Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Minnesota, Mary and a Manistique Motel!

It was hard escaping weather in these parts, so a Motel 6 it was the night before.  Located right outside Minneapolis, it set us up nicely for todays journey to the capitol.   I did have two stops to make along the way to St. Paul and both concerned my childhood television viewing schedule.

"Who can turn the world on with her smile?"

Mary Tyler Moore, of course!

Two entries in my Roadside America App were listed for Mary Tyler Moore.  Of course the statute in downtown Minneapolis was listed and often photographed with people tossing their hat up in the air.  I myself stood on the same corner years ago, before the statue was erected, and tossed my baseball cap.  The second was a listing for the house the used for the exterior shots of her show.

I was driving and all I told Tom was that I had a few stops to make.  He didn't ask where or why.  Off we went down into the city.  I am glad that it was Sunday.  Less traffic to deal with.  I held the steering wheel with one hand while following the map on the phone to get a picture of her house in the other.  Siri's little blue ball, again, led me astray.

I missed the exit and found myself looping around on a long on ramp headed in a totally different direction.  The house was not that important, so I let it go.  I headed into town and would not let Siri lead me astray.  I asked Tom to direct me from our atlas, which he did much better than Siri.

A few one way streets had to be figured out, but within a few minutes, there she was.
Mary Tyler Moore

Tourist stop complete, we headed to the sister city of St. Paul and the Minnesota State Capitol Building.  The building was closed when we arrived and only opened at 1:00 PM.  Too late for us as we had a schedule to keep, especially after losing a day in Fargo.

As always, a few shots of the dogs were taken.

From the front doors of the capitol

This is where the trip went awry.  Not in a bad way, but in an unexpected way.  The original intent was to head down to LaCrosse to visit Tom's sister, head over to Madison to the capitol, down to Chicago and then over to Detroit towards Toronto.  Tom's sister was down in Chicago so La Crosse was out.  Tom thought it would be great to go North towards the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan.  The clouds were hanging with us, and heading towards Chicago on a Monday morning didn't seem like a dun idea, so we just went with Tom's idea.

It was an easy drive through Wisconsin.  We had the opportunity to see the Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Museum, but let it pass by as we continued down the scenic byway East towards the UP.  Lots of lakes and rivers were driven by along the way.  When we reached Spread Eagle, we knew we about to hit our 10th state within 9 days.

We were both a bit slap happy and decided to pull over to take a picture of the World's Not Largest Bear in the World, pictured below.

We continued down the road somewhere between Lake Superior and Lake Michigan.  We continued on towards Escanaba and then Gladstone.  It's there were we stopped for some gas and let the dogs out.  Gladstone is located on the Little Bay de Nok and the dogs were much too interested in running across the street to the water than doing their business.

The weather had not gotten any better and we had been spoiled for the past few nights staying in hotels across the midwest, that we decided to do it one more time.  I checked my Yelp! and found a lovely small motel in Manistique.  The Star Motel was located on the banks of Lake Michigan, accepted dogs and was run by a lovely older woman whom I chatted with on the phone while checking for room availability.

The rooms were clean and the dogs quickly jumped up onto the beds.  BuddyJack rolled around, as he often does while Luther let out a loud sigh.  It's been a long journey to the North and we were all getting road weary.  Maybe more than we thought.  We all slept soundly that night.

Tomorrow...Oh, Canada!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Business to do in Fargo!

The following day we had loads of time to kill due to the fact we had to wait for Dempsey's to open at 4:00 PM.  It was really okay.  We had been going like mad since we left Los Osos the week before.  It was good to wake up and have nowhere to rush off to.

It was a good time to do an oil change as the car was approaching it's first 10,000 miles.  I tried to get it done when we left, but Perry Ford was completely booked.  I checked the web for Ford dealerships and found one a few miles down the road from the Kelly Inn.  I gave them a call and found there would be an hour or so wait until it could be completed.  My thought was I would drop Tom and the dogs off at a local park, get the oil change done and then go back and pick them up.

I mapped out our route and headed towards the park.  It was a large park, but also completely locked up and no shade.  Not exactly what I had in mind.  I had no idea what we would do with the dogs while the car was being serviced.  We decided to take them with us and figure it out.

We arrived at Luther Ford and found three express lanes.  We were directed to one by a young woman.  Within a few minutes, she was standing at our window to take our information.  She saw the car plates and started talking.  Talking about CA, road trips, her brother's mailman's sister.  She just kept on talking.  She excused herself for a moment and came back with cookies for the dogs.  She talked about dogs, cats, zoos and cars.  Thank goodness, we were moving towards the direction of cars.

