Hello friends and family…
We wanted to send e-mails every so often on this trip – partially because we don’t post on Facebook during trips for the most part (lest burglars figure out we are across the country), and partially so this can be a record of our trip! Last time we did this, the e-mails served more as a warning to anyone attempting a cross country trip with two young kids. However, THIS time, I am proud to report, we have our shit together and are feeling a bit smug – no major disasters (yet)! Thus, we will share photos and a little bit of education about the areas we are traveling through. (I can hear you hitting “delete” right now). No fun disasters. PS We always document where we eat and stay so we can settle arguments later on when we try to remember. FYI Sarah is always right anyway but then there is proof.
Friday, August 7 – Home to St. Cloud, MN
The journey begins! Sarah was on call all night and had a hideously annoying call and didn’t roll in at home until 11 am. We all took off around noon, on schedule! There’s a first. We picked up Culver’s and drove through the pouring rain to the Cities in MN to St. Cloud. Noah is a delight on car trips as he seems to have some kind of urinary urgency issue, where he only realizes he has to go to the bathroom with a 30 second head start. It’s always very dramatic. We were stuck in rush hour traffic and he starts screaming he needs to pee, so Sarah took the lid off the Culver’s cup and Matt starts yelling about something under his seat. After digging around for a minute, Sarah pops up with a bag with a bunch of bubble wands and portable urinal… Okay… Thanks Grandpa for the vacation gifts! It totally worked except that Noah had to stand up to use it and traffic was bumper to bumper and we are sure we were judged by the cars next to us when they saw what was going down. Then we forgot to empty it for like two days.
We arrived in St Cloud and stayed at a very nice Homewood Suites – nice room! Decent pool. Because someone had briefly mentioned margaritas to Sarah, she had fixated on Mexican food for a couple hundred miles. So we got food from Mexican Village (about as good as it sounds, ugh), Matt drank beer (his goal is to drink a beer from each state we are in– “Sweet Child of Vine” by Fulton Beer was MN), and Sarah resurrected a Durst family tradition – “Daily’s” premade margarita in a bag!
Total miles: 321.7 miles
Candy Crush levels beaten by Sarah: ZERO
Saturday, August 8 – St. Cloud, MN to Dickinson, ND
Continental breakfast sucked and we were on our way. The “Car Fairy” came while Matt was packing the car and toys were laid out for the kids. They spent an hour arguing about the Car Fairy and didn’t believe the Car Fairy was Matt. We’ve failed along the way somewhere for sure. Matt stopped in some parking lot to do a geocache (nerd). We continued along interstate 94.
We hit up Moorhead MN around 11:30 and stopped for lunch at Dairy Queen. Sarah had read on CNN some story about this Dairy Queen in Moorhead that has a local menu and is operating under a contract from 1949 and refuses to get totally corporate.
In the interest of defeating “the man”, we had to stop and eat here. Matt ate a polish sausage and the kids ate other treats that have been banned at other DQs such as a Mr. Maltie and a chipper sandwich dipped in chocolate.
Continuing on, we went through Fargo and drove through to Dickinson, ND. Interesting thing (well sort of)– we saw tons of sunflower fields everywhere! Apparently ND is the second leading producer of sunflowers in the US behind SD. They have the world’s large bison/buffalo but the kids were passed out (except for Noah who needs a 12 step program for his iPad at this point) so we continued on.
They also have the world’s largest cow in North Dakota.
Dickinson is on the west side of the state and is so different than 3 years ago due to the fracking and oil efforts going on. Tons of new constructions, lots of semis with big machinery and pipes, lots of people. In Williston, which is north of Dickinson and currently at the height of the oil boom, a night at the Hampton Inn in town costs 300 dollars. In freaking NORTH DAKOTA! Dickinson has a lot going on for a not very big city ,which was impressive. It also looks like a frontier town with half done parking lots, mixed with new condos and apartments. We stayed at a Comfort Inn whose back parking lot frightened us so much that we decided to park in front. Sarah was a little perturbed that we had a ground floor room. Braden sustained a head injury on the water slide. Sarah watched a guy sitting at a pool table with a suitcase who drank 5 cans of Busch light in the hour we swam. Zoe screamed like a howler monkey while Matt tried not to accidentally drown her. Noah pretended not to know us.
