ND/SD vacation! - part one

I spent my memorial day weekend in fabulous North Dakota and South Dakota. And I've been meaning to get around to posting this, because it's been about 2 weeks since I've posted, at all. I hate letting this go that long...

So, my friend is from LA, and lives out east now. She is on a quest to visit all 50 states, and asked me if we could go to SD over memorial day weekend so she could cross it off the list. I agreed. Then she asked if it was out of the way to go to ND, too. I agreed, because, depending on the route we take, and given the three-day weekend, it's doable, right? And there started the quest to cross off states 45 & 46 of her list. I think it's worth noting here, too, that about 2 years ago, I helped her cross off Wisconsin, too. So, three new places for her that I've been to. She owes me... we'll get to that. :)

We started our quest on Friday afternoon and shortly after we took off, the GPS led us astray when we were on back roads trying ever so intelligently to go around the bad traffic. And when it did, I said to the female voice in a whiny tone: Laaadddyyyy... argh. This is important because from this point forward our GPS (a Garmin, voice version American English Jill) became known for the remained of the trip (maybe for life, we haven't decided), as "Lady." There is a reason I'm pointing this out. I promise.

So, we drove from the Twin Cities to North Dakota and it was fine once we got out of traffic and I think we only stopped once on the way. It was raining part of the time, and friend's mom was kind enough to keep up posted of the tornado-y watches we were driving toward. I assured friend that it was a watch, so we were good. If it becomes a warning, we'll pull over. :)  After about 4 hours, we entered North Dakota - and friend yells "forty-five!"  This is the best picture we got crossing the border because it was raining:

It says Welcome to North Dakota... I swear.
 We stayed just north of Fargo with the parents of another friend. She had warned us that we'd have to drive on a gravel road and that there was a very friendly dog on her parents farm. For those of you who know me, does that sound familiar? I asked her if she was sure we weren't staying at my parent's farm because it sounded eerily familiar, just different states. Also, their dog is Casey. My parent's dog is Tank. Kris and Tim were awesome, and I'm pretty sure they should start a bed and breakfast - Kris even had little gift baskets with ND stuff in them and chocolates on the pillows! It was sweet. They had a roast dinner when we got there, and eggs and bacon for breakfast. It was nothing short of amazing, not to mention generous. Kris also gave us the tour of Gardner, the high school that her daughter went to - which is a great school that was put out in the middle of nowhere a few miles from their place. She also took us to the Hunter Cafe in Hunter, ND for rhubarb pie & ice cream because it was in a book she showed us called How Fargo of You. It has cute stories about people who are awesome. I bought a copy and am looking forward to reading the rest. Hooray!

Instead of posting all of the pictures in a row (because this is going to get long), here's a short slide show of some Gardner/Hunter, ND pictures. And, Laura, I'm even in one of them! ;)

So, we had originally planned to hang out at Kris & Tim's for a night, drive to South Dakota and hopefully see some of my family, and hit up DeSmet, South Dakota (Laura Ingalls Wilder stuff) and, if there was time, Mitchell (umm... corn palace!)  However it turned out that my family was going to my hometown for the weekend and we wouldn't be able to make it there before they left. And somehow, with a little peer pressure from Kris, I agreed to go to Mount Rushmore. I mean, it's not that I don't like Mount Rushmore, but you have to understand that it is 9 hours of driving from our current location. Nine. Hours. I was feeling a little extra whimsical, I guess (Gina, I get W points for that) and off we went.

The ND experience at Kris and Tim's was great. That being said, driving on I-94 across ND is not the most fun drive for what seems to be eons. It was like 5 hours. And what we learned on the first part of our trip was that when you're driving across ND on I-94 for eons, you should stop when you can to get gas, use restrooms, or eat because sometimes it's a while until you have another chance. But, if you have good music and good company, it's not so bad. The highlight of our drive from North Dakota to the South Dakota Border was stopping at the Lawrence Welk Homestead simply because we saw a sign on the side of the road. Yes, you heard me. Lawrence Welk was born in North Dakota. And we went to his house. It was in the country and it was at this point that Lady (see above) had some sort of seizure because she had no idea where she was. "Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating. Recalculating. (etc...)"  We had to turn her off until we got back tot highway and she got her bearings back.

It was wunnerful, wunnerful. There was a cute older couple who ran the place and they gave us the tour - they talked more about the time period he grew up in, what it was like, and showed us the stoves, tools, and furniture they had. Some of it was the Welk's. Some of it was not.

And then we kept driving; after about 10 hours (total) of driving under our belts, and Lady had only failed us twice, we had made it safely to the border. And friend yelled "46!!!" Life was good.

This ends Part One of my ND/SD vacation post. Tune in for Part Two - or what I like to call: How Lawrence Welk Ruined My Weekend.

update: Part Two is posted - click here to read


  1. If you ever go back to North Dakota visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park. There is actually some impressive scenery there.

  2. Sounds like it was a fun trip but I don't think you mentioned to me if you stopped at Wall Drug or not. MOM ps Looks like Kris and Time live out in the boondocks like we do. I also wonder if their daughter wined about wanting to move to town and be with her friends when she was in High School like a certain daughter I know did.

  3. Very interesting, Brenda! Looks pretty flat out there to me though, I'll take the hills. You gave a great trip talk! Belva....

  4. @ Jim, a colleague of mine from Iowa went to that park over memorial day weekend - it seemed like it's on the western side of the state... so maybe when I go to Montana! :)

    @ Mom - you'll have to read the next post to find out about Wall Drug. And there's probably a good chance that their daughter whined like someone you know... although I'm not sure who you're referring to. :) ha

    @ Belva - thanks! It was very flat - I was excited to see some hills.

  5. Hooray! A picture of you :). And I can't believe I've never been to Lawrence Welk's homestead. I need to visit. Although I'm a bit wary as I see he ruined your vacation. I'll stay tuned for part 2! p.s. your post was not too long.

  6. @ Laura - thanks. I worry sometimes that I'm a bit wordy. :) I hope you get to the Welk homestead someday!


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