Sept. 12-14, 2012
The march toward the capital of North Dakota begins (and ends) today. There’s a major highway running from Theodore Roosevelt National Park to Bismarck, but we elected to take a parallel scenic route instead. The scenic route keeps us away from the traffic and it lets us see more farms! But the real reason to take the scenic route is to see Salem Sue, the worlds largest Holstein cow.
Read all about Salem Sue.
Here’s the entrance to Salem Sue. What isn’t obvious in this picture is the sign which says there is no trailer parking. That means to see the old girl we must hike. That dark lump on the hill is where we’re going.
After a bit of a trek we finally made it to Sue. She is quite the specimen. That’s Reen holding on to Sue’s hoof so she doesn’t blow off the hill; the winds were about 40mph up there.
Compared to Sue, the rest of the trip to Bismarck was uneventful. We ended up camping at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park about 15 minutes south of the City. It was a very nice park right on the river.
The first day in Bismarck we elected to just relax and hang out in the park. The weather was great, Reen got to do some sewing, and we had a typical camp dinner followed by s’mores around the fire. Unfortunately, we missed the sign about the fire ban due to high evening winds. Ooops! To his credit, the ranger was very nice about telling us to extinguish our fire.
The next day we headed out to explore the capitol. North Dakota has a very nice capitol building. It’s the tallest building in town by far and can pretty much be seen from anywhere. Here’s a shot looking down the large lawn in front of the main buildings.
Its an art deco style building, though somewhat understated on the outside. There is a little more style on the inside. These chandeliers are inspired by the heads of wheat stalks, something they have plenty of in North Dakota.
This is the house chamber I believe, lots of nice woodwork. The legislature only meets periodically, for a few months every 2 years I think, so there’s not really much going on.
The first level had a gallery of paintings depicting notable people from North Dakota. Not sure why, but the less populated states seem to be extra proud of the residents that reach national acclaim.
There’s an observation level at the top of the capitol with lots of pictures of old Bismarck, the old capitol (which burned to the ground) and the building of the new capitol. You also get some nice views of the city.
We spent the rest of the day in Bismarck taking in the downtown fall arts and crafts festival and doing some shopping at Scheel’s, North Dakotas version of Cabellas. We had picked out a couple of restaurants that looked interesting for dinner but both turned out to be located in the festival area and had decided to remain closed for the festival weekend. We ended up at the Blarney Stone Pub, just around the corner. It was loud and crowded (not surprising since everywhere else was closed), but the food was better than expected.
Before heading out the next morning, we stopped at the visitor center in the state park and took the tour of the reconstructed Mandan Indian village on site. The Lewis and Clark expedition actually passed through this area. Our guide was an real-life scholar who studied these Indians. He was very knowledgeable, but quite opinionated on many issues, and a tad on the arrogant side.
The partially reconstructed On-A-Slant Indian Village. There would have been around 50 such buildings packed in this area.