homepage logo

State-trotter Samson conquers ND at last

By Staff | Oct 6, 2017

Submitted photo Derek Samson points out a sign welcoming visitors to Rugby, home of the Geographical Center of North America.

Traveling all the way from Georgia to eat Viking on a Stick, Derek Samson satisfied a 17-year quest to visit North Dakota last weekend.

In a whirlwind three days, he served ice cream to kindergarteners, stood up Minot’s mayor and put border agents on their guard before flying home Monday with a pair of underwear from a Rugby entrepreneur and a “Why Not Minot?” T-shirt.

So what will he tell friends about finally visiting his 50th state – 17 years after visiting his 49th?

“I’m just going to say it was very interesting in so many different ways,” Samson said. “My feet had touched on North Dakota and within 10 steps, I was in an ice cream truck, going on a tour of the city. That alone is pretty tough to top.”

Oscar Hultz, a Minot eighth grader and operator of Oscar’s Ice Cream, and his mother, Shannon Nybakken, picked up Samson at the airport Friday and gave him a tour of the city. They stopped at an elementary school to treat students of one of Oscar’s former teachers.

“He’s an impressive kid,” Samson said of Oscar’s business vision.

Samson also tried the Viking on a Stick and rice pudding at Norsk Hostfest after taking lessons from Nybakken in pronouncing the name of the Scandinavian event.

“I couldn’t believe how big it was,” he said of Hostfest. “It just kept going and going. I think I saw pretty much all of it.”

He did have one regret, though. Having arranged to meet Mayor Chuck Barney just before the Doobie Brothers concert at Hostfest, he erred regarding the start time. He arrived a half hour late and missed the mayor.

Samson spent Saturday in Rugby, where he attended Geographical Center Days. Unfortunately, inclement weather forced the event indoors. A highlight of the day was meeting the owner of the I.C. Dubbles lounge, who shared his story of starting an underwear line and gave Samson a sample.

Interested in seeing nearby Canada, Samson drove to the Dunseith Port of Entry and tried to persuade border agents to let him drive around Manitoba for a couple of hours.

“They were extremely suspicious of my story,” he said. They weren’t buying that he came alone from Savannah, Georgia, to North Dakota, where he knew no one, just to attend Geo Days and cross into Manitoba.

“I tried to explain it, but the more I tried to explain the more they thought I was lying,” he said. “The more I said, the more I felt like I was lying. I realized how absurd it kind of sounded.”

By pulling out a Minot Daily News article about his upcoming quest, he was able to show agents that he was a character, but not a suspicious one.

Samson’s time in Minot also allowed him to pick up souvenirs from Minot State University and visit local restaurants, of which The Starving Rooster was a favorite.

Samson said wherever he went, people had suggestions about things he had to see or do.

“Everybody was just very proud of the area that they lived in and North Dakota in general,” he said. “I just wish I could have gotten to all the places I was told I needed to check out, but I thought it was cool how proud people are of North Dakota.

“So many people said this needs to be annual thing. That’s not out of the question for me,” he added. “That would be kind of fun to make this an annual trip and make this an adoptive home for me.”

Schramm is a senior staff writer for the Minot Daily News

Please Enter Your Facebook App ID. Required for FB Comments. Click here for FB Comments Settings page