Spent most of Friday morning in Bismarck at our 5-sunburst Days Inn (it was actually very nice), doing laundry, making reservations for next leg of trip, etc. Drove up to Minot along a scenic road and had a lovely picnic at Fort Mandan, where Lewis & Clark overwintered in 1804. Gorgeous interpretive center—hands on activities (who knew Sakakawea, as they spell it up here, had such a heavy cradle board to carry?), well-written text, beautiful artwork. Nice stop. Here we are with a statue of Lewis’s dog, Seaman (a Newfie).
The evening found us in Minot, whose motto is “why not” (and yes, the rhyme is intended to help folks know how to pronounce the town name).
We found out why hotel rooms are so scarce. Three principal reasons:
1. There’s an oil boom up here in the Williston Basin. There are Halliburton trucks all over the parking lot. Oil workers can’t find enough housing (there’s no foreclosure problem up here!), so they’re in all the hotels of western North Dakota.
2. Weekend festivals are very big up here in the summer. This weekend was the Prairie Rose Olympics, but there’s always something going on. Summer is short, so each weekend is packed.
3. Towns are spread so far apart that when families go to the festivals, they almost always make an overnight trip of it.
So, that explains THAT mystery.
When we got to our hotel, we faced a little challenge. The hotel chain (Sleep Inn) neglected to mention when we PREPAID our room (yes, not just reserved, prepaid) that they only allow dogs under 12 pounds. My reservation clearly stated that I was “bringing a pet” and I told everyone to whom I talked (and it was many people, since they bungled our reservation) that we have a dog, and today we learn the hotel only allows small dogs. So, when the guy asked if our dog was small, I said yes. Technically, Nick IS small for a German shepherd. And my mother will know what a terrible liar I am…. Went tooling around town to find a park in which to exercise Nick. Found two gorgeous parks, each with big “NO PETS ALLOWED” signs. Sigh.
But on a brighter note, we got to spend the evening with our friend, her 11-year-old daughter, and her daughter’s friend. They drove 125 miles from Williston to be with us here tonight, as we were staying at the Sleep Inn, which (a) is attached to the big mall in the region and (b) has its own waterpark. (Yes, that’s part of it sticking outside. The purple slide is “The Midnight Express—a completely enclosed, dark tunnel. Lisa did try it!)
On my first time down, I was a bit cocky and used the bar at the top to push off from. I got going so fast that I flipped over, smacked my face down hard, banged up my ankles, and generally had an experience that was not going to be repeated. Usually, I love these things. Not that night. Lisa kept up with the 11-year-olds, going down all 3 slides (including the fastest one), but I got to visit with our friend and nurse my bruises.
The water park was an adventure in so many ways. First, kids and parents were playing in there till 11PM when it closed. (And it felt like it was barely dark then.) North Dakotans play HARD in the summer, enjoying ever bit of sunshine and warmth possible. Dinner after 9 or 10PM is quite normal. We found that we really had to adjust ourselves for that. We had been joking on the trip—mostly as a comfort/security blanket—that we were really just living our regular lives, but with a big change of scenery. You know, we made meals, did laundry, walked the dog, etc., but in a different place every day. We were confronted here in North Dakota with the opportunity to NOT do things the way we always do them. An actual attitude and structural adjustment had to be made. All turned out fine, but it was a pleasant surprise to have to make that adjustment.
The evening ended with Lisa and the girls going out to dinner and me dealing with my bruises and Nick. I smuggled him into the hotel at 11PM (and there were still plenty of people all over the hallways) and out again at 5:30AM. Parking in a mall parking lot in a wind storm (35mph sustained plus gusts) is a depressing experience. It just howls right through the little RV, but at least it wasn’t hot. It was 60 degrees outside (with a “wind chill” in the 50s)!
Now for some fun photos of a Scandinavian history park in downtown Minot. The first is a Norwegian church ("a sermon in wood") and the second is (I forget which nationality) an example of a storage shed (note the sod roof) of a wealthy person (the ornamentation equates with wealth). This was a really neat park with tributes to Leif Erickson as well as the father of modern skiing. There was a real log home from the 1700s, shipped over piece by piece and reassembled. And the guest book showed actual visitors from Norway! Small world.
*******we are behind in our posts. Must hit the road this morning. Will keep catching up today and tonight. Getting 3 days behind is NOT good!*******