Why Not Minot – Day 113

Why Not Minot?

Day 113 – July 22, 2003 – Tuesday

The North Dakota State Fair in Minot, North Dakota today, and an underground missile silo! Our day took us from Minot to East Grand Forks, Minnesota — state #32.

Barbara spoke with a woman at the Comfort Inn desk this morning. In the 40’s and 50’s, her father helped build quite a few of the underground missile silos in the area. None of them are actually in Minot; they’re in outlying areas along the highways. She said people drive past them all day long and have no idea they’re there. Most of them have fence areas around them. They almost all have slight mounds. They all have markers that are green with letters and numbers, like A52. She said you just kind of have to know what you’re looking for. Some of them have ventilation things that come up out of the ground, and those are easier to spot. She mentioned that we passed two coming in from Stanley along the highway, but we didn?t know at the time. So, we’re going to continue to look today and find some.

We started the day by visiting the Scandinavian Heritage Park in Minot. Most of the folks in this part of the country are of Scandinavian descent. The center includes a 230-year-old house from Sigdal, Norway; Stabbur, one of Norway’s finest storehouses; international flag display; Danish windmill; the Sondre Norheim Eternal Flame; Leif Ericksson statue; Sondre Norheim Statue (Norheim is the father of modern skiing); Casper Oimoen statue (Oimoen is an Olympic ski jumper); replica of the Gol Stave Church; a visitors information center; waterfall; and an authentic Finnish sauna. The Scandinavian Heritage Park is very nicely done, and we enjoyed seeing the various sights there. As an extra-added attraction, the nice lady who helped us at the Information Center had that strong accent that many of the actors used in the movie “Fargo.”

62 pounds of accumulated brochures, hotel shampoo bottles, bedside table ballpoint pens, and the like were shipped back to Atlanta by Barb at Pac ‘N Ship of Minot.

Brook and Rod helped us with parking near the North Dakota State Fairgrounds. We met Scott, Monte, Blaise, Tina, and Alex at the main entrance; Kendra and her cow, Daisy, at the 4H barn; Joan at the Racing Pigs arena; Breanna, Julie, Jessie, and Roman at the First Lutheran Church Pie Booth; Becky and Jimmy at the Pie in the Sky Cafe; and Debbie and Linda at the exit.

The North Dakota State Fair was fun to see. We met quite a few people. We walked around and saw the usual state fair stuff — animal pavilions, midway, children’s area, exhibit buildings, and the food area. We basically grazed our way up and down the food concessions. Hot dogs, tacos, cokes, lemonade, and pie! We had an excellent Peach Pie at the First Lutheran Church Pie Booth. We had our first ever Creme Brulee Pie at the Pie in the Sky Cafe Booth. Jimmy and his wife, Becky, own Pie in the Sky Cafe, and they travel to fairs and big events operating their mobile pie kitchen. They are from Arkansas.

Alan Jackson, Alice Cooper, and Ted Nugent were performing at the fair this year, and we had beads ready for them, but we didn’t happen to run into them. For more information on the North Dakota State Fair, see www.ndstatefair.com.

Back in the car chewing on Rolaids as a North Dakota State Fair precaution.

Minot is known for its Missile Air Force Base, which is just northwest of town. In the Cold War years, Minot led the nation as the big ICBM Base. The missile silos are scattered all across this area — not just at the base. We asked just about everyone we met in Minot to tell us how we could find some of the underground missile silos. We received a uniform description of what the sites looked like, and we THINK we found one. We snapped a photo from a distance. We were told we would not be able to get a tour down in a silo, so in an uncharacteristic move, we didn’t even try.

We obtained the following information from the Commander of the 91st Space Wing at Minot Air Force Base:

“Minot AFB is headquarters for the 91st Space Wing, one of the Air Force’s three operational missile units. The mission of the 91st SW, whose members are known as the Rough Riders, is to defend the United States with safe, secure intercontinental ballistic missiles, ready to immediately put bombs on target, while deactivating remote sites at Grand Forks AFB, N.D. The 91 SW is an element of 20th Air Force, headquartered at F.E. Warren AFB Wyo., which is a component of Air Force Space Command, located at Peterson AFB, Colo. The on-alert missiles assigned to the 91st SW are under the operational control of the nation’s strategic war-fighting command, U.S. Strategic Command, headquartered at Offutt AFB Neb.

