May 31 2009
Our trip is off to a good start! We safely deposited our three-year-old with Grandma along the way, so I’m traveling with just the three older kids (8, 6, and 5). After so many years of having little ones in tow, it’s strange to be on the move with kids who can buckle themselves into their carseats and don’t need a diaper bag.
At 70 degrees and sunny, it was a beautiful day to drive across North Dakota. Everything is green due to the plentiful snow and rain they’ve had this year. Several areas are still flooded.
In Jamestown, we were escorted through the pioneer village and National Buffalo Museum by Nina from the tourism bureau. (Thanks, Nina!) The pioneer village receives 125,000 visitors a year. Not too bad for only being open in the summer! There’s a small charge for the National Buffalo Museum, but the rest of the area is free. We spotted all three albino buffalo (the only ones in the world) from a distance, and of course took the kids’ pictures by the World’s Largest Buffalo, just as I did when I was little. He’s 50 years old and was recently spruced up due to a grant from Hampton Inns. (Thanks, Hampton Inns, for preserving landmarks such as this.)
The kids each left Jamestown with a souvenir: one a stuffed buffalo that he’s now snuggled up with in bed, on a “Birds of the Dakota” book, which he’s already compared with its Minnesota counterpart, and one with a beautiful necklace. I also paid for pony rides since my daughter, who is generally very fearful of animals, asked for one. She loved it!
In Steele, we stopped to see the World’s Largest Sandhill Crane. We’ll see a few other Really Big Things before we get home.
Driving across North Dakota, I was struck by the varied terrain. From the absolutely flat Red River Valley, it moves to rolling farmland and deep valleys at Valley City and Jamestown, and then more pastureland as you go west. I had forgotten how many “no services” exits there were off the Interstate, but also how many small towns there are along the way that do have gas and food. North Dakota has also done a nice job of making I-94 look nice. The bridge and wall in Fargo are decorated with sunflowers and wheat, and the newer overpasses have a pretty diamond pattern to them.
We got to Bismarck for supper, and found a new favorite Famous Dave’s. By the time we got to the hotel and spent a little time in the pool, the kids dropped into bed without a sound.
Look for details on the places we visited in the weeks to come, and I’ll try to update on the trip as Internet connections allow.