Every Friday in 2013, the Let’s Fly Away Across the USA series will feature a different state, documenting the things we love about each sate and what you should do or see when you visit.
I’m Ania and I blog at The New Diplomat’s Wife. I currently live in Copenhagen, Denmark, though live might be a generous term as I’ve only moved a couple of weeks ago back across the pond. Because of my husband’s job, we move a fair amount, but I still consider North Dakota my home state. My parents still live there but I always say I spent my “formative years” there growing up, which is why is sticks with me so strongly. Also, when you tell people that you grew up in North Dakota, they are inevitably very curious. For most people, you will be the first person they’ve met from the state.
I love my home state because of sky that reaches from one horizon to the next. Anytime you have the gift of seeing that much space, you can’t help but appreciate how big this world really is, and how much possibility it has to offer, even when it’s at its coldest. The climate might take a bit of getting used to, but having land that gives, air that is pure, water that is clean, seasons that change, and a community of people that take care of each other really makes you pause to be grateful for the good things in life.
1. The Badlands, Theodore Roosevelt National Park. One of the things that the US does best is to preserve national parklands and this is, in many ways, an area that helped start it all. Roosevelt spent time here at formative parts of his life, and it inspired him towards conversation of American lands. The landscape here is so unique that for many people it really redefines what they even thought they could find here in the US.
2. A Pow Wow. From time to time, multiple Indian nations will gather for large scale pow wow events that feature tremendously beautiful costumes and dances. If you’ve never seen one, it’s quite a unique experience that showcases something very special in American History. The experience will make you realize that American Indian culture is not just something from an old history book, it’s actually something that is living and breathing, and still managing to hold on even when it would be so easy to be dwarfed by modern times.
3. Downtown Fargo. The classic letters of the marquis still hang by the theater that still kicks off with a Wurlitzer organ performance. Our little downtown really makes you realize what a large city used to be considered when America was building itself westward. When I was growing up, the downtown area was a bit deserted and I always dreamed of opening a little bar or restaurant there. I moved away, but others have filled that gap and the downtown area is alive again with fun shops and great restaurants – even a hotel – that bring together the best of things that are sourced from North Dakota with products from all over. Our city might be smaller by some people’s standards, but our world is big, and our minds are open.
For bonus points
If you find yourself in North Dakota, you absolutely must drive from at least one place to another in the state. It doesn’t take long to get out on the “open road” but this is still one of the places where you can drive out, be the only person on the road and see horizon for 360 degrees around you. If you’re lucky, you’ll drive by the places where much of the country’s wheat comes from…where our corn comes from…where our sunflowers come from…where our sugar beets come from. You might even see where some of our oil comes from. And when you meet people, you’ll see where many of the country’s volunteers come from – for the National Reserve, for the armed services, for donations and refugee care. They don’t call it the American Heartland for nothing, and anyone of us from North Dakota would be delighted to welcome you to our “home”!