Day 17: No Room at the Inn in North Dakota

What an interesting day. Days like today teach a person how life is really a creation--not a passive experience. We could have let the boo-boos get us today, but we ended up creating a mighty fine day. Not a 5-star Walla Walla or Custer State Park day, but a fine day.

I got up at 5AM with Nick--fed him, walked him--and then fired up the computer to figure out what in the world we were going to do for Thurs-Fri-Sat. in this heat. Figured out a plan and then snoozed a bit till 6:30. The nice thing about campgrounds is quiet hours--this one went till 7AM, so a girl had to have a nice morning nap....

Arose and started working the plan. Called every dog-friendly hotel and decently rated campsite that took reservations (very few) in Medora, Williston, and Dickinson, ND. Over a dozen. Nothing. No room at the inn. We are in need of a motel now, after 3 nights of camping, and given the heat. So, we punted. We are now in Bismarck, ND--the state capitol--many miles out of our way theoretically. But, as Lisa so wisely put it, there must be a reason we're meant to be in Bismarck. We'll find out soon. Just got here. And the ride here was, indeed, interesting:

1. Passed the geographical center of the U.S. (when factoring in Alaska and Hawaii, which seems to me a bit of a stretch). Here's the marker:

2. Visited Theodore Roosevelt National Park (our 6th National Park so far). Hotter than Hades. Some general back in the 1800s said this area looked like hell after the fire was out. And today, it was almost 100, so maybe there were flames. Here is Miss Thang, who thought it was too hot to get out at one of the scenic overlooks:

Very weird badlands scenery. Weird because the red parts = a brick-like material formed by an underground coal seam being on fire. Very odd.

Just as far as the eye could see. And these look a lot more like Grand Tetons than those mountains in Wyoming....

After our picnic lunch and short tool around the park, we allowed ourselves a treat--our first stop at a ubiquitous DQ. Ah. That hit the spot. Place was overrun with North Dakotans in need of a soft-serve cone.

The drive east on I-94 was pretty much a "Great Plains" experience until we heard our first National Weather Service tornado WARNING on the radio. This is what we drove into. (Taken from iPhone through dirty windshield.) Not a good color for sky. We made it safely and the storm is blowing east as we write this (the sun is out), so I think we're OK, but there's a watch out till 10PM. Lisa studied the atlas as the announcements kept coming on the radio. Several of the places that had already had quarter-sized hail were where we'd be camping if we had indeed camped. Very happy to be in a brick Days Inn motel.

And for the nervous fathers out there...putting higher grade gas in the car did indeed make the check engine light go out today. All is well.

Off to a restaurant meal. We have been BBQ-ing and eating breakfast and lunch out of our little fridge all week. Very excited to order off a menu tonight!

And for those of you betting on whether we'll cut our trip short or not...I wouldn't bet TOO much on that. We are definitely amending the itinerary to avoid heat and space out the driving better, but we have ideas on where to hole up in cooler climes ;-)


  1. You mentioned in an earlier post about not getting any "comments", so I wanted to leave one for you guys...
    We are having soooo much fun reading about your adventures!! Don & I talk about it often. So just know that we are having a blast touring vicariously with you.
    Love to all three of you from all four of us.

  2. Julie and Lisa, This is the best darn road trip I've (n)ever been on! It's been such a treat to come home from work and read my way into a whole different set of experiences. By the way, "There must be a reason . . . we're in Bismarck" sounds like the perfect title for a book! Whatever the reason turns out to have been, thanks for letting us tag along for the ride. I can hardly wait to find out where I--we--I mean YOU end up next! Lots of love.

  3. your stories are great.I love all the details.Also the pictures show your hidden talents.Keep cool.