A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

What Shall We Call it? Divide County?


Before we left Noonan Beans took me down the alley behind where we were staying.  She wanted to show me the hillbilly solar water heater on the roof of a shed.  That is three one hundred feet long coils of irrigation tubing setting up there.  Don’t laugh.  This really does work and the water can sometimes be too hot to use.   I have a black one gallon jug I set outside in the sun while in the desert and it has at times made the water too hot.

We drove fifteen miles to Crosby, pop. 1061.  The population for the entire county is 2188.  Its name comes from the residents wanting to divide the existing county of Williams into a northern half and southern half back in 1910. They voted on it the North got what they wanted.  Now what do we call it? Another factor in the name may be is that the county sets on the geological divide that separates runoff water to the Hudson Bay and to the Gulf of Mexico.  Anyway, Crosby is big enough to support a Dollar General store. We got a few items then drove into town to their main grocery store Jason’s Super Foods.

I liked this photo of the store better than the one I took.
I cannot imagine how cold that must be!
And get this - this is the only grocery store in all of Divide County.

And lookey here at these eggs.

Farm fresh!
I just had to go with these even if they cost more than the factory eggs.

There was some confusion on the free camping site as where to go.  The coordinates listed wanted to take us to the other side of town at a pay-to-sleep park.  I instead followed the blue dot on Google Maps which led us to the fairgrounds finally, only a mile away from Jason’s.

Right away I see this sign.
This is very rare for a county fairgrounds campground, no fee and for two whole weeks!

Saturday, July 30, 2022

We Hit a New Low

 Or so I thought.

Noonan, North Dakota pop. 127

Their sign pretty much said it all for Noonan.

Noonan really looked like a town of a lot less people than 127.  I only pulled off after eleven miles from Columbus just to check out the camping at a “county park”.  It was a dirt lot behind the abandoned school (yeah, another one bites the dust).  It did have water and electric but that was it.  No shade.  Definitely not worth $15.  Too early to stop anyway and we had some shopping to do.

I went to leave town on a different dirt street that we came in on and right there across the way from the “county park” beneath the water tower was...(you can see us through the trees)

...the city run camper park complete with hookups, restrooms, tables, shade and at no cost!
Shopping can wait a day or two.
Both photos were taken standing in the same spot.

I took a walk down Main Street.  You talk about “bleak” Billy, Noonan has it.

Not a single business was still in operation except for the Bootleggers Bar in the above photo and the tavern in the far right right of this photo right across the street.  I could see each had lights on inside.  It seems that living in Noonan required two bars in order to cope.
Although it was too early to be open yet they both appeared to be operational.
That is the fire department to the left.  It was in business if there were to be a fire somewhere.

Across the street from Bootleggers was the Travelers Hotel which appeared to be in the works of some remodeling inside but to me it had the appearances of a private residence upstairs and maybe the making of a coffee shop or eatery downstairs...or they just gave up.

On the other end of Main Street was the front of that school.  Unlike all the other towns so far Noonan  has repurposed the school as their city hall, community center, American Legion Post 243 and telephone company.  It was a more modern building than the other school houses so maybe it didn’t have “issues”.

Later I found this photo online.
Wherever this is or was I surely did not see it.

I did see this building which online puts it as their school.
 I thought it was once the bank.

Across from where we are is their city park and playground.

As you can see in all of these photos grass cutting is not a popular pastime in Noonan.

In looking up the population for Noonan I discovered in March 2014, news reports indicated that the town included an illegal dump of radioactive mining waste.
We decided to leave the next day.
But there were no mosquitoes in Noonan.  The radioactivity must have took care of that problem.

Noonan was a nice place to stay and I shouldn’t be making fun of it.  In fact we almost went back after doing the shopping in the next town up the line but we lucked out on a place to stay in Crosby.

I was just funin’ you about the sign.  They had a nice sign out by the highway.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Goodbye Columbus, You’ve Been Good


The next day we discovered a spot just outside of town.   

We spent the day there and questioned why go back to Electrical Company Park?
May as well spend the night here.
And so we did.
Now if we were to continue on the road going to the left...

