Baymont Inn~ Grand Forks, North Dakota

In early July, Andrew’s grandfather passed away, and we needed somewhere close to stay during that time. His grandparents farmhouse is in a small town west of Grand Forks, so we opted to stay in Grand Forks overnight.

This Baymont seems to be in a newly developed part of town and our hotel seemed very new. We were greeted warmly by the clerk at the front desk and quickly given keys to our room. The elevator is right by the desk and if you are traveling with a pet, they even had a nice water bowl right by the desk.

There was a small closet to the right upon entering our room and the wall also was home to the sink area. The bathroom contained a toilet and tub/shower just off to our left.

The room was quite spacious and the decor had a nice modern vibe to it.

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We reserved a king size bed, which was flanked by a nightstand on each side, and also a small ottoman on one side which worked well to store our luggage atop.

Centered in front of the bed was the TV stand, that also contained a small fridge and microwave. A desk was located just beyond that.

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The hotel has a pool, which I did manage to snag a picture of, but due to being there for a funeral, we didn’t end up using it. I did think it was nice that they had a small shower area right into it. So many places say you should shower before entering, but generally speaking, never give you that area.

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The breakfast area was huge. I took a few pictures upon our arrival as the area was empty and nice and clean. They had tons of seating and a really nice buffet area. We did not end up indulging in breakfast as we decided to try out the Tim Horton’s that was just across the street.

Finally the lobby area itself was huge and very modern. There was plenty of seating space and even a gas fireplace for those cooler North Dakota months.

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If we ever need a hotel in the Grand Forks area again, this place is at the top of my list. The price was right and the hotel had a lot to offer.

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Red River Zoo ~ Fargo, North Dakota

Back in May, Andrew ran the half marathon in Fargo. The day before, we chose to visit the Red River Zoo. The Red River Zoo is a rather small zoo located near several baseball fields. Despite it’s small size, we really enjoyed our time there.

We followed the numbered map that they gave us when we paid the small admission fee and began our time by the River Otters. After not seeing them at the Bramble Park Zoo a few weeks before, it was really fun to see this little guy bouncing around.

Most of the animals at the Red River Zoo are native to North America or other cold areas of the globe as their climate is similar to those of the Red River Valley. The Bald Eagles were looking particularly majestic during our visit.

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The Red River Zoo also has a farm animal area where you can get up close and personal with several of them! I just loved seeing these sweet babies!

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Overall, I think we spent roughly an hour checking out the various animals the Red River Zoo had to offer. Some may consider the admission high for the amount of animals there are, but you could tell the exhibits were well maintained and that they use their admission money wisely! It’s a great little zoo to kill some time at if you are in the area!

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The Blue Moose ~ East Grand Forks, Minnesota

After celebrating a family wedding near Grand Forks, ND, we all were able to head over for a reception dinner at The Blue Moose in East Grand Forks, MN.

The Blue Moose is located right along the river in a very large building. They had dining area downstairs with a bar area, and also had three dining areas upstairs. We took up one of these areas.

We were allowed to order anything off the menu as a treat from the new couple, so I decided to start myself off with a drink from their cocktail menu, the Raz-a-ma-Taz. I’m so glad I picked it as it tasted just like a strawberry Starburst!

As a table, we also shared an order of cheese curds, but sadly I didn’t get a picture of them. They were super tasty, but since we were all pretty hungry, we devoured the whole plate in no time.

For our main course, Andrew ordered the Mac and Cheese Attack with chicken and I ordered the German Pretzel Bread. It was so hard to come to the decisions we did as so many things on the menu sounded amazing!

Despite our large group, our food all managed to come out of the kitchen fairly quick. We were both stuffed by the end of the night!

The Blue Moose was a great place to have a nice family celebration and their food and service make it on our list of places to return when we visit the area again. We both have a lot more things we would like to try from their menu!

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The Walrus ~ Bismarck, North Dakota

Way back when Andrew took me on a double date to The Walrus in Bismarck, all I remember from that time is our company at the dinner was less than thrilling so I was glad to return on our own right before Christmas.

The Walrus is a favorite among many people in town, so visiting at lunch meant it was quite busy. However we were able to be seated at a table right away. The place is rather small, so the noise level can get pretty high.

Andrew ordered his favorite, the Polar Bear Calzone, which includes four meats and their special white sauce. I ordered a cheese pizza with white sauce.

Our food came out pretty quick given that it probably takes longer to make their pizzas and calzones.

