Wednesday, July 3, 2013

North Dakota and a visit from my kids

Early last spring my son and daughter decided to take a road trip up to see me in North Dakota.  I had just been through my first North Dakota winter and it was good to have some visitors.  By early spring I mean, in North Dakota it could snow again at any moment.

I get this call from my son and he asks if I would like them to come up for a visit. He wants to drive up.  From Pasadena Ca. 1667 miles, 25 plus hours straight driving. I say ok and tell them to keep an eye on the weather and stop and even turn around if need be. My son was almost 17 at the time and my daughter was along for the ride she was 23 then so it should go well. I'm always proud of those two, the get along very well for sibling.  If they weren't separated by such age I would say they are twins, they get along so well.

So it was late on like a Wednesday they start their journey.  Thank god this isn't the 70's or this story would have started with something more like....12 pack of beer and 3 bags of potato chip the kids hit the road.  Thank the heavens the kids don't take after their

They hit the road and made it as far as Mesquite NV before stopping for the night. There was some weather brewing over Washington state by the next morning.  Concerned dad that I am, I was checking the weather reports hourly. They got up and played the slots and roulette table for a while then started out again. I love the roulette table. When my daughter reads this she will texting me..."DAD!" So minus the gambling they start out again. It seamed to take for ever for them to get anywhere. They are in a nice running Toyota Camry and it just seams for ever for them to get from town to town. Impatient dad that I am I texted them often demanding progress reports. Of course the text would take a while to find them in BFE Utah and I would worry.

So there is this late spring snow storm. The Satellite pictures and weather man say this storm will close down the passes in Montana.

When I drove this trail to North Dakota I had started out at 3am and couldn't do more than 65 in my poor little Geo Metro and I made it to almost Billings Montana before I had to shut down...god knows what time that was in the morning. My daughter says he drove like grandma.

The way I judged it they would be ahead of the storm if they drove the speed limit, 75 in some parts of Utah.
There is a part where you have to get off I-15 in Idaho and start cross country and pass by Yellowstone to get to Bozeman Montana to get over to I-90.  East of Bozeman is one last high mountain pass before you start on the down hill towards the prairie.

The weatherman is saying the snow is deep in the Rockies and heading east.  I'm coaxing the kids to get over that pass before it starts to snow. It was getting late and they had not texted me in a while. I had texted them to tell them not to go over that pass if it was snowing.  No reply. I went to bed and tried to sleep.
3am I get this text that they are in Billings MT and they will start out later in the morning. I asked if there was any snow. She texted back that not one flake hit the car. Billings is east of the pass so I was relieved and also contemplating beating the weather channel people with an umbrella.  Fricking weathermen, liars!

I go to work the next morning and the kids are texting me as they make each new town. Finally at 3pm on Friday they come and pick me up at my work in Tioga ND. They think they are home now but they don't realize that we are still 80 miles from home still.

All that weather never materialized over ND the whole time they were there.

I took Saturday off and we went and spent some time together. I thought we could go on an adventure. First stop the train trestle outside of Minot.
This Trestle is made of iron, but I think the first one was made of wood but burned down sometime in the past. It is called the Gassman Coulee Trestle, one of those wonders of the rail road world.
Since taking these pictures I have found out that this thing is the cause of the start of the City of Minot.
The kids and I jockeyed around the little valley to get different shots of the trestle.
My Daughter was trying to get some good shots with her camera. My son was just enjoying doing the driving.
Minot ND is called the "Magic City", and as I found out this Trestle or rather this valley is the reason. What I read was that the Great Northern Rail Road was pushing through this area and were having trouble building this bridge when winter started to set in. The rail road workers and the support people set up a tent city where Minot stands today.  It seams that after about 6 months the town reached about 5000 people.  Poof as if by Magic a town pops up out of the prairie.

From there we headed west looking for the mystery town of Tagus ND. This is a town that is listed on a road sign in Berthold ND as 9 miles away, but no sign ever tells you to turn to it. Tagus has some funny history to it when you read about it. The town church was said to be haunted and burned down because of the mischief that rumor caused.  Follow the link.
We found the Cemetery.
And that is the sign post up ahead...welcome to the the twilight zone.
Nothing very photogenic in Tagus so this is the only pictures we took.
The next mission was a total fail. About 2 miles west on the new Highway 2 off the road is two old sun bleached Pullman Coach railroad cars. You can see them from the road but the day we go to see it they had just tore up the road to get to it for a gravel and sand pit. FAIL I'm going to get a picture of those cars when I go up there on the 15th of July
We drove around some looking at what few attractions we could find. We drove over Lake Darling. If you like fishing and hunting water fowl then this is the place for you.
I did find a Craftsman Farm house to take a pic of.
  I love that Sepia Setting.  We drove home after this, they were still tired from their travels.
The next day we set off north again to see if we could find another small North Dakota town. We found and old school along the way so we stopped to take a look at it.
 It was a one room place with a spooky basement. It had been used well into the 60's, it had a drop ceiling in it which was kind of modern. Again we head north, and a little west. We ended up in a place called Niobe ND, it was a nice community but nothing photogenic. Next we zigzagged north until running into the town of Bowbells ND.  I'm assuming that it is pronounced "boe-bells" not like cow bells. I have never heard any one say the name. We decided to go to the Canadian Border and ended up at a town called Northgate ND. Some photogenic stuff there. This looks like a town that gathered grain from Canada to be sold in the US.
These old wood grain bins are a 100 yards or less from the international line.
This shot looked better.  We found what looked like the old Customs station up this old road.
The new fancy customs station was not very photogenic. We also found this old church.
Next we tried to see if we could get a picture of our selves near the welcome to Canada sign but the American Customs guys were kind of stuffy and we didn't have our passports. So we did the next best thing.
We wanted to find a road that dead ended into the international line and spent the next two hours trying to find one. We kept seeing this Black Helicopter a few miles from us so we stopped looking.  Sheesh we just wanted to put our foot on the line and take a picture. We roamed around some and headed back home. They couldn't stay long and had to head back home, another almost 3 day trek. They doubted if they would do drive again. It was and adventure.

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