which provided a spectacular view of Lake Superior. Everyone chose a personalized omelet with their choice of yummy ingredients with the exception of Mike Greenlay, who opted for a plate full of pancakes and coffee. Only the bear necessities for him.
Having taken care of the most important meal of the day, we were ready to hit the links again at Enger golf course in picturesque Duluth, Minnesota. Despite the clouds and looming storm, 135 youth hockey supporters were present to meet our Wild celebrity crew and raise some money for youth hockey. In order to have the opportunity to meet and greet with each of the teams, we sent our Fantastic Four out to the holes with the beverage cart girls where they provided autographs and service with a smile while bearing the cold winds of the north. After sitting in the club house watching the rain come down, Mother Nature let up just enough to let the group head out for eight entertaining holes of championship golf.
After squeezing in the abbriviated round, the crew headed back to the hotel to freshen up quickly before attending a VIP event hosted by Charter Communications. We had the pleasure of meeting the city’s Mayor, Herb W. Bergson, along with a number of Duluth’s most passionate Wild fans.
Finally, we got our chance at the "super-stop" gig. More than 250 adoring fans gathered at the Wells Fargo bank in West Duluth for interactive games and more. In a span of two hours, we had two minor casualties. Boogey broke a toe nail and Josh broke his only pair of sandals, which we later would fix woth a paperclip. The 3-on-3 games brought on a new level of competition - even bill Robertson got involved! Another high point - no pun intended - was when Derek Boogaard set a new super-stop target shooting record by hitting four targets on six shots. Look for him to lead the Wild in scoring next season.
Leg One - Tuesday, June 27
| Good thing Derek Boogaard did not travel on Leg One. He finally would have met his match. |
Here we go with day number two! We thought day one was an early start, but Tom Reid was up before any actual living organism in Bemidji. He was so excited to hit the links at the Bemidji Town and Country Club that sleep was not an option. Half of the traveling party hit the course with golf clubs a-blazing. Foster, Bombardir & Reid made it look easy as shot after shot...after shot was flawless. Foster had a tougher time because the clubs he was using were a touch short for the 6’4” defenseman.
Following the round, Chouinard decided to enjoy a little more of the hotel and get a workout in. The morning led us to Paul Bunyan and Babe (the blue Ox) park in Bemidji. The boys from Canada were quite impressed by the size of the Minnesota landmarks.
The event was great! It may have been our largest crowd yet, taking nothing away from Alexandria and Fargo. The youth hockey association had a big raffle with wonderful prizes and again the Schweigert hot dogs were grilled to perfection. The location of the park was beautiful because we were right next to the lake. What’s one more photo with Paul and Babe? We gathered up the youth hockey players and took one huge photo. The day was again clear and perfect for an autograph signing
After the event, the traveling party went to a nice little restaurant in Bemidji called the Peppercorn. Their outdoor marquee greeted us with a “welcome” message. The service and the food were awesome and the whole traveling party was full and satisfied as we hit the road.
Soon we were in Grand Rapids, hometown of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, Judy Garland. After a quick stop at the radio station, it was to the Depot parking lot (across the street from the Wells Fargo). The band was playing in the corner of the lot. Chouinard tried his hand at bass guitar but decided to stick with hockey.
Former NHLer Trent Klatt was there to greet us as the head of the Youhth Hockey Association. Everything at this event was going rather well when Mother Nature stepped in. A slight rain shower sent many of the fans scattering but it was just a short one and the event resumed. The train that drove by (the Depot) gave us a wave and toot of the horn!
The YMCA was the next stop as Foster and Chouinard (finely tuned athletes) wanted to get a workout. The facility was really nice along with the staff. From the “Y” it was off to the hotel. Reid decided that since his playing days were a thing of the past, he could afford to hit the links yet again. The Wendigo was a beautiful lodge with a décor perfect for the North Woods of
Minnesota. The staff even greeted us with cute gift bags in each room. A quick walk across the parking lot was not only a great view of the golf course (so we could see Reid complete his round) but a magnificent lodge with large wood logs completing the high ceilings.
| The Minnesota towns are pulling out all the stops to welcome the Wells Fargo Wild Road Tour. |
Today was also a day for celebrating…it’s the ninth wedding anniversary of Bombardir and his lovely wife Heather. Cheers to them!
Jamie, a native of Grand Rapids was our server. She was great and she even laughed at all of Reid’s jokes, which is no simple task. She deserves and extra tip for that! Chouinard was impressed with the dessert menu, as he loves his dessert. Surf and turf were on the menu and a big hit the traveling party. After dinner, the group knew it would be another long day tomorrow as our Super Stop was looming in Brainerd. We all called it a night.
Day two was wonderful and we think that Rookie Foster is finally getting the hang of this Road Tour thing!!
Thanks for reading,
Leg One Traveling party
(Kurtis Foster, Marc Chouinard, Tom Reid, Brad Bombardir, Emily Gausman and Maggie Kukar)
Leg Three - Tuesday, June 27
| The Leg Three tradition: Stopping off for a second breakfast provided by the folks at McDonald’s. |
Well, State of Hockey, Leg Three learned something yesterday: Northern Minnesota may be beautiful and central Minnesota might be fun to visit, but no one gets treated as well as we did yesterday in the southern Minnesota towns of Winona and Austin.
The day started with a bus departure of 9:00 AM. At 9:15 we stopped for what has become a Leg Three tradition: the second-breakfast stop. Steph and Brent had gotten up early and ate breakfast at the hotel before working out at a local gym. But that sustenance was long gone by the time we hit the road, so it was off to a local fast food establishment for pancakes, frozen yogurt and a bag full of hash browns.
After that, everyone was eager to arrive in Winona, where we made our scheduled signing at the Wilke at Levee Park. We were all very curious what “The Wilke” was. Turns out it’s a huge old boat that has been retired and sits idle in scenic Levee Park. The area was very nice and the Winonan’s treated us wonderfully. After our signing, we trekked down the street to Bobby Jo’s, a nice little restaurant where they took very good care of us. Even when Steph tried to order the “chief” salad.
(Some inside info: English is actually Steph’s second language. When drafted by the Wild in 2000, the French-Canadian’s English was a little rough. Now he’s on the Wells Fargo Wild Road Tour, so fluent that not many people know that he didn’t speak English his entire life. It’s remarkable, really. Still, a few words slip under the radar. Hence, the order for a chief salad.)
From there, it was off to Austin, where, not surprisingly, a hotly contested street hockey game broke out with local you after the autograph signing. Team Veilleux was victorious, despite Burns admittedly going “top-shelf, high cheese on a six-year old.”
We went to Austin Country Club for a round of golf after the event, where Burns showed us why hockey players should stick to hockey. Austin CC is a beautiful course, and we all saw plenty of it! After golf, we had a bite to eat at the club before heading back to the hotel, which, to our delight, was holding a Karaoke night. Turns out that Pete, our Star Limo driver, is not only the best in the biz, he also can carry a tune!
Another road tour day in the books, we all headed to bed to rest up for a big day in Albert Lea and Mankato.