Monday morning consisted of a tireless effort between enterprise rental car locations trying to get our paperwork updated. We went to one not in the airport and they had no idea what we were talking about because apparently they use different systems. So we then go to the airport (we had already been there but couldn’t see enterprise). We parked up and headed inside to see a counter that seemed to serve three different rental car companies.
The guy behind the desk this time seemed to understand what we were talking about so it felt like we were off to a good start. Then all conversation seemed to cease especially when Nathan told the lady who had jumped in to help, that the inspection was due by the end of the month. Dismissing that, she was only concerned about the plates. She then informed us we needed an oil change but had no cars to swap us out into so we could go and wait where they get them done, which would have been 2-3 hours, or go to jiffy lube, pay for it then ask them at LAX to reimburse us. The best part was she told us she’d updated the records to June.
After leaving, we kept checking the app to see if the records had been updated. Funnily enough they hadn’t, it was still saying our rental ended on the 24th May. I genuinely don’t know what the woman at Duluth airport did but it wasn’t what we asked! We didn’t intend on going to jiffy lube either as we had plans for the day so we continued with those and headed towards Voyageurs National Park.
The weather was dreadful as it had been the previous few days. Cold and wet. I mean we actually had to wear trousers, boots and a coat and I could no longer sun my legs on the dashboard 😔. We arrived at the park and continued to drive through it. It was a bit like Pictured Rocks but less pretty. Nevertheless, we got out and walked to some of the viewpoints as well as collecting our stamp from the park despite all visitors centres being closed! That’s about as pretty as it got! We then drove onwards to try and locate Ash Falls however we ended up at what looked like a research plant or something similar. We then decided to go and see what Smokey Bear Forest had to offer, which sadly was nothing because we couldn’t find the entrance. We tried locating it on the satnav and phones and could not for love nor money find our way in.
We gave up. Our final destination was Fargo just over the border of North Dakota. It was a four hour drive along 55mph roads, Nathan got us there in three, despite yet again almost running out of fuel! We stopped at Olive Garden for dinner after a long day on the road. We had a hankering for their breadsticks and salad!They’re the best breadsticks and the salad is delicious and free! For dinner we actually had chicken parmigiana and chicken and shrimp carbonara without the shrimp. The portions were so big we couldn’t finish so took it away in a takeout box. I like how every restaurant does this! On to the hotel for an early night.
Or so we thought. With all the best intentions, it was still late by the time we fell asleep and the alarm was set for 07:15.
It got turned off….we surfaced an hour later. First stop was again enterprise but this time at Fargo Hector International airport, a couple of miles from the hotel. We were relieved when we actually saw an enterprise desk this time! After casually explaining what happened Monday, Amanda (who was fantastic!) told us she couldn’t figure out what they did either as nothing has changed or updated! Well that confirmed what was a wasted journey.
We had done 9023 miles in our little Hyundai Accent. The tyre pressure light had come on again this morning and the inspection was due as well as it needing an oil change. Amanda was going to swap us out. Woohooooo upgrade!! Check out this sexy beast!She informed us of all the charges, took payment for the first month, the deposit for the second and sent us on our way. We had to empty the contents of our Hyundai into the Chevy and it was like moving house and unpacking and dejunking all at the same time! 😂
9023 miles across 28 states. We now have 300 miles along one road to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is still cloudy and wet but I can see the sun trying to burst through the clouds!! The journey across the North Dakota fields was enchanting. The views were vast and gloriously green. When we stumbled upon ‘The Worlds Biggest Holstein Cow’ we had to stop…This is Sue. She is 38 feet high, 50 feet long and weighs 12000 pounds. She was erected in 1974 and cost $40,000 which was predominately donated by dairy farmers, businessmen, farmers and people who lived in New Salem. The view was pretty good! Onwards to the ‘Painted Canyon.’No photos do this view justice at all! It was simply stunning. The rocks all different colours broken up by the greenery of shrubs and trees.It really was beautiful. The visitors centre boasted books, souvenirs, maps, knowledgeable rangers, toilets, picnic area and drinks. Everything to get you set up for this wonderful park.
