Far from the madding crowd

Far from the madding crowd

Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-06-21 12:50 When I received an invite to visit Fargo in the US, the first question I asked my host Sam was whether the town was in any way connected with the truck by the same name or the banking company “Wells Fargo” or the Hollywood movie. Sam replied that Fargo Trucks were made in Detroit, Wells Fargo had nothing to do with Fargo, but the movie and the TV show were indeed shot in the town.  “Normally Fargo, the largest city in the US State of North Dakota, attracts only people interested in agricultural activities. It is a not a tourist place,” he warned. So I decided to visit Fargo to experience life in a small US town. Detroit Lakes Fargo Theater North Dakota State University Sam was there to receive me at the airport. During lunch at my host’s restaurant “Passage to India”, Sam told me that Fargo stood at the intersection of two major railways and roadways in the US and hence important for commerce. Fargo’s twin city Moorhead is situated in Minnesota state and both the cities, separated by the Red River, have a combined population of about two lakhs.  My hotel was situated in the city centre, which was reminiscent of American towns I had seen in Hollywood movies. The town appeared to be not bigger than a small locality of Bengaluru.  Opposite to my hotel was a movie theater named Fargo and next to it an old-looking pub. There were shops selling a variety of goods. The impression I got about Fargo was that it is a leisurely place and its inhabitants laid back. At the hotel reception, I saw a large number of Norwegians checking in. The receptionist told me that many Norwegians and Germans had settled in Fargo in the late 19th century after traversing the Red River in boats. In the evening, Sam and I went to the campus of North Dakota State University. Founded as an agriculture college in 1890, the university is well known for its prowess in athletics.  At the main gate, I saw a statue of a huge bison which, I was told, was the university’s mascot. We went around the university and the student centre with its amenities impressed me. Visitors Center Lake Itasco Origin of River Mississippi Next day, Sam and I left Fargo early in the morning to visit Lake Itasca. Situated about 160km away, this lake is the source of the mighty Mississippi river.  We reached Itasca State Park after a two hour drive and went to the visitor centre, where we learned more about the river.  A short walk brought us to the point of its origin. There was a placid lake and water was moving towards western side forming the river. I was thrilled to see this. Later, we ambled through the park, a famous tourist destination, where people come from all over the US to camp and enjoy nature.  This park is home to a variety of wildlife and vegetation.  Half-way through our return journey, we stopped to check out Detroit Lake, which is also the name of the town situated around it. The lake attracts a large number of tourists who come there for water sports. We watched a beautiful sunset over the lake and returned to Fargo late in the evening. Norwegian Church Red River The next morning I went for a walk along the mighty Red River.  Due to copious rainfall, the river was full but did not look red to me. I crossed the river and went to the city of Moorhead. On seeing the sign of a Viking ship, I located a museum called Hjemkomst Center.  A Viking ship of the same name has been recreated here. This ship was supposed to have been built by a Moorhead resident who sailed to Norway. A life-size replica of a Norwegian church outside the museum is also worth a watch. After driving in the town of Moorhead, the headquarters of the famous Minnesota State University, I came back to my hotel and on the same evening I took a flight back to Chicago. An off-beat trip, the visit to Fargo was quite enjoyable. Author:  Dr. DV Guruprasad  (Former DGP) is presently the Chief Executive of the Gokula Education Foundation (Medical) which works in the field of education and health care.