Sam and Linda's Spring Fling 2011 travel blog

Slowing for the cone

Oh 'Bama is going to get her toes wet!

Yay, a rest area...finally!

Uh, not looking good for a pit at the rest stop

Yep, check out the entry road into the rest area..doesn't look bad,...


Although the KOA on-line for Bismarck was showing no availability, I decided to give them a call. Well, he had one site for one night and potentially another site for two nights, but there was a hold on that one. He would wander down to their campsite in a bit and see if they were staying or not and get back to me.

We had decided if all we could get was one night, we would stay at the Elks and we'll stay in Bismarck through the holiday weekend. Don't want to be on the road looking for a room at the inn!

When we left the 4H campground at the fairgrounds in Aberdeen, it was apparent it was going to be a hot, humid day!

Diesel -$3.77/gal at the Shell Aberdeen.

There were two ways to go, einey meany miney moe----we're headed north on 281. The clerk had told me there was flood damage to the road, but I thought that was probably pretty common in the region. Probably what all the newly asphalted areas were...replacing the flood damaged highway.

We traveled 103 miles on this state highway. Lots and lots of farmland, but only one live deer (no dead deer either). Two little towns that we probably wouldn't even call towns and one wide spot in the road that claimed by it's sign to be a town, but we didn't see anything that would lead you to believe that...only clue was again, the sign, and that the speed lowered to 45 mph.

One rest area and you better take advantage of it, because the road is a two lane and no room to pull over. Not much traffic which made for a moseying kind of drive.

Did see alot of areas that were under flood water. But I had checked the weather and there were no flood warnings near where we were going.

Get to I-94 and the speed limit is 75. Who would go that---truckers of course. But we didn't see too many of them either. Had a lot of cross wind, but 'Bama and I held it together.

Now, wouldn't you think in 102 miles of interstate travel, you'd see towns or rest areas to stop at? Well, you're in North Dakota now, chickie, and they're far and few between.

Taking it nice and leisurely on the interstate (55 mph) and we're about 60 miles from Bismarck and see signs that the right lane is closed. Ok, we've seen lots of road construction...no big deal. Get a little closer, oh 25 mph (on the interstate?) and now a sign warning of water on the roadway. Holy guacamole...well, it had mostly receded so 'Bama barely got her toes wet.

Go a little bit farther and there we are again, right lane closed...blah blah blah. Oh but look, finally, a rest area two miles ahead. Well, you got it, we would have needed to be in a DUCK and gone into swimming mode to get to the rest area.

Had to slow down to 25 mph (which really feels weird on an interstate).

Pretty sad that you're desperately looking for a place to pit when you're carrying the little girls room with you. Can't even find a place to pull off to use it.

There are four, count em, four towns on this stretch of I-94!! Finally, almost 30 miles after that rest stop that was flooded, a truck stop!! Whoop whoop. I about knock Sam down doing the pee pee dance!

Notice I have a missed call and a voice mail. It's the owner of the KOA in Bismarck. I'm thinking, oh he overbooked and we don't have a spot...nope, we can have a spot for two nights---yipee!

Can't take the exit to the campground because of the hokey way the cones are set up for painting lines or something so we go down to the next one and come back. Once we get on our local road, it's all about the construction.

Get checked in at the KOA and hear that they're expecting 30 more check in's today. Ask about staying through Monday night....no, the young clerk says, they have someone coming into our spot right after us and they're full up the rest of the time.

We get shown to our spot and Sam guides me in using the walkie. I have to say (again, if I haven't already), we are quite the team backing in. First time is the charm!

Sam is doing his thing outside when the worker comes back with a portable fire pit for us. He talks to Sam and he was from the Carmel Valley area and just got tired of all the tourists and moved here!

I decided what the heck, I'll call the KOA owner on his cell phone and ask about extending. He says, he'll see what he can do.

Sam is suppose to call his buddy when we get here, but we decide to surprise him instead. Now, Larry and Rachael use to own their own steakhouse until the boiler blew up and put them out of business in Mott, ND. All Sam knows is that they're working for a restaurant that is near the speedway.

Well, Mrs. Detective Ryno, starts googling and thinks she's found the place. We decide if it's not, we'll still have dinner. The restaurant is located in Mandan, about 7 miles from us.

We walk in and I glance to the kitchen and sure as shooting I see Larry's back with his chef hat on. We manage to get to our table without him seeing us. Have an excellent dinner and then ask our waitress if Larry ever comes out and talks to the customers (which he always did at his restaurants). Oh, if he's not busy. Well, I say, can you have him stop by if he has a chance.

Pretty soon, I look over and there he is...the look on his face was priceless. We chat just a little (those steaks are cooking---they're very busy) and agree to hook up later. Pretty soon Rachael comes over and visits for a long time (she's obviously not cooking the steaks)! She thought Kenny Rogers was in the house!

Decide on the way home, we'll check out the Elks Lodge. Go across the very swollen Missouri River and see lots of homes sandbagged. The National Guard is parked at the golf course just down the road from the Elks.

Notice that there are some sandbags around some kind of electrical thing at the Elks, so I'm already thinking...sand bags = not a place Mrs. Ryno wants to stay. Elks Lodge is big and very busy. Very busy intersection.

Continue driving on the "expressway" towards home and notice a really big Super Uncle Wally's. Sam notices a truck/trailer parked in front at a spot I thought I wouldn't park at if I were spending the night.

We drive around the back and there is the perfect spot...wait, someone else is camped there. They even have their table and chairs and are sitting in the grass area having dinner.

We decide that if KOA can't get us in, we'll just stay at Uncle Wally's.

Shortly after we're back home, the KOA guy shows up (this time it's the owner). I'm thinking, crap what did we do wrong.

Oh no, he's done some juggling and can get us in for the time we want, but, we would have to move. Did I want to look at the space? We go for a ride (a very short one). Only thing is, we might have to move tonight or in the morning. He'll have to go back and look at the book again.

Sam and I have decided before he gets back, we'll just move tonight. It's now 9 pm (and light) and we're pulling up stakes. Get to our new place and once again, one shot and we're backed in.

I actually think I like the new spot better. We walk up the hill and get our bicycles (they were chained to the picnic table).

Get set up again and Sam walks in and says oh we're having company. Really, dude, could you have mentioned that as soon as you found out.

Rachael, Larry, and their grandson, Shay, stop by. Shay comes out and stay with them for the summer and we had met him before during one of our other visits. We've only seen Larry and Rachael twice in the last seven years, but have not trouble finding things to talk about.

They are suppose to have Sunday and Monday off, but we still plan to get together during the evenings until then.

At 11:30, they leave and Sam and I start figuring out things to see in the area over the next few days.

Mandan has all kinds of things planned for the holiday weekend...rodeo, parade, big fireworks show.



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