“Minuteman missiles provide a quick-reacting, highly survivable element to America’s strategic triad. The Minuteman weapon system is the safest, most reliable and maintainable ballistic missile system in the United States. In 1963, Minot AFB became the nation’s third operational Minuteman base, with deployment of the Minuteman I missile. Today’s Minuteman III weapon system is the product of almost 30 years of continuous enhancement. The Minuteman III replaced the Minuteman I in 1971 — the 91st SW was the first wing in the Air Force to receive the Minuteman III. The Minuteman III is a three-stage, solid-fuel ICBM. It has the capability to carry three independently targetable reentry vehicles armed with strategic weapons. Four sets of three targets can be stored in the missile’s guidance system. A hallmark of the weapon system is that assigned crews can remotely retarget each missile. A tested system of authentication codes and hardware safeguards ensures Minuteman missiles cannot be launched without valid direction of the National Command Authority.

“The wing controls 150 Minuteman III missiles, located over an 8,500 square mile area in north central North Dakota, approximately the same size as the state of Massachusetts. Each missile is located in an unmanned remote site called a launch facility. All LFs are located at least three nautical miles apart and situated in unpopulated areas. The missiles are housed in hardened underground silos. Each launch facility has all the equipment needed to maintain the missile in a ready-to-launch condition. All activities at the LFs are monitored and controlled from remote, manned launch control centers.

“Located in each LCC, missile combat crews comprised of two officers operate in 24-hour alert tours. During the tour, the crew controls the 10 missiles assigned to their flight, and has the capability to monitor and control an entire squadron of 50 missiles. Launch control centers are interconnected by hardened, buried, wire, cable communications links used by the combat crews for status reporting, coordination of missile programming and launch actions. Thus, each crew can launch any missile in its squadron, not just the missiles in its flight.

“Each LCC is part of a missile alert facility. The wing’s 15 MAFs are comprised of a topside facility, which is continually manned by a minimum of eight people, and an underground complex consisting of an LCC and an underground support building.

“The wing has approximately 1,500 operations, maintenance, security, and support personnel working together to keep missiles on alert. The wing is made up of two groups, the 91st Logistics Group and the 91st Maintenance Group. Five squadrons, a helicopter flight and a standardization/evaluation division are assigned to the 91st Operations Group. Three squadrons and a quality assurance section are assigned to the 91st Logistics Group. In addition, the special staff functions of manpower and quality, financial management, safety, and history are assigned under the director of staff. The plans and inspections office reports to the wing vice commander.”

For more information, see http://www.strategic-air-command.com/bases/Minot_AFB.htm.

Needless to say, Minot is a very patriotic area with a lot of flags. That’s always the way we’ve seen it to be in and around military installations.

It seems that the city of Minot once used a slogan to promote the city: “Why Not Minot?” Unfortunately, the slogan was about as successful as “Lucky Me, I Live in Lubbock,” where the Texas Tech students laughed and have referred to the local residents as “Lucky Me’s” ever since. In answer to “Why Not, Minot?” a U.S. Air Force officer told us the answer: “Freezin’s the reason.” We understand this is a very popular T-shirt at the Air Force Base. Temperatures below zero are common and temperatures reaching minus 60 degrees occur regularly in the winter months. He said he had seen it as high as 104 degrees in the summer and as low as wind chill minus 102 in the winter of the same year. We sure hope Louisiana Tiffany knows what she has gotten herself into.

From what we believe was a missile silo just outside Minot, we drove to Rugby, North Dakota.

We toured downtown McGillacuddy City USA (Granville, North Dakota) and took a photo of the bank and the Shady Eye Saloon.

There’s not much but highway and a few small towns from Rugby over to the state line.

Rugby has the Geographical Center of North America, and we took a photo of the cairn that marks the spot. In January 1931 this location was established by the United States Geographical Survey. There are three new flagpoles representing each of the countries making up North America — Canada, United States, and Mexico.

