RSS

Tag Archives: North Dakota

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!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Events

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Travel back in time when you experience the Custer story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s May 17. One-hundred-thirty-six years ago this day Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry based at Fort Abraham Lincoln in the Dakota Territory left their post and journeyed west on the Centennial Campaign into the valley of the Little Big Horn.  It was an attempt to force non-treaty Indians back to their respective reservations.  Outnumbered, outgunned and outmaneuvered, over 260 men were killed during the ensuing battle, including all five of Custer’s companies.

The Custer story is legendary in North Dakota – shared with visitors at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park south of Mandan and along the Custer Trail Auto Tour through the Little Missouri Grasslands near Medora.

May 17th also marks the 25th anniversary of the groundbreaking for Custer House – the reconstructed home of George and Libby Custer. Visitors to Fort Abraham Lincoln can tour Custer House and the rebuilt cavalry post commissary, barracks and outbuildings.  They can hear the stories of how the first fort – Fort McKeen – was created to protect railway expansion. By 1874, then known as Fort Abraham Lincoln, it had become the largest and most important fort in the Dakota Territory and was the starting point of Black Hills Expansion to confirm rumors of gold.

Daily tours are available at Fort Lincoln and at On-A-Slant Indian Village – another “don’t miss” attraction of Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.  On-A-Slant was a large village of the Mandan people dating to around 1575.  It suffered greatly from a smallpox epidemic in 1781.  Visitors today are guided by interpreters as they tour reconstructed earthlodges and hear stories of the Mandan people.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 17, 2012 in Attractions, History

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Forget the bait, catch a prehistoric monster!

Paddlefish

North Dakota is good at extremes: extreme weather, extreme landscape and of course extreme fishing! Wintertime is often a time where our anglers focus on ice fishing, tiny rod over a stationary hole waiting to catch loads of panfish in below freezing temperatures. The exact opposite of that would be paddlefishing! Hunting a single 100+ pound fish with a rod as thick as a pool cue and twice as long in gorgeous May weather.

May 1st anglers will line the shores of the Missouri Yellowstone confluence area in search of the prehistoric-monster-hundred-pound paddlefish, sometimes called spoonbill. And forget the bait, snaggers tie huge treble hooks to heavy test line trying to get their hook into the mouth of a fish as it happens to swim by.

The season opens May 1st and a paddlefish tag is required, this can be bought at the same time and places fishing licenses are bought and are required in addition to the regular fishing license. They are $7.50 for nonresidents and $3 for residents. The season is is open until May 31st and is subject to an in-season closure. If the season closes early because the harvest quota is reached, an extended snag-and-release-only period will be allowed for up to seven days immediately following the early closure, but not to extend beyond May 31. Sunday-Tuesday are catch and release only days and Wednesday-Saturday are mandatory harvest days, all snagged paddlefish must immediately be tagged and kept.

Hooking a paddlefish is like hooking the bumper of a car, you’re in for one heck of a ride until it runs out of gas.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Fishing, Outdoor Adventure, Sports, wildlife

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers