Fargo & Friends
It was just us, fields of sunflowers as far as the eye could see, hectares of corn, and pastures scattered with black cattle. Basically straight for hundreds of miles, with the occasional sharp turn. I really wanted to photograph those sunflowers, but after careful consideration I realized I either needed a 25’ ladder or a helicopter to get the shot. Also seen on the horizon, dozens of large structures used for grain storage that after a while, began to resemble over-sized recreations of the Tin Man’s head from Oz.
We drove out of South Dakota and through North Dakota with only a brief stop for a so-so Mexican lunch in Pierre, the capital of South Dakota. Pierre did not seem to be thriving, but the capitol building was pretty.
Along the way I educated my husband with fascinating data about things like how much each bale of hay weighs (plus or minus 1,000 lbs); the future of the ethanol industry in Onida, SD, and more than you ever wanted to know about sunflowers. For example, did you know that while it’s true sunflowers follow the sun, when they are completely in bloom, they only face due east.
Our most unique roadside attraction for the day was driving through Strasburg, ND, birthplace of Lawrence Welk. I always thought he was from somewhere in Eastern Europe.
Once in Fargo we spent some quality time with close friends (she, from my freshman year in college when I was 17).
We had a full-day insider’s tour of Fargo and nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, just across the bridge over the Red River. We particularly enjoyed the leafy historic neighborhood where our friends live and learning the history and evolution of this rapidly growing city. We had dinner at Usher’s House in a very pretty setting on the Minnesota side of the river. The Fargo side of the river has been mostly cleared and built up with dikes, since the last major flood devastated the lovely homes and everything else along its bank.
A bonus was a visit to the Hjemkomst Center, run by the Historical & Cultural Society of Clay County (MN), to visit replicas of a Viking ship and Hopperstad Stave Church, both tributes to the local Norwegian heritage. The 78’ ship was actually built in the area and sailed to Norway before being returned and put on display. The interesting video and displays were enhanced by seeing the actual ship, complete with mast and unfurled sails. Our terrific volunteer-docent took us into the all wood, windowless church, which had no pews; congregants stood. The only way you can see the inside is on a tour, included with your museum admission.
A single opening, concealed behind a small shutter, was known as a “Lepers’ Window” so those afflicted could hear the service from outside, separated from the rest of the congregation (Norway had a major health crisis with leprosy in the mid-1800s). It was well worth the $9 admission price and BTW, this museum has a wonderful gift shop.
It was so nice to visit our friends on their home turf and very cool to finally see Fargo, forever famous for the movie of the same name.
Sidebar: My favorite new expression is “jump the shark” which apparently means the point which a TV series or movie includes something absurd, also indicates a decline in quality.