We visited the Pioneer Museum in Rugby. It cost $10 to get in. That was a little steep, but we figured it was a donation for a worthy cause. We met Marlene at the Prairie Village and Museum. She ran out as we were sneaking out to make sure we had a good time. We told her we did (but it certainly was not what you call a world class museum; it was a nice assortment of antiques gathered from local people to give a representation of pioneer things.)

Across Montana, North and South Dakota, Barbara has resisted every attempt on my part to get her to eat a buffalo burger. I was hoping that maybe at the last little bit of North Dakota we could get a buffalo burger for her, but my efforts failed.

There just wasn’t much to see on the road in eastern North Dakota.

We drove around the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. It’s a beautiful campus, and the Ralph Engelstad (hockey) arena is unbelievable! It looks like one of the finest professional sports stadiums in the country rather than a university stadium. The folks here are really proud of it, and rightly so. Home of the Fighting Sioux.

The Red River (which we long-time Texans think of us only being in Texas) divides Grand Forks, North Dakota from East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

We enjoyed dinner at Whitey’s Cafe in East Grand Forks. We met owner, Greg Stennes, and manager, Val. Whitey’s has quite a history — dates back to 1925. East Grand Forks was a saloon town in the early years. North Dakota was “dry” back then, so the liquor trade developed on the Minnesota side of the river. Edwin “Whitey” Larson was just 19 years old when he decided to get in on the action and opened a place that sold bootleg alcohol and an occasional hot dog. After several successful years, Whitey purchased a larger building, and in 1930, he built the first stainless steel horseshoe bar in the United States. The place was called “Whitey’s Wunderbar.” The art deco design of the bar was featured in both the Saturday Evening Post and Time Magazine. Whitey’s survived a 1942 fire and the terrible flood of 1997, when nearly six feet of water covered the main floor. The famed Wunderbar and art deco interior were saved along with many of the artifacts, and Whitey’s rebuilt three doors up the block from the destroyed building. See www.whiteyscafe.com.

I had walleye for the first time. It’s a specialty at Whitey’s, and I figured that was a must after we saw the World’s Largest Walleye in Garrison yesterday. Bozzie Jane had Honey Dijon Chicken with Pasta. We enjoyed our meals and seeing photos from before and during the flood, and we really enjoyed speaking with Greg and Val.

The 1997 flood was caused by unprecedented winter snowfall, and the flood has had a tremendous impact on the two “Grand” towns. After dinner, we drove around to see signs of the flood and fire — water marks on old buildings, vacant lots and parks where old buildings used to be, and plenty of current construction down by the river where lots have been vacant since shortly after the flood. We walked across the main bridge, and when we looked down at the water many, many feet below, it was hard to imagine that the water rose to a level even higher than the bridge roadway. We saw the restored Empire Theatre and a few other sights that folks told us to be sure to see.

Heather helped us at the Fairfield Inn. Minnesota is state #32.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this web site. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Minot North Dakota — Scandinavian Heritage Park — North Dakota State Fair — Underground Missile Silos — Grand Forks North Dakota — Whitey’s Cafe

16 Farmers in Garrison North Dakota – Day 112

16 Farmers in Garrison North Dakota

Day 112 – July 21, 2003 – Monday

Our day began in the capitol of North Dakota — Bismarck. We visited the capitol building and the governor’s residence. Eleventh capitol we had seen in 31 states.

From Bismarck to New Salem. Home of the World’s Largest Cow — Salem Sue. Sue is 38-feet tall, and as world’s largests go, she’s a mighty impressive statue. Salem Sue stands on the highest hill in the town of New Salem, North Dakota. Salem Sue is so large that it can be seen from over five miles away. Erected in 1974 by the New Salem Lions Club to help promote area Holstein herds, Salem Sue was the second giant roadside animal sculpture built in North Dakota. The idea to erect such a large cow came likely from the popularity of North Dakota’s first giant roadside animal – the World’s Largest Buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota that was erected in 1959.

From New Salem, we wound through a variety of country roads with Minot as our ultimate destination.

