“Oh yeah, central North Dakota. Such a wasteland. And soooooo flat. Ugh, you’re gonna be so bored.”
Hi and welcome to Day 8, which was really just a travel day. After a lovely complimentary breakfast at the Best Red Quinta Roof Hampton Lodge (sorry, they’re all starting to blur together) in Minnetonka just outside Minneapolis, Alex and I piled in the car and set out for Minot. When we started with the knowledge that we had a 7.5-hour drive ahead of us, it seemed pretty daunting and burdensome at first. But actually, with good conversation, a podcast episode, a stop for lunch and really gorgeous weather, it was completely tolerable. And I have to say – in recent conversations with people leading up to this trip, and really over many years of chatting with people about my birthplace, I’ve been told time and again, “Oh yeah, central North Dakota. Such a wasteland. And soooooo flat. Ugh, you’re gonna be so bored.” But you know what? North Dakota is beautiful. Sure, there’s farmland every direction you look, and as you drive from Fargo to Bismarck it does stay pretty flat. But that doesn’t make it less beautiful. Seeing that much unspoiled, undeveloped countryside is really pretty inspiring.
And oh man – when you hit Bismarck and then make the turn to start heading north to Minot, that whole “flat and boring” myth goes out the window. You get rolling hills, visually arresting plateaus, and today anyway, expanses of blue sky that out-blue the deep blue sea. As the light fell at day’s end, those rolling hills were the last terrain we saw before full darkness. And then the hills kind of gently rolled us down into Minot itself, where there’s almost no snow on the ground and it’s just hovering around freezing.
After checking into our hotel and winding down a bit, Alex and I drove into downtown Minot for a late dinner. We actually walked past the big Wells Fargo Bank building that now stands where Dad’s office used to be, and we walked through quite a bit more of downtown as we had to try a second restaurant after the one we’d originally chosen turned out to be closed. At some point in our brisk jaunt along the sidewalk, it suddenly dawned on me that surely Dad and Mom had walked those same sidewalks years and years ago. And for that matter, so had Steve and Kathryn and Dave and Lissa…and I guess me, if you don’t disqualify me for not moving under my own power.
That was a sobering thought. Or…not sobering, I guess, but just awe-inspiring. How was it that I was there, all these years later, walking to dinner with my son past the site of my dad’s office, past the former department store, past the railroad tracks? Oh yeah – as a teaser for stuff to come tomorrow, I also walked past this: