For most Americans, North Dakota is terra incognita. As Eric Sevareid put it, it is “a large, rectangular blank spot in the nation’s mind.” As natives of this often forgotten state, we are frequently asked, “What's it like there?” Turns out, that question is a bit of a stumper. Well, it’s cold in the winter, like the-wind-will-burn-your-ass cold...and maybe we do kind of sound like characters from the movie Fargo from time to time... Although we know there is more to our state than nasty winters and funny accents, we don’t just want to recycle facts anyone could find on Wikipedia. We want to dig deeper. So, in a fit of madness (which maybe speaks to the gumption of those who have ever lived out on the frontier), we will undertake one of the most exciting missions we could think of to explore that question. We are going for a walk...across the state of North Dakota.
Okay, so technically it’s just the western half. But starting this June, we’ll spend two weeks marching from Beach to Bismarck, along dusty old trails and deserted back roads, through the North Dakota Badlands and over the endless horizon-hugging prairies, to explore the state that nobody knows and the land that we call our home. Our route includes Theodore Roosevelt National park, Sentinel Butte (the state’s third highest point), Assumption Abbey (a monastery on the prairie), the Missouri River, and several North Dakota towns and cities. (We’ll be updating this page with the final route once we’ve decided it.) It will certainly be the most epic adventure we’ve ever undertaken, and we hope you’ll be willing to help us make it all happen.
Our Fundraising and Rewards
We want to gather enough funds to cover at least the cost of food, cooking fuel, and some gear, including sleeping mats and high-performance clothing. We hope to even get enough to cover the purchase of a netbook and internet connection to update you via our blog, The Blank Rectangle, at points along the trail.
Like Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery, who once wandered these same plains, we want to chronicle as much of our experience as possible. In addition to videos and blog updates we will make and distribute during our adventure, following the walk we will self-publish a collection of diaries, stories, poems, essays, photographs, maps, etc. from our journey called The WAND Chronicles. This book will be the most important product of our trip, though it is just one of several meaningful rewards we are offering you in return for your assistance:
- Your very own nodaiku postcard: We'll take one word of your choice, craft a North Dakota-themed haiku from it, and mail it off to you from somewhere out there on the road.
- A photo calendar of the WAND: The crew will be taking scenic photographs with Jeremy's E-PL1 compact large-sensor camera and creating a calendar out of them. See samples of some of some of our photographs here.
- A big funder BBQ at Sertoma Park: You can come celebrate our return home with us and our families at Sertoma Park in Bismarck, North Dakota! We'll be sharing stories and reflections on the events and experiences from our trip.
You can help us add the records of this enduring feat of greatness/madman's trek through the wilderness to the annals of American exploration and North Dakota history! Thank you in advance for your support—and be sure to let everyone know that you’re excited to follow us as we walk across the western half of North Dakota.
- (30 days)