Bismarck, Fargo and “The Chipper”

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Somewhere along the road on this trip, we’ve decided to try and visit as many states as possible.  Since we were so close to this as of yet, unvisited destination, we decided to give North Dakota a whirl!

The road that crosses the state from east to west is long and straight and long and straight long and straight and long and straight long and straight and long and straight and long and straight and long and straight (you get the idea).  It reminded me of the Canadian we met last year in Glacier who told us that central Canada is so flat you can watch your dog run away for a week!  You can do that here too, while driving across the state.

We stopped overnight in Bismarck in the overflow lot of the local KOA campground on the outskirts of town.  The strenuous driving day took its toll on us and we succumbed to just eating Thai food for dinner from a food truck at the entrance to the campground and we chilled out for the evening.  The food was great, and we slept well under a nice rainstorm that lasted until morning.

Our next stop, Fargo.  Please tell me you’ve all seen the movie!!!  (Yah, he’s in the Chipper!).  Fargo is the most populated city in the state of North Dakota (I’m sure its because of the movie).  The capital, Bismarck, is actually the second most populated city in the state.  Thank God for Google on these long straight drives…..

The North Dakota Visitors Center is just off the interstate, and lucky for us, it’s on the same exit as our night’s destination – The Walmart Super Center!  As we come off the road, the first business we see is the Space Alien’s Bar and Grill, way too funny a site!

After we’ve gotten set up for the night in the local Walmart parking lot, we take Finnegan and drive back to see the famous “Chipper”!  There is a nice parking lot with a park in front of the building and a replica “Chipper” is on display in the park.  We took some birthday photos with Finn in the (replica) chipper (as tomorrow will be his birthday; and I’m truly not a bad pet parent).  The real chipper from the movie is located INSIDE the Visitor’s Center, where pets are NOT allowed. Is it just me that’s hoping that even the real chipper wasn’t really used to kill that guy in the movie by really, really killing him in the chipper?  If not, then I’m not thinking this is something that the folks at the Fargo Visitor’s Center should be touting (just in case some local pregnant law enforcement officer drops in…….) hey, maybe that could be a sequel!

Sometime after dinner the alien’s took over control of our car and we ended up at the local Space Aliens Bar and Grill for a beer and to take in the National’s baseball game.  The place was “outta this world”ly decorated with everything you can imagine that is alien.  The bartender and patrons were friendly and we enjoyed watching the ball game with them all there.

Early the next morning, we awoke safely back in our Earthly coach and after making some minor trailer repairs (using the Walmart curb) we were off for today’s next adventure!  Dan here, adding a very exciting newsflash – The booze in Fargo is cheap!  No kidding, when we were in Elkhart Ridge, I thought it was a good deal that they had booze in the little grocery on site.  That is, until I sent Carol up to buy a bottle of Tequila so we could make some Bob-a-ritas – $30.95 for a 750ml bottle!!  Yeee-ouch!  When I saw the same bottle in a Fargo liquor store for $14.79 I just had to buy it…the ‘Rita’s in both places tasted great!  Thanks, Bob.

Houseguests; The Grand Canyon & Lower Antelope Canyon

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Our trip to Arizona for the big birthday celebration just happened to also coincide with our youngest daughter’s visit to the area for a college friend’s wedding.

Prior to our arrival, said youngest daughter, had “guilted us” into allowing her (and a friend) to tag along on the next leg of
“OuRVenture”.  We were gently reminded that while the youngest was born and raised in Arizona, somehow, we (the worst parents ever) had never, not even once shared the Grand Canyon with her in her (soon-to-be-short) lifetime.  And so it came to be, the next leg of our trip was set in motion and we were off to see if the canyon was still there, where we had left it on our last visit.

Her friend (also from college, but not one of the newlyweds); apparently hailed from yet another similar underprivileged home, complete with another set of horrible parents who had also denied their daughter the opportunity to gaze into the canyon. I simply don’t understand why CPS had not intervened in the lives of these poor, poor girls sooner!

Following the camping trip, we pointed “Eagle” and “Toad” toward Williams, AZ where we were to meet up with our temporary houseguests! We spent the day washing up (absolutely everything inside and outside) from the camping experience while the girls made the drive up from Phoenix.

The first evening in Williams, we set out to explore the city, at first by car, but very quickly we realized that the town is oh-so very “foot friendly” (and small) so we quickly parked the car for the remainder of the night and headed out to see the town. We dined under the stars at the Cruisers Cafe 66 while being serenaded by a local musician. Following dinner and self-directed tour of the town, we stopped in at a local dive bar where we taught the girls a little about getting their butts kicked (by us) at shuffleboard! It just goes to show that age and treachery will always overcome youth and beauty.

During the match, we loaded up the jukebox with a bunch of all of our favorite “oldies” (The Houseguest’s selections were slightly newer than the parents) and we were all happily singing along during the shuffleboard match. After one of our songs finished, the jukebox launched into a most obscene song, courtesy of one of the other patrons at the bar who paid dearly to move said obscene song up into the middle of our music mix. Once we all confirmed that none of us had selected the obscene song, we just continued our game and sang along with the chorus.

Soon enough we were back at our “palace” making the small living room into the new spare bedroom as the “underprivileged” dreamed of tomorrow’s adventures.

For those of you like us, who are always searching for some worthless piece of trivia to amaze your friends with, we learned that Williams was the LAST city on famous Route 66 to be bypassed after Interstate 40 was completed. You’re welcome! Now you too can impress friends, family and random strangers with this value(less) information.

The next morning, we headed up one of the only two roads that leads the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. All was just as we remembered it — both Grand and a canyon, complete with a massive river running though it! Our houseguests did some hiking around the rim, and posed for all the requisite “photo-ops” as to permanently emblazon the experience in their (no longer) unprivileged minds.

