New Terminal @ GFK

Last week I had the opportunity to tour the new airport terminal that is under construction at the Grand Forks Airport.  North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad tagged along to make sure that the federal portion of the money was being spent wisely.  The new terminal is on a site about a quarter mile south of the current terminal, on the west side of the airport road.  First a word about the old terminal.  Actually, the word “terminal” describes it pretty well.  It has all the charm of a 1970′s hospital.  I’ve seen funeral homes that were better lit and more festive.  That said, it’s easy to see that the new terminal was long overdue.  And I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a winner.  It is double the size, with two stories, and the parking is going to increase by about 25%.  And the front of the building is full of glass and will offer a far more warm feeling.  At $23 million, it should be a serious upgrade.  It is expected to be ready by next spring.  I can’t wait.

Goodbye DQ; Hello DQ/Orange Julius!

It was the worst of times, but it will soon be the best of times.  Just a few short hours after closing their doors for the last time, the Dairy Queen on South Washington began dismantling, starting with the iconic “Dairy Queen” sign which sat atop the building.  The only thing missing was the two creepy guys from “American Pickers” asking the owner how much she needed for the sign.  But the future looks bright.  The old DQ, which is pretty much my “Home DQ,” is being replaced by a new Dairy Queen/Orange Julius.  Basically two of the greatest places ever under one roof.  And if you’re old enough to remember Orange Julius, well, congratulations.  Back in the day, in the West Wing of Columbia Mall, there was an Orange Julius.  And if we hadn’t caused too much trouble during the days shopping activities, we got to make a stop at the Julius.  Suffice it to say that we only stopped there about 25% of the time.  But I digress.  The new DQ/OJ will be DOUBLE the size of the old place and have seating for 30.  February can’t come soon enough.

No word on whether the chain-linked fence separating DQ from Starbucks will remain.  “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Random Thursday

*The NFL is considering moving to an 18 game schedule from 16.  I don’t know if that’s the answer but I do know that four preseason games is a joke.  Exhibition games aren’t even real football yet they charge real prices.

*With my Alltel soon switching to AT&T, I’m considering a switch from a Blackberry to an IPhone.  I have started doing my homework in earnest.  I also will be relying heavily on Kristen, my go-to person at Alltel AT&T.

*Why do the Twins always play so poorly in Texas?  I tried to change the luck of the team last night by not watching the game.  Didn’t work.  But my car is very clean.

*Reggie Tales shout out to “Hotdog” straight out of Fosston.

*Heading to Thief River Falls today to watch the 1,000,000th Arctic Cat roll off the production line.  Arctic is a tricky word.  Seems like it should be Artic.

Joe Di Maggio’s: Red Lake Falls Version

On a recent trip through Red Lake Falls, MN with TV’s David Schwab, we happened upon their version of Joe Di Maggio’s Sports Cafe.  The best part of working with Dave is that he doesn’t talk too much and he always lets me pick where we eat that he’s a good reporter.  Anyway, we stopped to get some lunch for the road.  In news that will surely shock people at WDAZ, Dave stayed in the car to edit on the laptop.  I was given free reign to order for us.  I hadn’t been in there in quite a while but it was pretty much the way I remembered it with all the hand-painted baseball murals on the walls.

The nice lady behind the counter apparently realized I was in a hurry because she handed me a list of the day’s specials.  I ran my finger down the page past the chicken strips and the chili cheese dogs and stopped on the Chipotle Pork Sandwhich, $5.99.  “How’s this?” I asked.  The nice lady says, “Those two guys over there just ordered it” as she motioned towards a nearby booth.  With that she went into the kitchen and came out with their plates of food and presented them to me for my inspection.  “See,” she said, “it’s really good and there’s a lot of it.”  I ordered two.  She asked if I needed anything else.  “Yes.  I’m travelling with a guy who likes ‘kind of a lot of ketchup’ with his fries.”  With that she began filling ketchup containers to-go.  Eight of them.

Anyway, the Chipotle Pork Sandwhich was insanely good and huge.  And there were enough fries to feed a family of four at the upcoming French Fry Feed.  Sorry for the lack of a picture.  The food wasn’t around long enough to be photographed.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:  School starts tomorrow in G. Forks for most.

The Bad:  Minnesota Twins nearly no-hit by a guy just off the disabled list and two other Rangers pitchers.

The Ugly:  Gas is almost 20 cents cheaper per gallon in Fargo than Grand Forks.

The Good:  Sioux vs. Bison in men’s basketball seems to be a done deal for this year in the Fargodome.

The Bad:  Sioux vs. Bison in women’s basketball seems to be a long way off according to my sources.

The Ugly:  Gas in Thief River Falls is a dime cheaper per gallon than it is in Grand Forks.  Something isn’t right.

The Good:  McDonald’s Reeses Peanut Butter Cup McFlurry.

The Bad:  The guys that start the road construction in front of  my house at 6:00 a.m. each day.

The Ugly:  Vikings receiver Sidney Rice may miss half the season.  Unreal.

