Category Archives: Travel

Wild Horses

I live about 40 miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is situated in the North Dakota Badlands. Teddy had a ranch there, and there still are lots of ranches that surround the park. It is home to bison, coyotes, deer, mountain lions, pronghorn, prairie dogs, and big horn sheep. And horses.

For decades before the park was formally established in 1947, ranchers would turn out horses on the open range to live and breed, and just round up horses when they needed them. That ended after the park was fenced in 1954. After the fences went up, horses remained in the park, overbreeding. Every few years the Park Service would round up what horses they could and sell them at auction. They even tried horse contraception to reduce the herds.

The Park Service decided recently to change policy and remove all non-native animal species from the park, specifically the horses. This led to a very emotional reaction from locals who have a very romantic notion of the horses and believe they should stay. The Legislature passed a bill to maintain livestock in the park. It is ultimately up to the Secretary of the Interior to decide what happens next.

What is your favorite National Park? Would wild horses be a draw for you? What animals do you get emotional about?

Alternate Routes

Our town has about 25,000 people. Compared with a larger metropolitan area, there isn’t that much traffic. When he isn’t working at the Human Service Center in Bismarck, Husband “hotels” in an office at the Human Service Center in our town where I work and works there. We both take different routes to work for the silliest reasons.

Our drive to work takes 10 minutes. In the summer and fall, husband likes the eastern route that takes him over the butte near our home and through a residential area, and approaches our work building from the back. He likes that route because there is less traffic and he can see the gardens by the houses he drives past. He doesn’t like the route in the spring and winter because it can get icy driving up and down the butte.

I like a southern route that takes me past a house where two standard schnauzers live. I love to catch glimpses of those magnificent dogs. I often see them jumping in fruitless attempts to catch the squirrels teasing them in the tree branches just above their heads. The route takes me to the main commercial street in town that eventually runs right past our work building. The only problem with my route is that I have an unprotected left turn to get onto the commercial street.

I am an impatient person. Our town is too small to have very many traffic lights and four way stops. I suppose I have to wait, at a maximum, two minutes before the way is clear for me to turn left. I just hate having to wait for that. Sometimes when I am in a very impatient mood I turn left on a residential street a block before the commercial street. That takes me to another major street where I can make a right turn, and then a left turn with a light, onto the commercial street. Again, it takes me 10 minutes to get to work, no matter what route I take. This is so silly. I am lucky I don’t drive in a big city all the time.

Do you ever take alternate routes for silly reasons? How do you feel about unprotected left turns?

Sweet Talk

I got a text from Daughter Sunday letting me know she talked her way out of a speeding ticket. She said she was only going 10 mph over the speed limit. I told her she needed to slow down.

I don’t know how she does it, but this is about the fifth or sixth ticket she has talked her way out of. I have only had one speeding ticket in my life, only going about 5 mph over the limit in town, and the police officer had no trouble citing me.

Husband got several speeding tickets from the Dunn County Sherriff and Tribal police driving back from the Reservation. The Tribal tickets were never reported to the State, so he didn’t get points on his license for them.

The Highway Patrol in western Minnesota often cite people who don’t notice that the speed limit changes when you cross the Dakota borders into Minnesota, and assume they can still drive Dakota speeds. Our governor just vetoed a bill that would have increased the speed limit to 80 in ND. People drive that speed here anyway, so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference for him to sign the bill.

Every talked your way out a ticket? What is the fastest you ever drove? Why were you going that fast?

Grand Travel Plans

We are planning a trip the end of May to visit Husband’s sister and brother-in-law in eastern Wisconsin. We will drive, and will spend about three days there. It is 700 miles one-way from us, so that means one night on the road there and back. I don’t like driving more than 500 miles in a day. We also plan to visit Son and Daughter-in- Law in Brookings on the return trip. We will leave the Tuesday after Memorial Day and return the following Monday.

Husband is a hopeful traveler who likes to make elaborate but unrealistic plans of what we can do while on the road. When we were moving to North Dakota from Indiana after Husband finished his psychology internship, he insisted that we meet up with some Canadian friends of ours who were driving east from Manitoba to Ontario the same days we were driving west. We met up in a campground somewhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It really wasn’t a very direct route, and our visit was extremely short, perhaps an hour or so, but it was really important to Husband that we see our friends.

I don’t know why I was surprised last Monday as we were finalizing our travel plans to Wisconsin that Husband was trying to figure out how we could find a way to visit Baboons in the Twin Cities as well as my third cousin TJ in St. Peter without lengthening our trip. While I would love to visit everyone, the logistics as well as the limited time we have made such plans pretty impossible. I appreciate Husband’s sweet consideration for me and my friends, but sometimes he wants to do too much.

