When you want a piece of pie so badly you’ll plan your whole trip around getting it.
We left Buffalo Gap Guest Ranch in Medora, ND around 9am on Wednesday, August 2, 2023 for a 290 mile drive to the Mel Rieman Recreational Area in Valley City, North Dakota. It was a straight shot on Interstate 94 from west to east and then a little jag north to Valley City.
A little less than a year ago, when Cindy and I were planning out this year’s trips and routes, I saw that we would be driving near Tower City, North Dakota on our way to Minnesota to visit her family. And when I saw that my mouth began to salivate as my tastes buds recalled the delicious flavor of a pie from the Tower Travel Center Cafe.
More than a decade ago I was deployed to North Dakota for the devastating flooding in Minot. It would be my first time meeting my then-boss now-friend Brian Hvinden, who is a native of the Peace Garden State. One day he told me about a delicacy called Walnut Cream Pie. I said it sounded questionable but he assured me that if I tasted it I would forever love it.
Then one Monday he returned to work from a weekend away bearing said pie. He told me it was from the Tower Travel Center Cafe in Tower City at exit 307 on Interstate 94. In fact their motto was “A little slice of heaven at exit 307” because they sold variety of freshly made pies. He offered me a slice. I took a bite. And I have never forgotten that wonderful taste.
While I was working there I made a couple of trips myself to exit 307, usually buying an entire pie to take back to my hotel room where I would try not to eat all of it within 2 days. I was not always successful.
So when we were trip-planning last year I told Cindy we HAD to find a campground nearby so I could introduce her to the wonders of Walnut Cream Pie. She found Mel Rieman, made our reservation, and I have been waiting (not always patiently) since then to return to the Tower Travel Center Cafe.
It was incredibly hot when we first arrived at Mel Rieman Wednesday afternoon, so after setting up we just wanted to cool off a bit. We had dinner and were scrolling through streaming services when “Grease” showed up and I mentioned I had never seen the movie. Cindy was incredulous and wanted to watch it that night, so we did.
It was “Ok”…certainly not a movie I’d bother to see again. To me, the music was better than the film.
Thursday morning we took Bella for a walk and then headed for the Tower Travel Center Cafe for lunch and pie. When we got there we saw one whole Walnut Cream pie in the display case. We got a table and ordered lunch and I asked for a slice of the desired pie so Cindy could taste it. I wasn’t going to buy an entire pie if, for some reason, she didn’t love it as much as I do, lol.
The slice came and after a taste, she loudly proclaimed to the entire restaurant that she loved it. It was like that restaurant scene from “When Harry Met Sally” with all of Meg Ryan’s moaning and groaning. I was embarrassed.
But not so embarrassed that I didn’t immediately go up to the bakery counter and ask to buy the whole pie in the display case. Except it wasn’t there any longer. The nice lady told me it was their last one and they had to cut a slice out of it for a customer. I told her that customer was me. She said she could sell the remainder to me but it would be at the full pie price. I threw my money down on the counter before she could change her mind, grabbed the pie and went back to our table.
When the server came with our lunch she asked how we liked the slice. I pointed to the empty plate and told her I bought the remainder of the pie. She very kindly said she would take the cost of the slice off our bill since we bought the pie at full price.
By the way, that pie lasted two days in Nomad, lol.
Friday night Cindy decided she would finally start to watch the first season of Loki. I had already watched it last year but wanted to see it again to get ready for premier of season two on October 6th. She liked the first episode so much that we ended up binge watching all 6 episodes that night!
Saturday night we continued our cinematic surge by watching “While You Were Sleeping” a movie Cindy had already seen but I had not. Sitting here now writing this I cant remember what the movie was about so I guess it didn’t make that much of an impression on me.
It also rained that night and into the morning, so we did as much of our tear down for Nomad as we could before the rain and so we didn’t have to do a lot in the rain the next morning before leaving Mel Rieman Recreational Area.
Next up: catching up with family in Minnesota.
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