...in five or so miles we’d be at the border to Canada.  Look at that.  There are no border inspection stations on either side.  There was camping at the Short Creek Dam.  I could go for a walk and in eight tenths of a mile walk into Canada.  All other crossings have stations, not here.  I wondered why?

Our last night in Columbus we finally stayed at the City RV Campground.
Everyone had left.

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I didn’t go in the Group Therapy Lounge to buy a drink.  I no longer drink alcoholic beverages.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Could We Live Here?


Columbus, North Dakota

No.  You know I couldn’t survive one winter here.  But I could see having a summer home here.  It is peaceful, quiet and the temperatures have been in the 70’s and 80’s (20c - 35c).  We then would travel south to the desert for the winters as we do already.  I could see having a summer home in Taylor Nebraska probably more so than Columbus.  That would cut the drive back and forth down some.  There are a lot of things to consider before doing anything of that sort and I am not ready to settle down just yet either.

There is only one house for sale I could find online.  Three bedroom, two bath for $56,000.  Very nicely redone inside.  This would cost over ten times as much in California.

It bet I could get this place for a pretty good price. 

Our neighbor I think is a Canadian Border Patrol agent.  I saw him wearing a black t-shirt with large letters on the back CBP when he came home from work.  What else could that mean?  On the other side of him in a double wide like his lives a Burke County Sheriff.  A safe neighborhood we are in.

On this day we parked in the Faith Lutheran Church lot that sat next to the small Lions community park.
In it was the Columbus school bell from 1900 and all that remains from their bank of 1906.

Over in the city park where the campground we are not staying at sits a coal powered steam locomotive.

There was a sign telling the history of the locomotive.  The mosquitoes wouldn’t leave me alone so I grabbed a quick shot and ran back to the RV.  Basically the sign said it being made in 1905 for the Soo Line railroad then later purchased in 1941 by the Traux-Traer Coal Co. where it hauled coal from the nearby mines to Kincaid.  The rest of the sign was devoted to how they got the locomotive to the park in 1962.

Several other signs were there telling about the coal mining in this area.
This one part I thought noteworthy to share.

Maybe we should bring back the Stanley Steamer technology for cars.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Group Therapy Lounge


Columbus, North Dakota

That is the name for the one bar in town.  I like it.

I could see in through the windows into the building to the left.  It was nicely done inside complete with pool table, newish looking bar stools and an attractive decor.  Not a scuzzy looking bar.

It is a non-smoking establishment so the smokers go outside around back to this picnic table.
Look underneath.

Google has the hours as Noon - 1 a.m. seven days a week.  There are no hours written outside.  I guess the locals just know.  When the noon siren goes off, it opens.  Saturday I caught it open.  It had a fair number of customers - maybe a dozen or so cars came and went.  Add a few golf carts and ATVs to that.  I only observed one smoker at the picnic table.  An old guy with a white beard, shorts and spindly legs.  He reminded me of an old salt sea captain.  He’d sit out there with his beer in a plastic cup and have a smoke then go back inside.  Sunday it never opened.  Monday came.  The siren went off.  No one there.  Ten minutes later the kid I see zipping around town on his little motorbike came racing up to the lounge.  Outside stood the Old Salt waiting.  The kid handed him the keys to the door then sped off.  Old Salt went on inside.  I’m still trying to figure this one out.

Meanwhile back home Beans tries to get into the shed out back every time we walk around.
I’m getting wise to her now.

Our neighbor across the street.  I see her in her garden beyond.  Here she is cutting her neighbor’s grass. I have seen no activity at the neighbor’s house.  There is an old 80’s era Buick parked out front.  It pleased me to watch her mow the grass.  I caught her swatting away a mosquito.  
YES!  They do bother the locals; not just me. 

It took me a couple of days of torment before I remembered I had some repellent with me.  I don’t like the smell or feel of insect repellent.  I found this several years ago while in Washington.  I bought it out of desperation.  I can stand having this on me and my goodness, the stuff really works in repelling the mosquitos.  It is so nice to buy a product that actually does what it is advertised to do.

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100,000 used books?  You bet David I looked up where Alberton was in Montana.  Although we will be in Montana next I don’t foresee us crossing the state to the west end this year.  We did that last year when fuel was cheaper.  And yes, I take your comments with a smile as I hoped you would for my saying your question stirred up the mosquitoes here. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

How Far Are We From...

