“Remind me again why we’re in Bismarck??” I may have said that more than once on this portion of our recent road trip (click HERE for previous posts). Or more than twice. There’s a good reason North Dakota gets very few tourists. There’s not much to see. Sure, the people are very nice and everything is relatively inexpensive. But that’s pretty much it. The close proximity of our itinerary indicated why not go — as in when we will ever get to this state again? Maybe it’s the fondness for “Fargo” — movie and TV show. I kept thinking what it must be like when the state is blanketed in snow … as far as the eye can see.
The high point without question was a little pizza joint called Fireflour. Online reviews by pizza haven residents of CT and NY said the pizza is just as good as theirs. That is high praise indeed. An authentic wood burning oven brought over from Naples cooks the Neoplitan-style pies in 90 seconds. “You get to go to America to install an oven!” was possibly told to the oven installers in Italy. “Did I mention it’s in Bismarck?” That part was probably left out. Regardless, it was indeed as good as any I’ve had in LA .. Pizzana, Mozza, etc.
The other part of the Dakota adventure, that being South, is worth every mile driven. By the way, Rapid City (an overnight stay) is bustling. There is so much to see in SD .. jaw-dropping landscape and two towering, utterly remarkable feats: Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse.
A friend advised us the best viewing is at sundown. We arrived about 30 minutes in advance to virtually no crowds, crisp weather and that view. It truly must be seen in person to fully appreciate. We chatted with visitors and watched as the colors changed on the faces, which we were told look different every day depending on weather — snow, rain, sun all play a factor in the faces. It is incredible.
Also in the Black Hills is the lesser known Crazy Horse monument some 15 miles south. An orphan (at age 1) from Boston of Polish descent named Korczak Kiolzowski puts himself through trade school at 16, is impressed by meeting an Indian leader, moves to South Dakota with his passion as a sculptor, lives in a tent then builds a cabin, marries and has 10 children and Crazy Horse becomes the family enterprise to this day. It is still a construction site, where the vision is now carried on by grandchildren whose hope is to see it finished in their lifetime. How about that for a story?
We headed south via the most direct route to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, for a lunch stop. Driving through SD is not scenic at this point. On top of that, we were forced to stop at the north border of the SD Sioux Reservation with no advance warning. Two young kids with badges that looked to be lifted from a Cracker Jack box interrogated us (politely): “How are you feeling?” “Where are you going?” “What is your name and telephone number?” Only at this point were we informed we lacked the proper permit to proceed, thus necessitating us backtracking some 20 miles to re-route. I politely inquired what would happen if we chose to proceed. They would inform the police who would puncture our tires. And with that we turned around. This is an issue between the SD government and the reservations, which obviously has not been resolved.
The upside to this part of the drive? The legal speed limit is 80 with virtually no cars around. My lead foot was quite pleased (it’s safe to go 10% faster than the limit!) Next post: The final leg of this road trip.