Both of our meals were delicious and we both had half to take home as leftovers. Now that we live closer, I’m sure we will be back to visit the Walrus more often.

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Johnny Carino’s Italian ~ Bismarck, North Dakota

Yes, I know…this is a review about a chain restaurant. But they can’t be found in every town like McDonald’s or even every state for that matter, so I feel like they are worth a review….that and we have many fond memories of eating at Carino’s.

Johnny Carino’s was the first place Andrew took me out for a date in Bismarck. Since then, we try to get back if we have time when we are in the area. Our most recent visit was toward the end of November 2018.

One of the best things about Carinos is the bread and olive oil they bring to your table after ordering. You could fill up on the bread alone. Don’t be tempted when you finish your first round and they offer to get you more…you need to save room for your meal!

Carino’s has so many great dishes to try. When we visited this past time I ordered the Fettuccine Alfredo, while Andrew decided to go with the Baked Cheese Tortellini.  We both really liked our choice, although after trying a bit of the tortellini, I’d almost be tempted to order that on our next visit as the sauce had a very unique flavor.

I highly recommend trying out the food Carino’s has to offer. It has plenty of flavor and almost always provides us with enough food for a second meal of leftovers the next day!

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Buffalo Wings and Ring ~ Bismarck, North Dakota

A few months before visiting Andrew’s parents in Bismarck, they brought a new restaurant to my attention. Glancing through the menu, it seemed similar to Buffalo Wild Wings (of which I’m a huge fan,) so it seemed only fitting to try this new place when we had the chance.

Looking online I also realized that they do have quite a few locations around the nation, one being in Aberdeen, SD, very close to where we live now.

The Wings and Rings location in Bismarck is quite large and had three main seating area. Two areas were regular dining areas, the other is the bar area, (which also had a bit of seating that wasn’t bar-like), in which you had to be 21 to sit in the area. This is where we opted to sit.

As you can see, because of the sports bar feel, you can find a TV anywhere in the restaurant!

So much on the menu sounded good, that we opted for an appetizer trio platter to start. This allowed us to sample the pretzel bites, onion rings, and Parmesan garlic aioli fries. I’m not an onion rings fan, but Andrew said they were quite good. I was a huge fan of the pretzel bites. The garlic fries were good, but also a little overwhelming when you got more to the middle of the pile which was saturated with the aioli sauce.

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All these appetizers were quite filling as it was, so I’m glad we only each decided to order 5 wings. We both ordered medium “hot-ness”, mine with buffalo sauce and Andrew’s with sweet BBQ. As you can see the wings are huge if you order boneless, and seem to be much more “real” chicken then the boneless wings you would expect at Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebees, however I much prefer the sauce flavor at Buffalo Wild Wings.

We both had leftover chicken to take home with us, and it heat up well the next day. We also both agreed that we would gladly return for a meal another time (and have once already in Aberdeen.) It’s not an all time high restaurant on my list, but it’s nice when you want lots of great wing options.

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World’s Largest Catfish ~ Whapeton, ND

Whew! I’ve been absent from here for awhile as we prepped our house in Iowa City for our move to Florissant, MO for Andrew’s final year of seminary. Now that we are settled in the new place for this final school year, I’ve got time to hop back on. Let’s jump back to Memorial Day weekend and take a look at our short stop to the Whapeton Catfish.

Andrew and I have made it our goal since we started dating 7 years ago to visit every single large animal structure in North Dakota. This catfish would be our final large animal in North Dakota. We’ve had a tough time getting this one crossed off the list because it was never on our way to any of our destinations.

Since we chose to take the long way to Bismarck from Iowa City through Sioux Falls, SD instead of dealing with traffic going through the Twin Cities, this was the perfect time to make a quick pit stop.

The Catfish is located on the outskirts of town. You turn onto a road near city hall and follow it all the way to it’s end. The road follows the Red River with a few areas that overlook the river. They also have several campsites along the road/park area for people to camp in their RV’s for the night.

We took a few pictures of the catfish and then walked to one of the river overlooks. Andrew says it was the nicest view of the Red River he’s ever seen and that it actually made the river look good for once! It’s the only time I’ve seen the Red River up close so I can’t quite say if his opinion is accurate or not!

 

North Dakota Adventure: Day 3

Our third and final day took us back into Central time zone and one more National Park site. We left Regent in the morning and made a pit stop to see our favorite large roadside attraction, Salem Sue, in New Salem, ND. This is where Andrew asked me to marry him 5 years ago! So needless to say, a visit back was long overdue. It was busy up there that day though! I think 5 other cars stopped in for a visit while we were there!

