There’s not a lot happening in North Dakota. After touching down in Bismarck yesterday afternoon, we drove past wide swaths of rolling hills seemingly devoid of any civilization. Iowa’s corn was gone, replaced by miles of dairy farms and sparingly fenced in fields alongside a near empty interstate. Flash forward 2 hours and the cars were closer together and a small crowd was assembled before the famous Salem Sue, the pride, joy, and primary attraction of New Salem, North Dakota. We absolutely loved it. Sue is an ode to the dairy farmers of the region and is on the list of strange things we aimed to see during this trip. She’s the worlds largest cow and stands tall at 38 feet high and 50 feet long, made of 6 tons of reinforced fiberglass. Behind Sue was an unassuming hill that is the tallest point for miles around. As it turns out, the view is beyond gorgeous and the hill extends out far enough to see a panorama of the whole North Dakota skyline. The sky seems somehow more vast here.
After Salem Sue, we headed west to Medora, a small town that made something out of nothing and is now a major draw for tourists and Dakota residents alike. A year or two ago, The New York Times gave Medora and the accompanying entertainment: The Medora Musical, a full page spread, so my mom and I were intrigued and decided to head on down. Dedicated to the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt and his time in the badlands of North Dakota, the musical was equally charming and bizarre (in a good way).
Before the show we enjoyed a good ol’ Medora pitchfork steak fondue. You’d never suspect that steak could taste so good off a pitchfork, but we and the 750 other guests had excellent meals. Though surrounded by wilderness and bordering Theodore Roosevelt national park, Medora was a midwestern hub and was full to the brim and had a fully developed brand. They even had their very own Hollywood sign in the neighboring hills.
Since we were fully embedded in the West, we opted for matching red bandanas. Why not?
I was disappointed to learn not all Medora visitors opt for the same cowgirl attire, but I think our commitment to theme made us blend in better with the musical performers. We jumped on a bandwagon at a place with actual wagons. Go figure.
Medora was a nice slice of old fashioned Americana and a lovely place to visit, if only for anthropological study.