Published May 19, 2022

She's Not From Around Here: It's Not a Vacation Destination

Written by
Amy Allender
| The Dakotan
Minot is a great place to come home to, but it’s not a vacation destination. [Photo: Amy Allender]
Minot is a great place to come home to, but it’s not a vacation destination. [Photo: Amy Allender]

Last weekend we visited Rapid City. During the days we crammed in tourist activities. We hit Bear Country, Reptile Gardens, and Old McDonald’s Farm. We ate ice cream at Mount Rushmore and browsed Who’s Toy House downtown. In the evening we visited local friends over meals and later watched our children romp through their yards until the sun started to dip into the hills.

My child taking in the sights at Mount Rushmore. [Photo: Amy Allender]

“How’s Minot?” My Rapid City friends would ask. “You make it look so fun on your Instagram stories.”

“It’s great. So fun — it’s just such a weirdly wonderful place,” I’d say. Then I’d weave tales of Trash Christmas and story time at Main Street Books. I talked about weekly trips to the zoo, my appreciation for the causal and low-cost kids’ sports programs, and how I’m looking forward to root beer floats at MSU’s Summer Theatre. When given the opportunity, I can gush about all the things that make life in the Magic City so sweet.

“You should come visit,” I tell my friends. The offer is sincere, but I know it’s unlikely that many will come. And that’s okay. I get it. I have many things to say about life in Minot, but this may top the list:

Minot is a great place to come home to.

I’ll never push to have Minot added to a list of America’s best vacation destinations. You won’t hear me claim Minot is a must-see city.

That’s okay. It doesn’t mean I love it any less.

My family loves welcoming guests. I adore showing them around and taking them along as we do life here in Hot Dish Territory. When friends and family come to visit, they are always pleasantly surprised by how much there is to do and how busy we stay.

Minot is a great place to come home to, but it’s not a vacation destination.

As a newcomer, if you can wrap your head around that truth, you’ll be free to enjoy Minot for exactly what it is: a great hometown.

So while we enjoyed our days in the Black Hills, I also enjoyed cresting the hill on 83 to see Walmart and the sign for Lucy’s Amusement Park in the distance. I knew home was almost within reach. Familiarity began to wrap itself around me like a worn cardigan. Minot.

My family is on the brink of many big changes. Maybe you are too. That’s the nature of life. Nothing stays the same for very long. If I think too hard about the months to come, my stomach turns flips and I feel queasy.

Then I take a few deep breaths and look around. Once I pull myself back into the present moment, the familiar rhythm of life in Hot Dish Territory is like a white-noise machine in a nursery. Soothing and comfortable.

The trains in the distance and the traffic on Broadway sound like an old song. We’ll go to the library today and the zoo tomorrow. In the morning, I’ll hear the rapid tap-tap-tapping of a pesky woodpecker trying to drill into our eaves. I know what time mail arrives and who brings it. If the weather is nice, I’ll ask the neighbors to come play, and we’ll watch the boys get dirty and sweaty until dangerously close to bedtime. On Sunday, a friend will come for dinner. After dessert we’ll offer lengthy Midwest goodbyes after slapping our knees and saying, “Whelp…” Even the unruly howl of the wind and the easy small talk about the weather creates a cadence of home.

These aren’t the sounds of vacation, but they are beautiful nonetheless.

No, Minot isn’t America’s number one summer vacation locale, but it’s a really great place to come home to.

(Earlier in this article I mentioned the fun I share on Instagram. If you’d like to connect with me there, my handle is @amy_allender.)

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