Category Archives: Places

Roadside Attractions

I have a fondness for large roadside attractions – world’s largest, province’s biggest, etc. A few weeks ago my roommate Carol and I went to Edmonton for the weekend and on our way home we went exploring. Highway 28 to Edmonton has numerous world’s largest if you just know where to look and because I’m moving soon I wanted to stop and get pictures with all of these world’s largest in the area.

Our first stop was in Smoky Lake, home of the pumpkin festival and this “patch” of giant pumpkins. I’ve driven past the pumpkins before, but this was the first time I took a picture. The pumpkins are placed just so to discourage taking a picture actually on the pumpkins. When I was teaching kindergarten a girl in my class went to the pumpkin festival with her mom and told me that it was “SO COOL!” so now I think that I’ll have to attend it someday!

Our next stop was in Vilna to see the world’s largest mushrooms. For being the world’s largest you think they would be easier to find but this was actually the second time I tried to find them. Carol and I drove down main street and found a sign that said “Mushrooms, that way” so how I missed them on my first visit is beyond me. Vilna actually had a cool little main street and Carol and I both decided that sometime when I come to visit we are going to drive back there to actually check the place out.

The giant perogy can be found in Glendon and this is the second time I’ve been there to see it. Years ago when I was still in university my cousin Bobbi took me there. I found out the following weekend that at the Glendon Farmer’s Market on Saturdays that no one even sells homemade perogies. That seems like a travesty.

Carol was all about the unique hand placement!

There were a few that we missed that we were close to, but still kind of out of our way. This just gives me another reason to come back and visit so we can make our way to Edmonton again I guess!

Grand Forks, ND

We arrived in Grand Forks around 11:30pm and found our way to Jill’s house. I met Jill through Elizabeth who I met through Suzanne and to stop at her house and be able to ring her doorbell reminded me of one of the awesome qualities of the internet – bringing people together, and in this case, specifically through my love of scrapbooking. We chatted for awhile and then it was off to bed to prepare for another day of adventure.

In the morning we had waffles with Jill and the boys before Kari and I ventured out on our own to do a bit of shopping. We agreed to meet Jill back at her place after lunch, so with our shopping finished Kari and I grabbed lunch at Qdoba on the recommendation of Jill. I love tacos, but almost never order them at restaurants, but today was different. They were quite delicious and I have had dreams about eating them again since. Why can’t taco places in Canada taste like this?

We met up with Jill and then we were off again to see some of the sights of Grand Forks. Jill had compiled a list of places we needed to see. She also blogged about our adventures and I am stealing our list of stops from her:

Meadowbrook… There were so many cool things in this store that I wanted to buy but every time I picked something up “You’re moving in with your parents” (I have yet to blog about this impending move, but someday I might) kept popping into my head and I’d put it back down. Kari and Jill both found things that they liked though!

Art & Learn… A teacher store run by this very old man who is so stunningly skinny, he can shove a 300 page trade paperback in his front pocket.  There were a lot of things that I really wanted in this store and because of the impending move I like to think that I needed in this store, but I ended up buying nothing again. This time not because “You’re moving in with your parents” kept popping into my head but because I hadn’t had a chance at the time yet to organize my teaching supplies and see what exactly I still needed to get.

The Ralph… This place was overwhelming. I can understand why Canadians choose to go to university here because UND people sure do like their hockey. In all of my travels I have never seen a hockey arena quite like this one.

UND Bookstore… I love college bookstores, even when I don’t actually buy anything, that is other than a coffee. Although I didn’t really have coffee, I had a white chocolate mocha, again.

The (flooded) Red River… This was one thing I really wanted to see. Jill had told me about these gates they put up to hold in the water. It was all a very interesting operation. I never got any pictures and the river had actually receded, but holy cow was there water!

Quilter’s Eden… Hitting up a quilt shop was another thing on my to-do list for some point in the trip. It was a small little shop, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t find anything to buy. I oohed and aahed over a number of fabrics but ended up coming home with a charm pack and a couple of fat quarters.

Widman’s Candy… I love candy stores and this one did not disappoint. Their specialty item is chocolate covered potato chips using Red River Valley potatoes. I bought some for myself and for my dad, plus some peanut butter covered ones for my roommate. I immediately kicked myself for not at least trying a chocolate covered pickle when we got back in the car. I have already informed Jill that she is more than welcome to mail me some more of these treats whenever she feels like doing so. They were so good.

We popped back into the house for a bit so Jill could organize supper for her husband Curtis, and the kids. We took the opportunity to snap a few pictures together before heading out for the evening.

