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Leg One Update

by Maggie Kukar / Minnesota Wild
Photos from Leg One


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Day One
Day Two
Day Three

6/24 5:48 a.m.

Ahh it’s the fourth day on the tour before the big Summer Bash at the Mall of America this Thursday.  AT&T are the heroes here by letting us use an aircard so I could get internet while traveling and keep you up-to-date on everything Leg 1 is up to! 

If you have ever had the chance to wake up early and take a stroll along the Lakewalk in Duluth along Lake Superior then you know what I’m talking about when I say it’s just gorgeous.  Our Road Tour Leg 1 traveling group was able to stay at Fitger’s which is right on the Lake and I got up a touch earlier just to take that beautiful walk down to the famous lift bridge.  After breakfast at the Midi facing the lake, Wells Fargo held a nice event down in Canal Park for some close personal friends and our Road Tour group made a stop to say hello and have a little Q & A.  Mike Greenlay again emceed the event and everyone from Wells Fargo enjoyed it.  Mike even mentioned that John’s a big guy and as he stood up next to Mike you could hear an “ooooo” come over the crowd.  That sneaky Nordy even popped up a couple times and through different doors!  Our Minnesota Wild Radio Network affiliate friends from Red Rock Radio in Duluth had a breakfast at the local Perkins so another quick stop up there before making our way to the Duluth Heritage Sports Center.  

Yet another big crowd awaited our arrival as we stepped into the Beautiful Heritage Sports Center.  It was a very well set up and the center is really a nice spot.  The National Guard had the Pedal Carts out but luckily Nordy, Cody Almond, John Scott and Mike Greenlay didn’t attempt to jump on and take on any youth hockey players.  Nordy had a fellow mascot at this stop, Jack the Dog from Wells Fargo was there!  So they chatted about old times, new pranks they were working on and what the life of a mascot is all about, you know, the usual stuff.  The traveling group was a big hit and Antti Laaksonen again ran into a huge Finnish population!  I think there are more Fins in Minnesota then Finland!  All the local television stations came out to cover the event and talk to the guys plus Minnesota Wild Radio Network Affiliate 94X/The FAN 1490AM was broadcasting live too!   We really felt welcome in Duluth. 

Lunch time!  Seriously John Scott ate a whole pizza and a sub, can you do that?  Check out twitter to see the picture from the bus.  Cody Almond gave it his best shot and try to match the shear eating ability of John Scott and well, he didn’t even come close with just a couple of pieces of pizza and a sub.   Antti, the more controlled eater of the player group, just sat by and ate his soup while watching those two just devour the food and I can’t blame him.  I was stuffed just watching.  BUT Antti is no slouch himself.  Last night at dinner I have never seen one human eat a balsamic vinaigrette Italian salad in under 2 minutes as he did.  Once finished his only comment was, “that was good!”

Back on the bus to head to St. Cloud but as luck would have it, it started to rain.  We’re starting to feel like we’re living on the Pacific Northwest!  Bumping and weaving through wonderful Minnesota construction we arrived in St. Cloud.  We waved to Rod’s Bicycle Shop as we cruised through town.  At first glance we didn’t see too many folks but then we entered the Municipal Athletic Complex (or the “MAC” as the locals call it) and found a very well organized group patiently waiting for us to arrive.   There were lots of excited youth hockey players, kids and many of them showing up in soccer gear and baseball gear so you knew they were excited because they didn’t have time to even change!   Lots of smiling young faces and I’m sure the FREE Kemps ice cream sandwiches attributed to those smiles too.  Not to be outdone by the National Guard, this Road Tour correspondent gave the rock wall a shot.  I didn’t too badly but I didn’t make it to the top and I did beat the distance that Cody and John got too J  St. Cloud was a wonderful way to finish out our travel portion of the Road Tour.   We were a little tired but pretty proud of our Leg 1 as we pulled up to the doors of 317 on Washington around 8:30PM tonight.  We laughed, we cried (well not really but it sounds better), we ate Schweigert Hot Dogs, drank lots of Coke, climbed many a National Guard rock wall, jumped in and out of a Luxury Limousine Mini-coach, emceed a bunch of events, signed hundreds of autographs, took millions of pictures but overall had just a wonderful Wells Fargo Minnesota Wild Road Tour!!

As we close out this section of the Road Tour I have a couple of shout outs!!!   A special thanks to Andrew (you know who you are) and good luck at school, Lori Hall from Wells Fargo who was at every stop on our leg as well as Sergeant Gorr of the National Guard, Scott from Kemps and especially Outback Jack our driver who got us safely to and from each stop on our 1,072 mile tour of the Northland!!

Thanks for coming along with us, your leg 1 traveling crew:
John Scott, Cody Almond, Antti Laaksonen, Mike Greenlay, Nordy, Anna Johnson & Maggie Kukar

See you at Summer Bash!


