Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pack your bags, kids! We're taking a vacation to a field!

We all have at least a couple of locales in mind for where we'd like to take our ultimate vacation.  For me it starts with Europe and South America, then I can tone it down depending on how much I'm willing (or able) to spend.  When money is a little tighter, maybe I'll go see family in Georgia and the Carolinas, or friends in Arizona, or maybe I'd even stay here in Montana and see more of Yellowstone or Glacier Parks.  There are plenty of great places to see here in the U.S.  One thing that should be noted, however, is that not all places here on the Mainland are worth the effort.

As much as I hate to admit it, I agree with Joakim Noah.  Noah plays for the Chicago Bulls, and they are playing the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs.  In a pre-game interview, he said Cleveland "really sucks", to which the residents of Cleveland responded with respectful disagreement.  I'm only saying it was respectful because they didn't kill him.  Then after the game, he didn't back down from his comments, basically asking people if they had ever planned a vacation to Cleveland.  I can't imagine even the Mayor of Cleveland listening to that interview and saying anything other than "you know, the big ugly guy has a good point".

That all happened last night.  Today, I saw an advertisement on Facebook that said "PLAN YOUR ND VACATION".  My first thought was, "surely they don't mean North Dakota.  Maybe they mean New Delhi," I reasoned.  "Or maybe that stands for 'Nebraska Dumpsters'.  Even that makes a little more sense."

But I clicked on the ad, and to my disbelief, it was for the North Dakota Department of Tourism.  That doesn't seem right to me.  Being from a neighboring state, I have never once considered North Dakota a vacation destination.  Idaho, Washington, Wyoming...they're enough like Montana, and maybe you'd want to go there to go whitewater rafting or skiing.  But nobody goes to North Dakota.  You go there when you have to drive to Minnesota, and even then you're trying to get to the other side as quickly as possible.  So the fact that North Dakota even has a Tourism Department just doesn't make sense.  They might as well have a Deep Sea Fishing Department.

I'm not like Joakim Noah;  I don't think North Dakota sucks...necessarily.  I've known a lot of great people from North Dakota.  But beyond that, I'm a little surprised anybody lives there.  Even though I live less than 100 miles from the Canadian border, I've never felt cold like I've felt in North Dakota.  A North Dakota summer is uncomfortably hot, and this is coming from a guy who survived a few summers in Phoenix.  And there are 17 trees in the whole state, so don't go looking for shade.  I won't even talk about the giant mosquitoes or oppressive wind.  Wait, maybe I just did.

So on this website, you can see the attractions to North Dakota.  Both of them.  Surprisingly, they haven't embraced what they're known for.  There's nothing on the site saying "Experience the coldest, strongest wind man has ever known", or "See the longest, straightest, flattest road in the Universe."  There's a plug for their ski hill, which has a vertical drop of 290 feet.  I'm not exaggerating.  Big Sky Resort here in Montana has a vertical drop of 4,350 feet.  That's not a knock against North Dakota, I'm just saying I've seen oceans that aren't as flat as North Dakota.

The website clams that North Dakota was "Named by AAA to be America's Most Affordable Vacation State".  Wow, that's really surprising.  I would have thought camping in the middle of a field and skiing down a 290 foot drop would cost a fortune!  Thanks North Dakota!

So I'd like to officially wish the Director of Tourism for North Dakota the best of luck.  There can't be a tougher job in all the world.

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