Don't get me wrong.  She was sweet, attentive and talkative.  Not a bad combination to have while we have been cooped up in a car for a week.  I did ask if they had a spot for dogs to run.  She recommended behind the building.  That was all we needed.  We left the car, the keys and our phone number.  We took the chucker, the balls and a morning paper.

We found a large ravine in the back, partially filled with water.  There was some shade though and a long tract of land for ball play.  Throw, fetch.  Throw, fetch.  Again and again.

After an hour or so, the car was ready.  It was 2 PM and we still had some time to kill.  The weather was getting humid, so we found a shady tree at a local McDonalds and had some fast food.  Another crossword puzzle and more wasting of time.

I called Dempsey's at 3 and they answered.  Yes!  They had the wallet.  Yes!  Can we pick it up now?  Yes!  Faboo!

We flew down the street and picked up a wallet void of cash but full of everything else.  Not too bad.  Everybody back into the car and driving down the road, finally saying goodbye to Fargo.  It was fun and will always be an interesting memory.

This was the highlight of the day.  The rest was spent driving towards Minneapolis for another Capitol Building.  We did cross the Mississippi River along the way, often our thought to being closer to the East Coast than to the West Coast.

Not a long post, no pictures to share.  It was a day off for us in many ways.  We landed ourselves outside Minneapolis at the Motel 6 due to some weather.  Had a bite to eat somewhere I can't remember.  To all a goodnight!

A Night to Remember!  Thank you, Fargo!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Lewis & Clark and Fargo, eh?

Out of all the states we have visited, it appeared that North Dakota had a lot of sights to see.  Between Lewis & Clark, The Enchanted Highway, Grasslands, the Capitol and later on Fargo, we could have stayed here for a while.

We struck camp quickly and we wound back towards Bismarck.  While driving towards the capitol, we ran across this park along the Missouri River.  A great tribute to Lewis & Clark, along with Sacajawea, featuring 2D images of the traveling group as well as a replica of their keel boats which they used to travel the unknown.  The park was a great opportunity to walk along the banks of the river and check out the steam boat.  The dogs, who were not on leashes, tried their best to get into the water, but they listened to us and came back.  Can you believe it?  They came back!

Off to the capitol we went.  The building was a tad disappointing to see from the outside.  No dome, high risey, blah.  I wanted to see if the insides of the building would make up for it's lackluster appearance.

I headed toward the front doors as Tom played some ball with the dogs on the great lawn.  I understand  the building was built during the recession and thus many embellishments to the building were left off.  It actually has an Art Deco appearance on the inside with long lines of metal and lamps.  The round building to the West of the 241' high rise holds the House on the left and the Senate on the right.

I left the building after getting my book stamped and easily found Tom and the dogs.  No too hard to find as they were the only ball players on the field.

We headed onto the open road again.  The dogs slept after an active morning and we were on our way to Fargo and then to Minnesota to camp.  In keeping with staying off the highways, we headed North on ND-83.  It was there that we ran across the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and the Fort Mandan Historic Site.  It was also the site of Seaman, the Newfoundland that traveled with the Corps of Discovery over 200 years ago.

The statue of Seaman below was dedicated in 2006 and weighs in at over 1400 pounds.  Pictures were necessary and a nice older woman was gracious enough to take the picture.

We really had no idea of the existence of the Fort Mandan site.  We came to see Seaman.  Since it was there, we decided to check it out.  We both had a dog on a leash and Tom was extremely hesitant as I walked Luther up to the entrance area of Fort Mandan.  My thought was that if there is a big statue of a dog, there should be no reason to not allow a dog into the replica fort.

I entered into the first set of doors and was met by the shopkeep of the gift shop at the entrance of the next.  I asked if it would be OK to bring my dog in.  I explained my logic and she agreed.  All clear, Tom!  In comes BuddyJack and Tom.  We did not wear out our welcome by hanging out i the gift shop and enclosed exhibits.  We brought them in the front and went out the back door towards the fort.

We were met by a docent who was with another couple going through the history of Fort Mandan.  We poked around, looking into the myriad of rooms they replicated until he was through.  He was nonchalant about the dogs and just kept on talking.

