Day 11.

Day 11 - Medora, ND, to Kadoka, SD

Run - Buffalo Gap Trail, ND

From the eyes of Nico.

Back on the first day in the car, we all asked each other which stop we were most looking forward to on this trip. Charlie was looking forward to the Badlands, but he was especially excited for the big cities we are travelling through, specifically New York City, Chicago, and New Orleans. Bailee voiced similar excitement, the prospect of visiting New York City for the first time making her bounce. For Sadie, Austin and New Orleans stood out, her having heard nothing but good things about both. When I was asked, I gave the only answer that made sense to me: North Dakota.

Now, you are probably sitting there wondering: “Why the hell North Dakota? What is even there?”

My answer to that: Exactly!

What is in North Dakota? Why do I not know a single person who is from North Dakota? Why do I not even know if any of my friends have ever visited? The state can’t be that terrible and lame can it? Or can it?

For me, the idea of visiting a state no one goes to, that was exciting. The idea of having no idea what exactly to expect, that was exciting. And now that I’ve been there; now that I’ve experienced it?

I…it…wow.

Phenomenal. Mind-blowing. Worth the excitement. All of those would be adequate descriptions of North Dakota.

Other than Idaho (which really is not that much different than Wyoming and Montana), North Dakota was my first new state. It was also the first different state. And when I use different here I use it broadly. Obviously, Oregon and Utah are not entirely similar, nor are Wyoming and Washington. But at the end of the day, all of our previous stops are sort of defined by a mountain-y, outdoorsy vibe that is mixed in with swaths of progressiveness and the occasional hipster community. North Dakota is not like that at all. Instead of running through forests, we ran through rolling grasslands swept by waves of wind. Instead of high stepping over roots, we dodged around prairie dog dens. Instead of climbing mountains, we climbed badlands, the hard dry clay replacing the forgiving dirt our feet were used to. Microbreweries were replaced with saloons, man buns with Stetsons. No longer were there barrels of hops around the corner from the bar, the blackjack table eagerly taking up that space.

And I loved every minute of it. Places like that are why I travel. Experiencing something so drastically distinctive from but equally as amazing as my normal is my definition of excitement.

Moral of the story: I was more eager to visit North Dakota than any other state this summer, and it more than fulfilled my expectations.

Facts/stats of the day:

Miles driven: 312

Miles ran: 24.0

Elevation gained: 2283

Cowboy hats seen: 26

Percent of donations that Cure Alzheimer's Fund puts towards research: 100

Donate to http://curealz.org/heroes/running-road-trip