March 30, 2020

Week 9: Of Nukes and Travel Nuances

Cue spaceship… it’s Devil’s Tower!

Terror is laying awake in a tent the middle of the night in a South Dakota summer thunderstorm, listening to the tree limbs crack in the distance and waiting for the “half-dollar – do they still make half dollars? – sized hail” that the weather radio promises to arrive.

Luckily, our frail tent survived the night.

This past week saw our expedition venture from Lake of the Woods in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle, across Canada into North Dakota and into South Dakota. And though we were travelling fast through North Dakota –we prefer the mantra of “drive a day, stay a day” as opposed to “drive a day, drive a day…” – we caught some fascinating stuff.

Scenic Lake of the Woods in “the Angle.”

Lake of the Woods is a fascinating culture in its own right, a place where boats replace the family car for its far flung residents.

Flag Island Resort offered a great base of operations as we explored the environs of the lake. It was comfort and modern sophistication – and fast fiber optic internet! – that made for an outstanding visit.

Flag Island Lighthouse and observatory.

We made a daytrip up to Kenora, Ontario on the north end of the lake with Dan and our guide, Ray, checking out Indian petroglyphs thousands of years old and fishing along the way.

Our transit of Canada across the wilds of Manitoba was an exercise in multiple border crossings, both automated and in person. This is yet another curious facet of life “in the Angle,” as the border bisects the lake due to a geographical gaffe dating from the 1800’s.

Our base of operations in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

Our ingress back into America and the land of bacon-fried goods, pro-wrestling and relatively cheap gas was at the tiny border town of Walhalla, North Dakota, after which, we paid a visit to the John D. Odegard School Aerospace Sciences . Located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the center is a foremost school for aerospace technology and boasts an Aero-heritage Museum, an Altitude Chamber, and a one of a kind Atmospherium Planterium… and we may have found our newest and favorite-est hotel chain in the Staybridge Inn, a great pet-friendly long term stay.

From Grand Forks, we paid a visit the Ronald Reagan Minuteman Missile Site just north of Cooperstown, North Dakota. The site offers a fascinating look into Cold War history, complete with above ground crew quarters left exactly as they were in their heyday and a missile launch command headquarters located in “the capsule” below. It’s both fascinating and sobering to consider the amount of firepower and destiny that forlorn sites like these scattered across the American Midwest commanded.

Mammatus clouds over the Black Hills.

The final stops across North Dakota included the capitol Bismarck and the vacation town of Medora. Located in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in southwestern North Dakota, the topography of the state changes radically from an endless farmland grid to colorful buttes and prairie gulches.

Our first stop in the state is just outside of Hill City, South Dakota. We’re literally camping nearly in the shadow of Mount Rushmore, no lie. And hey, we got to squeeze in a very brief jaunt over to Wyoming to check out Devil’s Tower, y’know, that large imposing butte of Close Encounters fame.

Doing the Greats!

All in all, we’re happy to report that no Kryptonian supervillians have in fact defaced the presidential visages on the world famous mountainside monument.

We are still alive and well, and dodging hail-storms in the Black Hills of South Dakota!


  1. [...] once you near the three month mark in your travels. Unlike a short trip taken over a long weekend, long term travel demands that order emerges from the chaos, if sanity is to prevail. The bills still get paid, the [...]

  2. [...] recent adventures across America saw us pass through Lake of the Woods and cross briefly into Canada before [...]

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