Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Flooding . . . .

Flooding in North Dakota

One of the real advantages of travelling is that once you have been to a place, you can relate better to news broadcasts involving places you have visited. I understand better the situation in China from being there, and I can relate to the economic situation in Europe and especially Spain because I spent time there. We went to Nashville just after the flooding last year and our trip showed first hand the devastation it caused. This spring I listened to news reports of flooding all through the west, but did not really understand it until I tried to find a campground in North Dakota.

We drove from Watrous Saskatchewan this morning, and along the way we could see the water in the sloughs and ponds along the way. The ducks and Canada Geese were enjoying themselves, but you could see that much of the farmland was still too wet to work. The closer we got to the US border the more water there was. However as we drove through North Dakota, the landscape changed from flat prairies to gently rolling farmland and we left the water behind.

This next part of the trip we have no friends to visit so we have almost a week of driving without significant stops. We decided to put some miles behind us on the first day, so we aimed for a place in North Dakota called Minot where we knew there were at least two campgrounds listed.

After six hours on the road everyone was ready for a rest, so we set the GPS for the closest of the campgrounds. We passed a billboard advertising it, went a few more miles down the road and followed the GPS onto a side road and into the campground. The Piles of sandbags out front of the industrial complex by the highway, and the piles of rubble at the campground entrance should have warned us, but we continued in, as we could see trailers there. One of the trailers was however boldly painted with a company logo advertising “Flood Damage Repair Experts”. You could see the damage everywhere. The river beside the campground was littered with the picnic tables that used to be neatly parked beside each site, and you could see water stains half way up the office building and many of the RVs remaining in the park. The office door was blocked with two cement blocks – I think they were closed.

We decided to try the KOA a few miles down the road. KOA are usually top class parks well managed and usually very nice. They are sometimes a bit more expensive, but usually worth the price. This park did not live up to the high standards set by KOA. It had an even bigger pile of rubble out front, and a string of red tape across the driveway. It looked like it was hit even harder than the other park. It seems that not only do they build RV parks close to the train tracks, flood plains are also a popular location.

Fortunately I saw another park behind a RV dealer and it was at the top of a hill, so we swung around and went back, only to find it with a big NO VACANCY sign. It was actually underlined on the sign, so they were obviously full. I'd say everyone from the flooded parks had moved there and there was NO room for us travelling vacationers. Good for their business – bad for us.

Fortunately, there was a Walmart just down the road and they will let RV park at the edges of their parking lots. We have had to use them one other time when we were unable to find a spot in Oregon, but there is no power or water and most of the Walmarts are 24 hour affairs, so not the quietest spots to stay. As we pulled in it was obvious that we were not alone in frustration in finding camping sites. There were more RV's in there than I have ever seen in a Walmart. The edges of the lot were three and four deep with Trailers, Motorhomes and camper vans. We found a spot and pulled in, leaving the truck attached to get an early start in the morning.

Don't tell my children we were camping at Walmart – they don't approve of the company . . . . . . .

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