After visiting Knife River Indian Villages, Tom and I headed to Bismarck, North Dakota. Bismarck is located smack in the middle of the state, which is a great place for a capital. It is the second largest city in North Dakota, with a metro population of 130,000.
The capital building is the tallest building in North Dakota. Tom and I wanted to gaze on this impressive structure, so we drove around town looking for a tall, white or gold dome that would signify a state capital. Instead we kept seeing something that looked like a tall, art deco office building. Of course that is the state capital. The capital building was completed in 1933 after fire destroyed the previous capital, so there wasn’t any money for ornamentation. The capital building and its grounds have statues and interpretive signs that tell the history of North Dakota.
As part of our visit to Bismarck, we stopped at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center is north of Bismarck in Washburn. The museum tells the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It also had an extensive display on the fur trade on the Upper Missouri which Tom and I found interesting. If you don’t want to hear about the fur trade or Lewis and Clark, you better stay away from North Dakota.
The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center has a large sculpture of Lewis and Clark outside the building. Inside the buildings are numerous halls with different displays. The website says “Today’s visitors will experience engaging exhibits, hundreds of period artifacts, world-class art collections and friendly interpreters who tell the story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition like never before.” Tom and I were disappointed about the last part – friendly interpreters. There was only one person working in the building and she was busy gossiping with another visitor. We decided not to stand around and wait to ask questions.
We also skipped visiting Fort Mandan, a reconstruction of Lewis and Clark’s wintering quarters. No one knows where, exactly, Fort Mandan was and it is a reconstruction that looks exactly like Fort Clatsop in Oregon. Maybe the friendly interpreters were at the fort.
The main reason Tom and I went to Bismarck was to go shopping. After my recent post on the Leprechaun, we decided not to wait until we got back to Ohio to change a few things. Bismarck has a Coachman RV dealer and so we stopped by there to see if we could try out the recliner chairs and perhaps change them out for the uncomfortable sofa. Unfortunately they didn’t have any Coachman motorhomes on the lot so we couldn’t try any recliners. They also told us that Coachman is having problems with getting the furniture for their RVs, so we probably wouldn’t be able to find any replacement recliners. Guess we will have to live with the uncomfortable sofa for a while longer.
As an alternative to a comfortable sofa, Tom and I decided to get a small tv for the bedroom at Best Buy. In addition we got a couple of backrest pillows at Bed Bath and Beyond. It took us a while to get everything set up once we returned home, but the bed is a more comfortable place to sit than anywhere else in the RV. We are watching a little more tv now that football season is back.
We ate supper at a restaurant close to our hotel, The Wood House Restaurant. The sign outside said “Home of the World’s Best Hamburgers” so we had to try them out. They may be the best hamburgers in North Dakota but they definitely are not the world’s best – we had better in Billings, Montana. It was still a fine place to eat.
We seated ourselves and then waited for someone to come and take our order. After a while I went up to the service desk to ask, and they said we were supposed to order by phone. We hadn’t noticed the old-fashioned phone next to our booth until they said something. Tom picked up the phone and ordered and our food came shortly after that. The food was good and just what we wanted after a busy day of history and shopping.
Bismarck is a lovely city with lots of things to do. It is definitely the retail center of the state and the only place you can find many of the large chain stores. Worth a visit if you are passing through.