north dakota

Seriously North Dakota? Seriously?!!

I expected down home cooking. 
I expected hometown hospitality. 
What I got was nine dollar nachos and an 90 second ride on the Wiggly Worm for another eight bucks. If the eight dollars for one ride on a carnie roller coaster doesn't scare you, take a look at this:

This was the lone ride that Yoda was allowed to choose at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot.  After a very long day of traveling through upper-most ND, we promised the kid a trip to the fair. We were soon sorry. A twenty dollar entry fee, nine dollar nachos, six bucks for a corn dog, seven for cheese curds, and 8 tickets (at a dollar apiece) for one kiddie ride, had Rico and I sort of disgusted by my father's home state. Throw in the fact that we'd just spent a week eating real nachos in California and ridden the worlds most glorious carousel for just 75 cents, Minot was leaving us unimpressed.

But that's OK, because the rest of North Dakota gave us some good things to hang onto.

My father was born here, so was my grandma, and her parents as well. We drove clear up to the Canadian border to visit my grandfather's grave (grandma's too, even though she isn't using it, which sort of creeped me out). We visited the site of farm where my dad was born, and the restaurant where my grandparents used to let me serve pie to the customers and raid the candy shelf behind the counter. But Northgate, a North Dakota was nearly a ghost town even then, and things have not gotten better. Nonetheless, we took a picture of Yoda standing in the field that used to be a quaint cafe', an oil pump stood in the yard where my dad used to milk cows, where he buried his dog, where became who he was. We saw the crumbled remains of the school where my grandma and her five sisters graduated, where my dad became a basketball star.

I can't say I loved spending my summers in a remote prairie, with nothing but a couple of old Reader's Digests and a stray gopher for entertainment. And I won't lie, even as a grown-up, I ran like Carrie Ingalls tumbling down the intro to Little House, just to get out of that tall grass. All phobias start somewhere, and mine was here. Some things never change.

Aside from honing my snake-evasion skills, it was a bittersweet visit. Seeing my family's roots dissolve back into the soil is a little disconcerting. This used to be a thriving community of Nordic folks, now most of it looks like this:

After our visit to Northgate and Flaxton, we headed to the state fair in Minot, which only managed to redeem itsself by selling us chicken enchilada soup mix and a sweet hammock chair. Even the hotel in Minot managed to tick us off, by sounding a fire alarm at 5 am. We should've gone to Bismark.

But on cousin Brent's recommendation, we didn't. We bypassed the state capitol and took route 52 towards Jamestown Frontier Village, where all three of us took a real stage coach ride for less money that Minot's Wiggly Worm.
Yoda fell in love with the Shetland ponies, and we played a spirited game of go-fish in the saloon. Should've given Brent a shout out a little sooner.


Treats said…
Neeks needs a pony in her own backyard.
Treats said…
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