Luther & BuddyJack, both grazers on good grass, chomped on the fresh tufts of grass around the vertical poles inside the fort.  The docent asked the obligatory questions of where we were from and how did we hear about the fort.  We let him know that we never heard of it.  We came to see the dog statue.  That was the first time he stopped talking as he was taken aback by my statement.

We listened to the docent until some additional people came in and he started the same conversations with the new folks.  It was time for us to move on.  Tom took the dogs around the building and back to the car while I stopped back into the gift shop to check out their wares and to check out the additional displays.  Seaman below was my favorite.

There's an interesting story of why we took the next picture.  Suffice to say, it was a thank you pic for someone who recommended some highlights of ND.  Cheers, PE!

Jamestown, ND claims to have the World's Largest Buffalo.  Along with the buffalo, they also have a western town that you walk through to see the buffalo.  Mercantile, Saloon, Church, Jail...all in a row with a raised wooden sidewalk.  Pretty touristy, but cute.  They even have a stagecoach ride to take you from one side of "town" to the other. 

Turtle Lake offered a roadside attraction of it's own.  Rusty the Turtle, weighing in at two tons.  Great for relaxing or just a photo op.  Thank you Turtle Lake!

So here we are toward the Eastern edge of North Dakota.  It would be time to say goodbye to the Peace Garden State.  We passed through Fargo, barely noticing what the city would offer us, but it was getting late, we were hungry and we needed to set up camp.

We decided to try the Buffalo River State Park.  We pulled in and quickly found out that there was no room at the inn.  Crap!  There was another campsite a number of miles down the road, but it was Friday.  Weekends are never a good time to try to find a campsite late in the day during the Summer.  I decided to head back into Fargo to get some grub.  At least one of our needs could easily be met.

I had been using Yelp! to check on different options for food/lodging since the beginning of our trip.  At the top of the Yelp list for restaurants was a place called Rhombus Guys just down the street.  I do love me some pizza and beer.

We sat at the bar so we could quickly order.  The place was jammed and we were famished.  Two beers and an order of Rhombus Sticks, lightly seasoned Romano & garlic butter bread sticks was a great start.  The service was wonderful, attentive & fun.  We ordered our pizza and while waiting, spoke with the bartender about where to stay, explaining our situation.

He offered us so much more than the answer of the Kelly Inn for lodging.  He talked about the university located near by.  How that university brings loads of hipsters to Fargo.  Where those hipsters hang out at night.  What we should do since we are staying for the night.  He was a wealth of information.

We finished our meal and took some doggy bags for the dogs.  They love pizza bones!  I assume that Fargo has many buffalos painted similar to the one below.  Actually, I never saw another one.  Oh well... 

We took our bartender's advice and headed down the street to check out some of the local establishments.  Pub crawl!  Stop one, stop two, stop three...each unique with beer taps and lots of people.  They all had rifle games.  Tried one of them, but failed miserably.

Stop four was a long, narrow bar named Dempsey's with some live music playing.  Tom loves live music and was doing the shuck and jive with the rest of the crowd.  It was a fun evening until Tom realized he lost his wallet somewhere.  We looked under a few tables, but there was so much hooting, hollering and dancing from the patrons we couldn't find it.

He spoke with the bartender and left his phone number.  It was moderately okay if he did lose it.  The only cards we needed where in our slick iPhone case holder along with our id's.  If we needed to, we could cancel the other ones and have them sent to my mother where we could get them when we got to Lawrence.  Cash was minimal.

We headed back to the Kelly Inn, a bit deflated after a great night.  Sometime during the night, roughly around 3 AM, the bartender called and said they found the wallet and we could pick it up when they open the next day, at 4:00 PM!  Ugh!  4:00 PM?  That's a whole day of driving gone!  Ugh!

We will handle this in the morning.  Tonight it's time for bed.  The pix below will always remind me of no drinking and dancing allowed in Fargo, unless your wallets in the car, eh?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Lightning & Enchantment


That's what we woke up to.  It seemed the weather that we were skirting along the past few days had found a home above our campsite.  It was still dark outside, so the lightning that came along with boom was extremely visible.

This is where a two pole tent is extremely helpful.  We've been through this before.  Cloudbursts and putting away camp in a matter of minutes is always a fun time.  Last time we did this though we had a tube on the top of the car that held extra items.  This trip with no tube, it was a game of tetrus with clothing, bedding and tents in the back seat with the dogs and kitchen, food and dog stuff in the back.

