A Visit to North Dakota

I read on the internet (purveyor of unlimited truths and fabrications) that the Inuit language has over 40 words for snow.  In South Dakota, the locals have almost that many words for the frequently occurring icy projectiles that descend from the heavens here.  Yes, hail will get you if you visit this state no matter how short your stay.  But, the descriptions that I learned in North Carolina like “pea-sized” are rarely useful in this unstable meteorological environment.  Lofted upward on cold air columns, the hail here is born larger than a pea before it even begins its fall toward the nearest windshield.  To the right is a list of descriptions I have heard here used for predicted hail.

Today the forecast is for Gorilla hail.  According to the local horse owner who shared this warning with my friends, Gorilla hail forms when a giant ape grabs the hail from a high building and snatches it into its paws… just kidding I have no idea what this is and I hope I never find out.  Staying vigilant to the possibility of imminent icy destruction is stressful and time consuming enough for me.  I am not complaining though.  Like everyone else who comes to spend the summer in the refreshing temps and among the neighborly folks here in the Black Hills, I have accepted the hail risk as part of the South Dakota experience.  Fingers crossed that I don’t acquire too many vehicle damaging mementos of my visit here.

Marvelous Medora

The Medora Musical starts before dark, then lights up the night.

Each time I volunteer in Spearfish, friends, other volunteers and locals all insist that I must make the short pilgrimage north to Medora, North Dakota.  This tiny town in a sparsely populated state has built up a miniature Branson like following.  Many people begin their evening entertainment in Medora with the Pitchfork Steak Fondue supper.  A short walk from this beefy repast is the Medora outdoor theater.  Each evening at twilight an extravaganza called the Medora Musical is performed.  One of the singer/dancers this year is from Durham, NC.  I felt right at home enjoying the music and history of this tourist town as told through song and dance.

Medora is also home to the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park where you can visit the petrified forest or mounds and mounds of prairie  dogs.  This park’s North Unit consists of Badlands littered with the occasional cannonball concretion.  However to get to the North Unit requires a 2 hour round trip drive from Medora into another time zone.

On our trip up to Medora Matt, Sherry and I are invited to take a brunch break and dine with friends Cal and Peg at their home in Buffalo, ND.  I was thrilled to see them and to get a break from the monotony of driving through North Dakota.  Unfortunately, the highways and back roads between Medora and Spearfish offer only the occasional cow herd to break up the otherwise featureless terrain.

Important NP Safety Info

The Enchanted Highway

I look short compared to this roadside family!

To remedy that situation and increase tourist traffic through his off the beaten path town of Regent, ND, one artist enlisted community help to create the “Enchanted Highway.”  Thanks to Dean for suggesting that we travel back along this route.  I marveled at the entertaining works of art and was thrilled to see something besides unbroken vistas of prairie grass as we motored back to Spearfish.

North Dakota Highlights

Cannonball concretions
If you ever wondered what a Pitchfork Steak Fondue looks like.
Old West Playground in Medora
Medora Musical after sundown
My favorite family along the Enchanted Highway
Another Enchanted Highway stop

In Loving Memory

Stormy Weathers

About Sunny Weathers

Pilot, motorcyclist and full time RVer. Follow me as I travel all over the US in my Country Coach RV volunteering, making new friends and pursuing a constant outdoor temperature between 70F and 80F. I'll share the fun and the tribulations and any great survival tricks I learn!

18 Replies to “A Visit to North Dakota”

  1. Hope you miss the hail storms! Sounds like you are enjoying your summer. Say Hello to Matt, Sherry, cal, Peggy, Marie….everybody for us.

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      I hope I miss them too! So far just one tiny one overnight. I will pass along Hello to everyone!!

  2. jim Sandy dukeman says: Reply

    Now that you mention it we did run into hail when we went through ND. Got really lucky I saw the storm coming and the rain shaft was scary, I was able to pull in under an overpass with the front of the RV. BAM hail started falling like rain. It only lasted for a few minutes thank goodness. We pulled into a truck stop shortly thereafter and got gas. That was the only storm we saw while there but it was more than enough. Hope you keep being lucky but we know we will here about it if you are not. ;>) Good to here from you and always look forward to reading your notes, thanks for sharing. GOD BLESS JD/SD
    Jim & Sandy

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      I remember a time we went through here on the motorcycles and I wound up with a lap full of hail and we could not find a place to pull off the road. That was a little scary!!

  3. I’m glad you enjoyed your time in Medora, did you take in the Teddy Roosevelt Show? We really enjoyed it when we were there, hope you made time for it.
    Did they do Ghost Riders In The Sky as the Grand Finale? We were quite moved by that performance and we hope you got to see it as well.

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      I did not see the Roosevelt show, but we did play games on the square with President and First Lady Roosevelt. That was a hoot! I also went to the Magic Show there which was OK, but probably not as good as the Roosevelt show. I don’t remember Ghost Riders in the Sky at the end, but I remember the Balloon Guy who was absolutely hysterically funny.

  4. Paul Forehand says: Reply

    Your travels, and others, have inspired us to purchase a 5th wheel and follow along in about a year. Stay safe!

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      That is so awesome Paul!! Let me know when you hit the road. Maybe we will cross paths somewhere along the way!

  5. Lynn M Hochradel says: Reply

    Nice write up! Enjoyed getting to know you in Spearfish. Hope you have a wonderful summer and easy trip to NC in the fall. Currently I’m in Granby, Colorado and they have some really interesting weather as well. Almost every afternoon a fierce wind comes up out of the middle of no where … they get the hail here as well. Safe travels, Lynn

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      Thank you! So glad we crossed paths here. Been thinking of you and hoping things are going well. Safe travels to you too!

  6. Jane & Leyman says: Reply

    So good to hear from you. I’ve read about Medora and I’m sorry we didn’t go there while in Rapid City area in 2019.
    We did see hail but thankfully it was more the pea size with no damage.

    We’ve been to Georgia where Daniel, our 11-year-old grandson flew to, after visiting with family we took a slow trip returning him to KC, visiting Chattanooga and Huntsville, AL on the way. We have just gotten into our campsite for next few weeks and will make our plans for trip back to Benson.
    Look forward to seeing you. Enjoy!

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      Great to hear from you too! Glad to hear you are surviving the hot, humid southeast summer. I am sure looking forward to getting back to Benson and seeing you there!

    2. Jim Kovalesky says: Reply

      We are going to be in Oshkosh next week.
      Where will you be?
      Back in Clayton

      1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

        Wish I was going to be at Oshkosh, but I am volunteering much further west in Spearfish, SD this summer. Say “hi” to everyone there for me – sure will miss seeing all my aviation friends!! Hope you and Donna have a great time!

  7. Larry & Judy Blaha says: Reply

    Love the blog.. Happy Trails to you!!

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      Thanks – same to you and Judy!

  8. Thanks for the update. Love reading about your travels. See you in Benson.

    1. Sunny Weathers says: Reply

      I can hardly wait!!

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