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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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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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Celebrate Prairie Dog’s Day!

Black-tailed prairie dog, photo by Greg Forcey

Okay, okay.  So we all know it’s actually a relative of the prairie dog that gets all the fame and glory right about now.  Still we thought the holiday was a good reason to call Theodore Roosevelt National Park and check on the prairie dog colonies there and, more importantly, if they’re paying attention to their shadows.

Rangers at TR National Park say the mild temperatures this winter have meant our prairie dogs have been very active, especially on sunny days.  Unlike the groundhog, prairie dogs do not hibernate.  They go into what’s called a “winter sleep” allowing them to continue to burrow and eat during the winter and also scamper on those sunny days.

In the South Unit, the scenic drive loop passes through three large prairie dog towns.  In the North Unit, no dog towns can be seen from the road but there is a one-mile hike from the Caprock-Coulee parking area toward a town.  There are an abundance of wildlife viewing opportunities in the Park and information about prairie dogs and other watchable wildlife is shared online.

Prairie dog town in TRNP, photo by QT Luong

In addition to not hibernating, prairie dogs differ from their larger cousins in another way: groundhogs prefer to live on their own while prairie dogs connect their burrows to huge colonies.  The colonies in Theodore Roosevelt National Park collectively span 11,000 acres! 

Another great place to see the rare black-tailed prairie dog is at Fort Stevenson State Park, on the north shore of Lake Sakakawea.  There is signage directing visitors to the prairie dog colony and explaining a bit about them.  Sully Creek State Park near Medora, has a colony right outside the park.  Colonies can also be found on private land, mostly in south central and western North Dakota.

So that one question remains – do prairie dogs pay attention to their shadows and predict the length of winter?  We invite you to visit North Dakota and see for yourself!

 

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Holiday Victorian charm and entertainment in Garrison

Make plans to step back in time to town set in the era of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Each holiday season, the North Dakota town of Garrison (pop 1,500) transforms itself with Victorian-period dress, transportation, food and more.  The Dickens Festival takes place November 25-27, December 2-3 and 9-10 and features daily entertainment, tons of special events, tours, carriage rides, contests, shopping and yummy treats!

New events this year include:

  • A Christmas Quilt Show
  • Fruitcake Toss
  • Trains, Tractors, Toys and Cars Show
  • Cash Cab – take the free taxi, answer the questions and you could win Garrison bucks
  • Dress Dickens Contest – dress the part and you could win $100

Daily, guests enjoy musical entertainment, an English market, carriage rides, historic tours at Holmes’ Home, the Don’t Be a Scrooge Contest, double-decker bus rides, visits of nearby historic Fort Stevenson, English High Tea, walking tours, lighted parade and holiday sing-along.  And yes, “A Christmas Carol” is performed nightly.

And you may need good food to keep your energy up so here’s a peek at just a few menu items: turkey drumsticks, sausage-on-a-stick, meatballs and pickled walleye, fleischkeuchle, knoephla soup and cheesecake.

For more information, visit the Dickens Festival website and click on the 2011 Dickens Gazette link for a complete schedule, maps and coupons!

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2011 in Attractions, Events, Family Fun

 

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Flood update from North Dakota Tourism

There is an emergency in Minot, North Dakota right now, along with several communities along the Souris River – for travel information, contact the Minot Convention and Visitors BureauStatewide flood information is available along with travel information from North Dakota’s travel counselors [1-800-435-5663].

Actor Josh Duhamel offers support for his hometown

Concern and support for Minot has been flowing in faster than the Souris, including from Transformers 3 Actor Josh Duhamel who called Minot this morning from Moscow (where he is promoting the new movie).  He also told Entertainment Tonight about how people can donate to the Red Cross efforts in Minot.  How very cool and respectable that this Hollywood Star has such deep North Dakota roots.  Be sure follow Duhamel on Facebook and Twitter.  Watch his call-in with this YouTube clip and his ET interview.

I also found the words written on the Visit Minot blog yesterday to be provoking and inspirational:

Minot is facing one of the most devastating floods the city has ever seen …  The community has come together to help family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and in some cases perfect strangers … We know there is going to be along road ahead of us … But there is no doubt we will make it through this … All it will take is a little Magic.

For travelers wondering about Minot here’s a snapshot of closures:

Additional flood news

While the Souris River makes national headlines in Minot, the Missouri River continues to create additional news throughout the country.  Here in North Dakota, the water level along the Missouri River is stable.  Our friends in Williston report that the swollen river has given Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site a historically authentic experience – as it would have appeared during the times of fur trade.  All visitor experiences are open in Williston.

