Devils Lake, N.D.—It sits as a remnant of the past, and the Ranch Steakhouse flourishes in these days of chains and fast food restaurants. It was the destination when I went with my niece, Joanne Jensen (JJ) on a September outing. There at the Ranch, we found dinners of walleye and roasted pork served in a upscale dining room with rich wooden walls and fresh flowers on the tables. We talked about the days of supper clubs such as the Bronze Boot and the River Bend—now long gone from the scene around Grand Forks.
Dear Emerson, My own children grew up and moved away, so I am glad to have friends like you around Grand Forks. I got your letter the other day. It's good to know you are now in third grade at Discovery School. You say your teacher, Mrs. Thompson, is super nice. And you have five new kids in your class. Your new playground equipment sounds good. Yes, I should drop over and try it out!
Their hats are big. Their new uniforms are black and silver. And the UND Pride of the North marching band will lead the way when the Potato Bowl parade rolls down University Avenue Saturday. Seems like only yesterday Rob Brooks came to Grand Forks. But it has been 20 years since he started down the rocky road to save the marching band. This year he has 140 players playing the school song, "Stand Up and Cheer." Then there's "Fight On UND" and "It's For U, North Dakota U."
The weekend arrives with new medical students at UND starting down their long road and reciting the age old Hippocrates Oath. Catfish that escaped the recent tournament here are swimming wildly downstream toward Canada. They want to avoid being caught up around Drayton this weekend. People are beginning to eat corn and let the butter run down their chins.
FERTILE, Minn.—You get the feeling of an old-fashioned supper club when you walk into Erickson's Smokehouse Grill and Bar here. On my first visit I learned beef brisket is the big draw. The meat is tender and tasty with a pleasant smoky taste. It is the best I can remember in my adventures through very large and very small restaurants. The chef is Mark Erickson who with his wife, Sue Erickson, operates this somewhat new and mostly old, sprawling restaurant. They draw people from a wide area. They also cater in the area towns.
Dear Sandy, The hill is steep. The reward is great. I go sometimes on summer evenings to sit on the bench behind my lift station on Belmont Road. I check to be sure all is well. Occasionally, I climb the hill behind the station to look out over the Red River. And then I talk to the river. This is the time of year when the river seems at peace. The catfish tournament is over. There is a hint of change in the air. There is the murmur of a new school year. Maybe summer is on the wane, but it is far from over.
Luther Bjerke is leaving Beaver Creek. And Tom Brosseau got married. This is only the first week of August. Who knows what will happen next? So far, we know there is summer commencement at UND this afternoon. We know the fishers left a few catfish in the Red River last weekend. But it will take a while to realize that Luther Bjerke and his wife, Joanna, are leaving Beaver Creek. That's where they settled in when they moved out of Grand Forks in 1980. They have been living on the place where his grandfather started farming when he came from Norway.
If you are good and hungry at lunch time in nearby Warren, Minn., you can get a beef or pork dinner at the Uptown Lounge and Café. It's easy to find because it is the only full-service restaurant in town. And it's located right in the heart of the city. The beef or pork dinner is $8.29. For most people, the half dinner at $6.29 would be enough. That is when you consider the mashed potatoes, brown gravy and dinner roll that come with it.
It's small. The parking lot is rutted. The building is modest. Still, Darcy's keeps drawing full houses for its very good, everyday food in its location off the beaten track on North Washington Street. Working people, hockey players, Canadians find breakfast here. The service is quick. The food is good. The price is mid-range.
Some people around here never have been to The Other Place in Fertile, Minn. Or to the Iron Horse Saloon at Inkster. Some never heard of the Hobo Haus at Newfolden, Minn., or the Pain Reliever at Nekoma. They are among bars and restaurants being visited this summer by motorcyclists and others just driving cars. They are part of the Ride the Valley Challenge—100 stops in 100 days in a 100-mile radius of Grand Forks. That's an area that stretches west to Devils Lake and as far east as Bagley, Minn. It goes from Pembina at the northern point and Kindred on the south.