Posted by: edronco | August 21, 2009

Day 2: The Prairie

WILLISTON, NORTH DAKOTA

Hills along the road between Minot and Williston, in western North Dakota.

Hills along the road between Minot and Williston, in western North Dakota.

The great plains started to pitch and roll as we made our way west through North Dakota.

“It’s like a golf course with moguls,” Dad said, about 20 miles west of Minot, where we stopped for dinner.

We started out in Superior, Wis., crossing the Richard I. Bong bridge into Minnesota. A name like that just screams for more information. As it turns out, Richard I. Bong was a World War II ace, and you canĀ read his long but incredible story here.

The day’s travels have ended in western North Dakota, with nothing but the rolling hills to cast long shadows, the setting sun was relentlessly bright. We lowered our sun visors and craned our necks in order to keep shadow over our eyes . Driving into the sun, it was hard to make out the rare objects we passed. Four grain silos looked like cans of Coke sitting in a row. And when the electrical wires caught the light, they threw off a reflection that made them look like fishing line suspended from toothpicks.

But the rolling hills are indescribably beautiful, with only an occasional ATV track or small pond interrupting the blanket of prairie grass that covers the land to a horizon far, far away. There are about as many trees as people out here; that is to say, not many of either.

In Rugby, N.D., we stopped at a roadside pillar marking the “Geographical Center of North America.” As luck would have it (or as a smart builder would have it) the landmark is right in the parking lot of a restaurant along U.S. 2. We didn’t eat there — the timing was off — but some folks from Kansas took our picture. Many thanks, again.

From there it was on to Minot, N.D., (say: MY-naht) for dinner at Ebeneezer’s Irish Pub. Then through the hills to Williston, where we stopped for the night.

Dad golfs in the morning, and then we head into Montana.

Door-to-door time: 12 h, 17 m

Mileage: 613 (1,338 total from Wyandotte)

More photos after the jump.

Approaching the Richard Bong bridge, crossing from Wisconsin to Minnesota

Approaching the Richard Bong bridge, crossing from Wisconsin to Minnesota

Lotsa logs in Minnesota. Kind of want to climb it, but the barbed wire fence suggested that the property owners frowned on doing so.

Lotsa logs near Bemidji, Minnesota. Kind of wanted to climb it, but the barbed wire fence suggested that the property owners frowned on doing so.

Statue in Bemidji, just yards from Paul Bunyan and Babe. Oh, the contrast.

Statue in Bemidji, just yards from Paul Bunyan and Babe. Oh, the contrast.

Couldn't resist a photo at the entrance to the town of Michigan, North Dakota. Pardon the chopped off heads. Had to shoot it on the car hood using the timer. There were no nice people from other states to take our photos here, unlike everywhere else.

Couldn't resist a photo at the entrance to the town of Michigan, North Dakota. Pardon the chopped off heads. Had to shoot it on the car hood using the timer. There were no nice people from other states to take our photos here, unlike everywhere else.

The exact center of the continent, apparently. Felt a profound sense of balance (har, har, har).

The exact center of the continent, apparently. Felt a profound sense of balance (har, har, har).

A pretty poor showing in license plate spotting. Found a few more since this photo, including Saskatechwan and a few plates from reservations.

A pretty poor showing in license plate spotting. Found a few more since this photo, including Saskatechwan and a few plates from reservations.

Sunset in western North Dakota. This photo is the best we got from a moving car, and it doesn't remotely do it justice.

Sunset in western North Dakota. This photo is the best we got from a moving car, and it doesn't remotely do it justice.


Responses

  1. Tad lived in Williston (a year before I met him). Take a picture or two for us. Also, if you have time, check out Fort Union Trading Post. It’s free (and that’s where Tad worked).

  2. The picture at the top of this page is just incredible! You are certainly seeing some fantastic sights. I learned all about Richard Bong, although I admit to skimming some of the details of his exploits.
    I like the trip summary at the right hand side of your page, too.


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