 Columbus, North Dakota

We are loving Columbus.  I cannot recall how far back it was we were in a town that was so peaceful and quiet.  No trains and no highway noise.  Even back to Taylor, Nebraska which I enjoyed so much Taylor did have some highway noise occasionally.

This day we moved out by the unused railroad crossing.  Notice the swallow nests under the eave.

They did not like Beans out wandering around.
Danger!  Danger!  High alert!

In case you wanted to know how far it was to somewhere this stood on the street corner nearby.

This sign was at the park where we hung out that first day.  I didn’t notice it then.

 It seems their school went the way of Flaxton and others in this area.

 I tried to find pictures online but being named ‘Columbus’ too many false images showed up. 
Kathe had left this comment previously which helped explain the school system that lives today:
“There were 3 classes of school districts in North Dakota when I grew up. A,B and C.  As the children grew up and left the state incorporated the small districts into the larger and bussed the kids.”

I did discover that the kids from these towns are being bussed to one school in Lignite, ten miles away.

I can only guess that the school in that image on the Columbus sign once stood here in today’s park.
I have not found any building in town that large.

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Thank you Debby about the bug spraying information.  What you wrote makes sense.
And thank you Jeff for the kind words about the blog and eBooks. That means a lot to me. I appreciate it.


Monday, July 25, 2022

Small Town Pastimes

 Columbus, North Dakota

That first late afternnoon the DDT guy came by.  Now this guy had some proper cloud making equipment.  This was several times more dense than what I observed in Bowbells and Drake.  It had a deeper sound to it also, not like a toy airplane.

The cloud of death hung there for awhile in the still air.  Several minutes later I could smell it.  Reminded me of Black Flag or Raid insect spray.

Then he came by again and one more time after.  He was serious about this.  
This time I shut the windows.

The next morning I stepped outside.  The mosquitoes were there to greet me.  
A lot a good that spraying did.

We left our spot to go find some shade for the day.  On our way down the street a local standing in his driveway by his truck waved and then gestured for me to stop.  He walked over.
“Good morning.  Did you know there is a campground down the road?” 
“Yeah, we stayed there last night.”
“No, I saw you there. That’s not it.  It is further on down.”
“I thought that was it.”
“I thought you might have thought that.  The campground has hookups and shade.  It’s real nice.  You’ll like it.”
“Well what is that we stayed at?”
“Oh the electrical company built that for their workers if they have a project out here.”
“Well I’ll be.  Thank you for telling me.  We’ll go check it out.”
“You’re welcome.”
“By the way, does that bug spraying do any good?”
“Yes it does, especially if he follows it up on the next evening.”
We had a thunderstorm pass through that next evening so he didn’t come out.  It so happened that Bowbells got hit real hard with that storm with hail and all sorts of mayhem.  
And we were just there two days earlier.

We turned back to check out the real campground park.

Too many people.  We would go back to Electrical Company Park that night.

We spent the day in some shade down the street to the right.
This house was abandoned.  The grass was nearly two feet high, thick with weeds.

Two middle-aged women came in on the their riding lawn mowers and started in cutting down the jungle. Let me tell you those tractors were bogging down in some parts straining hard to cut it all.
We moved to get out from their way slinging debris.
I took theses pictures the next day to show the aftermath. 
Now I wish I had taken a few of them working.

The next morning we had a new spot for the day.  This woman was out dragging a piece of railroad track iron behind her ATV.  I finally realized she was just knocking down all the growth.  She couldn’t mow as there was too much rock which would damage the cutting blades.  As with the lawn mower lady back in Flaxton, and those two women attacking the abandoned house lot, I have a question for you small town farm girls following the blog:  Is all this just a matter of these women caring about their town and getting out there to cut grass on land and lots that no one else lives at so it all looks nice, plus giving them something to do which it appears there isn’t much to do in these little towns?

As I lay in bed that evening thinking about it I could see myself out there riding around cutting grass.
What else would I have to do living in a small town?
Maybe the bug guy is doing the same - volunteering his time for the love of his town.