When do you try to do too much? Do you prefer to mosey or get to your destination?


I’ve discovered a new bakery.  Well, technically PJ discovered it for me.  And you all know how I love a good bakery.

On Saturday I dropped off some Ben eggs for PJ (Ben to tim to me to PJ… roundabout) as well as an immersion blender from Bill.  I love how we built a little community on the trail – that’s a blog for another day.

Anyway, PJ and I talked about the great Mexican food that I had in Tucson and she mentioned that there is a great Mexican panaderia close to her.  As I was leaving, she gave me directions and I headed toward it; I found it easily – Don Panchos Bakery on Cesar Chavez.  The customer area wasn’t too big but had huge displays on each side filled with an amazing array of goodies.  Donuts, cookies, cakes, breads and lots and lots of pastries.  Even flan. 

I picked out a couple of conchas, which I adore and then when I turned around to the other case, I saw “besos”.  It’s two cakes held together by sweet custard and I’ve only encountered them a couple of times during my travels.  I quickly added a couple of those to my tub.  Pricing was much lower than I expected.  In fact, when she gave me the total, I asked her if she had gotten everything.  It was all I could do to get out of there without enough pastries to open up my own shop! 

It was also all I could do to not eat all the pastries on Saturday afternoon!

Which direction do you head if you want to find a bakery?

Decisions Decisions

As you all know I love cookbooks.  And you all also know that I have too many – neither my wallet nor my shelves can handle my just willy-nilly buying of any and all cookbook that look interesting.  But a quick perusal doesn’t cut the mustard either – you need to go though a cookbook thoroughly to know if it earns the right to displace another cookbook on my shelves.

The way I deal with this is to check out prospective cookbooks from the library.  Then I can leisurely go through them, look at the recipes, ingredients, level of difficulty, etc.  If a lot of recipes look interesting and I can envision cooking from the book, then I have to decide if it’s enough to replace an existing cookbook on my shelves.  If there are only a couple of recipes, I copy them and add them to my big binder.

When I was in Tucson, we visited a few places that had cookbooks on display.  One was an amazing cooking shop in the arts colony of Tubac.  We spent quite a bit of time there as Susan was texting photos of various tea towels to a friend who was in the market.  This shop had A LOT of tea towels; it would have been very easy to over-indulge.  Wandering through a cooking shop is not a punishment for me and I came across a handful of cookbooks that looked interesting.  I took photos and then when I got home I requested them from the library.  Three are in transit, so hopefully in the next few days I can relax with some hot tea or cocoa and go through them to my hearts’ content.

How do you decide which books to buy and which to not buy (or borrow)?

Holes in the Wall

We talked last week about traveling companions that are suited to our own style.  But we didn’t venture into the dynamics of visiting other folks.  Having spent several days with a good friend at her Tucson (technically Green Valley) home in February, I have been thinking about this dynamic quite a bit. 

This is the first visit we’ve had together since her husband passed last summer and my first time to their winter home.  When he was alive we had a lot of our meals at home.  He and I had loving to cook in common so it was an easy part of the visiting routine.  My friend doesn’t love cooking so on this trip we ended up eating out most of the time.  In fact, prior to my arriving we had talked about having Mexican food every meal. 

So I was surprised when she suggested pizza for dinner the first night.  Then I found out that she meant a food truck/pizza oven run by two brothers that was almost always parked a few miles from her place – the Family Joint Pizzeria – apparently they have quite a following.  You order your pizza then wait in your car (or at some adjoining picnic tables) and they bring it to you when it’s finished.  They offer a few bakery items as well and we ate this huge (and delicious) concha while we waited.

 I couldn’t pass up the Elote pizza, made with corn and cheese (the top one in the photo)

The other was a more traditional margarita.  Both were unbelievably yummy. 

Except for two breakfasts that we whipped up at home, we did indeed eat Mexican food for every other meal – and all at smaller, out of the way places that many of my friends might pass up.  Lunch south of Tucson near the Tabac community (about 15 miles from the border) that served baby margaritas in jelly jars.  We ate hot fry bread from a stand outside the San Xavier de Bac mission, unbelievably scrumptious cauliflower enchiladas at a place called Guadalajara’s and even breakfast at The Little One.  We both had Huevos Divorciados – one egg with red sauce, one egg with green sauce (on tortillas) but separated on the plate by rice and beans.  It was delightful but the most fun was having chips and salsa for breakfast!