The Toasted Frog… We had supper here with Jill and while I can’t remember what I actually ordered, I do remember that it was good. Again I wish I had ordered the deep fried pickles as an appetizer. One really shouldn’t live their life, especially on a holiday, regretting food choices, or lack thereof. On review of the menu I remember that I ordered the Wood-Fired Open Faced Chipotle Pork Melt which I also remember as being incredibly spicy, yet still good. Normally on trips I am so good about photographing my meals and I didn’t take a single food picture this entire trip.

The River Cinema… Jill and I enjoyed Water For Elephants while Kari saw something different. The movie was very well done and the casting for August’s character was perfect! There were parts of the movie where I had to shut my eyes, just like Jill who told me, “tell me when it’s over!” I got a good laugh about the hardcore wood paneling on the interior of the theater and the efforts used to make it look like a coral.

We finished the evening off with a visit around the kitchen island with Jill and Curtis before calling it a night. In the morning we set out on the last leg of our journey – destination home!

Jill you were a gracious host and I appreciate you letting two crazy Canadians come crash at your house for a couple of nights. Although our visit was short it was a wonderful opportunity to meet a new friend in person and to explore a new city. You are welcome to come visit me waaaaaaay up noooooooooorth anytime you like!

Rapid City, SD to Grand Forks, ND

The next leg of our journey took us from the southwest corner of South Dakota to the northeast corner of North Dakota, covering approximately 950km from Rapid City, SD to Grand Forks, ND. Grand Forks was our ultimate destination for that evening after a long day of driving as we were going to be crashing for a couple of nights at my friend Jill‘s place.

The day before a friend had asked me if I had seen many “world’s largest” yet and at the time all we had really seen for big things was Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, but the journey from Rapid City to Grand Forks would prove to provide me with an extended list of the “world’s largest” and some other very interesting sights.

Our first notable stop was in the town of Lemmon, which lies on the South Dakota/North Dakota border. Our intent was to stop for supplies for some car buns and a bathroom break, but we had also seen signs for Lemmon’s Petrified Wood Park. Not really knowing what to expect we were surprised to drive down main street and see that the Petrified Wood Park was really a block of town covered with petrified wood sculptures.

The park had a lot of interesting sculptures and play areas. Both museums in the park were closed though so this was a brief pit stop as once you’ve seen some petrified wood, you’ve seen most petrified wood.

We stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break and across the road from it was this cowboy riding a dinosaur. Possibly the weirdest combination of creatures I have ever seen put together in a sculpture. It’s fashioned from scrap metal, bits of old farm machinery, saw blades, etc. Someone went to a lot of work to put this all together!

We had crossed over into North Dakota and were cruising along I-94 when we spotted this giant cow to the south of us. We wondered what the heck!? and then were soon informed by a sign that the community of New Salem was approaching. Their claim to fame? The world’s largest Holstein cow named Salem Sue. We took the exit into New Salem, but sadly this was as close as we could get to the cow. There was a road right up to the cow but North Dakota had been experiencing some weird weather so the road was closed due to mud, snow and rain.

Our next stop was in Bismarck, ND though I have no pictures of this stop. It was raining significantly at this point and we were after a good cup of coffee. Thanks to the guide book we had borrowed from Jill we hit up a little coffee shop downtown called Caffe Aroma. The list of specialty drinks was overwhelming and I couldn’t make a decision so I ended up getting my usual White Chocolate Mocha. We grabbed our coffees and hit the road again.

Our next surprise stop was in Steele, ND where we spotted this roadside attraction from the interstate. Steele is home to the world’s largest sandhill crane. It was still raining when we arrived in Steele so we snapped this picture from the warmth of the Escape and then we were off again. Based on the buildings around the crane we quickly decided that there was nothing else worth seeing in this town.

We stopped in Jamestown for a chance to stretch our legs at the world’s largest buffalo. Based on the sheer size of this creature I do not doubt for one minute that this really is the world’s largest of it’s kind. Apparently it was the first world’s largest roadside sculpture built in North Dakota. The Frontier Village where the buffalo is found provides some nice views of the city of Jamestown, though we were on a schedule and there was no time to explore.

We made it to Fargo with enough time to do a little bit of shopping. Our sights were set on the giant Scheels in Moorehead which meant that we also got to set foot in Minnesota, crossing another of the states off my list. This Scheels is large enough to house a ferris wheel, though it is definitely still no Bass Pro Shop. Kari and I each picked up a few items before venturing out to find the nearest Target. At this point it was close to 9pm and after a long day of driving we were ready to head to our final destination of Grand Forks.