I got a little surprise in the mail last night — a box from the North Dakota Department of Tourism. Granted, this wasn’t a complete surprise as I requested information from their website. Gave them my address and everything. Then immediately forgot.
In my wildest imaginings, I didn’t expect North Dakota to send me a box. I would have assumed more of an envelope. A box is always more exciting than an envelope. I danced the box into my kitchen, all fancy-feeling.
Thank you, North Dakota Department of Tourism. I love all my brochures and maps and guides.
Did you know that North Dakota is America’s least-visited state? And that the geographic center of North America is located in the town of Rugby? And that it shares its northern border with Canada? It grows more sunflowers than any other state. The official drink is milk. It’s called the Peace Garden State. Lawerence Welk and Angie Dickinson are North Dakotans. Since I literally knew nothing about North Dakota as little as a month ago (and I now know the eight facts I just shared), every factoid is a major revelation.
I find my ignorance both mortifying and strangely thrilling.
I think “mortified” is definitely the stronger emotion. Here I am, a college-educated adult who has always lived in the United States, gotten above-average grades, studied American history, and has spent almost half my life living in “The West.” How can North Dakota be such a mystery? I think I might know more about Mars than North Dakota. (And I don’t know much about Mars.) If I let myself travel down the path of Things I Don’t Know, I won’t be back for a long time.
North Dakota, I am sorry.
In my dismay about not knowing about North Dakota, I scrolled through a list of state nicknames. North Dakota, you are not alone.
The Yellowhammer State? The Natural State? The Prairie State? Pelican? Pine Tree? Treasure? Ocean? Palmetto? (There are many others I don’t know; these are but the most confounding.)
I once passed the first round of Jeopardy! tryouts, for goodness’ sake!
The thrilling part is…I am planning on visiting North Dakota on a mini-roadtrip this summer, and I am going to become an expert on our (Fact #9!) 39th state. The journey has already begun.