The Cynical Tourist's Guide To...North Dakota

Tourists Guide to North Dakota 
When I was a kid I would often refer to North Dakota as "The Boring Dakota". Now that I am older (and slightly wiser) I see how wrong I really was. North Dakota couldn't possibly be the boring Dakota because both Dakotas are the boring Dakota. I feel like South Dakota is only given a pass because it has a couple of reasonably worthwhile tourist attractions. This stands in stark contrast to the zero worthwhile attractions located in North Dakota. That is, unless you consider the LaMoure Toy Farmer Museum to be a worthwhile attraction. Personally I do not.
Nevertheless: I am now going to attempt to sell you on a vacation to North Dakota. This is the first in a 50-Part series in which I will describe and pointlessly insult the major tourist attractions in each state. If this sounds incredibly stupid to you, don't worry. I'll probably only be able to do three or four states before I get bored and abandon this idea forever.
But for now, let's check out some of the fantastic reasons to visit North Dakota!


Tourists Guide to North Dakota - Shack
If North Dakota is known for anything, it's the many fascinating historical sites housed within its borders. Their board of tourism really hammers on this fairly hard, but can you really blame them? I mean, what better way is there of capturing the hearts and minds of young tourist families than by inviting them to stand around reading plaques describing dull events which took place more than 100 years ago in what is now a vacant lot down the street from a Denny's? I sure can't think of any.
But yes, you and your family will thrill while actively avoiding important historical sites such as...

Assumption Abbey (Benedictine Monastery)

You might be wondering why you'd want to visit what you might assume is essentially just a really old church while you're on vacation. But Assumption Abbey ain't your grandmother's church!
Check it: This abbey houses Benedictine Monks! Don't know what Benedictine Monks are? Who cares! All you need to know is that they pretty much do all the same god-type things that catholics do, except without the disturbing sexual undercurrent. Sounds pretty cool right? You don't know the half of it. Check this shit out:
Tourists Guide to North Dakota - Monk Floor
Crazy, right? He's doing that on purpose. I have no idea why. Alls I know is that I like it. I like it a goddamned lot. I'm somewhat certain...that Benedictine Monks rule. 

Five Nations Gallery and Gifts (Indian Goods)

Celebrate the white man's godly rape and subsequent domination of the heathen redskins by purchasing a number of shoddily manufactured goods which wring the blood out of the "American Indian Experience", paring it down and diluting it into a cheap, guilt-free trinket. It is recommended that these items be placed in a suitcase and then tossed into a Rubbermaid storage container once your vacation has ended, never to be seen again. 

The City of Fargo

As cities go, Fargo is probably not too high on many people's lists of "places they even know exist, let alone care enough about to visit". But hey: North Dakotans can only work with what they've got. So try not to smirk too deeply when the North Dakota board of tourism says something like "Hey, everyone! Half of a city in which portions of a reasonably popular film took place happens to exist in our state!" It's really all they have.
The value of this city as a tourist attraction is further diminished by that the city shared with the adjacent state of Minnesota. Many North Dakotans view Fargo as a "gateway drug" to Minnesota, citing the fact that few tourists who cross the border into the Minnesota side "ever see much point in returning".

Tourists Guide To North Dakota - Old Sign

Bismarck-Deadwood Stage Trail Marker

Be sure and take some time out of your busy schedule to take a look at the Bismarck-Deadwood Stage Trail marker. This small plastic sign acknowledges the existence of a trail which happened to pass through North Dakota lands. This trail supposedly led from the North Dakotan town of Bismark (woo-hoo!) to the infinitely more interesting down of Deadwood (which is located in--whoops--South Dakota).
So yeah, I'm sure you'll spend countless seconds furrowing your brow and trying to appear thoughtful while viewing this grand monument to the human spirit. Or some crap like that.

The September 11th Memorial

It may seem a bit tacky to you to pay $10 to see "Ten twisted girders rescued from that devastation" in a state which ostensibly had no direct connection to the events of September 11th, but I think you should remember that 9-11 was a nationwide tragedy that affected us all, and that perhaps you shouldn't judge the creators of this monument so harshly.
Either that, or someone decided to capitalize on an event which is known to be popular with the sorts of mindless people who would pay $10 dollars to see some morbid shit some guy fished out of the wreckage of a collapsed building and dragged halfway across the country in order to charge an inordinate amount of money to see it under the guise of celebrating peace and liberty.
I'll leave it for you to decide.


Tourists Guide to North Dakota - Deserted Rail
In a recent survey conducted by the N.D. Board of Tourism & Information, researchers asked tourists their reasons for visiting North Dakota. Here are a few of the most popular answers.

  • Wandered in during bout of dementia
  • Needed to use payphone
  • Smelled something funny, came to investigate
  • Kids wouldn't stop screaming about Turtle Mountain Birding Festival
  • Vandalism
  • Just wanted to "come and watch the planes land".
  • Strong dislike of African-Americans
So as you can probably see, the great state of North Dakota attracts all sorts of folks from all walks of life. It is a place of wonderment, and of unspeakable passion.


Tourists Guide to North Dakota - Ghost Home
Boy, let me tell you: Not much. But if you simply must go, I did a quick scan of the list on THEIR WEBSITE and came up with a few things a regular person might want to do.

Golf Courses

I don't play golf anymore (due to the fact that I hate it) but if you're a fan, there are definitely at least four golf courses in North Dakota that I can see on this list. That doesn't really seem like a lot, but then again I'm not sure how many other states have or anything.

Spring Quilting

The site says: "No quilting interruptions, no meals to cook, no phones to answer, no dress code, you can wear your pajamas all day long? Sounds too good to be true!"
Gee, I sure hope not. The last quilting expedition I took part in turned out to be a real wash. Fingers crossed for this one though.

Dakota Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Need I say more?

The Rat Pack is Back

Although I did not click for details on this particular event, I assure you that The Rat Pack is almost certainly NOT "back" (as all of the original members have been dead for some time). However, it could be that this is some sort of Weekend at Bernie's style stage play wherein the freshly unearthed and long-since-decayed corpses of the original performers are controlled by a series of ropes and pulleys . If this is the case: cool.

Fabric & Fiber Festival

Those hoping to kick back with their favorite spool of linen and a large tub of Metamucil will be severely disappointed, as the Fabric & Fiber festival has little to do with either of these things.
However, the "If These Quilts Could Talk" presentation seems like it could be fairly entertaining, as I would assume most quilts would be saying things like "I resent being used to protect the seats of your Toyota Highlander from the dog" or "I was a gift from your great grandmother, thanks a lot for getting your boyfriend's semen all over me".



Tourists Guide To North Dakota - Rotted House
Honestly that's about all the enthusiasm (feigned or otherwise) I'm gonna be able to drum up for North Dakota. I hope I haven't soured you on the state too much. I'm sure it's a perfectly lovely place to visit so long as you're an elderly white woman who enjoys toddling around in places whose names begin with "Camp", "Prairie", "Fort", and "Pioneer" while reading lengthy pamphlets about Lewis & Clark.
Personally, I couldn't imagine a more terrifying vision of hell.
(Feel free to use that quote on a pamphlet, North Dakota Board of Tourism)

All photos in this article were all taken from this site.
Aside from the first one. which is from HERE.

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