If you are planning to make a visit to the canyon, we recommend that you: “pack a lunch” (as the food was not so good at the visitors center); “pack your patience” (as the visitor’s center is more crowded there than Group 2 on any US Airways flight), and “pack your camera”, because in spite of all the other stuff, the place is spectacular!

And speaking of cameras, it is here in the story where Carol realized that our really nice camera is missing. Fingers are crossed that it’s awaiting our return to the guest room at Daughter #2’s home in Virginia and it now that we must confess that the rest of our photos from this trip will most likely suck! If said camera is not at this location, then likely – all future photos will most likely suck! It was a darn good camera!!

Following the photos, hikes and lunch, we headed out toward the Desert View Watchtower while “the houseguests” slept off their morning adventures. (They may have seen the canyon, but we’re fairly well convinced that they’ll never be able to find their way back to it again.)

It was a short visit for our houseguest #2, as she had to return back to Phoenix the following morning for her j.o.b. thing; so we shared a last breakfast together and we sent her on her way back to The Valley of the Sun, quite literally the sun, as it was about 115 degrees there that day.

Houseguest #1 was committed to staying on with us for awhile longer as she was between both homes and jobs at the present time, and she misses her parents, apparently.

We packed up camp and head out for our next stop at Lower Antelope Canyon near Lake Powell, AZ. Houseguest #1 has always been a little squeamish in moving vehicles (thus the reason she sleeps for much of the time when the “wheels on the bus go round and round”), but she put up a brave face as she accepted the navigator’s seat for the day’s trip.

We’ve always had pretty good luck at securing our night’s lodging from the road thus far, but on this day, our luck failed and we were unable to secure any nice (or even not nice) RV Parks in the Lake Powell area. Note to Reader: Be sure to book ahead when traveling to Lake Powell.

So Houseguest #1 got to experience her first-ever night of Walmart “boon docking” in beautiful Lake Powell. A story that we’re sure she’ll embellish over time and tell to her grandchildren one day.

We were successful at getting reservations from the road to tour Lower Antelope Canyon the following day and we arrived almost on time for the highly coveted tour. To get to this canyon, you drive out southeast of the city, make a couple turns, and end up in a dirt parking lot and you pay a bunch of “dinero” (cash only please) to the guys behind the counter in the only civilized building for as far as you can see and you wait out back for your appointed tour to begin.

While waiting, we’re looking around for the bus that must be coming to drive us to gorgeous canyon hidden somewhere in the surrounding mountains, right? Wrong, so wrong! When your tour guide comes up to your group, he leads you, on foot out to the side of the cliff just behind the “money laundering” building.

Our guide for the tour, Emerson explained all about the canyon being located on Indian land and all about how the canyon was formed and about the 11 people who were killed in the canyon during a flash flood a number of years ago. Note to Reader: Plan your visit only on a sunny day, and remember, morning has the best light!

Enjoy the photos from our i-phones. Oh yeah, about the i-phone…… Our youngest daughter (Houseguest #1) had been recently mugged in San Francisco and the thug stole her purse containing her i-phone one sunny morning; and shortly after all the police reports settled and she left an obscene message on the display of her recently disabled phone for all the world to read, she had replaced it with the new I-phone 6.

Ever since we came together in AZ, and Dan saw the new phone, he began “Jones-ing” for an upgrade to his perfectly working i-phone 5. Insider Tip: When it comes to technology, this man is the original “crackhead” needing, I mean really, really, really needing every single new gadget and or newer version of a gadget that comes to the market. He can leave you weak in the knees with all the reasons he “needs” these new toys. I fearfully think a new quest has begun.

But back to our story, already in progress. Emerson, the tour guide hikes this canyon between 6 and 8 times per day – at all hours of the day and the man has become a magician with taking great photos, especially with the easy beauty that is the canyon floor. Because Houseguest #1 now had the better camera, she got a lot of great pictures, although I must confess that I got some pretty good photos myself (not bragging, just saying). Emerson took a great time lapsed photo of us all with Houseguest #1 on both the left and right side of a panoramic shot inside the canyon. The man is a magician, I tell you. Check out all our (collective great) shots for yourself!

Following the tour, we drove back to the RV and we gladly abandoned our special Walmart slip and headed further north with our sites for tomorrow on Utah.

Houseguests #1 and #2 (why do I feel like reading the Cat In the Hat right now?)

Houseguests #1 and #2 (why do I feel like reading the Cat In the Hat right now?)

Grand Canyon Views

Grand Canyon Views

Finn and the Ritchie's check out the Grand Canyon

Finn and the Ritchie’s check out the Grand Canyon

Climbing down into the canyon

Climbing down into the canyon

"Woman in the Wind" Lower Antelope Canyon

“Woman in the Wind”
Lower Antelope Canyon

Amazing colors at Lower Antelope Canyon

Amazing colors at Lower Antelope Canyon

So close and yet so far...

So close and yet so far…

Twin Peaks Lower Antelope Canyon

Twin Peaks Lower Antelope Canyon

Feel the Texture - Lower Antelope Canyon

Feel the Texture – Lower Antelope Canyon

So big!

So big!

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Emerson says "Follow Me!"

Emerson says “Follow Me!”

Lighting is everything! Lower Antelope Canyon

Lighting is everything! Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon

Climbing down into the canyon

Climbing down into the canyon

A bit of photo trickery!  Antelope Canyon, AZ

A bit of photo trickery!
Antelope Canyon, AZ

Just too funny not to post!  I'm not sure if the baby doll or the kid was being bad!

Just too funny not to post! I’m not sure if the baby doll or the kid was being bad!