My Opinion of North Dakota
Although I grew up in Michigan and went to college in Wisconsin, I've been away from the Midwest for a long time and I'd forgotten what makes
this place special. I'll make some comments here about North Dakota,
where I've been for the past month, but these comments also apply to the entire
upper Midwest, including South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
Because of its rural setting, North
Dakota has a
reputation of being flat and boring. In
my opinion, most people who say this are flat and boring, or they've only
driven through North Dakota on the Interstate.
Personally, I think the rolling hills, wheat fields, and prairies of
North Dakota are
quite beautiful. Some people also think that North Dakotans are "hicks" or behind-the-times
and I've sensed that people here are aware of that reputation and occasionally
get defensive about it. Admittedly, there aren't any
professional sports teams in North Dakota or Magic Mountains or glitzy
attractions to satisfy those weaned on Nintendo, but
learn how to entertain themselves. The recent walleye tournament on the Missouri River was
front-page news in Bismarck and the biggest event in a nearby town last Saturday
was a lawnmower race.
the lack of big attractions here, I think North Dakota is a pretty special place. Unlike in
many parts of the Northeast, people
here aren't pushy or abrasive. People
don't intentionally scratch your car door as
in Austin (see News:
June 29, 2001) and unlike the folks in Hartford, Connecticut, they
drive courteously and actually stop at red lights (see
July 22, 2001). In the month I've been here, no trucker has
tried to run me off the highway, as happened in Roanoke, Virginia (twice,
in fact). I know there are a lot of
terrific people in Austin, Hartford, and Roanoke and I'm not making blanket
statements about them, but I haven't had a single bad experience in the month that I've been
here in North Dakota.
Some would say that North Dakotans don't lead terribly exciting lives, but for the most part,
I think they are honest, stable,
friendly, practical, and down-to-earth folks. There's little crime here and,
from what I've seen, most folks are hardy, resourceful, and hard-working. Walking around
Bismarck, I don't
see many of the "beautiful people" that I saw in Southern
California when I lived there, and I certainly don't see many fancy cars
or personalized license plates that say "Hotshot" or other such drivel. Most people
here aren't pretentious, materialistic, or obsessed with their looks; they don't really care what you think of them, and they don't base their self-worth on how much
money they have, or want to appear to have. For the most part, they're
well-educated, open-minded, unhurried, and well-grounded.
Yep, I really like
North Dakota and North Dakotans. I
just wish the winters here weren't so cold, eh?
Above left: More shots of Bismarck:
Playing volleyball is one of the things I miss most on this trip. This is
of Mary's team (in blue) taking on Minot State.
Above center: I
also watched a couple of University of Mary football games. Go Marauders!
Above right: A pumpkin mound in Mandan.
Above left: Looking up the Missouri River
from my campsite at Fort Lincoln State Park. That's Bismarck in the
Above center: Looking
south and a goose-eye view of the Missouri River valley.
Above right: Bismarck and the Missouri River at night.
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My Opinion of North Dakota