After 502 miles on the road, I limped into Rugby, ND, with a sore butt and just fumes in the tank. I found a gas station and the Oak Grove Inn with campsites. Rugby is in north-central ND and is “somewhat” famous for its distinction as the geographical center of the North American Continent. Check out the second photo showing a monument inscribed as such, surrounded by the Canadian, Mexican, and U. S. flags.
From MT, as soon as I crossed into ND, I noticed a difference in activity. The ND town of Williston was bustling. I soon discovered why, when, just east of town, I saw scores of gas and oil rigs all along US 2. ND, once known as an agricultural state, will, in a few years, be attributing the majority of its wealth to oil and gas. But agriculture is still a big deal, and the prairie potholes (photo) in and among the corn and wheat fields, are a scenic natural feature rich with wildlife (photo).
“Hi, did you have a good ride?” I heard from the campsite next to me as I walked past to check out the washroom.
“Long, but good,” I said to Andy, as I stepped over and introduced myself. Just then his wife Cara stepped out of their camper with two glasses of wine. Andy and Cara were Canadians from Simco, Ontario. They were on their way back home via the US after delivering their son to Banff, Alberta for a musicians’ workshop.
“Could I offer you a glass of wine?” Cara asked.
“I would love one,” I said.
It was red, tasted like Merlot, and after spending 500 miles on the road, it was especially delicious.
“Lovely wine,” I said.
“Thanks,” Andy said, “but it is from a box. Boxes travel better than bottles.”
Cara retrieved the box from the trailer, a Merlot, for a refill and more talk. The second glass still tasted great and expensive.
Andy was a retired high school history teacher and was now directing a theater production. Cara, a high school teacher also, taught music and English. Their daughter majored in theater and acting and was busy with a number of “gigs”, some paid, some not. They were a very artsy couple with artsy children and a delight to hang with during a glass of wine. They reinforced my previous observations that Canadians are polite, generous, intelligent, and comfortable with who they are.
“The wine and conversation are great,” I said, “but I have tons of things to do before the mosquitoes get really hungry.”
“I’d like an Amberbock beer and a small, thin crust, supreme pizza,” I told Angel at the Pizza Hut, just down the road from where I was camped next to Andy and Cara.
“I will put your order in and bring you a glass of water, then someone else will bring your beer,” she said. “I’m only 18 and you need to be 21 to serve beer, sorry.”
“No problem,” I said. “Is it true that Rugby, where we are right now, is the geographical center of the North American continent?” I asked.
“That’s what they say, but I don’t remember hearing much about it in school at Drake.”
Angel told me she lived 20 miles west in Towner, drove to Rugby for work, and drove 60 miles south to Drake several times a week where she grew up. She was cheerful, bright and articulate. It struck me that she had the potential to make a million bucks somewhere other than at Pizza Hut in this little town in the middle of ND. But my definition of “the middle of nowhere” is “home and family” to others.
“I drive to Drake several times a week to take care of my grandmother,” she said.
“Wow, that is a long way to drive that often when you are working full time!” I said.
“She’s been so good to me; I would do anything for my grandma. I love her so much. I also take care of her on weekends.”
During my stay at Pizza Hut and her attentive service, we exchanged a few more snippets of conversation about her grandma. Then she gave me the check ($10.75).
“Instead of a box for your remaining pizza, I brought you a sealable foil tray and a plastic bag; that should work better on your motorcycle,” she said.
I left a $20 bill on the table and wrote on the back of the receipt, which I left next to the 20:
“Angel, thanks for taking care of your grandma; she appreciates it more than you will ever know. I wish I knew what your grandma did to make you love her so much. I have granddaughters too; I should be so lucky.”
After an early start from Rugby, I rolled into Grand Forks, ND, (on the border of Minnesota) at 9:30. I exited the bypass, headed for downtown, made a couple of turns as if I knew where I was going, and, by chance, ended up in front of the Dakota Harvest Bakers (photo).
“I’ll have the tomato basil egg sandwich on a toasted bagel and a cup of Sumatra Telong medium dark roast with a shot of half and half.”
I really liked ND.