In Beulah, we were unable to find the “Bale People” — some art made out of hay bales. We stopped at three places to ask, but the Civic Center and newspaper offices were closed, and no one at the gas station / convenience store had any idea what we were talking about.

When you are traveling and looking for information, there are now two places never to stop: one is a convenience store and the other is a surveyor. Surveyors never know where they are and they’re never from around the area. We believe one of the prerequisites for being a convenience store worker is to be from another country and commute at least 50 miles from another state.

When we saw the town of Zap on the map, we just had to go. Small town in a picturesque setting. The postmaster’s car is a PT Cruiser with the license plate “ZIP ZAP.”

From Zap, we went to Pick City to see The Dam Bar. The Garrison Dam is just a mile or so away.

In Garrison, Walleye Capital of the World, we saw Wally Walleye, the World’s Largest Walleye. Garrison has quite a sense of humor; the twin water towers are labeled “Hot” and “Cold.” As I headed back to the car after the walleye photo, Boz said some men inside the cafe were waving for us to come in. I went in and met 16 nice, nice Garrison folks. Karen, Richard, Spanky, Don, Ron, Steve, Jerry, Blaine, Larry, Don, Randy, Delores, Edna, Joanne, Cindy, and Mark. I joked that I was sorry I had walked in during a town meeting, and they said I wasn’t far off.

I told the entire cafe group a little about the trip, and they provided a number of ideas on sights to see in North Dakota. Steve asked about the beads. I told a short version of the Floating Neutrinos story, and when I left, half the farmers in Garrison were wearing lucky beads. I wish we hadn’t been short on time, as it would have been great to just sit and talk with them about Garrison and North Dakota. Garrison also has a giant that greets visitors to the local golf course, but we missed it.

Barbara sat out in the car while I was in speaking with the 16 folks in the town cafe. She said the farmers came out one at a time wearing their beads, and she was holding her sides from laughing so hard. Big ole guys in jeans and T-shirts with a string of Mardi Gras beads around their neck. She could just imagine the reaction when these guys walk back into their kitchens and see their wives.

When I told the story about the lucky beads, one of the farmers said he could use all the luck he could get. I asked why, and several of his neighbors said he was getting a divorce. He got two strings of beads.

Down the road we went to Parshall, North Dakota — home of the Paul Broste Rock Museum. The museum is made of rock — uncut granite fieldstone held together with cement. The collection within the museum encompasses much more than the name implies. Mr. Broste was a grassroots artist as well as a North Dakota farmer, and he saw his museum as a way of displaying his paintings, conceptual sculptures, pen-and-ink illustrations, poems, and philosophies, as well as his rocks. Mr. Broste was born in a one-room log cabin with a sod roof in 1887, and he didn’t complete the museum until 1964. He asked the town of Parshall to preserve what he had so painstakingly created after his death, and the museum has been preserved and improved.

We met Coby at the gas station in Parshall. The beads.

New Town provided a real laugh! The Earl Bunyan Statue. Not PAUL Bunyan, but Earl. Earl was “dreamed up by Fred and Berd LaRocque” in 1958. Earl stands about 20-feet tall — a string bean with a mustache. He stands atop a pile of rocks, wears a cowboy hat, boots, and tight-fitting jeans. The story they created is that Earl is Paul’s brother. Fred and Berd are buried beneath the statue.

We visited Stanley, North Dakota to have a Whirla-Whip at the Dakota Drug Store. A Whirla-Whip is a mixture of ice cream with any of a variety of fruits and/or candies. The machine whips the ice cream and additives together, and the end result is a thick blended cross between a milk shake and ice cream. Boz had Vanilla with Butterfinger, and I had Maraschino Cherry with Vanilla. Very tasty! Dakota Drug began using the Whirla-Whip machine in 1949. The machine was manufactured between 1937 and 1942. Whirla-Whip was really popular at Dakota Drug, and the owners of the store had the foresight to begin purchasing Whirla-Whip machines from small town stores in North Dakota in the early 60’s when many of them were remodeling and removing soda fountains from their stores. As a result, the store now has several Whirla-Whip machines, and Dakota Drug is the only place in the world where you can get a Whirla-Whip. Ellen prepared our Whirla-Whips, and we met Nina there as well.

