North Dakota! Our first time in this state, we wanted to make it count. This was a side trip, sort of a consolation after Primal Quest (and with it, most of our Pacific NW exploration plans) were cancelled. At least we could visit North Dakota.
It turns out the geographic center of the nation is on the way there, if you're driving from Denver to the western part of North Dakota. It's near Belle Fourche, South Dakota - a fun find with a nice monument in town:
An excellent "Peace" sculpture:
The center of the nation used to be in Kansas, until Alaska and Hawaii were added as states. Now it's here!
Brilliant double rainbow on the prairie as we were driving north:
A new one for us - a 3K race :) This tickled me plenty, so we drove over to Hettinger for their annual July 4 road race. Getting lean in '17!
The race was fun, lots of locals out for some early morning exercise. We ran around this lake, a loop of about 3 kilometers, as you might have guessed:
North Dakota is now #37 on our list of "states we have raced in":
The friendly lady running the Bowman campground gave us a brochure for the Enchanted Highway, and boy were we glad she did. It hosts the world's largest metal sculptures, right up our alley, and not far out of our way.
We started on the south end, in Regent ND, with a visit to the gift shop and some fun outdoor novelties (I'm not even really sure what to call it all):
It turns out the guy running the shop is the sculpture artist himself, Gary Greff - here he is a few years ago:
Not really knowing what to expect, we drove on up the road.
Well, it's pretty spectacular!
Gary created the first giant metal sculptures in 1991, called "Tin Family", a set of figures that are 23 to 45 feet tall. They are built from used farm equipment and Gary got help from students at the local school to help create them.
Well now, that's pretty impressive. And surprising.
Next up, a tall tribute to Teddy Roosevelt, a well-known figure in these parts:
Teddy Rides Again is made of well pipe, stands 51 feet high and weighs over 9000 pounds!
Possibly my favorite sculpture, Pheasants on the Prairie. Look out, Tug!
Side note - the street/avenue numbers in the middle of the plains made me laugh:
Look out John! Too late...
Fields of colorful... canola maybe? We found out the answer at the time, but it has been a while since we were actually there:
Fisherman's Dream sculpture, a huge underwater scene that is difficult to properly document so you can see the size and scope. Bass, walleye, salmon, bluegill. It's big.
The rainbow trout is 70 feet long, for goodness sake:
Another attempt at perspective:
A Grasshopper in the Field (1999) - a reminder of the hardships that farmers have to overcome. It was welded from old fuel and oil well tanks.
More grasshoppers, and some grains that wave in the wind:
A fun metal maze (one of the cute things for kids at each of the sculpture sites):
The Deer Family; it's quite impossible to describe how LARGE these are. The buck is 75 feet tall and had to be cut and rewelded when they were moving it from the streets of Regent to the installation site:
And finally, one that is visible from the highway, "Geese in Flight" - very nice! This one is in the Guinness World Records, at 110 feet tall by 156 feet long.
Remarkable! Thank you, Mr. Greff!
One more item to complete our loop for the day - and another first for us. First race + highpoint for a state in the same day, cool!
Starting off on our trek to the top of North Dakota:
Nice trail leading us up the bluffs:
I can see the top!
We made it!
The top of White Butte, North Dakota:
John signing us in on the register:
Interesting departure from the prairie all around here:
Happy July 4 - better late than never!