Embracing Your Inner Wood Chipper In FARGO

Monday, April 25, 2011

You can't make this stuff up...

I get a text 45 minutes before my 6:30 wake-up call. [You ready to go for a jog?] My reply [it's late April and snowing outside?] Another Text: [Yeah So? See you in lobby in 5!... dress warm :)] Yeah... a smiley face.

I'm in Fargo, North Dakota and I'm speaking at their Governor's Conference. Spring hasn't sprung, it's snowing and flooded. The weird thing is that everyone is unfazed and has a lighthearted and warm disposition. When we're traveling we're searching, and most of the time warm contentment is seldom found where it is sought but our brightest blazes are often kindled by unexpected sparks.  Sure, Fargo is remote and a bit cold... but it's also quirky and eccentric which makes it unexpected. I've seen enough quaint-Main-Streets to fill Mexico City... I'd never ridden a ferris wheel in a sporting goods store.

I think North Dakotian's consider Summer "three months of crappy sledding." You have to respect the tourism industry here... their goal is to be a first rate version of "North Dakota" and not a second rate version of somewhere else. Embrace what you are, and if your visitors are searching for something unusual... give it to them.

I was shown a Roger Maris museum in a shopping mall, an afternoon rock concert in an art gallery, and an empty baseball stadium still filled with snow. I had a hockey ice rink to myself, a pool trick shot demonstration, an encounter with a Chucky Cheese bus and a ringside seat for the "Marketing Vs. PR" arm wrestling match. Oh it got weirder... "Ted, before I drop you off at your hotel do you wanna grab a beer at the biggest Meat Market bar in the State? 90% of the guys will have baseball hats on sideways!" You can't make this stuff up.

The area receives as many calls about the movie FARGO as they do about local attractions. Do you think they distanced themselves from a violent Cohen Brothers film? No, they built a wood chipper and put it in front of their visitor center for people to take family vacation photos. Instead of constantly thinking what you're missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Ted's Top 5 Things He Learned About Travel On This Trip:

1. North Dakota is currently ranked the friendliest and safest State to live in. Makes you wonder what the rest of us are complaining about doesn't it?

2. Louis L'Amour, who wrote the quote which is the inspiration for my blog came from North Dakota. He was a prize fighter, a circus performer and wrote over 400 stories.

3. The movie Fargo is based on several true murder stories that the Cohen brothers combined to make one story. The main inspiration is from a 1986 murder case where a husband tries to dispose of his wife using a wood chipper.

4. North Dakota has the most golf courses per capita. The most churches per capita. The lowest number or religious people per capita. Highest number of millionaires per capita... I could do this all day.

5. An older guy in a cowboy hat singing Madonna karaoke songs is not considered strange in Fargo... but apparently me singing Billy Idol is absurd.

Well... I learned a little about myself on this trip. The unexpected is what makes each trip experience memorable, but I forgot how modesty also makes a destination sincere. Fargo keeps to the principles we learned in kindergarten: Be nice to others, take your turn, say "thank you" and don't try to be something you're not. I may still run with scissors but do you think I learned something valuable from the people of North Dakota?... You betcha.

Trip Quote:

"North Dakota has more beautiful women per capita than any other State in the Union"- Heather

"How do you figure?"- Me

"Well, two of the winners on America's Top Model were from North Dakota and it's only had 15 winners total. So if you do the math... North Dakota = Beautiful Women. You know I'm right!"- Heather (Like I've been saying... you can't make this stuff up.)


Additional Photos From This Journey Can Be Found by Clicking Here FlickrTravelWithTed.com

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