Friends & Family; North Dakota — May 18 – June 8

We spent a fair amount of time in North Dakota, moving in with Mom and Zona in their huge home south of Bismarck.  We drove out to fetch our RV from Marvin Bodvig’s voluminous storage building at the Tappen Farm and Implement Dealership.  I helped Zona with some home repairs.  We attended a track meet sponsored by the Recreation Department for graduating 5th graders of a number of Bismarck’s schools.  Cole Dockter excelled in a number of events, including a 100-yard dash and a 4×100 relay, both pictured below.  Several times Zona took the opportunity to get away to Minneapolis; on one such occasion at about 4 in the morning we were awakened by a loud bang and the sound of running water.  A panicked (and naked) quick check revealed that a pipe connection in the basement that supplies the extensive yard watering system had burst.  Water was gushing into the basement.  A panicked call to Zona in Minneapolis was not immediately productive; she couldn’t remember how to shut the water off.  But she called her son-in-law Jon Dockter, father of budding athlete Cole, who called us with a description of the appropriate valve,  located through a chest-high opening onto a dirt-floor crawl space.  (See photo below, taken after clothing.)  It took hours to mop up the mess, and would have taken much longer had there not been a slow-draining sump.

On May 27 we drove via back roads from Bismarck to Carrington in order to visit Barb’s brother Tim and his sons Tyler, Preston and Austin. Along the way I did some quick photography, pulling off onto the shoulder and grabbing a few shots through the car window. Not very professional, but fun. Although we spent the evening at a new motel across from the Chieftan, it was the Chieftan itself where we ate our evening and breakfast meal, not the least due to the luscious caramel rolls that are available there (if one asks before they all disappear). When we left Carrington we drove down to Jamestown, where we had lunch with Barb’s high school friend Lynne and her husband Steve. That afternoon we got together with my cousin Karl and his wife Julie, who took us out northwest of Jamestown on a “wild” asparagus hunting expedition! By having asked in years past the right people for advice, and by hunting for tell-tale signs in the fall, Karl and Julie knew just where to go for the hunt. On the way back to Jamestown we stopped at a cemetery to view the grave of my father, Wilbur Stokes Shipley.  After a delicious dinner at Karl & Julie’s (of pizza and, yes, asparagus), we returned to Bismarck.

We played a lot of cards with Mom and sometimes Zona; it continues to amaze us that Mom, despite her age (98!) and her very severe problems with sight, can so often be a winner without any of the rest of us giving any quarter at all.


On one of the occasions when Zona was in Minneapolis, Barb and I and Mom took the RV to Medora to spend the weekend of June 3 at the Medora Campground. We were joined by Zona’s daughter Cathy and her husband Jon and their chillin Cole and Katie, camping in the spot next to us in their fifth wheel. Early on the morning of June 4, Barb and I rose to join the 63rd annual bird watching effort sponsored by The Theodore Roosevelt Park at the Cottonwood Campground. Barb and I saw few of the birds that the leaders reported hearing, but it was a very pleasant outing, made even better by the complementary pancake breakfast hosted by the Park at the conclusion of the event. And I won a Sibley bird book and Barb won a pair of lovely earrings in the post-breakfast raffle. And I have started studying bird calls.

That afternoon Cathy and the kids and Barb and I drove up to the petrified forest. It was a fairly long walk under a hot sun, but we strongly recommend the visit. (Just go earlier in the day.)