We loaded up on bagel & lox and cold brisket sandwiches from BernBaums and excellent Minnesota Apples (sweet tango and zestor) from hildebrant farm market in Fargo before setting off on our drive west for 4.5 hours to Medora. Made for some fine dining along Interstate 94. Not too much to see en route except for nice rural scenery— vast fields of sunflowers, wheat, soybeans and corn and the occasional farm dwelling. We stopped in Bismarck to see the North Dakota StateCapitol which was remarkably unlovely — looks like a tall grey institutional apartment building.
En route we passed an enormous cow named Sue on a hilltop and could have seen an enormous bull if we pulled into another town. A handy brochure from the Fargo visitors Centor to.d us what to look for. I really wanted a free “SavetheBest for Last” t-shirt, the clever State tourism campaign but this isn’t our last of 50 states to visit (I now have 3 remaining – Alaska, North Carolina, and Kentucky.)
Beautiful day in Fargo, a little cool for biking but bright clear sky and off we went toward the river, passing pretty old Island Park (which did not appear to be an island) and then reaching the Red River trail, which we took south past, hugging the narrow river most of the time, gliding through green parks with willow trees, a few nice homes, cool old bridges. We rode down to I-94 and Lindenwood Park, (near RogerMaris drive, which the baseball fan among us appreciated. Maris, a Yankees outfielder, grew up in Fargo.) I think we could have gone further south on the Moorhead side. We are spoiled by excellent trail info in Polk County.
Lunch was at BernBaum’s the fantastic local Nordic-Jewish deli (a pleasant surprise) which has a great menu with old favorites (very good chewy bagel with not too salty lox) and updates on old classics (a cold brisket sandwich to die for, on toasted rye with pickled this n’ that), plus the best little homemade rugelach. I will be back to stock up before we drive west tomorrow. The deli also had local cheeses and salume. Wish we had such a place in Des Moines. Reminded me of Russ & Daughters in NYC. We passed an Orthodox Jewish man walking on the bike trail so I gather there’s a customer base here. (One of the few people I know from Fargo is Jewish.)
We picnicked by the river downtown where there are gentle rapids — perfect minus the bees, one of whigh dive-bombed into our can of locally-made hard cider (Terra cider). We rode more, this time north on trails on the Fargo and Moorhead side. The river bends so often that I forgot which side we were on at times. Very pretty and easy ride.
Downtown Fargo was very quiet on a Sunday (and a Saturday night). We peeked into the fantastic Hotel Donaldson, which looks like a remarkable place…my favorite combination of old restored architecture and contemporary art. The restaurant and bar looked very cool. Closed temporarily, I think, due to a Covid issue. Next trip. We also popped into Zandbroz, a huge store full of lovely things: part independent book store, vintage store, paperie and giftshop.
We also visited the Hjemkomst center in Moorhead, touring a Stave church much like the ones we saw in Norway and a remarkable massive wood Viking ship that was built by a local teacher. After his death, four of his kids and a handful of others sailed the ship all the way to Bergen where the king of Norway greeted them. Wow! We also enjoyed an exhibit of contemporary quilts from artists all over the world.
Well it’s not Paris, where we are supposed to be right now but oddly our sweet little Airbnb in a 110-year-old house south of downtown has a poster comparing Fargo to Paris (and London and Moscow.)
We had an easy 7.5 hour drive here under cloudy occasionally dripping skies. We crossed the Red River and quickly found Broadway, which is lined with old brick buildings housing sweet little independent shops and restaurants. Apparently this renaissance is about 20 years old and the Hotel Donaldson helped paved the way. Once a near-derelict building, it was transformed into a 17-room hotel, each with local artwork, and a cool restaurant, which wasn’t open, we gather due to a Covid situation. We stopped at a store called Unglued that has local artisans work and a Scandinavia store next door and walked down to Nichole’s pastry shop and an art gallery on Roberts Street. The town reminds us at times of Wichita and Omaha and even Des Moines’ East Village. We ate a good dinner at Rustica Tavern, across the river in Moorhead, Minnesota. It was one of the few places that offered outdoor seating. Most people seem to be wearing masks but gather that will change as we drive west.