Are you ready for this? I fell in love with, of all places, North Dakota. (No, it was not January, I'm sure that had a lot to do with it.) Before we could get there, though, we had to pass through lovely Wyoming (I am not being facetious. It was lovely.) and South Dakota, where my children had their first experience with mosquitoes after dark. They acted just like girls, which is understandable. They are girls. We stayed in a teeny tiny town, Buffalo, which has just one motel, and a decent one at that. (File that away in case you ever need to stay in that vicinity, but be warned about the mosquitoes!)
I don't know what it is that I love about hay fields, certainly not the allergens. But I just adore a rolling landscape and wide open spaces with big, fresh, round hay bales scattered about. (Bale, not Baal -- that's for Short) :) A picture's worth a thousand words, and to me this picture speaks of freedom and of clean-living, hard-working, orderly, family-oriented, patriotic people. I know, there is sin everywhere, and LOTS of it, but if I had enough leg room and a comfortable seat, I could drive through baled hay fields all day, enjoying my delusion. I could even call it home. In July, that is. Or August. In North Dakota. I can't believe my resident photographer did not get even ONE hay bale photo for me.
Our entire route was planned and timed around the location of Little Caesar's restaurants, for where else can you fill up a family of six for $10 ($12 in pricey Bismark)? Not even McDonalds, thankfully. :) John Garrison, on location:
At the same time we were driving all day across ND, our hosts, who are friends in the ministry, were driving home all day from Iowa. This visit was so awkwardly timed, with us arriving between back-to-back weddings, but the Custers were top-notch in gracious hospitality. We were to meet them at their church in Grand Forks and follow them to their home on the Minnesota side of the Red River. While we waited for our friends, we were treated to a real live life-threatening ND thunderstorm! John Garrison, knowledgeable amateur weatherman that he is, had his poor children all worked up over the ominous black clouds that were speeding our way. The wind picked up, the sky blackened, the rain pelted us. Just in time our hosts pulled into the parking lot. As we followed them to their home, my husband learned a good lesson. If you do now follow the pastor, you may get lost or even crash. :) We were completely blinded by the rain, having only the tail lights ahead of us to follow. I love a good mid-west storm! It was so exciting.
Sunday morning was perfect. We had beautiful weather, maybe about 75º, a hot summer day up there in the north country. (I know I can trust Weather Truth Man to comment if I am wrong about the temperature.) Anyway, the air conditioning at Bible Baptist was on full blast, and my poor husband, though he was equipped with long underwear, had to go outside to warm up between Sunday School and the preaching service! He preached the evening service, and a dear, thoughtful brother brought the desert-acclimated preacher a space heater for the platform. :D
Since the church is undergoing a major remodel, there is room for only half the orchestra to play at each service. You all know Alison's longstanding dream has been to play her violin in an orchestra. In anticipation of that possibility, she squeezed her instrument into the seat with her for 5000+ miles. Well, her dream came true! :D Space was made for her to play along. She was one very happy young lady!
Emily Custer, who is the piano accompanist on her brother Seth's beautiful soprano saxophone CD, Come Thou Fount (produced by Soundforth), graced Alison with her company at the piano and violin. Besides being quite an accomplished musician, she is a graceful servant of Jesus Christ. Our girls enjoyed her so much! They all slept out in a TENT for the first time ever, thanks to Emily C. Yet another trip highlight! Sleeping in a tent is something every kid should get to do at least once in her life.
Elisabeth found a haven up in the old attic school room. Come to think of it, all the girls did! What a treasure trove of good old books.
My Emily made a new best friend whose name is Lollypop. That's Lolly, for short. She is a Pomeranian/Bichon Frise mix, and soooo sweet! I normally do not like small dogs. They are all high-strung type A personalities, yippers, ankle biters. (All except yours, of course!) I am now developing a theory that dogs are much like their owners; this one certainly is. I anticipated Emily's subsequent request for a dog, but she was smart. Knowing her chances of getting a dog were nil, she asked for a FISH instead!! The answer was still no. Poor kid.
Something else every kid should do -- go frog catching! The salamander was a bonus. :D
Ah, a real campfire with hot dogs and smores. These dear people really know how to show desert dwellers a good time! Thank you, Custer family! We love you!
I love North Dakota. I love the people. I could live there. In August. :D
But I am resolved "in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." Philippians 4:11