June 8, 2007 - North Dakota (Mom's birthday), Day 1

Jill and I wake up early on a Saturday and go to the airport. We meet mom there at the Crown Room before heading to Minneapolis.

While waiting for our connection, we hang out in the World Club.
Let me back up... You remember what mom's birthday present was, right...?
Click here for the refresher.

We land in the capital city of Bismarck, North Dakota.
Guess how many gates the airport has. Remember - state capital...
Also, this is a NEW airport. The old one kept flooding. For reference, Newport News (VA), Melbourne (FL), Dayton (OH), and Fort Myers (FL) all have 14-20 gates.

Our plate. Proof of where we were. Check out the skies and the badlands that make up the plate. Foreshadowing.

We head to the hotel, pick up Bridget and Kelsey, and head to lunch at the Mandan Pharmacy and Soda Fountain.
(The answer was FOUR gates, though Gate 4 has a 30 foot drop into the tarmac, since there is no jetway, so only three functioning gates...)
This is the bridge over the Missouri River that connects the lovely "twin cities" of Bismarck/Mandan.

We pass an old rail station that has one of the smallest statues of Teddy Roosevelt (an adopted son/patron saint) on horseback.

As we pull up to the Soda Fountain, we actually park next to a still-parking Uncle Wayne and Aunt Caroline. Amazing timing.
Mom was SHOCKED!
All she could say was "Nooooooooooooooooooo....."

We head to the trolley to Fort Abraham Lincon State Park, but it was closed on weekdays (even Friday), so our trip to the 'parking lot' was for naught.

...So we headed into the wilds of North Dakota (which is really hard to differentiate from the suburban areas).

Check out these skies!

Finally at the park.

Kelsey poses in front of some of the Indian residences in On-A-Slant Indian Village, part of the state park.

More countryside.
(There was plenty of countryside this trip. Trust me!)

Up on a hill were few old block houses.

We had to climb up into them!

The view from them was pretty cool...

The Missouri, winding through Dakota.

Bismarck skyline.
See that one building "towering" over everything else... That's the tallest building in North Dakota. It is the 19-story state Capitol.

Grasses blowing in the breeze like green waves.

We went to Custer's old house, basically from where he left to go to Little Big Horn.

Obligatory flag picture, typically reserved for foreign countries, but ND was special.

We head back to the hotel, clean up, and as we leave for dinner, Aunt Martha and Uncle John surprise mom!
She was speechless...

We have dinner (beef or bison steaks) at the East 40 Steakhouse.

The three gulls pose for a picture after dinner.