Friday Photos

Yes, I made it back.  And to celebrate, I’m going to share some photos from Washington D.C. with you.  I know it feels like you’re having to look at someones family vacation photo album, but please pretend to be interested.  Thanks.

Pizza place in Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. With a name like “Reggio’s”, it has to be good. Didn’t try it because it was 8:00 in the morning.

Washington Monument. Or as one cabbie called it, “A really big pencil.”

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven at a press conference. Great political minds will recognize the man fourth from the right as Utah Senator Orrin Hatch. When I took this picture I had my TV camera on my right shoulder and my camera which doubles as a cell phone in my left. I think many in the room were quite impressed.

Veteran Washington D.C. correspondent Charley Johnson hails a cab during inclement weather.

The final scene from "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles." The flight from Chicago to Fargo. I took this self-portrait so that historians could better understand why I went crazy. Â It could also be titled "Dazed and Confused."

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Baltimore: The Final Frontier

Well, we took the train from Washington to Baltimore.  It was about a 45 minute trip with four or five stops.  I slept most of the way, while Charley watched our belongings and kept an eye on the “train people.”  Now that we’re at the Baltimore airport the hope is to fly to Chicago.  Then we hope to fly to Fargo.  Then I will drive back to G. Forks.  So there are quite a few opportunities for something to go wrong.

Ps…the Baltimore airport has all the charm of an East German hospital circa 1970.  The word “drab” comes to mind.  Wish me luck.

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Escape From D.C.

When I referenced the classic movie “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” earlier today, I was merely trying to inject some humor into our travel troubles.  Well, it has now become a self-fulfilling prophecy:  We are now getting ready to board a train to Baltimore so that we can fly from there to Chicago.  There was not a single seat on any of the airlines flying from Washington.   You really can’t make it up.  But the nice lady said we could fly on American Airlines from Baltimore.  Baltimore is about an hour away. So here we sit, at Union Station, with train tickets in hand.  By the way, Union Station is quite a nice place if you ever get the chance to visit.  Restaurants, train stations, movie theaters, shops, and free wireless Internet from a nearby cafe that doesn’t require a password.  Wink.  So let me see:  Automobiles?  Check.  Trains?  Check.  Planes?  I really hope so.

Finally, to my boss, Cassie:  I may or may not be at work tomorrow.  I’m leaning towards “may not.”

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More D.C. Randomness

*I met Senator John McCain yesterday.  Senator John Hoeven introduced us.  It was one of the coolest moments ever.  Very nice guy, and he told us how much he loved North Dakotans, especially the ones that go to Arizona every Winter.

*Reggie Tales shout out to Kami in Washington.  Thanks for all your help!

*If we don’t get out of here today, I’m officially out of clothes.

*Mike, there is about a 5% chance that I will be back in time for the basketball games tonight.  Jamie, can you run camera 4?  Thanks!

*I didn’t know my travel companion Charley Johnson very well before this trip.  I now know more than I ever wanted.  No offense, Charley.

*We are planning on ambushing the American Airlines ticket counter with hopes of getting on any West-bound plane possible.  If it doesn’t work, I’m going to blog from the airport all day long.  It helps my sanity.

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Random Thursday: Washington D.C. Edition

The Aftermath of "Snowfall Reggie" as Seen From My Hotel Window

*My trip to Washington D.C. has turned into “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” meets “Ground Hog Day.”  If I wasn’t here to witness it first-hand, I wouldn’t believe it.  We were supposed to return last night but our flight was cancelled.  It rained most of the day and then turned into heavy snowfall.  With the temperatures right around 32, the snow is melting rapidly.  But that doesn’t make any difference here.  The city is at a standstill.  Last night, hundreds of people abandoned their cars in the middle of intersections because they didn’t think they could drive anymore.  It’s insanity and getting back today is not a sure thing.  Our re-scheduled flight to Chicago at 10:00 this morning has already been cancelled.  HELP.

*How much snow, you ask?  6-12 inches.

*What was normally at 10-minute cab ride from Capitol Hill to our hotel was an hour and twenty minutes last night.  I’m serious when I say I think the cab driver was crying.

*On a positive note, we’ve been here at the Holiday Inn in Crystal City so long we’ve gotten to know the staff pretty well.  Especially Phil.  He drives the airport courtesy van and works the front-door.  He wears a Buffalo Bills stocking cap and generally knows everything happening at his hotel.

*I just got off the phone with my travel companion.  Apparently our plan of attack is to wait at the airport in case something opens up for us.  It’s going to be a long day.

*Can someone please send $?  Thanks.

*Seriously, I want to go home.

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I Can’t Believe I Was There

United States Capitol, January 25, 2011

I like to think that I have a decent vocabulary.  I’d also like to think that if I had to describe a situation, any situation, I’d have a wide array of words at my disposal in which to choose.  But as I sat in The House of Representatives Gallery last night at the United States Capitol, listening to the State of the Union Address, I realized that I couldn’t really fully describe the situation, not with just ordinary words.  The President of the United States was standing directly in front of me, less than 100 feet away.  The First Lady was seated to my right, maybe 50 feet away.  And directly below me were the more than 500 members of the 112th Congress.

