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Happy New Year! What are your vacation resolutions?

This is the time of year that’s full of vows for self improvement. I admit that I’m doing it. And if you’re making resolutions too here’s one to add to the list: Resolve to use your vacation time this year on actual vacations. In 2011, about 57% of working Americans had unused vacation time at the end of the year and most of them left an average of 11 days unused. (CNN Money) But research is showing that if you want to stay healthy – take a vacation!

www.LuvND.comLast November, the North Dakota Ambassador program launched a lighthearted “bucket list” of fun things to see and do in North Dakota – it’s called “123 Ways to Luv ND“. This list was inspired by people, places, activities and accolades that North Dakotans love about the state. I personally think it’s also a fun way to inspire visiting North Dakota! Here you can get a taste of a few submitted favorites with the opportunity to learn more.

The “123 Ways to Luv ND” promotion also has me personally thinking about my North Dakota bucket list for 2013. While I have some personal favorites that I try to make it to each year (UND hockey being one of them and the Medora Musical), my family does try to make to different parts of the state and experience new things. Here are a few that I’m hoping to have on the calendar:

  1. Camp on Lake Sakakawea … but I’d “settle” for fishing the lake and staying at Riverdale High Lodge too. :)
  2. Run events at the Fargo Marathon and Bismarck Marathon. And maybe the Uff Da Mud Run in Grand Forks!
  3. Visit the Coteau des Prairie Lodge south of Rutland in the summer and see how far I can see from the “perch.”
  4. In high school, I was a tour guide at the Bagg Bonanza Farm near Mooreton and I really want to bring the family for the first time and see how much the more this National Historic Site has been preserved.

My husband says that he would add to the list:

  1. Stay at Woodland’s Resort and fish Devils Lake.
  2. Do some ice fishing.
  3. Coyote hunting.

(I think he may have a one-track mind.)

So … what’s on your vacation-resolution list for 2013?!?

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2013 in Just for Fun

 

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Last Minute Vacation Planning

As the summer is winding down and students are gearing up to go back to school, you may find yourself wanting to go on one last vacation before summer is over. Since North Dakota has a lot to offer, you are in luck because there are still a ton of fun things going on! Check out upcoming events in North Dakota:

Grand Forks is having their annual Rollin’ on the River event August 24-25! The weekend kicks off on Friday with a Keep the Ball Rollin’ Golf Tournament at King’s Walk Golf Course and Rockin’ Rollin’ Rally & Feast in Lincoln Drive Park at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Rollin’ on the River inline skating marathon takes place on the city streets of Grand Forks, with the Alerus Center as the starting point at 7:30 a.m. You can also enjoy an evening of great blues music in the heart of beautiful downtown Grand Forks at the Blues on the Red Music Fest event. Top musicians from around the country will provide the free entertainment, while vendors sell such delicious cuisine.

Check out central North Dakota and see all the fun things going on. In Minot, the North Dakota State Fairgrounds play host to Motor Magic, Labor Day weekend in Minot. The largest motorsports event in the Upper Midwest, Motor Magic provides entertainment for auto enthusiasts of all ages. Nodak Speedway races and drag racing on the Magic City International Dragway kick off the motor mayhem. Motor Magic continues with more to see and do Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

If you want to head to the Bismarck-Mandan area, Mandan is hosting its annual Wild West Grillfest! Celebrate Mandan’s farming and ranching heritage with a grilling competition, beer gardens, a variety of live entertainment all day, inflatable games, hayrides, art and craft vendor booths, Pride of Dakota tent and dance Friday night on August 17-18. There will be live music by The Roosters on Friday and Dirty Word on Saturday.

Or you can head west to Medora to see all the funs things they have to offer. The Medora Musical is a great show that goes through September 8. Stop in for a great meal at the Pitchfork Steak Fondue or maybe play a round of golf on the world renowned Bully Pulpit.  Maybe you just want to do a little hiking; well Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a great place to explore with the whole family or as private getaway!

For more events and attractions, go to the North Dakota Tourism website. Who knows what kind of adventure is out there for you!

