Day 14: Fargo, ND

Saturday, September 12

Adam wasn’t feeling well, and I’d had another early wake-up. On any other Saturday we would have texted each other to cancel. But here we were in Fargo, so we headed out to have some experiences.


Moxie Java did not infuse us with moxie, unfortunately

After a quick breakfast of mediocre bagels we made our way to Bonanzaville Pioneer Village, North Dakota’s must-see historic attraction. The Bonanzaville complex is a recreated historical town made up of themed buildings, some of them original to the area, along with a couple of haphazard museums. It’s kitschy and fun and at times a little eerie. Walking through the village was like exploring empty dollhouses, and I enjoyed it.


Monochrome cowboy


The card below this read: “Bootlegger’s House: Fred (Skimpy McNeil) and I made 4 Bits a piece delivering moonshine to a Fargo Hotel.” It reminds me of a Nintendo game. Goonies II, maybe.


Barber shop


General store


Scary fingerless bank teller

After our lazy exploration of Bonanzaville we still had a couple hours to kill before Adam’s flight. We decided to drive deeper into North Dakota to give him more of a feel for the state, as he’s likely never to return. North Dakota is not geographically appealing; it’s very flat, with open farmland stretching for miles, punctuated by short walls of trees. We talked about how it was hard to understand how anyone would choose to live in such a bleak and empty place. Of course, there are jobs here, and I’m sure that’s the answer for many.

I dropped Adam off at Fargo’s tiny airport and began my first ten days of solitude. I was tired but excited; in some ways this was the part of the trip I was looking forward to the most. Being alone always restores me, even if it takes time to find my balance. At this point I wanted to be invisible for a couple days, to feel like no one was even thinking about me.

For dinner I headed back downtown to the Mexican place our hosts had suggested the night before. It was early and the restaurant was quiet. I ordered a margarita. It was terrible. When I was done, the bartender, whose name was Presley, asked me how it was, and I told him that on the menu it should say “kind of shitty” as the description under the margarita. He said yeah, it’s made from a mix and that’s what all the kids order when they come in at the end of the night. I told him he should have warned me, and he said I was too engrossed in my phone, which was not at all true, but I let it pass and ordered the Cadillac margarita, which was actually just a normal one and tasted good.


Good enchiladas and the kind of shitty margarita

I talked a bit more with Presley over the next hour or so, and he agreed to be interviewed, but by the time I felt ready, the place had filled up and he was busy. I asked him a few questions about himself and his life—he wants to open his own bar in Montana; he voted for Romney; yes, he was named after Elvis—and asked that he make up a drink using Mescal for me. He obliged.


He thought it might be too boozy, but it mostly just tasted like pineapple juice. I lied and told him it was good.

My walk home through Fargo’s quiet streets and park was peaceful. I was ready to start catching up on sleep.


Hotel Art of the Day

Barton Lidice Benes
Cut currency on paper, 22.5″ x 30″, 2009

Hotel Art Score

8/10. This is cool, and I wish I could have gotten a better shot of it, but I was sneaking around taking photos of art in the house before the owners woke up.

Reading up on Benes I learned that he made work about the AIDS epidemic, and that the North Dakota Museum of Art exhibited his work in 1993 when no one else would. He lived in New York and died in 2012. (This is a particularly good obituary, by the way, and makes me appreciate it as its own art.)

Art Art Score

7/10. Entomology (the study of insects) has a Greek origin meaning “that which is cut in pieces.” I feel like a short essay could be written about this piece, and I also feel like I don’t want to do it. How about it’s just cool.