I was a bit nervous about the lighting and the tent poles, so before anything else, I went to the car and grabbed my work gloves.  Tom thought it was overkill, but better safe than sorry.  The poor dogs had no idea what was going on.  They were just watching us run around trying to strike the campsite before the heavy rain came.

We managed to complete our duties in record time.  We totally lost our rear view due to items piled in, but we would straighten that out later, away from the rain, we hoped...

We headed into town and at that point regretted we did not take our pictures of the South Dakota Capitol Building the day before in the sun.  As we drove by the capitol plotting our next move, I snapped the picture below as a drive-by.  Funny that it is one of my favorite shots.

South Dakota State Capitol

The rain was coming and going, so we took the opportunity to visit the Sinclair Dinosaur located down the hill from the capitol building.  Long a favorite of mine, I have been looking for a baseball cap with the original dino logo on it, not the running guy they have now.  I always look and never find.  Needless to say, it was great to have one standing alongside the road.

Click Click!

David & the Sinclair Dinosaur

Tom and the Sinclair Dinosaur

Still early, too early for the capitol, we headed for some breakfast at a local restaurant & coffee shop, Pier 347.  A nice little cafe with some great coffee.  We read the paper, looked at the internet and checked our route.

Around 8, we left the coffee store and headed to the capitol building.  If you take some time, you can press the link to their web site above the first picture to view everything about it.  They did a really good job with it.  As a matter of fact, there's links throughout my posts for more in depth information about our stops.

We parked to the right of the capitol grounds, a good distance away, especially in the rain, but it was the only parking available that we could see.  The dogs were let out to do their pee and poo.  Tom was going to try to straighten the car out as I headed across the lawn in the rain to check out the innards of this majestic building.

I had my capitol collection book in my back pocket.  In the back of the book they list where you can get your book stamped.  They had a few asterisks for more information and one of those was for SD.  The stamp was unmanned but could be found contacting Marla at 605-773-3688.  I called Marla, but found out that Marla no longer worked there.  So where was the stamp?  The Governor's office.  Sweet!

The rotunda was beautiful and the statues below it truly expressed the spirit that South Dakota believes in it's history and it's peoples.  I went up to the Governor's office and was greeted by a friendly woman sitting at a large desk.  I asked her for the stamp, which she gracefully pulled out of a drawer and, after checking the date, stamped it.  A pleasant short chat ensued asking where I was from, why North Dakota and the like.  I thanked her for her time and continued to look around.

The SD Rotunda



The rain had subsided as I left the building and I found Tom and the dogs at the foot of the stairs.  Tom went in to use the restroom and it was a great opportunity to take a few shots of the exterior with the dogs.  They knew what to do and posed nicely.

Capitol Dogs in South Dakota

We headed out of the city, back on the side roads again, headed North toward North Dakota.  We were straddling the time zones between Mountain & Central, hugging the Missouri River.  Entering into North Dakota, we had to cross the river again as we headed into the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, which itself straddles North and South Dakota.

Upon entering, we saw the signs for the Sitting Bull Monument and the Sacajawea Monument.

We are both fans of Lewis & Clark and their expedition from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean.  Add to that the grave and memorial of the great Chief Sitting Bull and the monolith celebrating the Shoshone woman who assisted the Corps of Discovery, it was a win win!

We got some gas at the native store on the reservation and continued on our way towards Regent, ND and the Enchanted Highway.  I heard about this 32 mile stretch of road going from Regent to Gladstone and I-94, the northernmost interstate highway in the US, from some of the brochures on North Dakota I ordered prior to our trip.

The artist responsible for this project is Gary Greff, a retired metal worker and school teacher who wanted to help Regent, a dying town in 1990.  He thought these sculptures would lure people to Regent while at the same time entertain people along the road to South Dakota.  Although we were headed North rather than South for which the sculptures were intended, they were still remarkable and truly great roadside attractions.

Upon entering Regent, we found the first attraction, a whirlygig located next to the gift shop.  There were also a number of other metal sculptures around the area.


I pushed the button, and the kids jumped on the bed, the grandmother scrubbed the young'ns in the bathtub, while Dad rocked in his chair and Mom baked some things in the oven.

We proceeded to the gift shop to check it out.  Tom has recently started collecting tin ornaments, so we picked one up showing the the Tin Family, seen below.  One last stop to the general store across the street for some ice and munchies and we were on our way.

We were not to sure what to expect, and after driving down the road a few miles, we were anxious to see the first sculpture.  Then here it was.  We saw the backs of the tin family first and learned that there would be a parking area for easy access.  They even had picnic tables with structures to protect one from rain or other harsh elements.