6/23 10:59 a.m.

Officially Day #3 for this leg started at the Grand Ely Lodge in Ely, MN – gateway to the Boundary Waters.  Because the Lodge is located on Shagawa Lake our two Canadians really had the itch to fish the great Northern waters.  So Cody Almond and John Scott got up really early in the morning and went fishing.  This is a fish story so I’m not sure of its accuracy but Cody and John said they had quite a few bites but no huge lunkers this time out.  WELY – end of the road radio – was the first stop in town.  The group did notice how cute the town of Ely was and it really is a nice Northern Town.  Mother Nature still wasn’t on our side as we started out to Whiteside Park.  A slow drizzle greeted us but as I’ve mentioned time and time again, these Northern Minnesotans are tough and big group waited with a very good group of Youth Hockey folks.  This time it was Nordy’S turn to attempt the National Guard rock wall.  Boy I tell you those size 42 feet don’t work well on the rock wall but that Nordy is a strong one and he climbed up even FURTHER then John and Cody in Roseau.   Did you know that Nordy might be scared of little dogs?  Well a little terrier came to the event, wearing his Wild jersey, and was barking like mad at Nordy….maybe that’s why Nordy was trying to get up that rock wall!  We left Ely and it was off to Virginia for a very special announcement.

Roughly 45 minutes later we arrived in Virginia, made a quick stop at Subway where John Scott devoured his sub.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t taste it.  We then made our way Kalevä Hall.  We were greeted by James Johnson the Finish Honorary Counsel and Bob Kivela the Chaplin of Kaleva Hall.   They were so excited to see a fellow Fin Antti Laaksonen arrive.  Mike Greenlay emceed the event that kicked off the State of Jääkiekkoää contest.  Wild.com will have all the details regarding the contest posted in July.  I tell you what; the Finnish language is a very free flowing & beautiful language especially with so many people that speak it well.  It was nice to see Antti chatting away in his native language right here in Minnesota.  We had a couple trivia questions where luck would have a man wearing a Laaksonen Wild jersey won an autographed sick.  It couldn’t have been more perfect.  We stay a little longer and enjoyed some Finnish Pulla bread and Finnish coffee.  Coming from a Slovenian who grew up on Potcia, that Pulla was darn good bread!  As always, Wild Curator Roger Godin made his way to Virginia for this great event. 

The day was young so what the heck let’s head to Hibbing!  The National Guard had the pedal carts set up, the sun was shining, a big group arrived – it was a great Road Tour stop in Hibbing.  They even had their rink open so the guys could take a couple shots on net and Nordy played goalie…is that a good idea?  The pedal carts proved to be quite entertaining for everyone.  Have you ever seen a 6’8” defenseman, a 6’6” mascot and a 6’3” television analyst on pedal carts??  Even the Sargent was laughing.  I can’t say for sure but there may or may not have been a run in or two with a cone.  The group recorded some liners for MediaComm while in Hibbing and for young Cody Almond we set the over/under at three as to how many times it might take him.  I took the over and lost as Cody nailed the promo in ONE take.  Such a true professional…Don’t forget to check out Cody’s blog!!  Thanks to AT&T for supplying both of us an air card so we can get internet everywhere and you can read along with our travels!
We’re staying in Duluth tonight and cannot wait for a lovely dinner in Canal Park at Bellisio’s Italian restaurant.  The waves on Lake Superior will definitely put this tired Road Tour group to sleep.

Until next time….Your Leg 1 traveling crew:
John Scott, Cody Almond, Antti Laaksonen, Mike Greenlay, Nordy, Anna Johnson & Maggie Kukar


6/22 4:55 p.m.

And it begins…Our first official Road Tour duties were underway at the North Country Inn & Suites where the radio station came to the hotel to interview our traveling party.    That worked out great considering how late our arrival in to Roseau was!  Young Cody Almond looked a little more spry today after traveling for 21 hours.  We were all set to head to the historic Roseau Memorial Arena when we were stalled as Nordy ‘borrowed’ a bike and took it for a spin.  You may have seen the picture on Twitter.  Anyway, we were greeted at Memorial Arena to some great hockey fans as they waited in the rain outside for us. The National Guard had their really cool rock wall set up and kids were all over that.  We went into the arena to rousing applause where Mike Greenlay did what he does best, grabbed the microphone to present Roseau the official Capital of the State of Hockey certificate and a team signed flag.  All the greats were on hand for the presentation including Don Ross & Bob Lund.  Also attending were Terry Gotziaman Athletic Director, Tracy Ostby & Lew Erickson of Roseau Youth Hockey Association and the Mayor of Roseau Jeff Pelowski.  After all the pomp and circumstance it was time unleash the crowd of kids who just couldn’t wait to get those autographs.  The Radio station and Youth Hockey had a great raffle to hand out prizes.  Cody, John Scott & Antti Laaksonen donned their auctioneer hats and announced the winning numbers.  In true Roseau fashion there were even hockey games going taking place on the ice sheet!  John & Cody thought it might be a good idea to try the rock wall…it wasn’t.  They are great hockey players but their rock climbing skills are something to be desired. 

