"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.
“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.
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!
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.
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).
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!