Day Five brought us to a state we’d never seen, a town I’d known only from a movie, and some familiar names we didn’t expect to greet us.
I-94 West through Minnesota takes you to the twin cities of Moorhead, MN and Fargo, ND, two cities in different states with very different levels of popularity, all thanks to Hollywood. A few miles into North Dakota, a quick stop at their Visitors Center is all it takes to connect with big-name actors and personalities. One or two of them are even from Fargo.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year from 2003 to 2013 my wife, my son, and your humble writer headed out on a long road trip to anywhere but here. Our 2014 road trip represented a milestone of sorts: our first vacation in over a decade without my son tagging along for the ride. At my wife’s prodding, I examined our vacation options and decided we ought to make this year a milestone in another way — our first sequel vacation. This year’s objective, then: a return to Wisconsin and Minnesota. In my mind, our 2006 road trip was a good start, but in some ways a surface-skimming of what each state has to offer. I wanted a do-over.
The Fargo-Moorhead Visitors Center is spacious, well-kept, and graciously welcoming to out-of-towners. You can browse their modest souvenir selection or hang around outside and see the free stuff on display.
Their most well-known claim to fame is the eponymous movie in which the Coen Brothers put them on the map in exchange for a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, earned Frances McDormand a Best Actress Oscar, and gave Steve Buscemi an ignominious, grisly farewell. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the significance of the wood chipper. This one’s the centerpiece of their outdoor display, but it’s not the real wood chipper. This is merely a display item better suited to resisting the outdoor elements.
Inside the Visitors Center is the main machine itself, which we previously showed off in a teaser photo for this very entry a while back.
If you need a break from Hollywood, this patchwork bison was one of several statues created as part of an art project called “Herd About the Prairie: a Visual Stampede“.
Their largest display is Fargo’s Celebrity Walk of Fame, a collection begun in 1989 by local printer Mike Stevens, who would approach celebrities whenever they came to town and ask for their contributions. The Visitors Center has over one hundred sets of limb-prints to their credit, from sports stars to actors to politicians and more. The first to be cemented for posterity was jazz clarinetist Al Hirt.
Random sampling of others:
You’ll note in that last photo, at far right is the signature of singer Bobby Vee, who stands out from the crowd because he was actually born in Fargo. Meanwhile, Bill Gates sneaks in as a wannabe poser who only wishes he were from someplace as nifty as Fargo.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]