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, Family Fun

 

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2012 London Olympics

 

As the week comes to a close, our eyes turn to the 2012 London Olympic Games. Although there are no athletes originally from North Dakota competing in the games, there are several college alumni to root for! Athletes include former North Dakota State University standout Amanda (Thieschafer) Smock and Dickinson State University’s Ramon Miller, Derrick Atkins and Trevor Barry.

Smock, originally from Melrose, Minn., attended NDSU from 2001-2004 and was a three-time NCAA Division II national champion and 13-time All-American. Smock holds the NDSU outdoor triple jump record of 43 feet, ½ inch and indoor triple jump record of 42 feet, 4½ inches. She qualified for the Olympic triple jump in June, booking her trip to London with a winning 45-9 at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Women’s triple jump preliminaries will be August 3 at 4:25 a.m., CDT.

A pair of Bahamian sprinters and a jumper formerly at Dickinson State also will be competing in track and field.

Miller, a 15-time NAIA All-American, will represent the Bahamas in both the 200-meter and 400-meter dash. Miller set the DSU school record of 45.42 in the 400 in 2009. The first round of the men’s 200-meter dash is August 7 at 5:50 a.m. and the first round of the men’s 400-meter will be August 4 at 4:35 a.m.

Former Blue Hawk Derrick Atkins will be competing in the men’s 100-meter dash and Trevor Barry will be competing in the men’s high jump. Atkins set the DSU school record of 20.81 in the 200-meter dash in 2005. The men’s 100-meter preliminaries start August 4 at 4 a.m.

Barry, who in 2006 set DSU records in the long jump with a leap of 25 feet, 8 inches and the high jump with a 7-3 inches, will be begin high jump prelims on August 5 at 1:05 p.m.

If these Olympians inspire you, North Dakota has several competitions coming up. The Bismarck Marathon is September 15 and offers a full or half marathon, full marathon relay, 10-K or 5-K run. The Maah Daah Hey 100 mountain bike race though the Badlands August 18 concludes in Medora.

For more events and races around North Dakota, check out our website at http://www.ndtourism.com/whatdo/.

 

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A Weekend of Softball, Sweat and Shenanigans

The 37th Annual Sam McQuade Sr./Budweiser Charity Softball Tournament was played last weekend in Bismarck-Mandan. For those unfamiliar with this exciting event, it is a men’s and women’s softball tournament that draws around 400 teams from the United States and Canada. It has even featured games between soldiers in Iraq. The tournament is played on 40 diamonds in six complexes and more than 90 umpires are needed for this three-day extravaganza. For many players and the 15,000 or so fans that follow their team, the McQuade tournament is the highlight of the summer.

Being from Bismarck definitely has its advantages during the McQuade. You can sleep in your own bed as opposed to a hotel or camper. More friends and family usually come out to watch and there is always someone you know playing. This being my second McQuade, I was very excited to get out there and play again. My first year was 2010 when I was a pick-up player for a friend’s team. I was a little intimidated at first because I didn’t know a lot of the guys. Eventually my nerves settled and I just played the game like I knew how. That year, surprisingly, we ended up winning the championship in our division (See picture above). It was an awesome experience to win a McQuade championship my first year. I must have done pretty well because the team I played on even asked me to be a permanent part of their squad the next two years!

This year we were out to defend our title despite a two-year layoff. Flooding in Bismarck last year caused tournament officials to limit divisions and teams, leaving us out.  I was a little nervous in our tournament opener this year because it was only my second year playing in the McQuade and I was now a permanent member of the reigning champs. So there were high expectations to say the least. We played phenomenal our first game. Everyone hit the ball really well and we made great defensive plays too! We ended up 10-running our opponent after only five innings. After the game, our whole team got together and tailgated (that’s where some of the shenanigans come in). If you know softball, you know that tailgating is HUGE, especially at the McQuade. We also went to the main complex to watch Team USA play and to watch the annual home run derby.