Sidebar: don’t forget to check out Cody Almond’s blog!

On the road again to International Falls we go!  If you take out a map then you know the road from Roseau to International Falls is right against the Canadian border, that’s up north!  The road is getting a face lift if you will and well let’s just say there wasn’t much sleeping on this portion of the trip.  We rocked and rattled, turned and curved our way to International Falls where John Scott and Cody Almond felt right at home as we looked around we could see Canadian flags everywhere.  Giovanni’s Italian restaurant was just about the only restaurant that we could agree upon for lunch.  You know how it is when you have 6 people and Nordy all trying to decide where to eat it takes a while!  Luckily the radio station was located right across from Smokey Bear Park where the event was being held but unfortunately the rain started coming down, hard.  The quick interview at the radio station went well, except for the fact that John accidently pronounced Roseau incorrectly.  Sorry about that Roseau, he’s Canadian.   I will say something about the International Falls fans, they are a hearty bunch!  As I said earlier in and on Twitter, it was pouring out and those fans were all lined up waiting for our group to arrive.  This stop the National Guard had a sweet obstacle course that was a big hit with the kids.  But Nordy found himself enjoying the National Guard pedal carts.  Those were pretty cool.  I think the fans were quite happy with our traveling group.  Mother Nature pulled a little prank on us.  Right when the event concluded, the rain stopped.   Just as they did with the rock wall, Cody & John raced either other in the obstacle course.  Let’s just say it was a tie as they do in World Cup games, its better that way.  Because it had been raining all day, the obstacle course was quite wet and Cody & John were soaked after taking each other on.    

A quick couple card games…ok many card games; we weaved the North woods and landed in Ely.  Our tight schedule didn’t allow us to pretty ourselves but the wonderful people at Burntside Lodge waited special for us to arrive.  Our server Molly B. from Virginia was great and we had quite possibly the best dinner ever!!!  Cody inhaled his steak and John enjoyed pork chops….even ate off the bone!!  It was fantastic.  Grand Ely Lodge was our host for the evening and in our rooms little Milty Moose stuffed animals helped us get a nice night of sleep on beautiful Shagawa Lake. 

6/21

“And we’re off like a herd of turtles,” as my dad used to say as a kid heading to the cabin up north. I thought it most fitting as we left the Wild Offices at 3:00 PM on Father’s day to head up north to Roseau, Minnesota. 

Leg One of the trip includes Wild Television analyst Mike Greenlay, Corporate Services Coordinator Anna Johnson, Wild Mascot Nordy and me, Broadcast Manager Maggie Kukar. 

At the time of departure, we were a small group as Wild Alumni Antti Laaksonen, Wild Defenseman John Scott and Wild Centerman Cody Almond were meeting us in Thief River Falls…or so we thought!  Click here for Cody Almond’s tale of travel.
 
The trip started off without a hitch as we boarded our Luxury Limousine mini-coach. From there we were off to Hwy 10 through Little Falls, Randall, Motley, Staples and eventually landing in Wadena. Wadena was the stop for dinner at sandwich joing. Nothing too heavy for dinner because we all knew it was going to be a long trip of snacks due to Anna’s homemade snack mix. 

Back on the mini coach for a couple Road Tour classics; Old School and You, Me and Dupree. Nordy’s not a real big talker but his head was bobbing so we think he was laughing at the movies.

Unfortunately, Wadena was recently hit with a devastating tornado and the destruction to this quaint little town is jaw dropping. You see the direct path that the tornado took and it’s extremely sad to see trucks smashed and school buses flipped upside down.  We were all silent as we passed the destruction and our hearts went out to this great Minnesota town.

Still on the road, after all it is six (6) hours to Roseau, we got a phone call from John Scott and it wasn’t good news. With a connecting flight in Hibbing to Thief River Falls the players were stuck due to some mechanical issues with the plane. Lori Hall from Wells Fargo even got on the horn to track down some transportation for the guys. 

Our little group in the bus pulled over in Brooks, Minnesota to figure out if WE were headed to Hibbing. Eventually a mechanic was called up from Duluth, we think, and fortunately he was able to fix the plane. The guys landed in Thief River at 1:00 AM, roughly three (3) hours past the original arrival. 

Matt at the Pennington Station in Thief River Falls, was the superhero who threw in some additional pizzas so the guys would have the strength to make it Roseau!

2:30AM – Finally we reach the North Country Inn & Suites on the edge of Capital of the State of Hockey.
 
Stay tuned, we’re just getting started.

Road Tour Leg #1
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