Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Discovering America

We are at the municipal park campground in Columbus, North Dakota (map). There are three pedestals here, each with one 30-amp and two 20-amp receptacles and a water spigot, for $10 per night.

In addition to the "nine" sites, there is a 9-hole golf course, a ball field, a steam locomotive, a playground, a pair of tennis courts, and the veterans' memorial, all in this park. Apart from the crumbling tennis courts and the fact that the greens on the golf course are all rectangular astroturf, the place is nice and well maintained, in stark contrast to the town itself, which is slowly dying.

We walked the four blocks to the center of town last night, and the only two businesses that look to still be operating are a lone cafe and a bar. The place was ghostly empty. Even here at the park, we have been mostly alone. There are two travel trailers here, using the other two pedestals, and they've been here a while, having been mown around several times. I figured them to be mostly stored, as we did not see a soul all day, but last night around 11 two trucks drove up to them. The trucks were again gone this morning when we got up, so these must be a couple of oil workers living here in the park for the short term.

A couple of people came to use the golf course yesterday, bringing their own electric carts with them on trailers. The whole place is unstaffed, and there is a drop box for the camping and another for golf ($6 for nine holes, or $10 all day). Today the maintenance guy is mowing the grass, and it's hard to see how they are even collecting enough money to do that. Apart from one woman slowly bicycling through town, those are the only souls we've seen since arriving just after 5 yesterday.

Today we will continue east, where in a few miles we will connect with US-52 south of the border town of Portal. 52 will stair-step east and south a few times before heading southeast, taking us all the way to Minot. We need fuel, supplies, and a UPS drop, none of which we've seen in many miles, and Minot will seem positively cosmopolitan now.


  1. haha...Was stationed at Minot AFB years ago and it takes a lot, or in this case next to nothing, to make Minot look cosmopolitan.

  2. Actually, you missed the UPS drop in Plentywood. The clothing store downtown offers the service for anyone, but especially the Canadians from just across the border who want a US address.

  3. Sean, how do you find these small municipal "campgrounds"?

  4. @Justin: Funny you should mention it; after we posted about Glasgow, one of our Red Cross coworkers told us he was posted there in the 70s.

    @Dave: Good to know, but I don't know how we (or anyone) would have known, since UPS does not list it as a drop location on their web site. The nearest drop, according to UPS themselves, is in Wolf Point, and Minot was the nearest one on our route.

    @Debbie: These were listed in the excellent Days End directory, available to members of the Escapees RV club (well worth joining if you are on the road a lot). Often these kinds of free or inexpensive municipal parks are also listed in Don Wright's guide to free campgrounds. Both of these are discussed in Louise's excellent treatise on our travel directories in this post.

  5. Hi
    I enjoy your blog a lot. Gathering up all the things I'll need to live on the road full time in about 2 yrs.
    I'm curious as to why you have never ventured in to Canada?? We don't bite, you know! LOL!
    Come on up and have a look.
    Calgary has lots of Americans come up for the Stampede every year...LOTS!!!


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