What happens on a road trip? Lots of boredom, long stretches of road with no gas stations or scenery. Take the road from Billings, MT through North Dakota. We were traveling on this road forever it seemed when all of a sudden the landscape changed dramatically after we crossed the border from Montana to North Dakota. This is the good part of a road trip. We perked up and because we were ready to stop after driving 10 hours, it seemed serendipitous. It turns out we were passing through the Teddy Roosevelt National Park. Did you know there was a Teddy Roosevelt National Park? We did not. We saw a road sign that read: Medora, 1/2 mile. Why not? Let’s see what Medora holds for us.
We came into a tiny town, but a cool town. Very touristy it looked like. But pretty deserted. Very deserted. We saw the Roughrider Hotel and decided to check it out. They had plenty of rooms and we were in the heart of Teddy Roosevelt land. The tourist season hadn’t started and nothing was open until the middle of May, including the hotel restaurant. Upon asking the desk clerk where we could eat, he seemed not to have a clue which was surprising considering how small the town was. He ducked into the back room and when he came out, told us there were two restaurants in town open, which he thought were just around the corner. We then asked if we could leave our stuff in the car overnight. “Oh no, very dangerous to leave your things in the car” he said. “Everything could be stolen.” Just then the manager came out and told us this was Medora, ND, and of course you could leave your stuff in the car overnight as there was no one in town, it was perfectly safe. We headed down the street to the restaurant the manager said was the best choice. It was a sports bar with dollar bills hanging all over the ceiling signed by happy patrons. We had dinner, then headed back to the Roughrider for a good nights sleep after asking the same clerk for a hairdryer as I couldn’t find one in the room. Panic ensued as he frantically looked through all the file cabinets, etc and couldn’t find one. He said he’d call the manager and let us know. After waiting quite awhile in the room, I told Tom we’d have to go to the car and dig out my suitcase where I had a hair dryer packed in the bottom. So we did and when we came back in, there he was grinning ear to ear with a hairdryer in his hand. He had managed to solve a problem! Why hadn’t he called our room to let us know he’d found one? Not worth finding out. Now I had two hairdryers, soon to be three as when I finally shut the bathroom door the next morning, there was the in room hairdryer hanging on the back of the door.
The Roughrider had breakfast for the hotel guests the following morning from 7am-9am, as there was nowhere else in town open. We got our institutional scrambled eggs and sat down at a big round table to eat and for me to finally read the paper I had carried with us from home. All of a sudden there was a swarm of kids coming into the room. They looked to be middle school students. Two adults in charge, apparently, sat at the table in front of us and the kids took over the rest of the tables. Lots of chatter and laughter. Then this poor lone girl who was aced out of the tables with the kids, plopped down across from us and politely asked if it was ok to sit there. We said of course and Tom told her she wouldn’t even have to talk to us. She smiled and said of course she would talk to us. My heart sank, there goes the paper I had been trying to read since we left and how would we communicate with a middle schooler? Very easily as it turns out. Miss Brynn Powell, from Plaza, N.D, population 200, was an incredible conversationalist. We learned all about her and her family, their travels, their jobs, the fact that she had dressed her first deer this past season after hunting with her dad, all about her school which has been in session almost the entire year, the fact there were 17 kids in her 7th grade class this year, the biggest ever, even though there were only 4 kids in the Senior class, and the best part? World affairs and how she feels about everything. She was very knowledgeable and had her opinions on everything. So thank goodness we had the conversation with Brynn or I would not have realized this Country could be saved. We thought it was doomed, but it turns out with young people like Brynn in it, we have a chance. She could have buried her nose in her cell phone, but she didn’t and chose to talk to us instead. What young person these days does that? So be encouraged America, all is not lost. There must be other Brynn’s in this Country but we found the best so far from tiny Plaza, ND.