As we were leaving Stanley, I spotted an old building out of the corner of my eye, and we turned back to investigate. We found Flickertail Village — a museum of old buildings. Out front, we found a unique display of fire hydrants painted to represent some of the most notable North Dakotans — Roger Maris, Lawrence Welk, Sakakawea, and others.

When we reached Minot, we met Julie and Katie at the hotel. We asked Julie about the restaurant recommended to us — Ebeneezer’s, and she said it was her favorite place. Louisiana Tiffany took excellent care of us at Ebeneezer’s, and we met the manager, Gary, and he gave us red-white-and-blue beads! Tiffany gave us American flags. They had no idea that beads and flags are so important to us — that we give beads to everyone we meet and photograph flags every day. Quite a coincidence.

We covered a lot of ground in North and South Dakota. If you eliminate the world’s largest statues that we’ve seen across North Dakota, South Dakota clearly has more to see…but we found there to be no comparison between the people. The folks we’d met in North Dakota were much nicer and much friendlier than most of the people we had met from South Dakota.

I’m afraid we’ll have to add a category for time, and give North Dakota the “worst time” because they make it really confusing by allowing the different counties to determine what time zone they are in. You can be much further east and still be in Mountain Time and vice-versa. It’s a mess.

We were reminded again today, as we learned and have been reminded so many times on the trip that there is a kinder and gentler America, and it is alive and well in small towns like Garrison North Dakota.

Random Comments:

We will be at the North Dakota State Fair in Minot tomorrow, and we plan to try to get in to see the Underground Missile Silos in Minot. It should be an interesting day. We have to be in Minnesota tomorrow night.

We are very sorry that we were unable to meet up with a couple of wonderful email penpals in North Dakota. We cannot thank Marilyn, Joanne, and Sonia enough for the wonderful invitations; we just wish our route could have made visits possible. We hope they’ll give us a raincheck. We feel TERRIBLE that we can’t meet up with these especially nice folks!

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this web site. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today: 
World’s Largest Cow — Bale People — Garrison North Dakota — World’s Largest Walleye — Paul Broste Rock Museum — World’s Largest Earl Bunyan — Dakota Drug Store — Flickertail Village — Ebeneezer’s


Enchanted Highway – Day 107

The Enchanted Highway

Day 107 – July 16, 2003 – Wednesday

It’s funny how things happen. We were pretty much in the middle of nowhere this morning as we drove down the amazing Enchanted Highway and saw the World’s Largest Metal Sculptures produced by artist Gary Greff. The car started making a funny humming noise. Within a mile, we were coasting. Transmission problem.

Fortunately, cell phones seem to work better here — probably because the terrain is so flat and there isn’t much to block the signals. Chrysler Roadside Assistance dispatched Rick and his tow truck. He hauled us into the town of Dickinson where we met Rob and the delightful group of guys working at Charbonneau Chrysler. The transmission had to be replaced, so they tried to arrange to get a new one overnighted from the nearest spot — Minneapolis (700 miles away). They were kind enough to loan us a car, so after talking with all the guys and meeting some nice folks who also had car trouble (Aaron, Shane, and their dog, Eight Ball), we headed back to the Enchanted Highway where we saw the six fabulous sculptures that stretch over a 32-mile stretch of county blacktop road. These are not just any sculptures, they are huge sculptures — some over 100 feet high.

As we pulled into the last of the sites, we saw two men painting fence posts. I hollered out to one of the men asking if he was the artist. Much to my surprise, he said yes. Bozzie Jane and I spent the rest of the day with Gary. We visited his shop and then he was kind enough to take us to his home where he showed us his latest projects. It was a fascinating day. Even more fascinating because Gary wouldn’t have been out there painting fence posts earlier in the day, so the transmission was a problem in some ways, but it enabled us to meet a number of really nice people and have a special afternoon with a very interesting and talented artist who is producing something that is truly unique.