Dinner was Wildcat Pizza – Dominoes was ranked #4 of the restaurants in Dickinson which should have been a sign, but we wanted something different, and something different we got.
Off to bed so exhausted that Sarah couldn’t enjoy a cocktail and Matt was forced to drink the only North Dakota beer he could find, which was called the Woodchipper. Yes, after the movie Fargo. We so classy.
Miles driven: 475.1 miles
Candy Crush levels beaten by Sarah: 370, 371, 372, 373!
Sunday, August 9 – Dickinson, ND to Great Falls, MT
BEST continental breakfast ever!! While the Car Fairy was loading the car, Sarah and the kids enjoyed some delicious yogurt, waffles, etc., in the presence of oil tycoons, cowboys, Sturgis travelers, families clearly living at the hotel, and other haggard families traveling out west. We headed off while the kids continued to argue about the Car Fairy and the gifts he/she left on their seats.
We stopped at Teddy Roosevelt National Park and there was a REAL LIVE buffalo there! There was a bored ranger who keep muttering, stay away, it will charge you. I don’t think she really cared if the buffalo charged the dumb ass tourists who were taking iphone pictures (us included).
We posed for a picture – the difference one kid makes! (not our clothes though (we need new clothes))
Crossed into Montana and decided to take a new way up to Great Falls. Last time we took I-94 and broke off in Billings. This time we decided to take Montana Hwy 200, quite possibly the most boring road ever. We drove from Glendive to Lewiston, which is 244 miles, and passed through only TWO towns. The word “town” should be used pretty loosely too. These places were pretty damn scary.
I didn’t even see a gas station in the first one. The sign on one of the few buildings here read “state liquor shop and gun shop” and I think it is for real. This town was freaking scary.
The second town had like 10 cars jockeying for spots at the pumps of the only Cenex for 200 miles. OF course we were next to some dumbass from WI. Interesting fact – in Jordan, the second town and the one with the gas station, they have a hospital run by a physician’s assistant. He’s the only medical provider in town. It’s considered the most remote hospital in the lower 48 states. The last doctor that they had was back in the late 1980s-90s, and it was Ernest Hemingway’s son. They stripped his license to practice medicine in Montana because he was an alcoholic, but more likely (and less politically correctly) because he kept dressing in women’s clothes and freaking out the townspeople. He/she later died in a women’s penitentiary in FL.
We were so damn glad to get to Lewiston and stop at McDonald’s. Lame, I know, whatever. Heading into town there was a sign reading “Welcome to Lewiston where the drinking water is 99.9% pure – sponsored by the local crematorium”. ???? Braden had a full scale meltdown in the parking lot because we wouldn’t get him a toy. Normally we might have been a little embarrassed, but eh. We rolled into Great Falls to stay where we did last time – the Staybridge Suites. It is lovely! We had sushi (don’t judge us – it was great) and Matt enjoyed a growlerette from Bowser Brewing company while Sarah had a cranberry-vodka. Zoe screamed endlessly for unclear reasons. On to Glacier tomorrow!!!
(PS – Sarah was laboring under some misconceptions – it is no longer legal to drink while driving in Montana – they got rid of that in 2010 – but there is still a place in the south where it is! Also there ARE speed limits here now. Not just reasonable and prudent. But you would never guess based on how people drive and the complete lack of cops)
Miles driven: 460 miles
Candy crush levels beaten: NONE (and Sarah’s thumb seems to have developed arthritis)
And from the newspaper as we leave for Glacier…