was over so I didn’t get to see progress in action. The North Dakota Supreme Court is housed in the judicial wing of the Capitol building. Because of a trial, it was closed to the public. We then proceeded up to the 18th floor, which is used as an observation deck. The tour officially ends here and you can spend as much time up here as you want. This vantage point gives a 360 degree view of Bismarck and the surrounding area. Bismarck sits on the Missouri River and you can see for miles in any direction which gives the Capitol building its nickname, Skyscraper on the Prairie. Before I left the Capitol grounds, I stopped in at the North Dakota Heritage Museum. It is the state’s official history museum documenting the state’s history dating back to prehistoric times. It is home to a rare mummified dinosaur as well as other prehistoric animals and birds. It also tells the story of the Indians in North Dakota and the European migration in the late 1800’s. Outside of the Heritage Center is a statue of Sacagawea, an important person in North Dakota. There are numerous other statues surrounding the Capitol Campus. I decided to make one more stop before heading to Dickinson. I wanted to visit the Knife River Indian Village, one of only three National Park sites in the state. The park preserves the history of the Northern Plains Indians and has a recreation of an earth lodge. The site is an hour and a half northwest of Bismarck, near the town of Stanton. The drive is pretty desolate and boring with occasional rolling hills and farmlands. However, my drive was not without its excitement. As I was taking in the drive and the surrounding landscape, I failed to notice that I was exceeding the speed limit by 10 mph. I always assumed the unwritten rule was that 10 or under and you were okay. Not according to the North Dakota State Trooper that pulled me over. He admonished me with a speeding ticket that only cost $20. By far the cheapest speeding ticket I ever received, but my insurance still had something to say about it. After all of that, he was nice to give me directions to the NPS site, a mere one mile away. After a few picture taking opportunities, a roadside attraction, and a speeding ticket, it was about time to head to Dickinson, still two hours away. I left Stanton with my wallet a little thinner and headed to back to the interstate on ND Route 31. As I was about to merge onto I-94, what did I see? It was another roadside attraction, this time in the shape of a cow. I was drawn to it as if by some sort of animal magnetism. Sitting high above the interstate at Exit 127 is Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein Cow. Salem Sue is 38 feet tall and 50 feet long and made entirely of fiberglass. It was built to honor the local dairy farming industry. A buffalo, a cow, what’s next? I figured that there wasn’t much to see in North Dakota, but I was wrong. My four hour drive turned into ten hours. Twenty miles outside of Dickinson, I noticed a large metal sculpture of geese. I knew from a little previous research that this was the beginning of the Enchanted Highway. But after ten hours and starving, I left the Enchanted Highway for another day, ready to get to Dickinson to eat and pass out. Close
Medora is a small little town located in the western part of North Dakota. The population is only 112 people as of the 2010 Census. The town has quickly become the state’s most visited tourist attraction. Medora is a seasonal town with…Read More
Medora is a small little town located in the western part of North Dakota. The population is only 112 people as of the 2010 Census. The town has quickly become the state’s most visited tourist attraction. Medora is a seasonal town with most of the hotels, restaurants, and shops open from May to Labor Day. Since I visited Medora in mid September, most of the shops and restaurants were already closed. The Pitchfork Fondue, which was a restaurant that I was really hoping to eat at, was closed. I did find the Cowboy Café, which is one of the few restaurants open year round that services the permanent residents of the town. It was good home cooking food and the homemade pies were fabulous. I missed out on most of the attractions such as the Medora Musical and the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame.Although the timing of my visit didn’t allow me to experience all that Medora had to offer, I still was able to take in some of the historical sites. Before exploring the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I stopped by the Chateau de Mores, one of the state’s historical sites. Medora was founded in 1883 by the Marquis de Mores as a summer home for him and his wife. During the Dakota winter, they would go back to France. He named the town Medora after his wife. The Marquis hoped to start a cattle operation where he would slaughter the cattle and then ship them across the country in refrigerated railcars. Because of a drought and poor business skills, the Marquis only lived in the Chateau for three years before moving back to France. The 128 acre Chateau de Mores now consist of a museum and guided tours are offered of the Chateau. The Chateau is a two story 26 room building which sits on a hill overlooking Medora. There are original furniture and artifacts that belongs to the Mores as well as pieces from the time period. Tours of the house cost $7 and it lasts about an hour. It is open year round but the hours change during the winter months. Located a few blocks away is Chimney State Park. This was the location of the Mores meat packing plant. It burned down