September 29 – October 8
We’re all Scandinavian’d out and on the way to Pat’s boyhood home – Grand Forks, North Dakota. People are always surprised when he tells them where he’s from. Lots of people live there, but have you actually met a native North Dakotan? Well, other than Pat? It’s a novelty fer sure. But, before I take you there, I have to put in the best picture that I didn’t take from Norsk Høstfest 2017.
Can’t believe I left this out of the Scandimonium post. I said I wanted a “Helga Hat” as a souvenir, but I was satisfied with a snarly picture in one. Our favorite actual souvenir? A bumper sticker that says “I’d rather be pillaging”. That’s going on Bitsy when we finally make a clean spot.
Turtle River State Park
You know we prefer state parks for camping, so we opted to camp about 20 miles outside of Grand Forks initially, with the option to move to a campground “in” town later on. This location turned out to be ideal since the sugarbeet harvest was just gearing up. The “in” town location had big trucks rumbling by day AND night loaded with the ugly suckers. We’ll stick with our quiet spot and make the drive, thank you very much.
Checking in to our new peaceful spot at Turtle River State Park
It was a great time for the Fall colors. Just look at the difference in the tree a mere 5 days later. Gorgeous yellows and oranges popped out during the week.
We camped under a golden canopy and couldn’t help staring at the prairie sumac turning brilliant red and orange on the roadsides.
This spot met with Jackson’s approval right on the Turtle River with plenty of leaves for scuffling along. Scuffling is nice, especially when you know you don’t have to do any raking.
Just a lovely place and it was nearly empty while we were there.
And we learned about galls – that big pink bulb. Wasps lay their eggs on the plant stems and it stimulates the plant to grow tissue around them. The gall provides the food supply for the larvae as they eat their way out.
Can’t forget the ladybugs. They were everywhere. I like them a little less after we had a small infestation. They tagged along starting at Turtle River and we didn’t get rid of them all until Iowa.
This stop was also a chance for Pat to re-connect with some of his high school buddies. We had several great outings, but one of the best was in Fargo with Greg & Rod.
I have no idea what they were saying to each other, but just kept clicking away to capture their fun. Nothing like old friends from way back. They know you in ways that new friends never will.
We had several other dinners with Greg. One was at a brand new Vinyl Taco and I hope we find another one of those somewhere. Great Mexican food and the menus were on old record covers. Greg also treated us to lunch at the North Dakota Museum of Art on the University of North Dakota campus. He’s the chef there, so we were special guests and even scored a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum’s Barton Exhibit.
We’d never heard of Barton before, but he’s known for his ephemera shadow boxes on various themes that he called ‘visual AIDS’. I’d show pictures, but I couldn’t take any in the gallery and the photos online are copyright protected. Barton Lidice Benes gifted everything from his New York apartment to the museum, and they actually built a replica. According to the New York Times article when he died, he had quite a collection of artifacts in addition to his own artwork. “Among its objects, many of them macabre, are a blackened human toe; a giant hourglass holding the mingled ashes of two of Mr. Benes’s friends, partners who died of AIDS; a gall stone removed from his friend Larry Hagman, the actor; and a stuffed giraffe’s head.” It’s an amazingly wild collection, and the religious artifact visual AID was my favorite. Google him up.
For our last weekend in the area, Pat’s brother Rob invited us to “camp” in his driveway in Thompson, just outside of Grand Forks. Another first for us since we backed in next to the house and ran an extension cord for our power.
Super convenient and we’re calling this Rob and Paula’s B&B. That’s Breakfast & Backyard. Paula spoiled us with Grandma’s pancakes one morning, and biscuits and gravy the next. We could get used to this! And Jackson?
He’s frolicking in his new backyard with Brandy…
But the real boss of this household is Rory. That’s Rory on the left and Ethan’s Charlie on the right. Amazing resemblance. It was like petting my own cat, but the cat didn’t know me at all. I think Rory is naughtier than Charlie though. He has to be locked in the bathroom when the dogs are fed, eats the butter left out on the counter, and steals whole packages of shredded cheese when Paula has her back turned. We think they’re both Nebelung cats. A real breed and the description fits them both to a tee.
Rory is supervising. Nothing gets past him.
We had a roaring campfire in the backyard with Rob, Paula and nephew Matt, and only had to walk about 20 feet to hop into our own bed when were done for the night.
Rob was going to take us to see the sugarbeet harvest in progress, but the temperature got too warm. Too hot or too cold and harvesting stops until the temps are right again. The farmers are all in a mad dash to get the harvest in during the month of October. Those sugarbeets are big ugly white lumps and during harvest there’s quite a bit of dirt and mud on the roads. You have to be careful driving those routes so you don’t slip and slide. We love our sugar though, so the harvest must go on!
No sugarbeet field pictures, but I did take this one outside of town. This is what I think of when North Dakota comes to mind. Flat, blue sky as far as the eye can see, and fields ready for harvest. In this case, hay.
Here’s the farewell picture before we left our driveway campsite. Pat, Rob, Paula and Matt. What fun we had!
And this officially concludes the Epic Journey! We saw Alaska (Boy did we ever!), and we managed to visit all the siblings, Pat’s mom, some of my cousins and most of our nieces and nephews. Of course our travels don’t end, but this seemed to be a good logical close to the BIG trip. The weather she is a changin’, so we’re bugging out for parts south and our wintering spots in Texas. See you on the way!