328 miles; estimate 4 hours 32 minutes
Today was one of mild misfortune and minor mishap. To start with, strong winds kept us from taking the one mile nature trail at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center of Roosevelt Park as we had intended. We hung around the view point for awhile enjoying the sweeping canyon below, but the sky was gray, and the chilly wind damped our enthusiasm.
Then we had some dull landscape beneath a dull sky as we drove, so I wrote up my blog for the previous day, but some internet glitch caused my precious words to fly into the ether.
So we plodded along. Had a salad at Subway. Plodded some more. Stopped for gas in Bismarck and…I accidentally locked the car with both our fobs inside, plus all of our money, all of our ID and data, inside. What a blow! What to do? Call AAA, of course. The gas station guys were nice about getting the number and letting Dan use their phone. The AAA person identified him and said she would send someone out—in an hour or so. What to do for an hour, with no money to buy refreshment, no iPad, no iPod, no phones, no books. Also, no jacket, and the wind made standing outside uncomfortable. I prowled around inside the station, Dan prowled around outside for awhile. Then he came in and sat with me in a little snack bar area. A couple of ladies were there chatting, and they took an interest in our problem. They sympathized and chatted with us to help us pass the time. After about an hour a young man came and broke into our car with an alarmingly simple tool. We thanked the friendly ladies and sped away.
One thing about our conversation with the locals should be mentioned. They emphasized that there was an extraordinary amount of rain around here last spring, so the park was much greener than usual. One woman said it is usually a desert experience, and usually hot, as well.
For the next couple of hours the landscape became prettier, sweeping fields of grain, and the sky grew lighter. We stopped briefly in Jamestown because Dan wanted to photograph a monumental sculpture of a buffalo that he had seen in a brochure. It was located in front of the Buffalo Museum in a recreation of an Old West town called Frontier Village.
Moving into Central time zone we lost an hour, so it was after 8 p.m. when we checked into our Howard Johnson motel in Fargo, though the light was still high. This property is in a steep decline. One whole wing is unusable because the rooms smell so strongly of mildew; we couldn't even walk into the one we were showed. Thus we took one in the other wing, on the second floor with no elevator. We carry a lot of stuff, so getting it all upstairs was our exercise for the day. I would have had a swim in their pool, which was invitingly long, but someone had puked in it that morning, and the clean up chemicals were so strong that people were not even allowed to stand in the pool room.
You could say our luck changed at dinner. A popular bar and grill is associated with the motel. Bar food is not usually our thing, but we were too tired to be picky. Much to his surprise, Dan got a fabulous steak for $20; he couldn't quit raving about it. My salad was also quite tasty. And so we got through the day.