It was a delightful surprise to have all these culinary adventures when previous visits hadn’t been as… exotic shall we say.

Tell me about a hole-in-the-wall place you’ve enjoyed>


We are now home with our grandson, who was a super traveling companion yesterday. He and I drove out of Fargo Sunday in a ground blizzard for 100 miles west. It was an Oma’s worst driving nightmare, unable to see the road, which was rapidly filling up with snow and ice, trucks and cars trying to pass, and then realizing that the road was slippery. Grandson was very calm and eventually fell asleep for about an hour. I prayed as I drove. Husband had stayed home to take care of the dog, so I was on my own. I drove 80 MPH once with roads cleared and the winds died down west of Jamestown. I just wanted to get home.

Security for grandson is a special quilt and a couple of stuffed animals-a plush elephant named Ellie and a plush T Rex named Sue. He wrapped himself in his quilt and hugged Sue as we drove. I remember having a special security blanket my mother had to wash when I was sleeping, since I didn’t want to let it out of my sight. I eventually left it on a fence post near Two Harbors when I was 5. I also stopped sucking my thumb then. Our grandson is being so brave, and we are having a great time with him.

What were your security objects when you were a child? What helps you feel secure now?

Oma and Opa

Starting Sunday, it will be a wild ride at our house. Our son and his wife are flying to Savannah, GA so our son can attend the American Counseling Association conference and they can both have a much deserved vacation. Our grandson, who will be 5 in April, was going to spend the week with his maternal grandparents in Mankato. They are a lovely retired couple, both educators, some years older than me and Husband. We are Oma and Opa. They are Grandma and Papa.

Last weekend Papa fell and broke his upper arm bone. It is painful. He and Grandma are disappointed that their combined health issues make it impossible for them to look after our grandson, so we agreed to take him for the week. Son will drive him to Fargo from Brookings, SD on Sunday, I will pick him up in Fargo on Sunday and drive back here with him.

Opa and I plan to tag team child care next week in terms of work. I will work mornings. Opa will watch Grandson, and then we will switch, and Opa will work afternoons and I will watch Grandson. Opa loves to swim and will take him to the swimming pools at our local recreation center. We also have story time at the local library, lots of books in our home, and Oma’s play therapy room at work where any 4 year old would think he was in heaven. We will have to integrate Grandson and our spoiled dog. I expect to be exhausted, but happy, by the end of the week.

Imagine an almost 5 year old boy was coming to stay with you for a week. What would you do with him? What are you favorite grandparent memories?

Traveling Companions

I got the idea for this on Sunday as I talked with our daughter. (It is sort of a continuation of VS’s post from yesterday, although I didn’t plan it that way.)

I drove our daughter to Bismarck for violin lessons one day a week from the time she was in Grade 6 until she graduated from high school. That was a 190 mile round trip each week for seven years, but it was worth it. It was a really wonderful experience for our daughter. It gave us time to bond. She made a particular, same-age friend named Michelle who is now an environmental engineer based in Virginia. Friend’s job is to monitor and lessen environmental impacts for a coal mining company. She and Daughter decided to visit their Suzuki teacher this past weekend who moved to New Mexico to care for her aging parents. They had a great time.

They flew into El Paso, had a rather harrowing, late-night drive to Roswell, NM to see what was there, and then drove to Las Cruces to visit their teacher and her husband, and see the sights. They were surprised by the high elevations and all the snow. They drove into the mountains and visited the grave of the real Smokey The Bear, where they both inexplicably burst into tears. They loved the food. They had such fun connecting with their teacher, and pledged to visit her again.

One of their most memorable eating experiences was at a hole in the wall place in Las Cruces called Perk and Jerk, a breakfast place with award winning jerky and great coffee. Its interior was less than welcoming.

Daughter said it was the best jerky she ever had. I guess appearances can be deceiving.

Daughter and her friend decided that they want to have more travel adventures together. Daughter said that being together seems to cancel out their respective anxieties, and that they are extremely compatible. Their next trip is to West Virginia to visit a coal mine museum in September. I reminded Daughter that her ancestors are Scots coal miners, and that her great great great grandfather died in a coal mining accident near Glasgow. The family immigrated to Ohio and West Virginia and continued to mine until they found other work. Her friend has an adopted grandparent couple in Bismarck who are from Norway, so in the spring of 2024 they want to travel to Oslo and the Faroe Islands and honor those folks’ relatives. I think it is wonderful.

Who are your best and worst travel companions? What makes for a great traveling companion? Ever been to the Faroe islands?