Tenters get the best spots at North Dakota’s Lewis and Clark State Park. Perched on the bluff above Lake Sakakawea, towering buttes and rolling hills on a mixed grass prairie overlook smooth and shimmering slate blue water. It was a quiet Sunday afternoon relaxing among the color changing trees and exploring the private path down to the rocky, driftwood laden beach.
While the RVs were stacked liked dominoes on loops away from the lake, with their cords plugged and hoses attached, we were spreading out like homesteaders staking our claim. Sheri was painting the vista, Eric reading Killers of the Flower Moon, with some bantering about what to make for dinner. Little did we know, dinner would be us.
We’ve battled infestations of ants, moths and mice in our RV days, but none of those wanted to eat us alive. They were more gross and hard to eradicate than physically threatening. Grasshoppers make the ground look like its moving and the first time one lands in your hair, it can freak you out. But grasshoppers don’t bite. Plenty of yellow jackets also live in North Dakota ground. They are extremely interested in sweet food, but not in people, even sweet people. You can get stung, but you have to work at it. Black flies, however, are pure evil.
Sundown at L&C State Park was like being back at Flamingo campground in the Everglades where biting black flies came out to hunt. They swarmed us, our kitchen, the surfaces of all our gear. It was perhaps the last almost hot day on the North Dakota Hi Line, and the flies were making the most of it.
Shedding the shell of an RV makes you one with Mother Nature – the good and the bad. Perched on the bluff we had a million dollar view. The wind came up out of the west gusting to 30 mph. Having been high-wind certified at Anza Borrego in the California desert, are gear held fast. Yet somehow, even in a steady high wind, the black flies laid in wait to attack any show of skin.
We were forced to escape into the Clam, kitchen and all. It was our last refuge. Thank goodness we had it. For years we had carried it in the storage bin of the RV, but it is redundant when you have a box you can escape to. Now it was essential. We would have been in the cab of the truck without it. And, that gets small fast! With a wind screen up, we nursed the dozens of bites along our ankles and wrists, and cooked dinner as the kamikaze flies hit the screens like a Hitchcock movie.
Northwest North Dakota is like a Prickly Pear Cactus in bloom. Gorgeous to look at but handle carefully. The horizon is spotted with oil rigs belching towers of fire from the well heads. Heavy machinery and large diesel trucks make their presence known growling up grades at all hours of the night. It is beautiful and ugly; pockets of heavy industry scattered among vast expanses of land. The town of Minot is a good example. A gem of a Scandinavian park is surrounded by an ugly town. A huge colorful Dala Horse is juxtaposed against liquor stores and auto repair facilities. Farval, North Dakota!