Well I was on my way back home and this year I planned a few stops in another state I have never visited, North Dakota! I would also be stopping for a night near Chicago to visit Aaron and Alison. I always dread making the turn towards home but this year I was excited to head home and see all my great friends along the way.
I drove out of Glacier and traveled highway 2 across northern Montana. Highway 2 is a two lane road that takes you in and out of small towns. I found it interesting and not as boring as driving on a freeway where you only see rest areas, McDonald’s and gas stations over and over until you are fighting to keep sleep at bay. Eventually I crossed the border of North Dakota. I ended up staying at a hotel called The Brooks Hotel in Williston, ND. It was a nice hotel and being that I was visiting with Brooks and Bridget the next day I felt the name of the hotel was fitting. When I left the next day I sweet talked the lady working the front desk to let me have some merchandise that said “The Brooks” so I could give it to my friend.
On my way out-of-town I asked about a nice local place to grab some breakfast. The kind lady at the front desk suggested Dakota Farms. The food was delicious and the waitress was really nice. I bought a nice coffee mug before leaving for my mom and hit the road for short drive to Souris, ND to meet Bridget and Books at Bridget’s horse ranch.
While I was driving through the flat North Dakota landscape I noted a large creature crossing the road. I have only seem a few in the wild and I didn’t even know they inhabited North Dakota. It was a Moose! He was crashing from one field to another and eating food as he traveled. It looked like a large male.
I had not accurately reported my arrival time so I texted Bridget to let her know I would be a little late because I had to take photos of a Moose.
I finally arrived. She lives in the Turtle Mountains in Northern North Dakota. How northern do you ask? Well… the directions said that when I see the sign to slow down for Canadian customs to turn right on the dirt road.
I arrived and found Brooks and Bridget coming out to meet me. I also met Charlie and Abby, who were Bridget’s two dogs. I was looking forward to meeting Abby as she was a new puppy and full of energy. I had talked with Bridget at the Electric Forest about how we both lost our dogs recently and she mentioned how she was adopting Abby.
They showed me to my room and I set down my things. We caught up and then they gave me a tour of the property, fed some calves and went to the horse barn to saddle up our horses for our evening horse ride.
I had no idea how large of an operation Bridget was running. I think I remember hearing 900 acres, over 150 horses, cows, long horns, straw, cats, trainers, kids and plenty of other terms of things that I expect takes a lot of effort to manage. It really blew my mind and I told Bridget I probably only asked about 2% of the questions I had about the place. So interesting.
They saddled up an older horse for me (his name was Ty) and after jumping on board I learned the in’s and out’s of giving him commands. He liked to follow the other horses but I could steer him around if I wanted.
As we left on our horseback ride Brooks, Bridget and I were joined by Abby and two of the kids that help out on the ranch. Brooks didn’t have that much experience on a horse before so we were having a fun time exchanging “I have no idea what I’m doing” looks. Here is a photo of us on the mountains overlooking the flat North Dakota landscape. Bridget pointed out that you could tell where the different towns were based on the grain towers.
After our horseback ride we returned to Bridget’s house to have dinner. Brooks had caught Bluegill for an appetizer and we ate venison burgers! Such a great dinner. After dinner we drove around and went to a local park. Outside you could hear the buzz of mosquitos, we had a few drinks once we came back and talked for the remainder of the evening.
They had recommended a few places for me to visit along the way to Fargo the next day. I was able to see Tommy the Turtle, Eat a Pizza Burger for Lunch and stand in the geographical center of North America! The pizza burger was a little bit out of my way but when I saw Brooks’s eyes light up when talking about it the previous day I knew I had to stop and experience the Double Pizza Burger. Brooks did a great job of making sure I knew the strict rules to follow when eating the pizza burger.
Tommy the Turtle was probably my favorite North Dakota landmark. I still remember me and Brooks just laughing while we stood beside it. I couldn’t help but think of the person in front of a city/town council proposing the idea of building a three-story turtle riding a snow mobile. In digging a little bit he is the largest turtle in the world riding the largest snowmobile in the world.
The next day I proceeded to head about 5 hours to Fargo where I was meeting up with a few other great North Dakota friends, Tracy and G! G’s real name is Amand but everyone calls her G.
I arrived at their house and since no one was home took the opportunity to re-organize my car. I thought G had to work but pretty soon she was zipping up the driveway. It was a nice surprise. She had taken the night off to hang out with me and Tracy! She gave me a tour of their beautiful house. I loved how they had displayed a lot of their concert memoribilia. There have been a lot of great special moments that they both shared over the years and it was great seeing how they displayed everything.
We went out to eat at The Boulder Tap House. It was a nice restaurant. The burgers are delicious and I had a few Oberon’s as I was missing my Michigan beer.
After dinner we took a tour of Fargo and I was able to see the downtown area. An interesting fact I found out is that smokes are incredibly cheap in North Dakota and expensive in Minnesota (Fargo lies on the border). We stopped at a liquor store where I picked up a six-pack from the Fargo Brewing company and went back to their house to drink around the fire. As with Brooks and Bridget, Tracy, G and I sat around drinking for a few hours.
I have always loved hanging out with these two as their personalities seem to match up with mine nicely.
I really am lucky to have met such great friends in this state and I said on many occasions that it just felt like Michigan as the weather, trees and attitude of people were quite similar. It is just too bad that North Dakota lies so far away from my home in Royal Oak, MI.
The next day I drove about 9 hours to see Alison and Aaron. They had bought a new house since I had visited them last year so I was excited to see the new digs. Aaron was there to meet me and give me a great tour. Alison (who was puppy sitting) stopped by to say hello and eat with us. Aaron is quite handy and I could see and appreciate all of the great improvements that had been done since they moved in to their old home. Aaron as also planning on installing a nice climbing wall in the backyard. They both enjoy climbing and this gives them a way to keep in shape and practice. Aaron has climbed a lot of impressive mountains and last year found out he has even climbed Devil’s Tower! Alison had to head back to puppy sit so Aaron and I ended up having drinks and watching TV in the evening before I crashed for the night.
Then next day I muddled my through the tolls of Chicago. I really need to get my EZPass connected to my new debit card. My old card expired so I figured I’d just pay the tolls manually but some toll booths don’t have anyone working and only accepts change. So…. I didn’t put enough change in once and the other potential issue was that I used the EZPass lane at a toll plaza that looked to be backed up for well over an hour. An EZPass is something you keep in your car and it will automatically charge your account when you pass the toll plaza. It will save you a lot of time and I have used mine in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
I enjoy taking pictures of landscapes/animals but I really drop the ball in taking photos of people and my friends. I really regret not getting better photos of them on my trip. Hopefully this is something I can work on in future adventures.
I also never feel as if I can truly express in words my appreciation for my friends kindness and generosity on my travels. Our time on this earth is too short and it is times like these that I treasure more than words can tell.