Lamborghini

A couple of days ago we did a story on a guy in Grand Forks that owns a Lamborghini.  I’m not a great car mind, but I’m pretty sure his is the only Lamborghini in Grand Forks.  I at first doubted the newsworthiness of the story, wondering if people would actually care.  My doubts were erased when, during the course of our interview with the owner, Roger, I counted 45 people walk up to the orange, 2001 Diablo and take a picture.  45.  Roger has owned the car for less than a week and he said that’s been happening a lot.

Lamborghini (L), Roger (R)

Roger says the car goes about 220 m.p.h., although he admits to only driving it half that fast.  The bottom of the car sits four and half inches from the ground and has a couple of blind spots that make it difficult to drive in traffic.  Roger moved to Grand Forks in 1980 and is originally from South Africa and has a really cool accent.  It’s very distinguished sounding and he easily could have been in one of the “Lethal Weapon” movies.  Probably the one about the South Africans.  Anyway, he answered all of our stupid questions and those of the curious bystanders for about an hour straight.  I think he enjoyed all the attention.  As did I.  Two people asked me if it was my car.  LOL.

Foreground, 2001 Diablo Lamborghini, Background, 2006 Chevrolet Malibu

Crazy car people Car enthusiasts probably realize that the engine for a Lamborghini is located in the back.  I didn’t.  When he showed us under the hood, I nodded my approval as if I knew what the heck I was looking at.  I didn’t want Roger to know that I had limited car knowledge.  I don’t think it worked.

Engine

A quick check of the internets shows us that a car of this nature can be bought for about $170,000.  And ‘No’, I didn’t drive the car or take a ride in it.  Those seem to be everyone’s first questions.  Or third and fourth after “How much?” and “How fast?”

So to summerize, Roger is a pretty cool guy with a very cool car and he doesn’t seem to mind answering the same questions over and over and over again.  Also, he didn’t seem very receptive to trading a 2001 Diablo Lamborghini for a 2006 Chevrolet Malibu.  Whatever, Roger.

Random Thursday

*Should we be worried about Matt Capps?  At this point, I have more faith in Jesse Crain.  He’s been lights out for a month.

*Congrats to Joe Mauer on his first Target Field home run.  I understand he’s a fan of the Tales.

*One more baseball note, Senator Byron Dorgan and I had a conversation about the Twins on Monday.  I like him.

*Reggie Tales shout out to Janean in the Cities.

*Tomorrow, on a very special edition of the Tales, we will take a closer look at the “Grand Forks Lamborghini.”  With pictures!

Big Day in Minnesota

A graying, veteran, fan-favorite made a big splash on the Minnesota sports scene yesterday.  And even though he hasn’t been around all that long, he has endeared himself to the fans of professional sports in Minnesota with his class-act and his easy-come, easy-go nature.  In fact, he’s become so popular in such a relatively short amount of time, that many fans now sport his jersey.  So it was with great excitement that we were able to watch him grab the spotlight yesterday.

And no, I’m not talking about that guy, I’m talking about Jim Thome, of the Minnesota Twins.  Thome will celebrate his 40th birthday at the end of August.  I hope I’m invited, because he seems like my kind of guy.  And after his game-winning, walk-off home run last night against the hated White Sox, he really seems like my kind of guy.  I’d argue that Jason Kubel’s grand slam off of Mariano Riveria and the Yankees earlier this year is the biggest Twins home run of the year.  I’d put Thome’s homer last night as a close second.  Just don’t ask him to try score from first on a double.  That was equal parts painful and humorous to watch.

So on a day when another graying, veteran, fan-favorite stole the national spotlight from pretty much every other person in the world, it was good to see Big Jim grab a little bit back late in the night.  I’m proud to be one of “Thome’s Homies.”

Congratulations Summer Sidekick

Summer Sidekick’s summer internship with me is already paying dividends.  He has accepted an assistant coaching job with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL).  In doing so, he turns the page from player to coach, and returns to the very organization where he played his own junior hockey before joining the Fighting Sioux.  Congrats SSK!

Hole In One

For even just a moment, when you read that headline, didn’t you think that I’d gotten a hole in one?  Maybe your heart even skipped a beat?  Well, now you know how I felt for about five seconds on Friday while I stood and watched, in slow-motion, my tee-shot on a par 3, 165 yard downhill hole at the Bemidji Country Club.  The ball hung in the air so long that my fivesome was able to contemplate and discuss what we were going to do to celebrate my ace.  The ball never left the stick during any of the 165 yards of flight.  And when it hit the pin about two feet up, bounced behind the cup, and then spun back towards the hole only to land in the original ball mark located 13 inches behind the cup, well I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry.  I think I did both.  For their part, my partners celebrated the shot as if it were an actual hole in one, complete with high-fives and photos.  And it also meant that we were soon to add another birdie to our scorecard.  I don’t fish, but I have to believe this is “the one that got away.”

L to R, me, pin, ball.