North Dakota Part I: Valley City

Our first stop in North Dakota was in the tiny town of Valley City, about an hour west of Fargo. The City had a 27-spot Tourist Park campground directly on Main Street near downtown. The spots were very narrow but the price was only $18 per day, so the trade off was fine. We were at this spot for three weeks.

A few weeks back, I had scheduled a quick solo weekend trip to Colorado for a getaway with a couple of my lifelong girl friends. We all went to high school in Austin, but Janet and Amy coincidentally both live in Denver now. Mike initially looked for campgrounds near Fargo, but no one could take us during the dates we requested. Valley City had availability, and it was still convenient for me to get to the airport when the time came for my flight to Colorado. Mike drove me over to Fargo on the last Thursday of our stop. He dropped me at the airport and drove back to Valley City. He hung out with the dogs, spending his weekend waxing the Monaco and watching the PGA Championship Tournament on television. On Sunday evening, he drove back over to Fargo and picked me up. The following Tuesday we left Valley City and continued west to the opposite side of the state.

There wasn’t much to do in Valley City, but it was a clean and safe little town of about 6,000. We were able to walk everywhere on our errands. We walked to the Parks & Rec Department, Visitor’s Center, Bank, Library, Post Office, Grocery Market, St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, and the dog park. Mike got a 10-day fishing license and fished on Lake Ashtabula, which was about 12 miles to the north of town. He also fished on the Sheyenne River in town at a little public space near the hospital. There was a nine-hole public golf course on the south east side of town and Mike hit some balls from the driving range on a couple of occasions. I had a nice spa mani/pedi at a local salon in town. We went on a couple of scenic driving tours through the Sheyenne River Valley, and visited Fort Ransom State Park and Little Yellowstone State Park. We drove to Jamestown to get groceries at the Walmart Super Center, because the grocery prices at the market in tiny Valley City were totally jacked up. We also made a couple of daytrips into Fargo. Mike and I took the dogs one afternoon to walk and explore. I went back another time on my own for a haircut at a downtown salon.

Our cramped #24 spot at the Valley City Tourist Park. $18 per night.

Our cramped #24 spot at the Valley City Tourist Park. $18 per night. The campground had a steady stream of overnight stops with people passing through. There were also a dozen or so highway construction workers from Bemidji. They lived in their campers during the work week, and drove back home to Bemidji over the weekends. Our neighbor on our driver’s side was an elderly widowed gentleman from Rapid City, S.D. visiting his hometown. He had a beautiful springer spaniel named Ike. He was there before we arrived and was staying for a while longer after we left. There was also a homeless lady living in a tent at the park. She was there the entire time we were there too.

The famous elevated train track in Valley City.

The famous elevated train track in Valley City.

The local historic Carnegie Library is one of the few restored structures still in use as a functioning library. The amount of data on our monthly AT&T plan was running low, so I walked over with my laptop on most days to use the free wifi while I checked email, worked on my blog and other stuff like that.

The local historic Carnegie Library is one of the few restored structures in America which is still in use as a functioning library. The amount of data on our monthly AT&T plan was running low, so I walked over with my laptop on most days to use the free wifi to check email, work on my blog and other stuff like that.

Another one of Mike's fishing spots was only a couple of blocks from our camp.

Another one of Mike’s fishing spots was only a couple of blocks from our camp.

There was a medicine wheel at a civic park in Valley City.

There was a medicine wheel at a civic park in Valley City.

We saw this on the first night we were camped at the Valley City Tourist Park.

We saw this on the first night we were camped at the Valley City Tourist Park.

Geese (of course).

Geese (of course).

The Sheyenne River.

The Sheyenne River.

The Sheyenne River out of the dam from Lake Ashtabula.

The Sheyenne River out of the dam from Lake Ashtabula.

Lake Ashtabula (one of Mike's fishing spots was off the end of the pier at the bottom of the photo).

Lake Ashtabula (one of Mike’s fishing spots was off the end of the pier at the bottom of the photo).

Some of Mike's daily catch.

Some of Mike’s daily catch.

The harvest.

The harvest.

