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Saturday, 5/26/01 - Flat as North Dakota berts

As I moved through Minnesota toward North Dakota, the land began to stretch outward and flatten out. I actually don't mind the flatness. The land isn't non-descript. I think that by airplane, this is the part of the United States that looks like an intricate patchwork quilt of greens, yellow-greens, beiges and browns.

After a morning of dark clouds and the threat of rain, things cleared up the further West I drove. Arrived in Fargo about two hours before my afternoon appearance and had a quick lunch at a restaurant called "Grandma's" that turned out to be a bar and grill chain and not a local diner with homecooking like I was hoping, but it was convenient. aps

Sat at the front of the bookstore, greeting people as they walked in. No one I spoke with sounded like they came from the movie FARGO, but they also told me that I didn't sound like I came from New York, so I guess we're even.

Although I had planned in my itinerary to stay in Fargo, I decided to keep going and settled into the KOA in Jamestown, ND for the evening.

Sunday, 5/27/01 - Westward Bound

More of easy North Dakota driving. I pulled into Bismarck for a big meatloaf and mashed potato lunch at Cracker Barrel, picked up some groceries, filled the gas tank, and continued on my way. aps

Saw a BIG cow - actually a huge statue of the "largest Holstein in the world" that sits on a big hill. I took a photo from a distance, which ended up looking like a speck, but trust me, it was BIG. canyon

Suddenly, the landscape changed from flat to jagged, earth erupting into the sky in shades of pale reds. I turned off the interstate when I saw a sign for Painted Canyon in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There was a sign that said "Buffalo are Dangerous. View from a Distance." Am I in the West or what?

The Visitor Center was closing, but I was able to buy a few postcards and also a map of the sky. You can turn the cardboard wheel to correspond with the time of night and time of year and an illustration of the constellations aligns accordingly so you can identify them. I figured as I enter Big Sky Country, the stars are probably easier to see than in the city. canyon

Behind the Visitor Center was a scenic view of the Painted Canyon, which reminded me of those sand "paintings" you can buy or make in a jar. Fill the jar with different colored sand, then poke a stick down the sides so that the sand runs into crevices without blending. The colors here in nature were white, beige, tan, and rose with tufts of faded green.

At the next exit off the Interstate, I turned and entered a small valley and a North Dakota town called Medora. As I pulled up to the railroad tracks, I could see the entire main street, like a Western movie set, and even several people on horseback. vern rita

Stayed at the Red Trail Campground and was welcomed by Vern and Rita on the porch of the campground office, in matching red and white satin cowboy shirts and matching cowboy hats. They were playing classic country tunes, Vern on guitar and drums (yes, simultaneously) and Rita on bass and keyboards. Their black velvet sign read "Champagne Country" in sparkling silver letters. camp

The sun seemed to take forever to set, casting a peach pink glow onto the rocks rising all around.

In Texas, I put a decal on the side of the RV that is an outline of a map of the United States. The decal kit comes with different colored stickers for all 50 states, and I've been filling them in as I pass through them. I just stuck up Minnesota and North Dakota. I can't wait to put Montana up there.

I've noticed that I seem to be on a mission here. Get to Montana. Last year, in October, I was on my way to Montana but took a detour to Florida. Now I was so close, the weather was holding up nicely, the RV is strong. So close, but not yet there. Montana figured into my dreams all night, even though I've only seen it in pictures.

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