We had heard the team we were playing in our next game on Saturday was pretty good, so we had to be ready. We started a little shaky and trailed 10-3 after three innings. But we turned the tables in the fourth after escaping a tight spot. Our opponent had one of its best batters up and I decided to back up a little bit in center to give myself a little more range. On the first pitch, the batter crushed the ball my way. I raced back towards the fence and noticed I was running out of room. But I kept running, extending my arm to brace for the impact while reaching over the fence, jumping and catching the ball! I could not believe it when I looked in my glove and saw the ball. I had just robbed the batter of a grand slam. Moments later, I realized that the base-runner who had been on third base had run home without tagging up. So I quickly threw the ball to third to double up the runner.

We used the momentum and excitement from my play as a game-changer. Our first six batters got on base and eventually scored. We ended up scoring nine runs that inning to go ahead 12-10. We shut out our opponent the rest of the way to win 17-10. To celebrate our invigorating win, we of course, grilled and tailgated in the parking lot!

We began Sunday three games from a title. We started our quest for another title at 8:40 (early for a softball game, but this is the McQuade) with an intense see-saw game that was tied 12-12 heading into the last inning. We went up 13-12 but had to hold on in the last half of the seventh. But our dreams came crashing down with two outs. The third batter of the inning got on with a hit down the left field foul line. The next batter sent us packing with a two-run homer.

Although it was a disappointing day, I still had a lot of fun last weekend at the McQuade tournament! It was fun seeing the different teams from around the country and playing in the nice weather. The McQuade tournament was certainly a weekend to remember. We are not defending champs but I will be back next year to shoot for another first-place finish!

 

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Guest Blog : Undiscovered Travels in North Dakota – A Memeorable RV Experience

This guest blog comes from our friends at El Monte RV Rentals who invite others to explore North Dakota as they did.

Here’s a great way to produce an eyebrow-arching reaction from your friends: tell them that you’re going to take a trip to North Dakota this year. That’s right, North Dakota – home state of bubbly bandleader Lawrence Welk, zen coaching great Phil Jackson and peppery actress Angie Dickinson, to name just a few famous North Dakotans. Those who think the only thing to do in North Dakota is shovel snow 10 months out of the year would be very surprised to find out just how much fun you can have in our 39th state. And because so many still think this way, you’re not going to find the usual suffocating crowds and long lines that plague so many of the country’s top destinations. So pack your bags, rent an RV and get ready for a memorable and truly relaxing vacation.

Begin your trip in the eastern part of the state with a stop at the Prairie Rose Carousel in Wahpeton, open Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even people without kids will marvel at seeing this fully restored 1926 Spillman model featuring 20 intricately painted wooden horses, two chariots and a calliope – it’s one of only 150 working carousels left in the country. And should you fancy a ride, it’s just $1.50.

From there, it’s a short drive to Bonanzaville in West Fargo. Learn about prairie life in the 1800’s as you stroll through more than 40 restored vintage buildings, including homes, schools, stores, depots and banks. On-site museum collections feature tractors, buggies, medical equipment and aircraft, including a C-47 that was used during the D-Day invasion.

To see an amazing collection of vintage aircraft that still fly, check out the nearby Fargo Air Museum, which features the F4-U Corsair, L 39 Jet, TBM Avenger, P 51 Mustang, Fairchild PT-19A, L 19 Bird dog, Bell Helicopter and “Duggy – the Smile in the Sky” DC 3.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineNext, drive north to Dunseith to visit the International Peace Garden located on the US-Canadian border. Constructed in 1932 as a symbol of friendship between the two countries, the 2339-acre Peace Garden offers vibrant displays of over 150,000 flowers including an 18-foot floral clock. It’s open year-round but the best views are when the park is at full bloom mid-July through August. Take time to park at one of the campgrounds to hike the surrounding Turtle Mountain forests and do some serious bird watching.

courtesy of National Scenic Byways OnlineAlso worth a stop is nearby Lake Metigoshe State Park, where you can enjoy acres of pristine wilderness, a crisp mountain lake and hike the 3-mile Old Oak Trail, the state’s first Recreation Trail. Here you can experience the rugged beauty of nature while you unplug from life’s day-to-day distractions.