Somehow, I ended up with one of the best seats in the House.  Pun intended, but true.  From my vantage point I could see everyone and everything.  And when the President entered the room was the very moment that I truly realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime type moment.  For at least thirty minutes I expected someone to come tap me on the shoulder and ask me what I was doing there.  It really was a big deal.  Pomp and circumstance were on full display.  And I’m pretty sure that our politicians are well aware of all the TV cameras, photographers, and media.  They seem to really soak up the bright lights.

As for me, I don’t think I blinked for two straight hours as I scanned the room non-stop, trying to gather every bit of information possible.  Cell phones were not permitted, so photos were not an option.  But the room itself is very bright, and it has such a surreal feel to it that it almost looks like a movie set.

The setting is so intimate, with about 1,000 people in the room that I actually forgot how many millions were watching on television.  That’s when I decided that I needed to start listening more closely to the speech and spend less time scanning the crowd like a rube from North Dakota.  The speech itself seemed pretty normal, about an hour and five minutes long.  President Obama spoke at length about business, technology and the like.  But his best points were when he discussed teachers in our country.  “We need to praise the good ones and stop making excuses for the bad ones.”  That struck a nice note.  It was interesting to watch the members of Congress during the speech.  Whether they stood and applauded pretty much was divided right down the party lines.

I could go on for an hour, but suffice it to say that my mind still hasn’t wrapped itself all the way around the events of the evening.  At one point, within 30 seconds, Hillary Clinton and House Majority Leader John Boehner walked within a foot of me down a hallway as I leaned casually against a statue of someone important.  I was trying to blend in.  I’m not sure if I did.  I’m sure I will add some more in the next day or two, but for now it’s back to work as a TV guy on Capitol Hill.

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State of the Union Address

State of the Union Ticket

This might be hard to believe, but I will be attending President Obama’s State of the Union Address at the Capitol tonight.  I’m going to file this under “Once in a lifetime.”  My WDAZ-TV colleague Charley Johnson and I were presented with the opportunity today and we quickly snatched it.  We will be seated in the Gallery, which is the upper level of the House Chambers where the speech is delivered.  During the course of the day today, we learned that a ticket to this event (yes, it’s an actual ticket) is comparable to a ticket to the Super Bowl.  In fact, I’ve spent a better part of the day telling random people that I’m going to the State of the Union Address.  Some people seem genuinely happy for us.  Others look like they would like to strangle us.  Regardless, I’m going.  And I’m going to try and soak in every last second of it.  I wonder if I can pull out my phone and snap a few pictures?  Probably not.  Nonetheless, a full report will follow.

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D.C. Dining: Founding Farmers Restaurant

Tonight I had the opportunity to break bread (and meat and wine) about four blocks from the White House at a place called Founding Farmers.  It’s a restaurant owned by the North Dakota Farmer’s Union, and it prides itself on serving things that can only be grown or raised in North Dakota.  Located at 1924 Pennsylvania Avenue, Founding Farmers was jam-packed on a Monday evening at 8:00.  And according to my Washington Insider, D.C. Kevin, it’s like that every night.  Kevin is a high-roller and he made reservations for himself and a couple of TV guys from North Dakota.  And I’m glad he did.  Let me just cut to the chase:  I had the Prime Rib.  Yes, shocking, I know.  Even more shocking:  Top Three of All-Time.  You know when you get Prime Rib and it has that nice coat of crusty herbs and spices and yet somehow juices are still flowing out of it?  Yep, that was it.  Usually on Prime Rib there is that one little end where it is very tender and unbelievable tasting.  Well, imagine the whole piece of meat being like that.  The Good Doctor knows exactly what I’m talking about.  In fact, it took all of my will-power not to call or text him during the meal.  I hope this suffices for him.  Sometimes people will call each other after the birth of a child or other momentous life-events;  The Good Doctor and I call each other after eating a piece of meat that is life-altering.  It was that good.

If you ever get the chance to go to Washington, look up the Founding Farmers Restaurant.  But plan ahead.  It has become quite hip and trendy and word of the Prime Rib is bound to get out.

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The U.S. Capitol Building

Me (L), Charley (R)

The weather today in Washington was about 32 degrees, sunny, and crisp.  There is no snow here, but they may get some later this week.  We got here about two hours late due to some unexplained delay in Chicago at the O’Hare Airport.  I assume it was Jay Cutler’s fault.  Once we got to D.C. we went to the Capitol and got our press credentials.  Charley and I shot some promotional spots and we are now regrouping and getting ready to head out to eat at The Founding Farmers restaurant.  The Founding Farmers is the revamped and renamed Agraria Restaurant which was the North Dakota Farmers Union Co-op owned restaurant here in Washington.  The address is 1924 Pennsylvania Avenue.  I haven’t known Charley very long so I hope he likes to eat.  I promise a full report.

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Greetings From Washington, D.C.

This blog entry greets you from our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.  I’m out here on special assignment with TV’s Charley Johnson to do a series of stories for WDAZ-TV.  The stories also will appear on WDAY-TV in Fargo.  Most of our time will be spent on Capitol Hill with North Dakota Senators Kent Conrad, John Hoeven, and Representative Rick Berg.  Three days, three stories, which will air in early February.

I will try and add some new material here a couple times each day, maybe even some pictures.  But definitely my observations from one of the coolest cities in the United States.  And I promise to make it interesting.

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