Wednesday, September 11, 2013

North Dakota to Minnesota…You Betcha’

Highway 2 is mostly two lanes and meanders through grain fields, oil patches, small towns, and often road construction.  We had rain off and on with mostly gray skies.  The motorhome is covered in a nasty film of mud and road grime, with no days off for cleaning in the foreseeable future.  Yet we are excited as new, unexplored territory lies ahead.

New rigs dot the landscape thru streaky windows
Pumping oil and storage (streaky windshield)
Grain silos, blurry and buggy, but I like!

From Havre, MT we pass through the prosperous community of Williston, ND.  Williston's economy, while historically agricultural, is increasingly being driven by the oil industry and has seen a huge increase in population and infrastructure investments during the last several years with expanded drilling using the 'frac' petroleum extraction technique.

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Blue skies briefly

Our destination, however, is 20 miles outside Williston at the Lewis & Clark State Park.  The park, of course, is named for the Corps of Discovery explorers, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, commemorating their historic journey through North Dakota where the expedition camped nearby on April 17, 1805.  Situated on Lake Sakakawea, a reservoir in the Missouri River Basin, and near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers, our site, including water and electric for $25,  is grassy and partially shaded.  There are miles of trails, river views, concessions, marina, and swimming beach.  We thought a perfect place to spend a few days, get some exercise, unwind.

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At Lewis & Clark State Park

Once again, the weather won out with rain and wind our wake-up call.  We saw no reason to sit around so back on the road we go.  Landmarks led to stops along the way; the Geographical Center of North America in Rugby, ND and finally the Wal-Mart Store in Devils Lake for new Rand McNally maps.  We were invited to spend the night, and we did! 

Howard by the monument in Rugby, ND

Entering the state of Minnesota at the Red River crossing at Grand Forks, the scenery changed dramatically.  Green became the dominant color rather than amber fields of grain.  At Bemidji, MN we had to stop at the tiny stream of the Mississippi River flowing from Lake Bemidji, the northernmost lake feeding this great river.  The headwaters are located south at  Itasca State Park

The Little Mississippi flows from Lake Bemidji

Possibly the best stop along this route, right up there with Lewis and Clark State Park, was our next overnighter at Pokegama Dam Corps of Engineer Park in Grand Rapids, MN, and situated in the heart of northern Minnesota's lake country next to the Mississippi River.  I mean the river was right out our windshield as we parked in a spacious, grassy site among the trees.  We had electric and managed to manipulate our satellite to pick up some cable…$13.  Absolutely beautiful!  But it’s still raining with brief periods of “hurry up and run out for pictures”.

Room with a view!
Room with a View
At Pokegama Dam COE Park on the Mississippi
Fishing along the banks of the Mississippi River
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Pokegama Dam

We’re just 80 miles from Duluth at this point, but didn’t want to drive another hour and a half.  Time has become so relative, we’re not sure what day it is, much less what time.  I looked at the phone and we had already crossed over into Central Time Zone, two hours ahead of our California internal clock.  Pretty soon, I’m thinking, we’ll be going to bed at 7 pm!  It was just a week ago and 1700 miles that we left the Okanagan.

Duluth will provide our much needed break, rain or not.  We plan to stay for 4 or 5 days and soak up our first Great Lake experience and a beautiful city to explore, plus let our mail catch up….

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