2018 Summer Road Trip – North Dakota

The first morning without company was dull.  Families with fathers wearing polo shirts and wives in white fluttering around the reasonably good breakfast offering at the hotel.  Every time I got up for more coffee my plate was taken even if it has something on it.  I wonder if this is just borne of the reasonable prior that empty plate was a sign of departure with someone failing to drop their plate at the bus station rather than it being someone getting a refill.

The first stop was at the KVLY mast.  This antenna 2,063 feet tall and when constructed in the 60s was the tallest artificial structure and first over 2,000 feet.  It held the record for tallest until the Burj Kalifa was built and is now #4 but still highest in North America.  It’s hard to register that it’s over a third of a mile tall and is seemingly jack straight.  The guy lines extend out to a distance that the total area under it is 160 acres of which most is cropland.  I got a little hit of adrenaline driving to the next site.  I was far enough into North Dakota that I would pass a vehicle a few times an hour at best and in those cases the oncoming driver usually waved.

The next stop was the Nekoma Pyramid or the Pyramid of the Dakotas.  The approach involved seeing large fields of yellow medium height something which was likely rapeseed or canola.   The pyramid itself was the radar array for a missile defense base that’d include dozens of nuclear tipped surface to air missiles that’d notionally shoot down incoming ICBMs.  Now it’s a slightly weedy monument to the hopes of technology.  I wanted to drone over the area but it’s within the airspace of a special air region used by the air force. Boo.

Next was W’eel the Turtle.  This turtle was made by a mechanic who had collected 2,000 or so tire rims over 16 years and who had them welded them together to make a large turtle.  The turtle is inspired by the nearby turtle mountains.  The mosquitoes were large and aggressive to the point that slapping them involved blood smears on my hands.  The turtle sat in park about 14 miles from the Canadian border through the region of the upper midwest that’s simply a band of hills and lakes formed by the ice age.  I opted against it as I had another 260 miles to drive that day.  Headed west across North Dakota was a glimpse of a different place.  The most ubiquitous bird was the red winged blackbird which I saw at the regularity of a mourning dove or house sparrow.  Next were the fields.  The crops were canola, flax, barley, and wheat with very little corn.  The fields weren’t labeled like in many other areas and most farms seemed to have one or more apiaries.  Railroads tracks were ubiquitous and I felt like I was constantly driving along side them even as I made my way through the state along right angles.  Finally was how quiet it was.  The birds weren’t particularly noisy.

I set off from Dunseith and headed towards Dickinson in western North Dakota near Teddy Roosevelt National Park.  The drive was lovely and I made several failed attempts at acquiring laundry detergent.  Google twice directed me to a non-existent stores and then to a string of several closed ones.  I failed to consider how large Dickinson was and there was a 24 hour Walmart that had detergent in spades.  I got my detergent, some drinks, and went to my Airbnb to start cleaning my clothes.

This post is backdated and was posted on August 1, 2018