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Beach is the Name of a Town in North Dakota and Other Oddities Gathered in a Lifetime of Travel

I don’t ever remember thinking of myself as adventurous. But looking back on a lifetime of activity, perhaps I’ve had this trait all along. After a childhood that was punctuated by frequent moves, summer trips, plus 45 years in the group travel business, I actually have accumulated a few stories to relate. Some of them have appeared in Trail Talk over the years, but there are more that you might find interesting. So here goes, starting with the headline:

Beach is the county seat of Golden Valley County and is located 5 miles from the Montana border. (Just for the record, the town does not have a beach.) It is named for Captain Warren Beach of the Eleventh Infantry, who accompanied the Stanley railroad survey expedition to the area. The town was settled in 1900, and in the 2020 census the population was 981. And yes, I have been there!

My first solo trip occurred when I was seven years old. My parents hung a string around my neck with a tag listing my name and destination, deposited my suitcase underneath the Jack Rabbit Bus and waved good-bye. That was before sunrise, as my journey was going to take me over 500 miles across several midwestern states to spend the summer with my maternal grandparents on their ranch in the Black Hills. (It never occurred to me to wonder what they thought of this considerable imposition, but I clearly understood that my mother’s sanity depended upon getting me out of the way for as long as possible.) I took that annual trip for so many years, that they all seem to blend together in my memory. But I do remember being told that I arrived that first year with more money than I started with. (I seem to have lost that knack over the years!)

Part of my job is to keep up on tourism developments in areas that we tour. A new hotel or attraction can be a welcome enhancement to an already successful itinerary, or can make the difference in whether or not we choose that destination in the first place. For example, we’ve been visiting the old cowtown of Medora, North Dakota for many years, and it just keeps getting better, with expanded entertainment opportunities from the Medora Musical, hotel and shopping improvements to the downtown area. And directly adjacent to the town itself is Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the only national park named for a US President.

But the most exciting development in years will be the completion of the new Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Museum slated to open in Medora in 2025. When the Bully President was in office it wasn’t yet “a thing” to plan and build a presidential museum to celebrate your time in office. But it matters that this president claimed he never would have been President in the first place if it hadn’t been for his time spent in Dakota (The territory was still years from dividing into north and south states when Teddy lived and worked there.) After a tussle with the State College in nearby Dickinson, Medora finally won the location and I for one, am eagerly looking forward to taking travelers to see the latest entry in presidential museums. Bully!

As the great entertainer, Al Jolson famously stated, I have a million of them! But I’m out of space for now, so I’ll just end with a few links to previously published travel stories for those of you still wanting more.

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