If you plan on stopping in to Vicky’s Viking Room for breakfast in downtown Valley City, North Dakota, you’ll need to get just a bit off the Eisenhower Interstate 94 corridor. But that doesn’t take more than 10 minutes. Valley City is nestled in the Sheyenne River Valley in east-central North Dakota, and before I-94 was built, Old Highway 10 used to take you right through central downtown. The Eisenhower Interstate system created new points of gravity for any city it went through (and any city it bypassed). And this initially threatened to suck activity from the historic downtowns. But it’s unnecessary to let high-speed travel corridors dictate the course of culture and Thanksgiving weekend trips. So when you begin seeing Valley City exits while on I-94, take the County Highway 21/8th Avenue SW exit, and head north. Turn east on Main Street and drive over the Sheyenne River to Central Avenue and turn north. You’ll head in that direction on Central Avenue for just a couple blocks. When you hit 3rd Street NW, turn west. Find a parking spot on that block right away. You can identify the façade of Vickey’s Viking Room from the three gable extensions jutting out of the entryway. It has classic cafe restaurant fare. For breakfast try the spinach quiche, or the Messy Jessy, or the biscuits and gravy. The biscuits are huge. Seriously. They may be as large as Ragnarok’s shield. And they provide an excellent base for large volumes of coffee. I was taken to Vicky’s by Valley City native Molly McLain.
While in Vickey’s, some Sunday mid-morning conversation was launched back and forth between two patrons. It went down like this:
Patron at the cash register to patron seated in a booth, in a tone of humorous yet restrained judgment: “I didn’t see you in church this morning…”
Patron seated in booth, responding in exonerating tone, said, “I sat in the way back.”
Patron at cash register, in monotone voice, responded by saying, “I prayed for you.”
Patron seated in booth, in a grateful voice, countered with, “Oh, I need all the help I can get.”
You’ll wonder if you’re in an episode from Prairie Home Companion while at Vicky’s Viking Room. But then you’ll also think that this is where Garrison Keillor gets his most honest material (and what makes up his best shows), from the reality of our northern Great Plains. Go to Vicky’s Viking Room.