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Montana Vacay, Part 1: Driving through North Dakota

June 22, 2010

My adventures in funemployment began a week ago Friday when I finished grading exams and turned in grades.

The initial plan was to head to the North Carolina shore, but after dad & brother decided they needed to work, the girls were free to spend the week however they wanted.  Somehow, it was decided (Thursday night) that Saturday morning, we would head West to Montana.

Thirty-six hours later, I found myself in the car on the way to Milwaukee. Spontaneous!

An hour before we reached Minneapolis, we somehow convinced my aunt (who lives there) to join us.  We were going to visit her daughter in Montana, after all!

The 23-hour one-way trip from Michigan to Montana was long and flat, but luckily my travel companions were chatty.  Also lucky?  The discovery of some amazing tourist stops in North Dakota.

Eastern ND is flat farmlands.  We spent hours driving through flat farmlands.

First up was Salem Sue, world’s largest holstein cow.

Sister may have been convinced that said cow was living (before she saw the cow), and given the very realistic vein on her underbelly (yuck!), perhaps you were fooled into thinking that she’s living, too?  PS Her udders have holes in them, too.  None of us were brave enough to stand under…

Our second super-awesome touristy adventure was the Enchanted Highway, a segment of road just off the main highway (I-94) in Western North Dakota that features several giant sculptures made from recycled farm equipment.  It is difficult to find the words to describe this one.

This sculpture is called “Fisherman’s Dream”.  Sister, aunt, and I are swimming among the fish to give you an idea of the scale here.

You know I dig the recycling of metals that would have otherwise sat in a landfill.  The scale and assortment of pieces/styles is really… something.  The schoolteacher-turned-artist has been building the sculptures on the highway since the 1990s, and has ambitions to add more sculptures in the upcoming years, with the goal of drawing visitors to his hometown, located ~30 miles South of the freeway – an ambitious undertaking.  If you ever find yourself in western North Dakota, it’s certainly worth checking out.

The Tin Family

Tin Mama.  Do you *heart* her drill bit earrings as much as I do?

And, our third adventure in touristy nonsense involved a stop in Medora, ND, in the badlands of North Dakota.  The badlands themselves are stunningly beautiful, and the town of Medora was an adorable old westernish town.  We stopped for pizza lunch and were treated to a ridiculously cheesy reinactment of something or other, complete with stoic civil war soldier & mama.

The badlands were such a visual treat after miles and miles of nothing but flat farmland!

This dude meant business.  He’d holler at passersby with appropriate phrases from the civil-war era.  Love his super-stoic face.

I should mention that we also found ourselves amused at several rest stops… Once by an abundance of deer heads mounted in a gift shop/hotel lobby:

And a second time by this sign, spotted shortly after we crossed the border into Montana:

“dudes please note!”

We finally arrived in Bozeman Montana Sunday evening, and met up with my cousin that lives there… more on our adventures with her tomorrow!

15 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2010 2:10 pm

    It’s so cool to go on a road trip. Whenever my husband and I go on one, I visit the “Roadside America” site and check out things we may get to see along the way. (

    Salem Sue:
    Fisherman’s Dream:

    You get the idea…

    Anyhow, I can’t find the “Cattle Brands”, so that might be something you’d like to submit to them…? I’ve submitting a couple of things from around my area. They actually put it on their website. Also pretty cool.

    • June 25, 2010 12:46 pm

      Thanks for the link, Yvonne – that website looks really cool. We’ll definitely have to use it for future road trips!!

  2. June 22, 2010 4:28 pm

    Are you coming back through North Dakota? If so, you really should contact us on your way through Fargo (assuming you go through Fargo). We might be interested in heading down there for some shopping and wouldn’t mind getting together for dinner or something 🙂

    • June 25, 2010 12:46 pm

      Ohh! Thanks for the offer – that would have been fun! But I’m back at home now… thought of you guys when we stopped in Fargo for Herbert & Gerberts… maybe next time?! 🙂

      • June 25, 2010 12:49 pm

        If there is a next time (really, how many times do you want to see North Dakota?), you definitely have to let us know in advance 🙂

  3. Debbie permalink
    June 22, 2010 5:06 pm

    SO HAPPY you’re back(not as happy as Jason, I’m sure) and back to your blog. I love the pictures and the attractions look like so much fun. What a great vacation! Can’t wait to hear the rest!

  4. June 22, 2010 5:58 pm

    Haha love the post! I had to smile when I saw Salem Sue! It has been years since I’ve seen her. I have to say though, I’ve never been on the Enchanted Highway. Glad you enjoyed the Badlands/Medora. I have to say that is my favorite part of ND. Thanks for sharing!

  5. June 22, 2010 6:10 pm

    Beautiful countryside and um, er, interesting touristy sights!

  6. GGG permalink
    June 22, 2010 6:46 pm

    I’m glad to see there is something besides flat land in North Dakota! I was only there once and it was really boring:)

  7. June 22, 2010 9:01 pm

    Great pictures! I never realized how beautiful ND could be! And the found recycled art along the way is just too cool! I am glad you said something about the vein on that cow. lol…I couldn’t stop looking at it!

  8. June 22, 2010 9:06 pm

    Gorgeous pictures. There really is so much to see in the Dakotas. Ryan’s driven through the badlands twice this year (traveling to Canada for work). I can’t wait to see them in person.

  9. June 22, 2010 10:22 pm

    Wow what beautiful scenery…and interesting sites. That row of deer heads….wow. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

  10. mom permalink
    June 23, 2010 10:56 pm

    Bring on parts 2,3,4 and 5!


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