Disclaimer: Logan spoiler.
Oh, Logan. North Dakota was supposed to have a starring role. The whole film builds towards this majestic moment where all of the little mutants make a grand pilgrimage to North Dakota.
I’ve gone as North as Grand Forks and I’ve driven across the state from Fargo to Medora. The burnt orange, rolling prairie grass and rugged terrain of Theodore Roosevelt National Park left me awestruck. I’m sure the prairie grass is scratchy and thick with critters, when you drive by and see it gently rolling in the wind, you’ll want to pull your car over and take a nap in it.
North Dakota is actually really beautiful. I could see the characters in Logan reaching the fictional destination of Eden in my mind as prairie grass danced in the wind.
Except they didn’t. The rocky, deserty-looking terrain and fort on a cliff depicted in the film left me scratching my head. Turns out they never actually reached Eden, North Dakota because the movie was never even filmed in North Dakota! It was filmed in New Mexico. I guess you could say that I’m still bitter about this.
When I reflect on our time in North Dakota, I think about something Jonathan Dawson stated in the Tangier, Morocco episode of No Reservations: “Some people have to leave home to find their home.”
Five years ago, Jake and I moved away from the Twin Cities for the first time and spent two years in Fargo, North Dakota. Returning to Fargo felt bittersweet. Fargo helped me grow-up a lot. I gained a lot more appreciation for the Midwest and felt the wonder of exploring new (to me) places, even if they were just an hour away. I learned how to view other writers as friends instead of competition and get to know a community before judging it.
On our countless trips between Fargo-Moorhead and Minneapolis-St. Paul, I scouted the best places to take snack breaks. The smaller towns along the way fascinated me to no end. I did a lot of research on each and every town along the freeway and stopped in a new town each time I made the trip. When Jake and I drove together, I made him stop, too.
My favorite place along the way is Osakis, Minnesota. It’s a sleepy, peaceful little town on a lake about halfway between Minneapolis and Fargo.The main street’s less than 10 minutes from the I-94 exit. If you are in the mood for a light snack, visit Jacobs Lefse bakery. I did not stop here on this trip, but notice that it’s still open. You can purchase lefse by the roll slathered in butter and rolled with your favorite toppings. It’s the perfect road trip snack.
Tip Top Dairy Bar is advertised on at least one of the freeway signs. The food stand is seasonal and opens in April. Just as the signs on the building state, burgers are made with fresh ground beef and meals take a few extra minutes to prepare because everything is cooked to order.
The menu offers sweet and savory items. Those seeking sweets can choose from cyclones to shakes to sundaes to whipped slushes. Meals include burgers, hot dogs, pizza burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, homemade sloppy joes, and a variety of fried doodads.
When we visited four years ago, we split a chili dog, expecting it to taste like the Dairy Queen chili dogs we crave from time to time. The Tip Top chili dog arrived on a carefully toasted bun, topped with what tasted like homemade chili. I made a note to return someday. This time I ordered a cheeseburger ($4.50). The price includes your choice of toppings.
Order at one window and take a seat at the bench along the other to wait for your food. There are also tables and restrooms inside the small dining room. If you get mixed-up, friendly locals will help direct you to the right window.
This burger is worth the ten-minute detour from the freeway. The beef is beefy and buttery in flavor and juicy with the slightest hint of pink. The toasted bun, ridiculously fresh lettuce leaf and fat, punchy pickles make this a very special burger.
If you have time, wander over to the lake and stand on a dock. The lake is blue and peaceful.
More to come on my 24 hours in Fargo.
Tip Top Dairy Bar
22 West Nokomis Street
Osakis, MN 56360