After a day or two of true R&R, you’ll be ready to head back south to Bismarck, the state capital and home to a number of can’t miss historical attractions. The North Dakota Heritage Center museum is open year-round, and documents the entire history of the land from its formation and pre-historic dinosaurs to the western expansion era, Indian encounters and industrial age growth. You can also learn about the U.S.S. North Dakota and other nautical interests in the Hall of Honors section of the Museum.

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the InteriorFamed explorers Lewis and Clark travelled the Missouri River (which is actually longer than the Mississippi) through this part of North Dakota with Indian guide Sakakawea, and their adventures are highlighted at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center next to Fort Mandan, just a short drive from Bismarck. You can try on a buffalo robe, learn about the fur trade and view breathtaking watercolors by Karl Bodmer, regarded as one of the best eyewitness illustrators of Upper Midwest Indian Cultures.

In addition to Fort Mandan, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park located on the west side of the Missouri boasts an impressive array of historical attractions, including reconstructed Indian earth lodges and General George Custer’s last Calvary post and reconstructed home. It was from this fort that he rode out to meet his fate at the hands of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors.

by Mary Brazell, courtesy of National Park Service

The western part of North Dakota is where you’ll find Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a panoramic tribute to our 26th President’s fervent belief in conservation, located near the town of Medora. You can read about the former president’s adventures in his own words and explore his Maltese Cross and Elkhorn ranches, surrounded by the austere beauty of the western badlands. Gain a unique perspective of the area from a saddle –guided horseback tours are available at Peaceful Valley Ranch within the Park.

Wrap up your tour by taking in a performance of the Medora Musical – a rollicking family-friendly entertainment adventure with singing, dancing and even live horses in a show that reflects upon the time Roosevelt spent in the area. The show is performed nightly during the summer months, and includes a mix of modern country, gospel and patriotic songs.

Amusing, restful, historic and panoramic – all very suitable words you can use to describe your journey through the quietly remarkable state of North Dakota.

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals.  You can see more great RV vacation ideas in their Monty’s Musings RV Travel Blog and be sure to check out their Camping Pictures

 

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Are you working for the weekend?

Yes! It’s almost Memorial Weekend which means, for most people, a nice three-day weekend. Last year our Memorial Weekend update included information about flooding and closures.  This year we’re happy to say – Missouri River boat ramps are open!  All 18-holes of Bully Pulpit Golf Course are open!  Campgrounds in the Badlands are open!  The Dakota Zoo is open!  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for fun experiences you can enjoy this weekend and all summer long in North Dakota.

Looking for some North Dakota travel tips?  Be sure to pick up an official North Dakota Travel Guide and state map.  They’re free and if you don’t already have one you can pick them up at rest areas or order online and we’ll mail them to you.  Check your routes online with the ND Dept. of Transportation.  A travel information map will alert you to any road closures or construction.

Here are a few events on our weekend calendar and you can find many more at www.NDtourism.com.

  • Memorial Day is Military Appreciation Day in all North Dakota State Parks which means free admission for veterans and current service members.
  • The Sky Dance Sakakawea kite festival will take place at Fort Stevenson State Park – May 26-28.
  • How about a Wild West Shootout?  The gunfire goes down at 3 p.m. on Monday in the Frontier Village in Jamestown.
  • Kick back with some cowboy poetry, May 26 in Medora.

Memorial Day services are held in communities around the state. One of the most notable takes place in Sherwood where veterans from the U.S. and Canada exchange flags at the International Boundary.  A program and parade will follow with North Dakota’s Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley as keynote speaker.

Enjoy your weekend and be sure to share your vacation stories and pictures on our Facebook page.

