Day 6: Fargo, North Dakota to Black River Falls, Wisconsin

You can probably already tell from the picture above that there isn’t much newsworthy from day six.  We drove six hours from Fargo, North Dakota to Black River Falls, Wisconsin.  It was heavy on boredom and light on memories.  When we left Fargo, we weren’t sure how far we’d drive or where we’d stay.  We only knew that we wanted to make it south of Chicago the next day.  This was a lot of new territory for us – we’d not been to Minneapolis before, other than the airport, and had spent little time in Wisconsin.

We crossed from North Dakota into Minnesota almost immediately when we hit the road.  I didn’t realize how far east Minneapolis is and was expecting a booming metropolis soon.  It turns out, Minneapolis is all the way across Minnesota on I-94, about 3.5 hours from Fargo, which anyone would know if they looked at a map (not me!).  So, I was pretty disappointed to find that we had a morning of interstate cruising ahead of us.  Everyone I know from Minneapolis has some serious hometown pride and we were hoping to spend a few hours exploring the city.  Unfortunately, right around Minneapolis was when we started to hit the first hot weather of the trip.  Coming from the Pacific Northwest in early June, it’s easy to forget that a lot of the country is already reaching high temps.  Dense urban environments and hot weather and dogs don’t mix well, and we decided to push on through for Laney’s sake.  Hopefully, we’ll get another chance to explore the Minneapolis metro area another time.

As it got later in the afternoon, we started looking at places to stop for the night and found that there wasn’t much in the way of hotels.  Eau Claire, Wisconsin was a little earlier than we wanted to stop, and we thought we could push on a little farther down the road to shorten the drive the next morning.  Tomah, at the junction of I-94 and I-90, seemed like a possibility, but it was a little farther than we wanted to go.  The city of Black River Falls (pop. 3,500) didn’t seem to have much of note but did have a few hotels that seemed decent enough for one night.  We decided on the AmericInn – one of the only pet-friendly options for miles.

We rolled off the interstate and thought man, this place seems a little depressing.  When we pulled into the hotel parking lot, we were the only car there.  Chris went to check whether the place was even in business and my stomach sunk a bit when he came back with a key and a weird smile.  “It’s just for one night,” he said.  The hotel was so dark you wondered whether you’d need a flashlight and the smell was unidentifiable but very ominous.  Against my better judgement, I took Zoe to the pool and hot tub while Chris ran to the Wal-Mart Supercenter, which appeared to be the only game in town for dinner.  We didn’t see a single soul, including at the desk, the entire time we were there and miraculously, didn’t contract any diseases from the steamy pool area (that we know of…).  We went to bed early to lose consciousness and escape the smell and got on the road as soon as we woke the next morning.  As we floored it eastbound onto I-94, we talked about the creepy vibe of the hotel and surrounding area.  We asked the trusty Google why Black River Falls exists and learned that in addition to agriculture and tourism (we clearly missed that part of town), the city is the focus of a non-fiction book-turned-film called “Wisconsin Death Trip.”  The book discusses the harsh life in rural Midwest areas in the late nineteenth century, and how it affected the psychology of the residents.  Yep, we thought.  Sounds about right.  Onward to day seven and Illinois!

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