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A Party for the WAND Book

On March 3 The Walk Across North Dakota was one of several books and happenings celebrated at a big NDSU Press party in Fargo, ND. Bruce, Jeremy, and Tyler attended the party, gave a ten-minute reading, and signed copies of the book.

Anyone interested in purchasing The Walk Across North Dakota should contact Nancy Nelson (, who handles both bookseller discounts and individual sales.

Here are some pictures of the event, taken from the NDSU Press’s Facebook page.

WAND release party

L-R: Author Ryan Christiansen; WAND authors Bruce Ringstrom, Tyler Bold, and Jeremy Bold; and author John Bluemle at the book signing table.

WAND party covers

Book covers on display.

WAND podium

Jeremy, Tyler, and Bruce share the podium.


Writing about North Dakota: The American Guide Series

I recently learned about the American Guide Series of books, a project of the Federal Writers’ Project during the Great Depression. According to Wikipedia, these books were “printed by individual states, and contained detailed histories of each of the then 48 states of the Union with descriptions of every major city and town. In total, the project employed over 6,000 writers.” Wikipedia also provides a chart of the books for all 50 states, including North Dakota, here.

From the North Dakota State Historical Society website, I learned the following: “Not ten or fifty or a hundred, but actually hundreds of North Dakotans helped in the making of the guide, from the many who contributed information about their own communities or field of work down to the handful of editors and writers who brought that information within the covers of this book.”

Screenshot of Google book

Most of North Dakota: A Guide To The Northern Prairie State has been scanned into Google Books and can be viewed here. Here is one excerpt I particularly love:

“What is the North Dakota they know? A State of unbounded plains and hills and Badlands—elbowroom. Superb sunsets. High winds and tumbleweed. Farms and plows and sweeping fields. Gophers flashing across the road. Little towns crowded on Saturday night, and busy cities shipping out the products of North Dakota and supplying the needs of the producers. Sudden blinding, isolating blizzards, and soft, fragrant spring days with tiny sprouts of grain peering greenly through the topsoil. Pasque flower and cactus, flame lily, and fields of yellow mustard. The sad, slow wail of a coyote on the still prairie. People—Norwegians, Germans, Russians, Poles, Czechs, Icelanders, but all Americans. Square dances in barn lofts, and college ‘proms’ with corsages and grand marches. Teachers building fires with numbed hands in stoves of icy one-room schools. Men in unaccustomed ‘best clothes’ sitting in majestic legislative halls of a skyscraper statehouse. Political fires, sometimes smouldering, sometimes flaring, always burning.”

Meeting with our Editor, and a WAND Audiobook?

Water over highway 10

A “just ’cause” photo from WAND Part II – water over Highway 10 near Crystal Springs.

A few days ago I met with Suzzanne Kelley, the new editor in chief at the ND Institute for Regional Studies Press, our publisher. It was a fun and invigorating meeting – we got into detail about things like cover design, final edits to the manuscript, and promoting the book. Before parting we set a release date of February 2016. Looking back at previous posts, I can see that my other estimates for completion were December 2014, spring 2015, and summer/fall 2015. According to Suzzanne, a three-year period from acceptance to release is not uncommon, so despite this new date we will still come out ahead.

Those with an interest in small presses should check out the Institute’s Facebook page. Suzzanne has been posting items of interest from their archives as well as neat links to literary and historical web pages and images.

Meanwhile, Jeremy has raised the idea of an audiobook version of The Walk Across North Dakota, and we’d like to know what our blog readers think. Production would include all five of us recording our journal excerpts, and we would possibly seek funding through a grant. We welcome your comments below!

Publishing News

On National Trails Day, we have exciting news about the trail we forged across North Dakota in 2011 and 2013: The Walk Across North Dakota is going to be published by the NDSU Institute for Regional Studies Press!

According to the Institute, it will take about six months to produce print and digital editions of the book. We’ll be sure to post an update here when they’re available for purchase. We are also considering the creation of a separate website for the book.


The End of the WAND

The End of the WAND

Gwen and Richard crossing the bridge to Moorhead (photo by Bruce).

The WAND Part II Approaches

This June, three members of the original WAND team – Richard, Bruce, and Gwen – will set out from Bismarck to complete the journey across North Dakota. This journey, for any readers unfamiliar with us, began in June 2011 with the additional participation of Jeremy and Tyler Bold. We walked from the Montana border near Beach to Bismarck over 14 days, roughly paralleling I-94. In this second stage, we will walk from Bismarck to the Minnesota border near Fargo, over 13 days. With a longer average daily mileage and less training due to life circumstances, we anticipate some hardships, but we also know we’re in for adventure and a great bonding experience. Like before, we will be documenting our travel with journals and some photos (probably not as much photography as last time). After the trip, Gwen will work on a final version of the book we self-published in January 2012, The Walk Across North Dakota, and seek a publisher.


The WAND II Team

WAND Reunion!

WAND Reunion!

The WAND team reunited for a walk through the North Dakota State Capitol grounds on December 27, 2012.

Long, endless WANDering

…it felt like we were walking forever at times…VOID — the horizon — that we endlessly stared into…and when the day’s end finally came, the packs crashing at our collapsing feet…silence; we found ourselves free.

At long last, here is some of the footage I collected from the WAND.

I’ve often been meditating on the nature of time since we completed the WAND, especially relative to my time in the City.  (Maybe you can tell from the video.)

Over the last year-ish, I’ve gone to a whole new level of relativity; it’s amazing how different the world seems when you are not serving to a Master like the Boss…the Clock…”Society.”

They all demand you at Once, and if you pay them all of your attention, it will likely make you insane.

North Dakota still seems to offer something there: a place beyond the servitude toward these times, a place that is liberated and free.  You will discover the world of Non-Obligated Time.

This video features a song called “The Void,” by Ben Gibbard and Jay Farrar; although, I will not claim that all the lyrics speak to this scene, the sound seemed right.

A piece of advice: go wandering, wherever you can.  Find a place where there is no time and spend a moment there.  Don’t look for the moment, just keep waiting.  You won’t find it until after it is realized.

This is a space that few others can understand, a space beyond sanity, and invaluable in a world of schizophrenic times.

Face of Green wheat stocks

Face of Green wheat stocks

Face of Green wheat stocks,
eyes locked in natural thatch –
Waiting for the sun.

Book Revision and WAND Part II

Our poor blog – it’s been months since the last post. I doubt many people will read what I’m writing now, but I’ll share two updates anyway:

First, I received some fellowship money from my graduate school program to expand and revise The Walk Across North Dakota this summer. (Now that I think of it, I don’t think I ever posted that I completed the book – at least the first version of it – in January.) I will be reading significant works of travel literature (such as Blue Highways: A Journey into America by William Least Heat-Moon and Henry David Thoreau’s essay “A Walk to Wachusett”), doing other research, and then drafting and revising new content. I may also solicit content from other people connected to the project.

The book cover, designed by Katie Falkenberg.

Second, the walk across the eastern half of North Dakota is tentatively set for the summer of 2013. I really want to make this happen, and I think it can. I’m not sure how many of our original crew will be able to join me, but my desire to walk across the entire state is growing increasingly strong. So it may be that I’ll expand and revise the book again in the future. Hey, I’m game.

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