Saturday, June 11, 2011

I Just Can't Keep a Secret

Yesterday I started the van and was all buttoned down and ready to roll out of the Itasca State Park visitor center, when the GPS screen popped up with, "Where to?"  After a few sputtering attempts to get my brain in gear I suddenly remembered the tag line from a North Dakota town's web site that promised, "The Best Kept Secret in North Dakota." And then I remembered thinking, "that must be a pretty ballsy place considering the whole friggin' state is a well kept secret!" And after a couple of minutes digging through my planning folder - never has a folder been so inaptly named - I found it: Fort Ransom, North Dakota. And they really do use that Best Kept Secret tag line.

Ms. Garmin could care less about looking up directions unless I plied her with a street address.  So I quickly googled lodging there and came up with a nice sounding "B&B" that booked me in. My first hint that the town was population challenged was when the host on the phone had no idea what her address was.  "Last house on the street" was as precise as she could make it. Finally I tricked Ms. Garmin into coughing up some directions and we were off. You know from yesterday's posting that indeed I made it to Fort Ransom in due time. And that's where we'll start today.

Rockstad's River Inn & Yurt (the yurt is 'round back)

My hosts Holly and Orville are thoroughly delightful and helpful. I quickly learned that the Rockstad is not a B&B.  It's just a B. But I was given excellent directions to a great breakfast place, which turned out to be the General Store, but that's a different story.

I soon learned that those gravel roads I complained about last night were actually meant to be sans pavementoir, which is French for dirt. And get this - they're not even roads.  They're byways.  More to the point, America's Byways.  The sign says so. (more about that statue later) And so that's the whole gig here with the asphalt free, smell the flowers, drive way slow, keep your windows rolled up, you better have extra thick undercoating kind of a lifestyle. Did I mention the well-kept-secret thing?

All kidding aside, the byways really do put you in touch with some pretty sensory moments. I rode the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway and frankly it was awesome.  In fact I drove it later in the van for a second helping.

This little riverside rambler is actually for sale.

Fixer Upper

The mighty pretty Sheyenne runs the length of North Dakota.

 Those Olsons...fell off the wagon again.
Why, yes. we do have a 14' tall Viking statue on our 100' hill. Why do you ask?

Tonight I took a little side trip to Lisbon for a nice steak dinner and some bars...on my iPhone.  Th'ain't got no AT&T bars in Ft. Ransom.  BTW there really was an Army fort, named after a Col. Ransom, here in the 1870's. It only lasted 5 years and I didn't see any accounts of actual conflicts, but it did house 200 men and 9 officers - most of whom froze their bippies off during the awful winters and had to be issued new bippies. The moment the troops left all the settlers swarmed the abandoned facilities and hauled off everything they could carry, and made good use of it. End of history lesson.

So I'm staying one more night at the B, which probably means they'll have to make a new sign, "Pop. 106," overnight.  Will take a day off from riding tomorrow and make my way down South. Meanwhile I'm fine tuning that Best Kept Secret tag line.  I'm thinking..."If I had it my way I'd take the byway." 

I gotta sleep on that.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting story. Thanks for the info that it is just a "B" not a "B&B".