I recently got back from a weekend excursion to Grand Forks, N.D. for the sole purpose of covering the Montana Grizzlies-North Dakota football game for the Cat-Griz Insider (ok, sole “working purpose”, I did get to spend time with my girlfriend and one of her best friends, so there’s that). If you want to know what’s involved in getting out to North Dakota all the way from D.C. (and back) in one little weekend, well, here’s the play-by-play…

Friday night

  • After work I fly out of Washington National Airport en route to Minneapolis, MN. Of course, the flight will be delayed from a 7:20 p.m. takeoff to something more closer to 9 p.m. There was a malfunctioning “fire alert” light and we had to de-board our original plane.
  • Rent a car (at the snazzy 4-day rate of $52) from Alamo at the airport upon our 11 p.m. arrival.
  • Spend the night in Minneapolis
The Alerus Center, home to North Dakota football

The Alerus Center, home to North Dakota football


  • A short night’s sleep so we can make the near five-hour drive to Grand Forks with time to meet Breeah’s friend and make ourselves comfortable at her house.
  • Lunch at the “Big Sioux” cafe, the 24-hour truck stop diner that has all other 24-hour truck stop diners beat. Breeah swears by the creamy red potatoes, but you can’t go wrong with almost anything on the menu. All-day breakfast is where it’s at!
  • Pick up a media pass at the Canad Inn, a hotel that is essentially connected to the Alerus Center, making the whole complex a huge stadium/convention center/restaurant/water park/hotel that I’m sure benefits the UND community greatly. It’s an oasis in the prairie – much like UND’s legendary hockey stadium, the Ralph Engelstad Arena.
  • Game time! The Montana Grizzlies come out roaring and it was never really a game, despite UND scoring first. Grizzlies go up 20-7 after one and, despite two missed-PAT’s, win 55-17.
  • Breeah, a UND alum, has a new found hatred for Montana fans who frequently high-fived over her after each Griz touchdown. Hey, it was me that got the ticket for her in that section. My bad, babe, my bad… Thankfully, I was forgiven.
  • Game story and photo gallery done and published at 10 p.m. Central time.
  • Pita Pit!


  • Get a personalized tour of the UND campus from Breeah.
  • Watch the Vikings (Breeah’s team) lose a last-second heartbreaker as the Redskins (my team) get dismantled by the Packers. Oh, and our fantasy team’s both fall to 0-2 as well. Football isn’t so kind right now.
  • Make the near-five hour drive back to Minneapolis. Find a gas station in Fargo that sells Big Red (one of my favorite soda’s since discovering it in Texas in February 2012).
  • 8:30 p.m. arrival. Time to watch the end of Miss America and the debacle that is 49ers-Seahawks.


  • Wake up at butt o’clock (4:30 a.m.) and out the door by 4:40 a.m. Don’t even do hair (that’s why guys need hats). Return rental car at lot at 5:02 a.m. Take the Metro Transit train from MSP Airport Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. Proceed to Southwest counter to find a line of 10 people at the one self check-in kiosk. Barely faster than the standard line, I’m whisked through security and make it to my gate at 5:45 a.m. for my 6:45 a.m. flight.
  • At this point I realize I have only 30 minutes to change flights in St. Louis. Our on-time departure means I’m ok. I make it to my gate at St. Louis with a few extra minutes to spare!
  • They start boarding for the 8:45 a.m. St. Louis flight promptly at 8:15 a.m. A couple people who need extra help get on and then they announce that because of a D.C. security alert, boarding will be suspended by 30 minutes. At this point we were all aware of a shooting at the Navy Yard (per the TV’s tuned to CNN near the gate) but not aware of how bad it was.
  • The flight eventually boarded at about 9:40 a.m. and we were off. We hung in the air around Morgantown, W.V. for about 10-15 more minutes. The pilot took a very roundabout way around D.C. and into National Airport – one I’ve never quite experienced before (and wondered if it was an airspace precaution).
  • Board the Metro Subway and miss the shuttle bus – giving me a 20-minute walk back to work for my evening shift.

So, yes, it is possible – with some flexible work scheduling (no vacation time!!) – to get from D.C. to North Dakota (and back) in one weekend and have enough time to breathe the fresh prairie air for a bit. This weekend I’m going to prove the same theory holds true when getting out to a dusty, rural Texas town. Stay tuned!

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