What started my North Dakota travels was finding, driving and hiking to the state's sole waterfall, about 90 minutes away from Fargo in the Sheyenne State Forest.
My buddy Linda and I made the drive out on State Highway 46, what we didn't know at the time was the longest stretch of straight road in the Western Hemisphere (more on that when we get to state's largest tree). After hiking the wrong trail in the forest, we drove a little farther down the road and found the North Country Trail stretch that would take us 2.1 miles in to the waterfall.
The day was gorgeous and the woods were green beyond belief. I remember wind rustling the tops of the trees and the sun beating and beaming down. The hills were unlike what I had been expecting; after all, I didn't have much experience in non-Red River Valley places. The Sheyenne River Valley was basically brand new at this point.
We heard the waterfall before we saw it after traipsing along the trail cut into the steep side of the river valley. There it was.
We took pictures of it, with it and I played my ukulele. What a destination. What a place.
I think what struck me about the waterfall was that there must be more places like this in North Dakota, other unique natural areas that you actually have to go and find yourself without help from road signs or spots on the map.
Indeed, there are, and the waterfall set me on a course for other, similar places.
I've only been back once to the waterfall since my initial visit; I returned after a rainstorm with my friend Nicole following the last day of classes at NDSU in May 2015. That time it appeared the waterfall had changed course, spilling over another ledge to the northeast while still dripping over the original drop.
I'd love to go back in autumn to camp, but other places in the state are pulling me elsewhere. We'll see.