Gary is a native of Regent, North Dakota. He was a teacher and a school principal and had never done any art work or welding prior to 1989. He then began dreaming of ways to bring people and businesses to the small community of Regent — fearing the town would someday die if it relied solely on farming. A hay bale strongman built by a farmer inspired him. He watched people pull off the road to snap photos of the oddity. He wondered how many people would stop for huge metal sculptures. He began designing, welding, and painting. The Tin Family was erected in 1991; Teddy Rides Again in 1993; Pheasants on the Prairie in 1996; Grasshoppers in the Field in 1999; Geese in Flight in 2002; and Deer Crossing in 2002. He was working on Fisherman’s Dream. In 2002, Geese in Flight was named the World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture by the Guinness Book of Records.

Geese in Flight was begun in 1998 and completed in 2002. Gary chose to sculpt geese because the birds are significant to North Dakota. They fly through the state every spring and fall, migrating north or south. The geese are enjoyed by bird watchers and hunters alike. The sculpture is 110-feet high and 154-feet wide. It weighs 157,661 pounds! While this is the largest of the sculptures, they are all huge.

Gary leases the land from the farmers for $1 for 20 years with the right to renew at that point. So, the farmers in the community are behind his project. The idea of the project, obviously, was to bring tourism and people to Regent to revitalize their farming town. Gary used to be a teacher, and then he was a principal, and then he became an inventor. He worked for several years on inventing prepared, diced onions like you would buy garlic in the grocery store. The product was even chosen as one of the most inspirational products at a New York food show. But, he spent all of his life savings on the product development and didn’t have money left over for marketing and so the product has been shelved. He’s been doing the Enchanted Highway since then. Gary said he didn’t have enough money to have a website. He was hoping at some point to have a website just for the Enchanted Highway. We set up a website for him that night as a gift — www.enchantedhighway.net, and we maintain the website for him.

The Enchanted Highway is off Interstate 94 (Exit 72) approximately 20 miles east of Dickinson, North Dakota. It then extends for 32 miles south to the town of Regent. The six sculptures are spread out along the 32 miles of The Enchanted Highway.

There is no charge to see The Enchanted Highway. Gary depends solely on donations to finance his work. Please send your tax-deductible donations to Enchanted Highway, PO Box 184, Regent, ND 58650. When in Regent, be sure to visit the Enchanted Highway Gift Shop. We met Claire at the Enchanted Highway Gift Shop. The pralines and cream ice cream was very good. We also met Belinda at Gary’s home.

One of the things that’s unique about North Dakota is the grass just seems to grow everywhere; it’s like the whole place is carpeted with grass. Texas has a lot of grass, but a lot of ugly grass. North Dakota has prettier grass.

We were reminded again today of the impact of Forks in the Road. We probably would have never met Gary Greff if the transmission had not failed on our car. We were also reminded that people can do amazing things when they are committed, focused, and persevere. It was truly incredible to us that Gary has built the Enchanted Highway with little or no money.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Dickinson North Dakota — The Enchanted Highway — Regent North Dakota

Major Item Checked Off My Lifetime To-Do List – Day 106

Major Item Checked Off My Lifetime To-Do List

Day 106 – July 15, 2003 – Tuesday

We saw Zurich, Malta, Dunkirk, and Glasgow today. These are all towns in Montana — named by the Northern Pacific Railroad as part of a program to attract immigrants to the area back in the late 1800’s. We drove from Havre — in the middle of Montana — all across the eastern half of the state on Highway 2. There isn’t a lot to see, but we enjoyed the drive.

We left the Great Northern Inn Best Western in Havre, Montana at about 9:30 am. Worst towels on the trip, but a nice room. We were headed for the bison death area.

The Wahkpa Chu’gn buffalo jump (or bison kill) is located behind the Holiday Village Shopping Center near the northwest corner of Havre. Over 2,000 years old, it is one of the largest and best preserved buffalo jumps anywhere. In prehistoric times, Native Americans would drive bison over the edge of the cliff, killing or severely injuring the animals. Afterwards, the Native Americans skinned the animals and preserved the meat. The buffalo jump is now an archaeological site.

