State #50, North Dakota




Above, Rt. 12 headed in North Dakota. The landscape displaced all thoughts of life’s concerns elsewhere. In 125 miles of driving I saw only one other car, going the other way. Places like this never seem lonely to me, that is something I am much more likely to feel crowded places and cities.


North Dakota was the only state I had never been to. Getting to every state had been a small goal of mine for a long time. I have actually driven to 49 of them, including riding to Alaska. It gives a a continuity to your appreciation for distance, climate and geography that arriving on a commercial flight doesn’t. 


Likewise, I have been to almost all of these places either by motorcycle or old truck with the windows rolled down, methods of travel that put you “in” the setting. 


I have stayed in people’s homes and  camped out far more than I have patronized corporate motels, eaten in dive diners more than restaurant chains,  had more beer in VFW halls than tourist spots. My grease monkey wardrobe is out of place among Oshkosh’s embroidered polo shirts, but out here in working rural America, it is a standard uniform were people’s actions matter more than their appearance of affluence.

I live in a State with a tourism economy, and it is very obvious that people who travel with the mindset and mannerisms of tourists never get much of the actual feel of my state, certainly no understanding of what makes it unique. I detest the way that Corporate consumer culture has homogenized much of our country,  but you can still find all the strong character that has resisted this as long as you are willing to slow down and listen, and trade the mannerisms and expectations of  a tourist for the eyes and empathy of  John Steinbeck or Robert Persig.




6 Replies to “State #50, North Dakota”

  1. I spent a lot of time on the Missouri “Couteau” country, chasing sharptail grouse and ducks… it’s where most of the US duck population breeds in the little potholes. The oil boom has affected the area north of Bismarck, but from Bowman east things haven’t changed much in a hundred years. Stay on 12! Eastern South Dakota is amazing also, lots of prairie potholes, should be full of breeding teal and mallards this time of year. Heck you could go right through Minnesota on 12. Fun country to fly low and slow over also!


  2. I love the Robert Pirsig reference. Reminds me that I’ve been meaning to get the book out and re-read it :).

  3. Following in your footsteps, when I come to ‘tour’ Florida some day, I plan on snake boots and a ‘melted’ trigger 12 gauge in hand. {;^)

  4. Some of the best food I’ve had when traveling has been the result of asking the locals. I’ve had very few bad ones, but that’s rare.

    In many states, the best lunches are at a local bar.

    Someone recently wrote about the restaurant ghettos next to the interstates.

  5. Yep-put on AM radio and listen to the farm futures and the local baseball game. Palmer, my home in Alaska was originally settled by farmers recruited from North Dakota/Minnesota/Wisconsin. Drive east to the Macinaw bridge on the upper peninsula of Michigan for a look at the world’s breadbasket which includes much of central Canada.

    Motor safely!


    Sent from my iPad


  6. My wife and I were in Sturgis S.D. in 2003 for the bike rally. We only ate at the out of the way places. One of them, in Wyoming, actually had us uneasy but the food was great! Beautiful to experience on a bike! We only bought locally made items from the local businesses. We went to a leather shop and bought a hat made locally by the people that raised the cows! great craftsmanship. One of the ladies in the store us where we were from. We told her Vidalia, Ga and she chuckled and said she was from Waycross, GA. I asked her how she got there and she told us she came for the rally 5 years previously and stayed! I actually got a little bit jealous! Beautiful places and people to see where you are! Drive safe.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.