I was disappointed in North Dakota in many ways. My guide book says North Dakota is the least visited state in the US, so I my expectations should have been pretty low. It is a surprisingly long way from Milwaukee to Grand Forks, North Dakota, involving an overnight bus ride. The other thing that was surprising, based solely on my previous thirty or so Greyhound trips, was that from Minneapolis (where I transfered buses) to Grand Forks the bus was full of white people. It completely threw me because I'm used to buses being more full of ethnic minorities. It made no difference because the trip was still long and dull.
I got a mean-ass bus driver for the first time in a while. We left Minneapolis about 45 minutes late so the driver told us that we weren't allowed to step off the bus until Wadena, Minnesota - about four hours away - when we were scheduled a meal stop. He was hoping to make up a little of the lost time and you can imagine that if 43 people wanted to get off and on the bus at every stop it can eat into a lot more time.
His plan worked. A little too well actually, because we arrived 20 minutes early at Grand Forks. When I got to my hotel room the bed seemed so soft and inviting, almost as if it was apologising for the uncomfortable seats on the bus.
My 'thing to do' in Grand Forks was to walk down through town to a mall and get myself the usual state souvenir. It was about four miles away but I didn't mind because there wasn't anything else pressing for me to do. I thought it was warm when I stepped out but I didn't think it was especially hot. The electronic signs told me differently when they told me it hit 88 degrees! I must be slightly acclimatised to the heat because I didn't feel it too much.
On the walk down I saw a funny thing. I saw a truck take a left turn at some lights and five wood panels slide out the back and spread themselves across the middle of the intersection. It made a hell of a noise and I had to look back to make sure it wasn't a car collision. The idiot must have just bought them and not strapped them in. He did notice when it happened and backed up to collect them. I wonder if he repeated the same thing every time he took a turn on the way home.
There were no obvious photo opportunities and I knew I needed at least one or two for the blog so as I was walking over a bridge that must have been 400 yards long over a railroad and freeway I spotted a chance for an arty photo. The walkway beside the road had a metal cage completely covering it, presumably to stop people jumping or throwing things onto trains and cars. It looked imposing as it disappeared as far as I could see to the peak of the bridge. Check out my photos to see it.
The Columbia Mall was kind of average when I got to it, although it did have a Sears, Macy's and JCPenney. The thing that impressed me was that it was fully carpeted and felt quite plush under my feet. It didn't last long for me though as the woman in Hallmark directed me to WalMart for a North Dakota souvenir. However she sent me the wrong way so it took me an extra mile roundtrip (walking, of course, as always) before going the right way and finding it.
Luckily the WalMart was two blocks away from the movie theatre I'd found on the internet. I went in to see what I could watch right away and found Get Smart starting in only 15 minutes. I had to go and tell someone that I was getting sound but no pictures during the previews because I was worried I'd be listening to the movie rather than watching it. It was a 4:30pm showing on a Monday so I shouldn't be too surprised that I was the only person in the screen.
The movie killed some time before I walked back to my hotel room in the nice evening sun. Aside from the souvenir I got a good ten miles of walking out of Grand Forks. Aside from that I left North Dakota a little tired and emotionally exhausted. Let's hope Minneapolis brings me some relaxation and respite!