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Category Archives: Just for Fun

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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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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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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Happy Holidays!

If you’re coming home for the holidays or taking a little of your Christmas break to travel this season, our travel counselors at North Dakota Tourism will be available during office hours from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. CST.  Our office will be closed on Monday, Dec. 26 and Monday, Jan. 2.

This year you won’t find much snow in North Dakota, but our ski area remain open and there’s still LOTS to do, including hiking and biking the Maah Daah Hey Trail during these 40-degree days.  The Missouri River has open-water fishing and some smaller lakes and bays are frozen for ice fishing.  Great destinations like the North Dakota Heritage Center, the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and the International Peace Gardens are open.  Tour through Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  See Fort Mandan and hear stories of the Corps of Discovery from the winter of 1804-1805.  Take in a hockey game and cheer for North Dakota State University as they travel to the FCS Championship!  It’s a great time to enjoy North Dakota.

Happy holidays!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2011 in Fishing, History, Just for Fun, Winter Fun

 

The final five

Roger Maris hit  home run #57 fifty-years-ago today.

Visitors to the Roger Maris Museum at West Acres Shopping Center in Fargo can see the ball – which was thrown by Detroit Pitcher Frank Larry and hit out of Tiger Stadium.  Fifty-seven home runs in a single season is a feat still only achieved by 10 MLB hitters since 1921 (Baseball Almanac).

Fifty-years since 61 culminated with these last five:

  • September 16 – Game 151 vs. Detroit
  • September 17 – Game 152 vs. Detroit – off pitcher Terry Fox
  • September 20 – Game 155 vs. Baltimore – off pitcher Milt Pappas
  • September 26 – Game 159 vs. Baltimore – off pitcher Jack Fisher
  • October 1 – Game 163 vs. Boston – off pitcher Tracy Stallard

    Roger Maris hits historic home run 61

You can learn more about Maris’ historic season online.  The Roger Maris Museum is free and features his Sultan of Swat crowns, autographed balls, jerseys, a replica of his Yankees locker and a video highlighting his career.

To experience baseball in Maris’s hometown of Fargo – where he also started his baseball career – check out the FM RedHawks.

 
 

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It’s like a frequent flyer program just for private pilots

Visiting by land, air and sea takes on another new meaning here in North Dakota.  There is a new passport program, created specifically for pilots exploring North Dakota by air (and the 89 public airports).  The “Create a Flying Legacy in North Dakota” passport program invites pilots to visit North Dakota’s airports, air museums and also participate in FAA safety seminars.  Plus, there are rewards.  Each time you visit a North Dakota airport or air museum, have your passport stamped.  With the proper number of stamps, you can earn a polo shirt, flight bag and a leather flight jacket.

The Flying Legacy passports are free and available from the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and are located at most of North Dakota’s airports (along with the passport stamp) in the Arrival and Departure Building next to the visitors log.  Or call or email the Aeronautics Commission to receive one.

North Dakota has wonderful scenery to entice the traveler-pilot, along with an average 300 VFR days per year.  There are a number of aviator must-sees including museums, historic sites and air force bases.  You can even connect the Lewis and Clark Trail through airports and nearby attractions.  See a list of these attractions at NDtourism.com.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Attractions, Just for Fun

 

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