Summer is flying by, and while we’ve managed to visit a new place in North Dakota every weekend so far, I have fallen a bit behind in keeping the blog up to date with our adventures. July is nearly over, and I still haven’t given you our stories from Devils Lake, much less our incredible Nine Day Western Odyssey. “What’s happened?” some of you are asking. Well, in a word: Summer.
After arriving home on July 10th from our trip out west, I had a one-day turnaround before Gio and I were off to Lake Sallie, MN for a 4-day visit at my parents’ cabin. I thought this would be a great opportunity to catch up on our stories for the blog: we had family visiting from Massachusetts (the Bergers), so Gio would have plenty of diversions to keep him occupied while I wrote.
However, the Bergers are one of the “Most Fun Families – Ever!” and if anyone reading this knows my aunt, Peggy Anstett Berger, you know how true this is. The last thing I felt like doing was locking myself in a hot room to sit behind a computer while everyone else was playing and having fun. So, I didn’t. And I don’t regret it a bit. The stories will come, and in the meantime we heartily encourage you to visit Devils Lake when you have the chance. We were wonderfully surprised by our visit there, and look forward to sharing more about our exploits in the (very) near future.
Until that happens, I recommend that you pay a visit to the Devils Lake ND Chamber of Commerce to help you plan your itinerary. Katie Mertens gave us a terrific itinerary for our day in the area, which included visits to Graham’s Island, Fort Totten, Sully’s National Game Preserve and a great dinner on the waterfront at the Woodland Resort’s restaurant, The Cove. And try to make time to enjoy the excellent food and service at the historic Devils Lake restaurant, The Ranch.
This weekend we plan to get lost in southern North Dakota, to explore the areas around Milnor, Oakes, Ashley and Wishek.
We are often asked about how we choose the cities for our adventures. The process varies, and sometimes it’s completely random. However, this itinerary is very people-driven: on Sunday, we’ll be visiting the cattle farm where our Sarello’s bartender, Brandy Buro, grew up and look forward to meeting her family and learning more about North Dakota farm life.
Before we get to Oakes, Brandy’s boyfriend, Dylan Jacobson, will be hosting us in his hometown of Milnor, ND. Dylan is a professional cameraman, and we met him earlier this summer when he generously donated his time, and considerable talent, to serve as our photographer at the 7th Annual Sarello’s Dinner for the Opera. When he heard about our summer plan to get Lost on the Prairie, he enthusiastically recommended that we add Milnor to our agenda, and we look forward to seeing it through his eyes.
On Monday, we hope to learn more about the life and culture of Germans from Russia by visiting Ashley and Wishek. My late grandmother, Florence (Goll) Anstett, grew up in Danzig, ND and graduated from Ashley High School. Her father, (my great-grandfather) Jacob Goll, immigrated to the U.S. from Russia just before the turn of the last century.
Florence passed away in April of 2009, and I miss her dearly. She was a proud North Dakotan, and would have loved knowing what my family is up to this summer. While Danzig no longer exists as a town, I am eager to explore the area she once called home.
And of course, we’ll be stopping along the way as whimsy dictates, so feel free to share your suggestions with us! This past week we received a comment from a woman who is familiar with the former site of Danzig and informed us that the town was purchased by a couple and turned into private property. (When I tell things like this to my friends and family from other parts of the country, they have a hard time believing it! “How do you buy a town?” they ask.) This kind woman, Dayna, gave us directions to an area where we may be able to view the few remains of the town, and we are grateful for her assistance.
We’ve also received an email from another woman, Jayne, letting us know that her family’s farm is located right in the area we plan to explore, and then inviting us to stop in to say hello if we get the chance. I hope we can find it, because we would love to pay a visit.
We’re leaving in just a few minutes, and I am excited about what we’ll discover in the next two days. I love the personal essence of this adventure, and the opportunity it presents to forge new friendships as we journey into the past.
Oh, yikes – I’m getting “the look” from Gio, which means it’s time to go! Have a wonderful Sunday, and take some time to get lost – wherever you are.