Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A North Dakota Road Trip in Winter

Yesterday I took a road trip down to Bismarck to visit Laura (Why, yes, we had a very nice visit. Thanks for asking.) That makes for one Very Long Day. It takes a little over 4 hours for me to drive down there, then several hours for visiting and errand running (because you never go to the city without shopping around here), and then an interminable trip back.

To while away the Very Long Trip, I occasionally took pictures out the window. Now you, too, can experience a winter road trip in North Dakota...

I left just before 8:00 and a beautiful sunrise was on display in the east...

I felt fresh and invigorated. How nice to be able to take such a charming drive!

By the time I got to Zahl, a half-hour's drive from my house, the sun was peeping over the horizon...

After that, there was nothing much to see for a couple hours.

The next big landmark on the trip is the Grand Canyon of North Dakota, White Earth ditch. It is a visual treat, after several hours of going up and down identical hills, to go down into a small valley. Someday I'm actually going to drive out to the little town of White Earth. I'm sure it's exciting.

After climbing up onto the prairie, there again wasn't much to see until Minot. But the weather was beautiful and the roads were clear. Very pretty and relaxing.

Minot provided a welcome relief and a chance to stretch my legs doing some shopping. I was already over half-way done with the trip! Only 100+ miles left to go!

 After leaving Minot, the scenery is much more diverse. Every 50 or so miles, there is something to look at. The first excitement you come to is the windmill farm about 30 minutes south. I enjoyed driving through what looks like a field of giant pinwheels. It lightened the monotony of my interminable journey for several minutes.

Next comes Lake Hard-to-Spell. I think it's Lake Sakakajwea, but I'm not sure. Just on the other side of the causeway it turns into Lake Audubon, a much easier name to spell (but I still had to look it up!). Why can't they call it Lake Water or something like that? The surface of the lake was dotted with little ice-fishing houses. So cute!

Almost to Bismarck now, but there's still one landmark left on the trip. The Falkirk Mines. I don't know what they mine there, but their plant looks very sinister, like something you'd see in an environmentalist's horror movie. So I edited the photo to make it look even more sinister.

I finally got to Bismarck at 1:00 in the afternoon. I spent the next 3 hours visiting Laura, then squeezed in a quick trip to Walmart before heading back north again. The sun was almost down, and I HATE night driving. What a joyful prospect to have 3.5 hours of it ahead of me!

Tense and exhausted, I came down the hill into Minot. The lights of the city provided a welcome reprieve from the dark sameness of the journey. Yay! And I only had 2.5 hours left to go!


For the first part of the final leg I snacked on stuff I'd picked up at Walmart. But there's only so many carrot sticks you can eat, especially when you run out of them. Then I tried to think peppy thoughts.

My thoughts had no pep.

I drove with the window cracked open, even though it was in the teens and I was wearing only a light jacket.

I thought longingly of my comfortable bed.

Oh, good. I'd made it another 10 miles......


Minot is on the edge of the oil country. Once you get past the city, you start to see signs of North Dakota's oil boom. The fields are dotted with brightly-lit drill rigs and finished oil wells, with their bright plumes of flame where the natural gas is being burned off. Sort of like driving through a very sparsely populated Dante's Inferno. "Dante's Inferno: Rural Edition."


At last, I reached the epic 13 Mile Corner, so called because it is only 13 miles from Williston.

 But I don't live in Williston, I live 45 miles to the north. So close.

 I kept myself going for the next little bit by taking tired self-portraits of myself. But eventually, I had to give it up because flashing oneself repeatedly in the eyes with a bright light makes it difficult for one to see the road. Phooey.

Home, sweet home at last. 10:00 at night, only 14 hours after leaving. Time for bed!

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