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Following our pit stop to see Salem Sue, we made our way to our final National Park site in North Dakota, Knife River Villages.  Knife River allows you to see the area where the Native Americans settled along the river.  You can still see indentations in the earth where there earth lodges sat and they recreated one behind the visitor center so you can see what a lodge would have looked like and what would have been stored inside. It was really neat and now we can successfully say that the North Dakota section of our Passport to the National Parks is complete!

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North Dakota Adventure: Day 2, Part 2

Part 2 of our second day brought us to the Enchanted Highway. For those of you who don’t know, North Dakota has a thing for large highway attractions. In turn, Andrew and I have a thing for large roadside attractions. Our first date was to the giant buffalo in Jamestown, ND and we got engaged at Salem Sue, who you will hear more about in a later post. But the Enchanted Highway takes the cake! I local resident of Regent, North Dakota wanted to give people a reason to visit his town, and the Enchanted Highway was born. The Enchanted Highway stretches 30 miles form the interstate down to Regent.  Along the way there are 8 large sculptures he created from scrap metal.  We really enjoyed our time checking out all the different sculptures!

It all begins with Geese in Flight which you can see from the interstate.  It is the World’s largest metal sculpture and is very impressive to look at. For most people that’s the only sculpture they will see along the Enchanted Highway because they pull off the interstate to check it out but don’t continue down the rest.

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Andrew and I continued down the highway and saw each of the other sculptures.  Our other favorites included Grasshoppers in the Field, Pheasants on the Prairie, and Fisherman’s Dream.

When we ended out time on the Highway in Regent, we arrived at the Enchanted Castle. The Enchanted Castle is an old elementary school that has been turned into a hotel, and its one of the best places I’ve ever stayed.  Our room was huge, with double sinks in the bathroom and a wet bar/ kitchenette area.  They had a full gym for Andrew to shoot some hoops and two hot tubs in the spa room.  On top of all that, the one restaurant in Regent is located at the hotel and it was a steakhouse designed to look like a medieval pub.  Our meal was outstanding, and now we wish we had a reason to drive back to Regent and stay there again!

North Dakota Adventure:Day 2, Part 1

On our second day of our North Dakota adventure, we went to two very different places, so each warrants its own blog post! Let’s begin with the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. As I mentioned in a previous post, Andrew and I had visited this unit two summers ago, during which we drove the 36 mile loop (which was under construction) and hiked the Coal Vein Trail. This time around we drove the 36 mile newly refurbished road, hiked three trails, and saw Teddy Roosevelt’s cabin! But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and get back to the beginning of the day!

Our first stop while visiting the South Unit brought us to the visitor center. We’d enjoyed an extra hour of sleep the night before due to the Southwestern corner of North Dakota being in Mountain time.  Just outside the visitor center is Teddy Roosevelt’s Maltese Cabin.  This was the cabin he lived in just north of the unit during his time in North Dakota.  It was really neat because some of his belongings are still inside, and the brand on the outside was placed there by Teddy Roosevelt himself.

Following that we began our journey along the 36 mile loop. The first thing we encountered was a prairie dog town, followed by a herd of bison, with lots of baby bison! Shortly after that we made it to our first hiking destination for the day, Wind Canyon. We hiked the short loop…and then did a little off trail hiking of our own to sneak just a little further into the canyon.  I will say Andrew was braver than I was!

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After that hike, we continued on our way down the road, stopping at several overlooks along the way, before arriving at our second hike, Buck Hill. Buck Hill is the highest point you can access from the road in the South Unit.  From the top we could look out and see the Painted Canyon visitor center from a distance, a location we would visit later in the morning.  After hiking Buck Hill, we continued just a short distance further to hike the Ridgeline Nature Trail.  While hiking that trail we got to see a horned lizard which was pretty neat!

Once we finished the loop road, we drove out of the park and waved good-bye to Medora before visiting the Painted Canyon Visitor Center.  While not directly connected to the South Unit, Painted Canyon is still part of Theodore Roosevelt NP. While the views from the top are stunning, I highly suggested hiking the loop trail located to the west of the visitor center.  The trail takes you down into the canyon and back up.  We saw a snake while on the trail…thankfully not a Rattler, but still creeped me out! I can handle most animals but snakes are one that I just can’t! After a few more pictures at the top, we got back in the car to grab lunch in Dickinson before continuing to our next destination for the day!