Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Rumble, rumble, rumble, drip, drip, drip... those are the sounds we awoke to on Monday, the day we planned to leave Turtle River State Park. A thunderstorm was moving through, and a check of the weather indicated that staying in place for another day would be a good plan. Well, we can be flexible now and then, so "shelter in place" is what we did.

Tuesday dawned (very early) bright, sunny, and cool. We were packed up and ready to go at 9:30 am. Our goal: Lake Metigoshe State Park (read our review and see photos here), right up against the US/Canada border. First, though, we planned a stop halfway, in Rugby, North Dakota - the Geographical Center of North America.

When we rolled into Rugby around noon, we didn't see anything that looked like the Geographical Center, so we stopped in at the little Visitor's Center and got the scoop from the staffer, a longtime resident. He pointed out the monument, right across the street.

When I asked him what it meant to be the "Geographical Center of North America", he told us that, if you were to place all of North America on the head of a pin, Rugby would be the point at which the continent would stay balanced. Okey-dokey!

The little Visitors Center was PACKED with brochures, tour guides, and maps. As I browsed more closely, it appeared they came from every state and from Canadian provinces. When I asked about that, we learned that they take their responsibilities as Visitor Center for the Geographical Center very seriously - they try to stock information from all states in the US and all the Canadian provinces! He said, though, that some of the states aren't generous in sharing their publications, "so we just tell people they are closed". Pretty funny!

After a very filling fried lunch (delicious friend chicken and french fries), we turned north toward the Canadian border. On Monday, the day we had planned to travel to Lake Metigoshe, a tornado had come through the area... no fatalities or injuries, but there had been property damage. We were glad we had stayed at Turtle River an extra day.

Once we got to the park and were settled in our campsite, we went out for a walk. This is a photo of the lake, taken from a dock in the park. Though it looks terribly dark and stormy, the weather was actually pretty nice, in the low 70's - and NO mosquitos! Maybe Monday's tornado sucked 'em up.

Lake Metigoshe is a laid-back resort area. The state park claims a portion of the shoreline, but small cabins with boat docks ring the rest of the lake. It has a fun, rustic, "summer vacation" feel to it.

Here is Scoopy in Site 1. North Dakota state parks have a policy we love: half the sites in the campgrounds are reservable, the other half are first-come, first-served. Jan and Barry had alerted us to the fact that the "new" sites at this state park are larger and have 50 amp electricity, so we made sure to let the staffer in the kiosk know that was what we wanted.

Instead, we were directed to the loop with smaller, 30 amp sites. These are the non-reservable sites, and the loop was crammed! The sites that were open were way to small to accommodate a 40' motorhome.

We drove over to the "new" sites, which we had requested - they turned out to be the reservable sites. Of 44 sites, 4 were occupied! The remaining 40 sites were empty - big 50 amp sites, sitting empty. We promptly claimed our favorite, then returned to the kiosk to discuss the situation with the young staffer. To cut the long story short, he finally made a phone call and approved our two night stay in Site 1.

All public parks have different ways of managing their sites, and some work out better than others. It is difficult for us to understand why these beautiful sites are available for use ONLY with a reservation when campers are crammed together in the other loop of smaller spaces...??

1 comment:

  1. Hey, been following you guys around and we're jealous.

    Interesting about the reservable sites... When we workkamped in the Black Hills National Forest, "reservable" meant the site could be reserved, but if it wasn't currently reserved it was open to anyone.