Crossing the Prairie 6/5 – 6/11
All too soon, our visit to MInnesota, to family and friends comes to an end. It is time to pack up and roll on down the road. But where to now? The West Coast is calling to me again. After all of our travels, I think the Eugene, Oregon area is still my favorite. Marylu is not so sure yet. So there are more cites left for us to see and even some to revisit.
From Minneapolis, we take Interstate 94 North and West, heading for North Dakota. We know from previous experience that North Dakota is, shall we say, “scenery challenged”, so our plan is a series of short stays in hotels as we hop across the state.
Our first stop is Fargo. Fargo is a busy, industrious city, with a population of over 120,000. There are lots of great places to eat and drink. This is also a city with a sense of humor about itself. At the top of the list of weird things to do in Fargo is to go see the Wood Chipper. You know the one… from the movie. (Thanks to Rita and Dagan for a nice visit and some great tourist info!)
From Fargo, it is a short hop to Bismarck. This is the capitol of the state, and the capitol building is unusual. Most capitols have two wings and a dome in the middle. This one has a round wing, divided into two halves, where the House and Senate meet. Attached to the round wing is an 18 story office building where most of the state functionaries are located. No dome but a nice observation deck on the top floor.
Bismarck is also a great town for food and drink. We found some very nice breweries who are cooking up some fine beers. Our favorite place to eat was Sickie’s Garage, who are famous for their burgers. In between beers and burgers, we visited the State Historical Society Museum and learned a few things. North Dakota used to be covered by an inland sea and, apparently, dinosaurs came here to die in the mud and be preserved.
Still headed West, the prairie starts to get more interesting. We start seeing rolling hills. Those turn into peaks and wide valleys. At Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the landscape descends into the chaos that is the Painted Canyon.
At Glendive, Montana, we are, I hope, getting close to the end of the prairie. The horizon is closer and lumpier. Not a lot going on in Glendive, but they do have a new brewery.
The road to Billings has even more prairie for us; miles and miles of flat grassy lands, broken occasionally by ridges and canyons of pale sandstone. We are steadily gaining elevation as we cross the vast plateau. Just as we start to see the signs and buildings and refineries of Billings we spot, far off in the distance, the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains. We are at the end of the Great Prairie.
Next up: Billings, Montana