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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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It’s State Fair Week

Concerts … food … carnival … exhibits … food … free entertainment … competitions … food … It’s State Fair Week!  Get to Minot for the return of the North Dakota State Fair!  Last year’s flooding in Minot forced the cancellation of the State Fair which is back and bigger than ever in 2012.

Through July 28, guests will find days and nights full of entertainment, food and fun! Upcoming concert headliners include the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Chris Young, Blake Shelton and Foreigner.  Plus, there are a ton of free stage acts like the Swampmaster Alligator Show and Comic Ventriliquist.

Families will find SO much to do!  Are you registered for the Cloverdale Hot Dog Eating Contest?  How about the Kids Cupcake Decorating Contest?  Every day, head to the ND Game & Fish Skills Park for hands-on tries at fishing, archery and trapping.  Looking for some deals this week? No problem – the State Fair has them posted online.

And did I mention food?!  With the Fair comes so much yummy goodness!  This year a team of fearless eaters had the super tough job of tasting all the new foods on the midway.  Check out the results … while I apply to be on the judging committee next year.

When visiting the North Dakota State Fair, be sure to take lots of pictures and then upload them to Flickr in order to enter the first ever ND State Fair Flickr Photo Contest! Your photo could win you $500!

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Entertainment, Events, Family Fun

 

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Horse racing is back!

I haven’t yet had the chance to experience live horse racing in North Dakota and it’s one thing that I really want to do. I’ve driven past the North Dakota Horse Park – north of Fargo – and it looks so cool with impeccible buildings and those pretty white fences. I do kind of picture myself with an amazing hat and dress picking all the right horses to bet on. But that’s a post for after I’ve gotten there AND picked all the right horses while wearing an amazing hat and dress.

THIS post is to inform you that racing is BACK in North Dakota!  After a two-year hiatus, live racing returns July 14-15 and July 21-22.  Admission is just $3.00 with kids 12 and under admitted free.  Nine races take place each day and they do have cool names like “Josies Little Outlaw” and “Rulers Tribute.”

Want two more reasons to head to Fargo? Thru July 15 the Red River Valley Fair is taking place in West Fargo – with midway, live entertainment, kids fun and so much more! And the downtown Fargo Street Fair with crafts, vendors and delish food takes place July 19-21.

Have racing fever? North Dakota has auto tracks too. From Bottineau to Wishek to can enjoy rip-roarin’ fun!

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Attractions, Events

 

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This one is for Rose

On July 5, my wife, Robin, and I rolled out the Harley for a trip to ride five five scenic byways and part of the Bakken in one day. Of all the great sites we visited – Salem Sue, Killdeer Mountains, Knife River Indian Villages, north unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park – three things stuck out most. One, my wife is a great travel partner; two, motorcycle traffic in the Killdeer, Highway 85 area isn’t as dangerous as I thought it might be after my last excursion into the Bakken Oil Field; and Rose Eschenko really loves her job.

After a morning and early afternoon of travel, we reached the end of the trail, so to speak, and rode back out of TRNP and headed south, hoping to stay ahead of the approaching rain. On the way back, I turned it to Grassy Butte to show Robin the sod post office. As we pulled into the lot, Rose emerged from a car with her keys and offered to take us inside.

I told Rose we much appreciated the offer, but we were in a rush and I just wanted let my wife see the post office and take an exterior picture. We talked a little and she declined a snack cracker that I offered and went back to her car. I’m not sure, but I left wondering if Rose waits in her car daily in the little town of Grassy Butte to give tours to the ocassional traveler who stops in. If she does, that’s dedication.

It says something, too, about the many volunteers who staff the small-town “historical societies” and museums that keep the past alive. Sometimes we have a tendency to overlook these small-town treasures because “once you seen one you’ve seen them all.”

Well, we haven’t seen and talked to every Rose on the trail. These are people every bit as responsible for keeping history alive as the displays in the museums. In fact, they are the history. Rose, who must have been (and I’m guessing) 75 to 80 said she has spent her entire working life in Grassy Butte. That’s amazing.

I suggest if you visit some of these out-of-the way towns, stop at the museum and take time to talk to the people there. They are living history.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Fourth of July Fun in North Dakota

Looking for something to do for the Fourth of July? Look no further than North Dakota! There are a TON of celebrations going on in every corner of the state. Whether you’re looking for festive parades, elaborate firework displays, bucking rodeos, lake fun, great food or just a good time, North Dakota has what you’re looking for on Independence Day!

Fireworks on the Fourth of July

Around the Bismarck-Mandan area, they have just about everything you could want to do. Starting at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, tens of thousands of people will be lining up in Mandan for the region’s largest Fourth of July Parade. Mandan will also be hosting its annual Art in the Park with food vendors, carnival games and craft sales. The Mandan rodeo will get rolling at 7 p.m. followed by a massive fireworks display at 11 p.m. The Bismarck-Mandan Symphony Orchestra will be performing at the State Capitol at 8 p.m., also followed by a fireworks display.

Soar up to the Magic City for the airshow put on by the world-famous Canadian aviation troupe. Minot’s free Airshow is over the top, and there’s no place you’d rather be on the Fourth of July. The airshow will feature Canadian Forces Snow Birds, Texas Flying Legends Museum warbird, North Dakota National Guard Black Hawk, modelers, Kent Pietsch and the Jelly Belly show, Warren Pietsch in the Clipped wing T-Craft and the Schnortenzummer, Vintage Wings Hawk One F-86, and fireworks.

Heading out to the Wild West? Celebrate the Fourth of July Medora style. Line up along Medora’s Main Street to watch the Independence Day parade, starting at 3:30 p.m. Following the Medora Musical performance on July 4, fireworks will light up the sky with an amazing display of vibrant colors, patterns and presentations.  

Fourth of July Parade in Medora

If you’re itching to get out the camper or put up a tent, North Dakota has tons of campgrounds to enjoy. The North Dakota Parks and Recreation provides visitors with reservation and camping information. There’s so much going on in North Dakota on the Fourth of July, you won’t want to be anywhere else!

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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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