North Dakota in a Day


North Dakota has been in the news much lately; oil production, wind energy production and a strong agricultural base. I haven’t been out to see my brother in Carrington for some time so I decided to see this juggernaut state and my bro’ at the same time. Recently, I made it back to North Dakota.


Okay, I don’t leave home near St Hilaire, Minnesota unless I have one good reason stacked upon another, this time was no different. I’d purchased a brush mower in Garrison, North Dakota last winter and planned to buy a cattle chute in Towner. Add in seeing North Dakota and visiting it’s most-related-to-me resident and I had a trip worthy of leaving home.


I left at three that morning and arrived in Carrington about six-thirty. Dave and I had breakfast together and talked about skid-steers, pick-ups and tractor-trailers. I am never more happy than when the subject involves hyphenated machinery names. We then visited Dave and Mary’s house for a quick tour of their backyard and new outbuildings. Gorgeous, just gorgeous-I guess my mom’s knack for gardening and flowers has continued to the next generation.


I made Garrison about ten that morning. I got to see the coal diggers up close as they’ve moved to mining near the highway. I also saw many large windmills and enjoyed observing the birthplace of our nightly light. I bought the mower last February so the dealer figured I must have forgotten and had to search the weeds for my mower. It was found and placed on my trailer. The dealership in Garrison is on a hill which must be a challenge in parking wheeled implements.


Seventy miles an hour is mostly the rule in North Dakota and so I was rubbing-up against the southeast corner of Minot right around noon. This is where my trip got nostalgic. I used to drive semi-loads from Thief River Falls to Minot before the oil boom started up. At that time, the convenience stores were clean but old and carried just the basics. Things have changed and the Highway Two corridor is now a ritzy truck-driver’s dream. I found Douwe Egbert Coffee in Towner and Rugby!


Western North Dakota is mobile; this culture is all about wheels and movement. If a piece of machinery stays in one place it must make money or it has to be moved somewhere it can make money. If you stay in one place you’ve gotta pay rent or buy something; there were no little coffee claches of people at the convenience stores like you’d see in a small town. Most folks popped in, got what they needed then hopped back into a company pick-up or heavy truck and left. I didn’t see many homes in the process of being built however I saw lots of new structures moved in by truck


I met Tim Schmidt outside of Towner, he had the cattle chute for sale. Tim was a fellow who was a little beat-up from years of cattle but his one characteristic that really stood-out was how he was so happy. We talk for quite awhile and found both of us were Soil and Water supervisors. He was a real bright spot on the trip. Long story short, I bought the chute.


I had the mower on the front of the trailer and the top-heavy chute on the rear. Anytime I went over fifty miles per hour, I fishtailed-badly. I drove the four and ½ hours home from Towner at fifty miles per hour. This was on a Friday afternoon when all of those highly-mobile people wanted to get home on this nice, seventy mile an hour, double-lane road. I will now apologize to each and every one of you who had to follow me on that nine mile stretch of single-lane construction. I did pull off into the median every time I saw more than two vehicles following me and I hope that made things better. I watched for a place with a forklift to swap my load front to back however never saw any spot that looked like they had time for this kind of baloney.



I got home at six that night, not bad time all things and socializing considered. I saw my brother and saw North Dakota. It was 15 hours well spent.

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