A short drive further along and we reach Medora which has the south unit’s visitors centre. You have to pay to enter the park and it’s $25 per car with up to 4 people in it. We had purchased the ‘America the Beautiful’ annual pass before we came out to America and it is something definitely worthwhile doing if you’re thinking about visiting national parks across the country. You will absolutely save hundreds of dollars by purchasing it, especially if visiting places such as Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Yellowstone which charges $35 per car.
We headed out on the 36 mile scenic loop. Much of the park you car do by car by following the loop and it has short (or long) trails off at certain points along it. First stop was skyline vista.The park is home to feral horses and prairie dogs as seen above. There were lots of towns of prairie dogs. They looked like a cross between a squirrel, chipmunk and meerkat and made the most adorable little squeaks! The did not stop eating either!
We followed the route round stopping at all the viewpoints we could walking to the end of the trails to get the best views.Every direction you looked, the view was different. This was Boicourt overlook which included about a mile trek to the edge and back. The park is also home to bison and elk. We did see one lone bison laying down eating but that was it in the south unit sadly.Buck hill was a trail just off the main road which involved a steep hill and a few stairs. My Fitbit had been buzzing so I made sure I went to the top to maximise the steps! It was so peaceful except for the crickets and buzzing of flies.Badlands overlook concluded the 36 mile loop. We went about looking for the lone bison on the way back out but failed. Hopefully he/she went to join the herd somewhere deep in the park! It truly was a beautiful place to visit and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting North Dakota.
We even had some fun with the selfie stick (first time ever!) to try and capture the views without our mugs ruining it but still making an appearance in the photo. I thought that the selfie stick added ‘zoom’ to my camera…turns out it’s just closer to whatever I’m taking the photo of because of the stick…whoops! On to the north unit….
The North unit was 68 miles north of the south unit. The time zones across North Dakota are all over the place. We had no idea which time was right it would change every few minutes or so from mountain time zone to central time zone, it was quite amusing really! At one point my phone had gone back an hour and Nathan’s hadn’t so we were all over the place! The North unit wasn’t as pretty as the south but we did see some bison up close this time having a good scratch!We also saw some deer on our journey to the campground. The rock formations were amazing they really were. As the day went on the clouds started to cover the sky again and it got a lot colder. We located Juniper campground and pulled in. After choosing our spot and paying the fee, we saw the view we would be waking up to…Then followed a game of ‘phase 10’ which we agreed was better than UNO and I managed to win both times despite Nathan cheating with extra cards! We really do enjoy camping and the campsites have been great! Everyone is so friendly too, it just seems to be the done thug to greet everyone you pass! Two games in and the sun began to set and we were greeted with this stunning vista…It was breathtakingly beautiful. Certainly not a bad view to fall asleep to! It was a lot colder in this campsite compared to others we have stayed at. I ended up with a hat and thermals on! Sadly sleep eluded us last night. The wind was so incredibly strong that it was bending the poles of the tent which led to an uncomfortable night. We still woke up feeling refreshed and ready for our next adventure though! There must be something about sleeping in the wilderness as I wake up feeling great!
This morning consisted of a jaunt to the river bend overlook before heading to the Little Bighorn National Monument in Montana. I was behind the wheel 😬Another beautiful view in this majestic park! This is definitely a top 5 highlight of our trip so far! We exited the park after saying goodbye to some bison and prairie dogs and headed along the lonely roads out of North Dakota. Eventually we hit civilisation and I had to take a left turn. I couldn’t see the road I had to turn into so I kinda just stopped in the road indicating and nearly got rear ended by a truck 😬. The winds were still ridiculously strong and I kept drifting to the right hand side of the road with Nathan occasionally pushing the steering wheel back left. The final straw came when I didn’t see a car indicating to go left and I may have been speeding a little bit and almost went into the back of him. Nathan actually slammed his foot on his imaginary brake on the passenger side. Needless to say that’s where I am back to now….