Tonight I am posting from the very pleasant city of Fargo, North Dakota (the border partner, co-joined city of Moorhead, Minnesota) which I am touring with my friend, client, former colleague -- Heather. After a nearly 4 hour drive from Minneapolis we parked in Fargo, North Dakota although we thought we were still in Moorhead, Minnesota at the time since the two cities have completely grown together. So we made a short walk back to Moorhead so we could tour the "Hjemkomst Center", http://www.hjemkomst-center.com (Hjemkomst is Norwegian for "homecoming") which houses a replica Viking ship built by local teacher (now deceased) Robert Asp in Hawley, Minnesota. The ship was completed and sailed to Norway from Minnesota by Mr. Asp's family after his death complete with a crew they assembled including a Norwegian fishing boat captain.
I was impressed by the historic restoration and economic vitality present in the Fargo/Moorhead metro area which has made for an enjoyable visit. Following below are several venues we visited along the way:
- Happerstad Church -- this is a replica Norwegian church which sits on the grounds of the Hjemkomst Center based on a 12th Century church in Vik, Norway. This was a very enjoyable and informative tour due to our volunteer guide.
- Hotel Donaldson -- is located on Broadway Avenue and is known as "HoDo", http://www.hoteldonaldson.com. This is a chic, restored hotel located in the heart of Fargo which features live jazz on most nights. The service was very attentive and the appetizers we had were excellent so their rating is a solid "4" (see "Eating vs. Dining" posting at this blog for background)
- Monte's Downtown -- is also located on Broadway Avenue, http://www.montesdowntown.com, and was recommended by a waitress at HoDo. Heather and I shared a starter of bacon-wrapped scallops which were quite tasty. I then had their spinach/walnut/pear salad as a second starter which was simply excellent primarily due to the sauce. For my main I had their meatloaf but unfortunately it was just too bland -- they should have consulted with my mother for this dish!!! If you go the best seating for ambiance is in the back near the kitchen not in the front section near the door where we sat. For several reasons I have to rate them with a "3" ranking.
- Fort Noks -- also located on Broadway Avenue in Fargo (clearly the best nightlife in the city) is your basic, corporate looking bar which reminded me of the bar Tom Cruise creates at the end of the film, Cocktail, which I don't recommend watching since I still have a "hangover" from the bad writing/Cruise's character. Fort Noks was created in the former "Bank of Fargo" but it really disappoints new patrons such as Heather and myself. Sadly there is NO evidence inside the building of its past life as a bank thus the chance for great ambiance is completely lost. I would have loved to see old teller windows utilized in the remodeling so the bar could be named Teller's Bar but apparently such restoration was not possible or the owner lacked such vision.
- Lauerman's -- our final destination this evening and yet another bar on Broadway Avenue in Fargo. This is a "beer only" place with a clientele profile that is much more blue collar versus the yuppies/wanna be's at Fort Noks. As Heather and I were about to leave we heard a young gentleman (no idea if he actually served in the military) talking with two veterans sitting at the bar (confirmed earlier when they were talking about events at their American Legion hall). This young guy was babbling about the "gooks..........." and stated that ".........I have read several books about Vietnam.................." The soft racism is apparently alive and well despite the expanding trade relationship the US and Vietnam have today. Please focus on profits and consumer choice instead of racist comments showing hate for your fellow man!!!
The massive glacial lake produced by the last Ice Age -- Lake Agassiz - which covered most of the area I am visiting this weekend is gone today but its memory lives on at venues such as Agassiz Middle School and Lake Agassiz Fuel and Food. The ice is gone and the vast majority of people we have met here is warm and personable which makes the the Fargo/Moorhead an ideal venue for a future trip.