North Dakota

"But why?" Is the question I got asked 10 times out of 10 when I told people I was going to visit North Dakota this Summer.

Darla surveying “downtown” Tuttle, North Dakota

Darla surveying “downtown” Tuttle, North Dakota

Lake Josephine, outside of Tuttle, North Dakota

Lake Josephine, outside of Tuttle, North Dakota

Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota

Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota

“Why not?” I always retorted. Sure, I was being a little sassy and defensive. But seriously, why not visit North Dakota? There’s not a single place on the face of the planet that I’m averse to visiting simply because I don’t know what there is to do there. Besides, my friend Rachel grew up there and was going to be home visiting family so I had the perfect tour guide. I had a place to stay, a car to get around in, and someone else to plan the trip. All I had to do was get there. So I asked for a plane ticket for my birthday and all I had to do was pack for a guaranteed adventure.

Custer’s House at Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota

Custer’s House at Fort Abraham Lincoln, North Dakota

Table Setting at Fort Abraham Lincoln

Table Setting at Fort Abraham Lincoln

Fort Abraham Lincoln, Bismarck, North Dakota

Fort Abraham Lincoln, Bismarck, North Dakota

And you know what? North Dakota was amazing! I already want to go back next summer with my husband so I can share with him this amazing state!

A gorgeous peony outside of capitol building in Bismarck. They don’t really grow well in the south so I get excited whenever I see them!

A gorgeous peony outside of capitol building in Bismarck. They don’t really grow well in the south so I get excited whenever I see them!

On the steps of the North Dakota state capitol building. My family has been taking these pictures since I was a kid. Maybe someday I’ll get all 50.

On the steps of the North Dakota state capitol building. My family has been taking these pictures since I was a kid. Maybe someday I’ll get all 50.

Buffalo Inception at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum


Buffalo Inception at the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum

I got to see a little bit of both Bismarck and Fargo. They’re lovely cities with plenty of restaurants, breweries, and shopping. Fargo especially has a really up-and-coming arts district that I really appreciated. Bismarck had lots of history and the state as a whole I thought did a better job than most of shedding light on both the highs and the true lows of our relationship with the Native Americans over the centuries. I got the impression that they’re making an effort to learn from the past and build for the future.

#peerpressure

#peerpressure

Solid meal at Carol’s Kitchen in Robinson, North Dakota. For one hour my dream was fulfilled of being part of the “old guys drinking coffee club”.

Solid meal at Carol’s Kitchen in Robinson, North Dakota. For one hour my dream was fulfilled of being part of the “old guys drinking coffee club”.

Hanson’s Bar - the center of the Center for Determining Centers that has been overruled in its determination that it is the Center of North America. New favorite place in North America. Robinson, North Dakota

Hanson’s Bar - the center of the Center for Determining Centers that has been overruled in its determination that it is the Center of North America. New favorite place in North America. Robinson, North Dakota

Admittedly, having grown up both living on and visiting family farms around Texas (and my childhood romanticism of pioneering), my favorite part of North Dakota was the wide open spaces and the tiny towns where her family is from. I met members of both her immediate and extended family who all had stories about where they’d grown up. Many of those stories were similar to what I’d heard growing up but all with their own unique twists. Many of the families in central North Dakota are originally from Norway and other Scandinavian countries. I suppose this makes sense considering someone would have to be pretty used to the cold already to survive a North Dakota winter (note:  not me).

Tuttle, North Dakota

Tuttle, North Dakota

The Hurd Round House, Middle of Nowhere, ND

The Hurd Round House, Middle of Nowhere, ND

The one-room schoolhouse where Rachel’s grandmother taught school.

The one-room schoolhouse where Rachel’s grandmother taught school.

I cannot tell you how excited about these I was! I LOVE Dot’s Pretzels and this was the perfect road-trip snack.

I cannot tell you how excited about these I was! I LOVE Dot’s Pretzels and this was the perfect road-trip snack.

Scambler Union Church, Minnesota

Scambler Union Church, Minnesota

Eventually we actually ended up in Western Minnesota. This was actually pretty entertaining to me because I had somehow managed to miss this memo before the trip. So I had no idea we were going until we’re driving along and Rachel pipes up, “Hey, welcome to Minnesota!” I was able to truly experience “Lake Life”. We slept late, made aebleskiver (round, Norwegian pancakes), went paddle-boarding, and drank a lot of beer. Darla, her dog, was an impressively good on the boat. Her family was incredibly welcoming and I am so grateful for the opportunity to see both of these states. Though I know I wouldn’t last long in January, I sure loved it in June and if I have anything to say about it I’ll be back next August for the annual Centerfest celebration in Robinson, North Dakota!

Sunset on the lake, Minnesota

Sunset on the lake, Minnesota

Lake days in Minnesota

Lake days in Minnesota

Aebleskiver - little, round, Scandinavian pancakes

Aebleskiver - little, round, Scandinavian pancakes

Lake Living with a bunch of professional florists.

Lake Living with a bunch of professional florists.

Rachel on Tamarack Lake

Rachel on Tamarack Lake

Tamarack Lake, Minnesota - Rachel made me drive the boat. No one died

Tamarack Lake, Minnesota - Rachel made me drive the boat. No one died

Fargo Theater

Fargo Theater

Fargo Mario Wall. Am I awkward yet?

Fargo Mario Wall. Am I awkward yet?

Fargo, North Dakota

Fargo, North Dakota