Lake Sakakawea is certainly at an all-time height.  Water temperatures are rising and reports are trickling in that the walleye bite is warming up as well.  All resorts, campgrounds and boat ramps are open on the big lake.  Check road reports for closures and construction news.

In Washburn, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center is open, but there are no tours at historic Fort Mandan.  And across the river near Stanton, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site is also open.

Bismarck-Mandan does have closures at campgrounds and marinas.  There are some road closures and traffic limitations.  Visitors should know that all shopping, dining and most attractions are open including Raging Rivers Waterpark, the Heritage Center, Custer House at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park and many more.  Softball players and their families coming to the Capitol City this weekend for the McQuade’s tournament will have only a few road construction detours to worry about.  The Bismarck Marathon, which will take place September 17, will have a new route.

While there is a no-wake zone along the Missouri River to the headwaters of Lake Oahe (just south of Bismarck-Mandan), fishing continues with many access points in this giant lake.

Along the Little Missouri River – all visitor centers and scenic drives in both the North Unit and South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are open (and spectacular).  Campgrounds have re-opened in the park and in Medora – where the famed Medora Musical and Pitchfork Fondue are being offered nightly (through September 10) and all visitor services are open.  Bully Pulpit Golf Course has 9 holes open and playable.

And in Devils Lake, there is some road construction and road closures due to the mystifying lake – Fort Totten State Historic Site is open, Sullys Hill National Game Preserve is open upon appointment, the Spirit Lake Casino is open as well as all visitor services in Devils Lake and numerous boat ramps.  Don’t forget to visit the Lake Region Heritage Center Museum – it’s a gem!

While news in Minot, Bismarck, Medora and other cities flood-affected have created a lot of concern – we’d like to also note that adventurous, fun and memorable experiences await you throughout North Dakota.  We have thousands of events, historical sites, museums, nature areas and so much more.  A favorite of mine – the F-M RedHawks are at home in Fargo this weekend.  Our guests love North Dakota – read their stories at www.RULegendary.com – and then come back and share your own!

 

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Fishing North Dakota

I answered the phone yesterday to this greeting, “I can’t take it anymore.”  Thinking that something may be wrong, I got concerned.  The response was, “Keith keeps texting me about all the fish he’s catching; I’ve gotta get out there.”  And thus began my husband’s afternoon on the Missouri River.  That was followed up by this morning’s journey to the Missouri River.  And in these two days of fishing I’ve gotten these photos texted to me.

 

You could say the fishing in North Dakota is already pretty good … and considering anglers haven’t gotten out on Lake Sakakawea and Devils Lake yet, it’s only going to get better.

The season doesn’t close/open for North Dakota fishing, with the exception of paddlefishing – which opens on Sunday, May 1. The season is scheduled to run through the end of May, though state wildlife officials will close it early to protect the fish population if it appears too many paddlefish will be caught. That’s happened eight times in the past 10 years.  North Dakota’s Game and Fish Department has the info on this exclusive season.

The paddlefish is one of the largest freshwater fish found in North America.  It’s often desired for its caviar, and a Williston nonprofit called North Star Caviar harvests the paddlefish eggs and sells them to raise money for community grants and paddlefish research.

A new paddlefish state record was set in 2010 when then 16-year-old Alex Mergen snagged one weighing at least 130 pounds.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Fishing, Just for Fun

 

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The time zone puzzle of North Dakota

According to the History Channel, at exactly noon on this day, American and Canadian railroads begin using four continental time zones to end the confusion of dealing with thousands of local times. The bold move was emblematic of the power shared by the railroad companies.

There is often confusion about the time zones in North Dakota – which does indeed have two.  And one area of greatest confusion relates to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  The Park is divided into two units – a south unit (with entrance in Medora) and a north unit (with entrance near Watford City).  The south unit of the Park is in the mountain time zone, while the north unit (at least at the visitor’s center) is in the central time zone.

So how does the time zone boundary work in North Dakota?

The eastern and central regions of North Dakota are in the central time zone – same as Minneapolis, Chicago, Dallas, etc.  From the South Dakota border, the boundary follows Highway 65/31 and the county lines of Sioux, Morton and Oliver Counties to the Missouri River near Hazen.  From that point the area on the west/south side of the Missouri River/Lake Sakakawea is mountain time zone, while the area east/north of the Missouri River is in the central time zone.

At the southwestern border of the Fort Berthold Reservation, the boundary jogs west, through Dunn and McKenzie Counties (and the north unit of TRNP) until the Montana border where it follows the border into Canada.

Stand in the right place – and you could be in two time zones at once in North Dakota!  Your cell phone won’t know what to think!!

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2010 in Family Fun, History

 

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