Tin Family

The Tin Family was the first sight erected in 1991.  Pa is 45' high and is help up by 16 telephone poles. Ma is 44' and the son is 23'.  All of the materials used have been repurposed or scrap.  The artist even leased the land from the local farmers with one of those $1 a year for 20 years with renewal options leases.

We took a lot of pictures, even looking up Ma's dress to see how the structures were made.  We all hopped back into the car and headed onto the empty road to the next sight, Teddy Rides Again, made in 1993.

Built as a tribute to Theodore Roosevelt and his importnance to North Dakota's history, it was made from used well pipe.  Teddy and his favorite horse, Mulley, is 51' tall and weighs over 9000 pounds.

Teddy Rides Again

To give you some perspective of our surroundings, here's a shot of our car in the middle of nowhere, ND.

The next structure, Pheasants on the Prairie, built in 1996.  The wire mesh Rusty Rooster stands 4 stories high and 70' long.  Along with his hen at 35' tall and 60' long and chicks standing 15' tall, it was quite an impressive sight.  They took 3 years to complete.

Pheasants on the Prairie

Chicks on the Prairie

Further down the road was the Fisherman's Dream sculpture.  This 3-dimensional structure is made out of tin and shows an underwater scene with seven fish including the 70' rainbow trout who has been caught by the tiny fisherman in the boat above the water line.

Fisherman's Dream

To the left of scene is a small boat which can be climbed onto for photo ops.

Land Ho!

To remind the passerby of the hardships farmers have overcome while making a living off the land, Grasshoppers in the Field was built in 1999.  Four stories high and 50 feet long, it was welded using old oil and well tanks.  It appeared that they lit up at night as along the whole structure there was tube lighting.  It must be an amazing sight to see all lit up.  There were a number of these structures in the field including some baby grasshoppers on large coils that one could ride.

Grasshoppers in the Field

The next shadow design, The Deer Family, was built in 2002.  Welded from old oil well tanks, it shows a buck, 75' tall, jumping over a fence with his doe, 50' tall, following behind.  The buck was so large that they had to cut off his front legs in order to fit through the streets of Regent upon installation.  They were welded back on site.

The Deer Family

Behind the Deer Family, there is, what appears to be, a human maze.  We had decided to forgo this oddity as we were anxious to see the final structure a few miles ahead.  Also, there was no treat at the end to find like a mouse has his cheese.

As we approached I-94, the final structure we were to see was Geese in Flight, built in 2001.  Standing eleven stories tall and 156' wide, it is listed in the Guiness Book of World Records as the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world.  Made of oil well  pipes and oil tanks, it stands as an enchantress to Regent, ND for drivers on the interstate.

Geese in Flight

Needless to say, if you find yourself in North Dakota, anywhere in ND, take the side trip and visit the Enchanted Highway.  It was certainly a highlight on this trip and, as a roadside attraction lover, a highlight of all I have seen.  Thank you, Gary Greff!

We hopped onto the highway, headed East towards Bismarck, the capitol city of ND.  It was roughly 90 miles away and the way they drive in ND, we would be there in about an hour.

It was getting later in the day and we would need to find a campsite.  We also were getting hungry after our travels along the road.  We searched the web for some campgrounds around Bismarck.  We located the Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park and decided it met all of our needs.  There was still some daylight so we headed into the capitol to check out the area first.

We proceeded to find the capitol building and took the opportunity to play some ball and take a few pictures of the capitol with the dogs.  Most capitol building have sprawling lawns and North Dakota was one of those.  

First a few pics...

then the ball play!

We came all this way for this?

No domes here.  This would probably be the last time we would be near ND, at least anywhere in the near future, so it was a must do on my itinerary.  After the day we had, it was somewhat anticlimactic.  We appreciated the day and after the dogs got some water after their play, we headed for a bite to eat at the Blarney Stone Pub.  Good grub and friendly staff.

We picked up the car and the dogs from the parking structure and headed to our campground for the night.  We let Siri direct us and you'll never guess where she brought us.  Let's just say that if she says one more time "Walk to your destination" she was going to be put to death.  We eventually found the busy campground and set up camp.  We were along the Missouri River again and the dogs would have preferred to head to the water rather than heading into the tent, but it was not meant to be for them.  Tonight was for relaxing and preparing for the next day.  More of Bismarck and Fargo ahead.