in 1907. The only remnant is the clay brick chimney which is still standing and certain pieces of the foundation are still standing. The site has been made into a park with picnic tables. After spending some time at the different historical sites of the de Mores, I proceeded to the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Roosevelt and the Marquis were both in Medora at the same time and at times had a hostile relationship. The Marquis once sent Roosevelt a letter challenging him to a duel but nothing came of it. For being such a small town, it is filled with many attractions, museums, and historical sites. After a long day in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, I decided to head a little further west to the Montana state line. It is only about 20 miles away and it was a great chance to grab a few pictures of the Montana and North Dakota welcome signs. Also, I could literally say that I drove across the entire state of North Dakota from Fargo to Montana. After a few pictures, it was time to head back to Dickinson to prepare for my long trip back to Fargo to head home. Close
Written by kwasiak on 04 Aug, 2007
The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation runs several different shops around town offering different types of merchandise. My favorite shop I went in was the Dakota Cupboard shop. This shop offers a variety of cookware and food products including many things made right in North Dakota.…Read More
The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation runs several different shops around town offering different types of merchandise. My favorite shop I went in was the Dakota Cupboard shop. This shop offers a variety of cookware and food products including many things made right in North Dakota. One thing I thought was cool were the flavored honey products made in North Dakota. I also like the wax tarts that resembled pies and had pie scents. Another unique store is the Teddy’s Bears store, which is kind of like a Build a Bear, but authentically the original Teddy Bear or at least that is what they advertise. Lastly another store worth stopping at is the End of the Trail shop, which is for all the discounted merchandise from the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation shops.Besides the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation shops there are also some independently owned and run shops in Medora. The main one of these worth a stop in is the Rushmore Mountain Taffy Shop. They have a large variety of flavors. You can pick and make your own mix or you can purchase one of the prepackaged mixes. The fruit packaged mix looked the best to me and in fact that is the one I purchased because it had pretty much the same ones as I was going to ask them to mix for me.Close
Written by kwasiak on 12 Jan, 2006
Along our often-traveled route through North Dakota we made many stops along the way just to take photos. Some were of places we had seen before, but never photographed. Some photos were taken to compare with old photographs. A few photos were of new things,…Read More
Along our often-traveled route through North Dakota we made many stops along the way just to take photos. Some were of places we had seen before, but never photographed. Some photos were taken to compare with old photographs. A few photos were of new things, since our last visit.Quite a few of our stops involved my cousin, Kirsten, photographing run-down shacks and barns. Kirsten is going to take the photos to school to see how many of her Chicago suburban friends will believe that people still live in them. The funny thing is they probably will believe that many North Dakotans live in these old houses that literally could blow down tomorrow. In fact she has one slightly blurry photo she is going to try to pass off as the wind was blowing the house and her hands were still. She then took a picture of a field with a brown area to tell them that the house fell down after she took the first photograph. We had a blast making up stories such as some old wagons are how everyone gets around still.Photographs that were taken to compare to old photographs, involve three giant statues. The last time Kirsten and I were photographed in front of these statues was when we brought our friend with to North Dakota almost a decade ago. The first statue was of the couple story tall Indian Chief that is in front of the Chieftain Hotel in Carrington, ND, along US 52. The second statue was the World’s Largest Buffalo statue, which is found on the north side of I-94 in Jamestown, ND. (You can find more info on the Buffalo and surrounding attractions in another entry in this journal.) The third statue was in Rothsay, MN. It is a giant chicken that can be found just off I-94 at Exit 38. For this one we had to trek through about a foot and a half-deep snow for about a quarter-mile, which for us added to the fun.Another one of our photo stops was to photograph some energy gathering windmills, which I do not remember being there before. We also stopped to photograph an old church that was for sale. Kirsten decided that she is going to tell her friends that it is the church she is going to buy. Not sure if she means she is going to restore it as a Lutheran church or remodel it into a house; that is, if it is still for sale when she is ready to settle down and if she really wants to live in North Dakota.Close
Written by kwasiak on 11 Jan, 2006
When I was younger, I went on the 17-hour drive from Illinois to nearby Stanley, North Dakota, every summer to spend some time at my great grandpa's farm. Since his death in 1996, I have only been back two or three times. On this visit…Read More