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Events

 

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Fishing – no ice, no waiting – in North Dakota

I’ve posted before about my husband – a Minnesotan who has become one of North Dakota’s biggest promoters because of the accessible (and pretty fabulous) hunting and fishing here.  Well this guy LOVES his Missouri River.  It’s no secret that this has been the warmest winter on record in North Dakota.  Most of the state had little to no snow all season and now the daytime highs have consistently been in the 50s, 60s and even 70s from border-to-border.  So what does that have to do with my dear hubby and fishing?  As I was being informed of the boat ramps that have opened in Bismarck and Mandan he also reminded me that in some states, there’s a season opener that’s still weeks away. Here in North Dakota, our walleye/pike season never “closes” or “opens.”  And as many anglers know – that spring bite can be awesome.  HOW awesome?  Just last week a new state record lake trout was caught.

Royce Johnston of New Town reeled in the 16-pound, 6-ounce lake trout from the Garrison Dam Tailrace (on the Missouri River). The 33.5-inch fish broke the old record by more than two pounds. The previous record of 14 pounds, 4 ounces was taken from the Tailrace in 1982.

Fishing North Dakota is easy! Just visit the Game and Fish Department for licensing, waterways and boat ramps. You can also get the latest with the North Dakota Outdoors on Facebook.  Follow @OutdoorsND on Twitter for great information around the state because, not only is the fishing open, golf courses are opening too! The first we’ve heard of are Heart River in Dickinson, Pebble Creek in Bismarck and the Edgewood and Rose Creek courses in Fargo. Several others have told us that they could be opening in the coming weeks!

And if you happen to be going out tomorrow on the Missouri River – it’s expected to be 80-degrees and you can look for my hubby in a green Fisher.

 
 

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So much to look forward to in 2012

As you’re getting ready to turn that calendar to a new year, grab your pen and start making plans to check out some new attractions and activities in North Dakota!

The International Peace Garden in the Turtle Mountains is known for its beauty, tranquility and symbolism. It’s a popular destination in the summer and now travelers can enjoy it in the winter. The Peace Garden has an extensive network of trails accessible for snowshoeing.  Snowshoes, walking poles and bindings can be rented from the interpretive center.  The interpretive center and conservatory are open year round.

The Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University is dedicated to preserving the legacy of America’s 26th President. A new presidential digital library gives scholars and visitors a new way to be inspired by Roosevelt.  Visit online or in-person – but be sure to package your visit with Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Always wanted to fish the Missouri River in the winter but your boat is stored away? No problem. Sakakawea Guide Service now offers unique houseboats with an opportunity to fish the Garrison Dam tailrace throughout the winter months.

Rolling Plains Adventures, near Bismarck, hosts guided hunts and ranch vacations and a new Grand Lodge will open in 2012. Based on Black Leg Ranch, the fifth generation ranchers/owners help guests discover ranch life with horseback riding and cattle drives plus home-cooked meals.

The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center expansion is slated to be open in February showcasing a new event center, library and production studio. More exhibits tell the story of the Corps of Discovery and others who journeyed through (now) North Dakota.  The Center is located in Washburn.

Also scheduled to be open in February is the new Enchanted Castle, a 20-room lodging facility in Regent – known as one stop along the Enchanted Highway. The front of the new hotel will have the appearance of a castle. Walk across the moat to enter the property.

Stay tuned for more great things coming to North Dakota in 2012.

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2011 in Attractions, ND in the News, North Dakota Buzz

 

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Lights, Snow, Action!

The sparkle of the season will soon surround us as the first of winter’s snowfalls cover the ground and reflect the twinkling of holiday lights. There are great options to enjoy light tours in North Dakota. Pack up the family and a thermos of hot chocolate!  And for a truly memorable experience, consider a horse-drawn sleigh ride – available from the Dakota Carriage Company in Fargo.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Events, Winter Fun

 

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Getting crafty in North Dakota

One peek at North Dakota’s upcoming events calendar and you’ll see a theme:  It’s hunting season – so go hunt up some awesome sales, deals, unique art, crafts and handmade goods!

These are the shows that you wait all year for.  (I think that’s why “the big one” is in the name of a few.)

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in Events, Family Fun

 

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