Day 21: Crossing North Dakota

From Minot to Rugby to Grand Forks to Fargo today. We are clearly out of the West and back in the Midwest. Clearly. As Lisa pointed out (the 5-star insight du jour): If we were any farther from home, we’d know where we are. (Translation for those of you who may not know our history: We are almost at the farthest point east from our California home. Any farther east and we'd be in Illinois and back home.)


Yet another geographic center. I get that these superlatives do draw tourists!

The restaurant there also specializes in jams and jellies and their menu includes "toe jam" even. We didn't go in.

Loved Grand Forks. Full of historic homes and an enormous greenbelt full of trails along the Red River in town. We enjoyed walking the dog along these well-groomed trails under the overcast sun (cool!).

Not loving Fargo. Icky motel, icky almost whole town (there's one strip of Broadway that has a restored 1920s theater and some art galleries), and the heat came back--96 degrees. Our worst meal of the trip was had for dinner. Here's Lisa's taco in a boat (!). [BE SURE TO READ THE COMMENT AT THE END OF THIS POST--really funny]

Thought we were stopping at a charming Irish pub. No soap. Twas an icky bar that required patrons to sign a "contract" (after turning over one's credit card) that if one left without settling the tab, the establishment could tack on 15% gratuity and charge the card for the full amount. Huh. We picked a great place. I should point out that we love a good dive bar. Moore's Tavern in Greencastle, Indiana, is the height of a great dive--good jukebox, wonderful pork tenderloin sandwich, cold beer.

But here, at Dempsey's Publick House, there was no choice in music, just old 70s rock blaring (primarily KISS). Of course, that wasn't playing when we sat down. I need to understand why this music is the only music on the radio in the rural Midwest. (Of course we heard Bob Seeger the minute we turned on the local radio.) Don't get me wrong--I enjoyed that music myself . . . at the time (in 1977), but there's 30 years more of interesting music. Lisa and I are exploring the fact that we are snobs (or are we just well-traveled? Or lefty liberal Californians?). Not sure. Helpful comments welcome.

But worth the stop in Fargo to visit Widman’s Candy Shop. See the Roadfood review and just know that some of you will be getting “chippers” for Christmas. Awesome.

Off we go tomorrow to our last "new" state: Minnesota. Heat will continue being a problem through tomorrow. Think cool thoughts.


  1. I had to paste in this wonderful email from our talented Irish friend, Joyce.

    Dear Lisa and Julie,

    In honor of your cultural and culinary adventures in Fargo, ND, I was moved to write you a song in the Irish style.

    Here are the original lyrics that served as my model, followed by a new version that the two of you will undoubtedly wish to perform for the citizens of Fargo, from a recommended distance of several hundred miles.

    “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”

    When Irish eyes are smiling,
    Sure, 'tis like the morn in Spring.
    In the lilt of Irish laughter
    You can hear the angels sing.
    When Irish hearts are happy,
    All the world seems bright and gay.
    And when Irish eyes are smiling,
    Sure, they steal your heart away.

    And NOW, I bring you . . . .

    “When Taco Boats Are Sailing”

    When taco boats are sailing,
    Sure, 'tis Fargo doin’ its thing.
    In the roar of an Irish pub, ah,
    You can hear KISS rockers sing.
    If you sign the barman’s contract,
    You’ll be welcome as flowers in May.
    But should you think of leaving,
    Sure, they’ll steal your card away!

  2. Oh man, Joyce is killing me. We can always count on her for a good giggle!! And now all I can think about is that Fargo movie doncha know?