When I was younger, I went on the 17-hour drive from Illinois to nearby Stanley, North Dakota, every summer to spend some time at my great grandpa's farm. Since his death in 1996, I have only been back two or three times. On this visit back to North Dakota for my great grandma's funeral, we decided to stop at the places in and around Stanley to take pictures of some of the places that represent memories. For me it was important to bring photos back to my little brother, who never really experienced Stanley, and is always asking for pictures to go with the stories we tell.Our first stop was to take photos of the family farm outside of Ross, near Stanley. Here was where we always stayed. We reminisced about the time spent there from watching the calf branding to the postman that always stopped for his coffee break and pass the latest news on to Great Grandpa, who by that time did not leave the farm much. Also, nearby we took pictures of a small old deteriorating barn that my cousin wanted to use as an example of where Vincent R. Moser lived, as I had inherited some newsletters mailed to this neighbor of my great grandma and we forgot to take a picture of the actual still standing shack he lived in near Williston.The most important stop in town was the Dakota Drug Store, where we stopped after taking pictures of the Old Brick House that our Great Great Grandmother once owned and sold the front yard to a now abandoned gas station. At Dakota Drug they still have their original soda fountain. It is also home to the only surviving Whirla Whip machine that is still being used. For that large crowd that has never had or heard of a Whirla Whip it is an ice cream treat that has candies or other things mixed in it. It is similar to a McDonald's McFlurry, but much better. You can have the base ice cream as chocolate, vanilla, or rainbow sherbet (this produces what seems to be more ice cream because it allows more air in to it when mixed. Just a few items you can mix into the ice cream are peanut butter, dill pickles, watermelon candies, and Oreo cookies. After our delicious Whirla Whips and purchasing "I had a Whirla Whip in Stanley, ND" t-shirt, which must be a relatively new item, we headed back on the road.Close
Written by mhtraveligougo on 26 Feb, 2004
Went to Fargo, North Dakota for a quick business trip. It was a week after the temperature had reached a low of –36 degrees Fahrenheit. The joke around town was that the low in Fargo was lower than the high on Mars at…Read More
Went to Fargo, North Dakota for a quick business trip. It was a week after the temperature had reached a low of –36 degrees Fahrenheit. The joke around town was that the low in Fargo was lower than the high on Mars at the time.
As the plane descended to the airport through the nighttime sky, all I could see was an endless canopy of gray, broken up by lonely, isolated streetlights. It looked like we were landing on another world.
Getting a direct flight to Fargo from either seaboard is difficult. I flew Northwest, who has a hub in Minneapolis, which is a huge airport. The Fargo (Hector International) airport is quite small and is located near an AFB. You can sometimes see Air National Guard F-16s 119th Fighter Wing (the "Happy Hooligans”) streaking into the sky.
Stepping out of the airport into the arctic wind was incredible – like getting hit by a 2x4. Breathing was difficult, but I made it to a cab owned by the “Lucky 7” cab company, which seems to have a monopoly in the Fargo area.
The driver and other passenger (she was kind enough to let me share the cab) were both very nice, and we had a pleasant conversation, naturally enough about the weather. Through the dim light of the headlights I could see the wind blow snow across the road in big wispy clouds. It was kind of eerie.
I stayed at the Wingate Inn Fargo, which is listed in the AAA guide as a three-star hotel. Actually, I would rate the accommodations as excellent. As with all the Wingate’s I’ve stayed at, the rooms were spotless and very well maintained. Others might view Wingates as sterile and monotonous – but I really like them. The only minor drawback I found is the lack of facilities for lunch or dinner (A fine, free breakfast buffet is provided.)
So, since I arrived at night, I inquired about nearby restaurants at the front desk. The front desk told me that a Bennigan's was nearby. “How close?” I asked. “Across the street”, he said. I glanced outside at the raging snowstorm. “I’ll never make it… ” He laughed and said, “Ok, what about Space Aliens, they’re pretty much in the same parking lot.”
So I managed to stumble over to the Space Aliens Bar and Grill. It’s a nice place that’s decked out in a kitschy 1950s alien invasion motif. There’s an area full of video games and a central restaurant area and bar. It must be a really fun place on weekends, and was still pretty full at 10pm on a Tuesday night. The food and service was excellent. I’d recommend the grilled chicken sandwich. You’ve got to try their fries as well! It comes with three different sauces.
Written by jessicaabel on 11 Aug, 2006
We sang worship songs around a huge campfire. Every camper surrounded the circle, and the voices brought chills to my skin. Then, campers shared testimonies and what they learned at camp. Truly amazing.…Read More
We sang worship songs around a huge campfire. Every camper surrounded the circle, and the voices brought chills to my skin. Then, campers shared testimonies and what they learned at camp. Truly amazing.Close