Every epic journey has a challenge, a turning point where the hero fights their way through and comes out the other side, battered but unbeaten, ready to fight on. For me, that was Day 4. It was ugly and long and hard and by the end of the day, I was wondering what the hell I had gotten myself into, not just with this trip, but with the whole “go vagabond” and “retire in 4 months” deals. What if this was too much? What if I was wrong? Or, what if I just needed a good night’s sleep?
Turns out it was the latter. I woke up after 8 full hours of sleep feeling much better about things. Even though the snow was still lightly falling outside my hotel window, I just shrugged, packed up my stuff, and loaded the car. I might someday change my mind about becoming a vagabond with a trailer in tow, but today was not that day.
Today’s photos focus on what I found most interesting about this part of the country.
Almost every vehicle on the road is a truck and these are working trucks, covered with mud and loaded down with tools. I found out Williston is a boom-or-bust town, and right now, thanks to fracking (whether you disagree with it or not) it is booming. Lots of big pickups, all American brands (Dodge, Chevy, and Ford, in pretty equal measures), so me and my little Subaru Outback felt pretty conspicuous on the roads most of the day. I tried to take a picture of this really muddy truck just outside Williston, but the rain got in the way.
Later in the day, in Grand Forks, ND, which qualifies as a big town in these parts, I saw a vehicle that was both “foreign” and not a pickup truck. Not sure if the mud was camouflage or not. It gives you a better idea of what most of the local vehicles looked like. Seriously, mud all over!
Most of the landscape is desolate, with isolated settlements every 10-15 miles. This church protected by a windbreak caught my eye.
There were tons of grain elevators, hard by the railroad tracks. It’s clear to see what drives the economy up here. It was also fun to see trains go by loaded with shipping containers displaying brand names I’ve seen being unloaded onto the docks and trains in Seattle.
Almost every town of a decent size had a John Deere dealer (see the photo at the top of this post) and a rental place where you could score just about any piece of big equipment you might need.
I stood in the geographical center of North America, which was pretty cool.
And I have proof that I made it out of North Dakota alive:
Today’s quotation (featuring the sunny skies of Minnesota):
- Miles Driven: 448 (1696 overall)
- MPG: 23.5 (25.1 overall)
- Side trips: None
- States: North Dakota, Minnesota