MAKING MEMORIES AND MUSIC IN NORTH DAKOTA

This week began among the rolling hills, quiet lakes, and colorful flowers of the International Peace Garden in Dunseith, North Dakota. The International Peace Garden has its own campground and we found a private spot nestled in some white birch trees. After a few small set backs last week, it was a perfect place to find our AWAY.

How we ended up at the International Peace Garden is a cool story. We were trying to decide what route to take through North Dakota. In the fall of 2012, we had taken I-94 and stayed a few days at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park and were keen on experiencing the park in the summer. However a Go RVing Facebook fan suggested we see the International Peace Gardens. I was reading reviews about the gardens on Yelp and someone mentioned that the International Peace Garden was also the home of the International Music Camp.

As road-schooling parents, we are always on the lookout for opportunities to meet the educational and social needs of our boys. Our oldest son, Thing 1, loves to play the piano. We had really wanted to enroll him in a music camp over the summer, but when we decided to go to Alaska we set the idea aside for another time.

After reading the reviews on Yelp, I went to the International Music Camp website and was shocked to see that there was a piano session scheduled at the exact time we were planning to visit the International Peace Gardens. What a crazy coincidence! Surely they wouldn’t have spots left at this late notice. Wrong. I gave them a call and they still had a spot left for a piano student. So thanks to the Go RVing fans (you guys suggested the Peace Garden!) and our RV, Thing 1 was able to go to a music camp after all!

This was the first time Thing 1 had ever been away from home (aside from visiting family and close friends) for an extended amount of time. Having the RV nearby made it much easier to leave him. I wonder if college campuses have RV parking? 😉

Since the campground at the International Peace Garden was just around the corner from the music camp, we were even able to see him perform at the student talent show mid-camp. It was his first time playing in front of an audience!

When most people think of RVing, vacations usually come to mind. That’s the reason the majority of people get an RV and it is the best way to escape and relax. However, vacations aren’t the only benefit of RVing. The RV can also serve as a home base for families who are involved in activities that require travel. For example, we knew a family in our hometown of Ventura who was involved in taekwondo. They traveled in their RV all over the state of California to taekwondo tournaments. The RV gave them a home away from home. They would park in parking lots of the tournament site so they could come out and relax in the RV during the long competition days. The RV was not only a comfortable base camp; it saved money otherwise spent on food and hotels. It’s something to seriously consider if you or your kids are involved in activities that require travel.

While Thing 1 was at camp, we explored the Peace Garden and the surrounding area. The Peace Garden was established in 1932. It celebrates peace between the United States and Canada, which share the longest border in the world. Pretty amazing when you stop to think about it.

Thing 2 is half in Canada and half in the United States!

There is a lot to see in the Peace Garden. Some of our favorites were the succulent garden located in the Interpretive Center, the Peace Towers, and the 9/11 Memorial.

The Game Warden Museum, also located at the Peace Garden, serves to educate the public about the work of the wardens and honor those who have lost their lives in the line of duty. It was quite interesting as well.

One afternoon, we headed over to Bottineau, North Dakota. We love exploring small towns because there is a kind of charm that you can’t find anywhere else. After dropping off some mail at the post office we noticed a small ice cream shop across the street. Yes, please!

Bottineau is also home to Tommy the Turtle. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say Tommy is the largest snowmobiling turtle in the world!

Not far from Bottineau, in the town of Dunseith, we visited the W’eel Turtle. W’eel turtle is completely made of wheels. If you like discovering random roadside attractions like us, then check out Roadtrippers or Roadside America.

Another evening we headed north into Canada and saw another giant turtle in the town of Bossevain. His name was Tommy too!

Why all the turtles, you ask?

Well the International Peace Garden is located in the Turtle Mountains. Although it seemed to us they would be more aptly named the Turtle Hills. Regardless, it was beautiful country!

Just north of the Canadian border you’ll find the Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. It was a perfect stop for an evening walk on our way to Boissevain.

Boissevain is a quaint farming community located about 25 minutes north of the border. There are murals painted on buildings throughout the town.

We missed Thing 1 so much, but it was nice to get some one-on-one time with Thing 2 around the campfire.

The question we get asked most often is “What do you do for a living to be able to travel?” Brent is a freelance web and graphic designer. All he needs is a computer and an internet connection to be able to work. Our campsite didn’t have any reception but the staff at the Peace Gardens was so kind to let us use their conference room and Wi-Fi for work.

You might also be wondering what happened with our bikes after our rack broke last week? We contacted Yakima and told them about the weld breaking. Yakima’s customer service was amazing and they overnighted us new racks. To reduce weight on the hitch rack and back bumper, we put two of the bikes on the roof of the truck. Now all we need is two more bikes. (The blue one in the picture is basically unusable.) Brent also installed an 84 gallon transfer fuel tank (above far right). We decided we didn’t want to risk running out of gas on the ALCAN and we will recoup the cost of the tank by the time we get to Alaska by filling it up in the US.

Finally it was time to pick Thing 1 from music camp and hit the road again. He had a great time learning about music and making new friends.

The next few days were a lot of driving with quick rest stops in small towns.

It doesn’t matter how many miles we drive. I never get tired of this view. The open road always takes my breath away.

Five hundred and fifty miles later, we stopped in Havre to meet up with another traveling family, Stephanie, Brent and their girls, for a night. Ironically, they had taken their RV to a swim meet for the girls. They told us about the fun they have with other families who also bring their RVs and park them in the school parking lots for the swim meets.

This morning we are packing up and heading across the border into Canada. So be sure to come back next week to read about crossing the border with our RV and for some beautiful pictures of the Canadian Rockies!

Have you ever used your RV as a home base during activities or sporting events? Anyone plan to #GoRVing in Canada this summer?