A Viking Statue on top of a pyramid shaped hill (is the perfect shape of the hill a natural coincidence, or was the mount created by Indians from civilizations past? (The debate rages on).

A Viking Statue on top of a pyramid shaped hill (Is the perfect shape of the hill a natural coincidence, or was the mound created by Indians from civilizations past? The debate rages on).

The Sheyenne River at Fort Ransom State Park.

The Sheyenne River at Fort Ransom State Park.

This hawk and I has a time consuming stare-down. All he wanted was to hunt for rodents in the field under this utility pole. All I wanted his to do was fly away so I could get a photo of him in flight. After 10 minutes, I gave up. He was very patient.

This hawk and I had a time consuming stare-down. All he wanted was to hunt for rodents in the field under this utility pole. All I wanted him to do was fly away so I could get a photo of him in flight. After 10 minutes, I gave up. He was very patient.

The original food truck. In 1912, as part of a threshing rig, this car followed the harvest from Colfax, ND to Canada and was returned by rail back to Colfax.

The original food truck. In 1912, as part of a threshing rig, this cooks’ car followed the harvest from Colfax, ND to Canada and was returned by rail back to Colfax.

Fort Ransom State Park has hiking trails, horse trails, snow-mobile trails, and bike trails.

Fort Ransom State Park has hiking trails, horse trails, snow-mobile trails, and bike trails.

A view of the Sheyenne River Valley from the scenic overlook at Fort Ransom State Park.

A view of the Sheyenne River Valley from the scenic overlook at Fort Ransom State Park.

Fort Ransom State Park. (This would be a fun place to visit during winter)!

Fort Ransom State Park. (This would be a fun place to visit during winter)!

Storm clouds east of sunset.

Storm clouds east of sunset.

A bird over the dam at Lake Ashtabula.

A bird over the dam at Lake Ashtabula.

A train on 'the bridge' in Valley City.

A train on ‘the bridge’ in Valley City.

Jamestown boasts the largest buffalo structure in all of the United States.

Jamestown boasts the largest buffalo structure in all of the United States.

We went to Jamestown, about 35 miles west of Valley City to get our groceries. This was the home town of Louis L'amour. How many of these books have you read? I read quite a few of them for a western lit class I took from Don Graham at U.T.

We went to Jamestown, about 35 miles west of Valley City to get our groceries. This was the home town of Louis L’amour. How many of these books have you read? I read quite a few of them for a western lit class I took from Don Graham at U.T.

Downtown Fargo has a nice fabric of historic commercial buildings.

Downtown Fargo has a nice fabric of historic commercial buildings.

I'll be this colorful mural in downtown Fargo brings a bit of cheer to the environment during the white cold months of winter.

I’ll bet this colorful mural in downtown Fargo brings a bit of cheer to the environment during the white cold months of winter.

Downtown Fargo has brightly painted bison sculptures placed at different spots all around the central business district.

Downtown Fargo has brightly painted bison sculptures placed at different spots all around the central business district.

Have you ever had hog wings? We first learned of them at the Sunset Bar and Grill in southern Wisconsin. Pork shanks (pig ankles). Brined and then grilled. Delicious. Fall of the bone. If they are ever on the menu in a restaurant you are visiting, do yourself a favor and order them.

Have you ever had hog wings? We first learned of them at the Sunset Bar and Grill in southern Wisconsin. Pork shanks (pig ankles). Brined and then grilled. Delicious. Fall off the bone. If they are ever on the menu in a restaurant you are visiting, do yourself a favor and order them.

Cessna enjoying the view of the Red River of the North while we enjoyed happy hour drinks and snacks in Moorhead, MN - on the west side of the River, across from Fargo.

Cessna enjoying the view of the Red River of the North while we enjoyed happy hour drinks and snacks in Moorhead, MN – on the east side of the River, across from Fargo.

Hanging out at the Aurora Reservoir on Friday during my weekend side-trip to Denver.

Hanging out at the Aurora Reservoir on Friday during my weekend side-trip to Denver.

Sunday brunch before they put me back on the plane for my return to Fargo Hector International Airport.

Sunday brunch before Janet and Amy put me back on the plane for my return to Fargo Hector International Airport.

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