When we were trying to locate this unusual spot, we learned that Havre has another attraction. Small grids of purple colored squares could be seen in some of the sidewalks in the downtown area on the north side of the city. These are skylights for a sort of underground “mall” built in the city over 100 years ago. Throughout its history, this underground area has been host to a brothel, a Chinese laundry, a saloon, a drugstore, opium dens, and rooms used for smuggling alcohol during Prohibition. The underground area is now designated “Havre Beneath the Streets.”

In Saco, Montana, we saw the one-room schoolhouse that newscaster Chet Huntley attended as a boy. The school has been turned into a museum and is now named “Huntley School.”

We saw a few Quirky spots along the way — including one big hill covered with animal sculptures of various types — grasshoppers, a giant fly, dinosaurs, bear, elephant, and much more. We never saw a sign, and we have been unable to determine the origin of these giant statues.

On the side of the road outside Malta, we met Dan and his mother. We were at “the big buffalo rock.” The sign said the Indians had an area a little bit north of here, where all of the rocks were rounded and appeared to be like sleeping buffalo. So, the Indians considered it a sacred area. Two of the rocks that were saved were on display at this spot in the road.

Dan lived in Culbertson, Montana — near the North Dakota line. He suggested that we try to eat at the Pitchfork Fondue and see the Medora Musical in Medora, North Dakota. We received that same suggestion this morning in an email from one of our online travelers and email pen pals, Becky Brown. Dan told us where Medora was, and we calculated that we MIGHT be able to make it if we put the old PT Cruiser in high gear, didn’t run into Vincent Passarelli, and didn’t stop for many photos.

We were in a hurry, but when we hit the North Dakota border (29th state on the trip), I had to jump out of the car for a photo. Boz took a photo of me holding up a sheet of yellow paper with a big black checkmark on it. While it was the 29th state we have visited on the trip, this is the 50th state I have visited in my lifetime, so I checked off “Visit all 50 States” from my lifetime To Do List.

We passed through some of Badlands National Park on our way to Medora.

Nine cars were passed (hated to do that as this increased our total passes in 21,000 miles from 13 to 22), but we pulled up at the Pitchfork Fondue just in time to watch them dropping pitchforks holding a dozen huge steaks each into the boiling oil. We enjoyed a delicious Pitchfork Fondue steak dinner, met and spoke with some delightful people, and enjoyed the Medora Musical performed in the big, beautiful Burning Hills Amphitheater. The musical is a look back at the “Wild West” days of the region and includes Theodore Roosevelt.

We were very excited to be in North Dakota as the people of the state have been so wonderful in emails over the last several months since a number of the newspapers in the state ran stories about our trip. When I got out of the car at the border between Montana and North Dakota, it was an especially big deal for me. We were surprised thus far with how great the scenery is in North Dakota.

We met a lot of really nice people today. Dan. Bill and Char and Tami at dinner. Jody and Wally after dinner. Stephanie and Denise at the Amphitheater. Margaret, Sweeney, Sally, and Jan at the musical.

If you haven’t planned your next vacation, a trip to the Dakotas, over to Yellowstone in Wyoming, and up north from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park in Montana would make a wonderful vacation! We thoroughly enjoyed western Montana, and we know we will really enjoy the Dakotas!

We were reminded today of the power of goals. Success is a journey…not a destination. Most people will make careful plans for small trips and none for their longest trip, that is, for their entire life. In training employees over the years, I have asked: “If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you expect to get there?” We should begin with the end in mind. In 1971, I read a book that had a profound influence on my life. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. Our children have read it. I have given the book to many friends and fellow workers. While the book teaches many valuable lessons, the main message is: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” The book caused me to realize the power of positive thinking and goal setting. I have been a goal person ever since. One of the things that I have wanted to do is to visit every state. Now that I have accomplished that, the goal is to finish this trip and see all 50 states in one continuous trip. That goal will be accomplished with another 45 days on the road.

Random Comments:

We understand the newspaper story about our trip written by John Garrett appeared in a number of newspapers — not just the Memphis paper.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this web site. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:Havre Montana — Buffalo Jump — Saco Montana — Medora North Dakota — Pitchfork Fondue — Medora Musical