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Wendy Reuer, Published August 27 2012

Summer’s last hurrah: Make the most of the season’s last weeks

FARGO – It’s less than a week away from the unofficial end of summer, Labor Day weekend.

The impending drop in temperatures and turn of leaves has many looking to spend the last few days of summer enjoying the moments that seem to come so irregularly in this area: warm weather, no snow and only intermediate ongoing construction projects.

There’s still time to enjoy a number of fun activities as a salute to the sunniest season.

Ride the Red

As summer closes, so do the Red River tours and kayak rentals provided by River Keepers.

River Keepers Project Manager Christine Laney said this year’s season has been perfect for a jaunt down the river.

“Last year we didn’t operate at all because of high water, so this year people have been taking advantage of it,” Laney said.

Sept. 2 will be the last day to take a guided tour of the river.

Tours are offered every hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays as well as 1 to 7 p.m. on Saturdays.

Don’t need a guide? Rent a kayak for only $7 per hour per vessel. Rental hours operate the same hours as tours.

The larger tour boat can be rented out for private groups as well. Snacks and beverages are welcomed aboard. For $99, up to 17 people can have their own private boat parties during regular operating hours.

After regular hours, private parties can still be arranged by calling the reservation line at (701) 793-RUBY.

Road trips

Let’s face it, winter road trips rarely turn out to be a good idea, whether it’s running the threat of black ice or watching a white out slam into the roads, taking a leisurely drive in winter months often just isn’t feasible. But in the summer, you can cross the Red River in any direction and scout some scenic byways with a lot of fun pit stops in between.

East:

Minnesota may be the home of 10,000 lakes, but it’s also home to few straight roads. With the metro area being so close to Lakes Country, it’s easy to follow Highway 10 out of town and get lost on the back roads. The scenery is beautiful: plenty of hills, greens and water, but the small towns are the real gems. Detroit Lakes’ tourism is its bread and butter, but add another 20 miles to the drive and arrive in Perham.

This town of about 3,000 has a historic downtown that not only has excellent shopping with unique boutiques, but it transports visitors to another time zone with what feels like an easier, laid-back time.

West:

One of the most scenic areas in the state of North Dakota, certainly the best views this side of the Missouri River, is at Lake Ashtabula and Bald Hill Dam. It’s a gorgeous drive to the lake located just 12 miles north of Valley City.

But the best part of Valley City, or as I call it – the town where you start to see hills – is the famed Pizza Corner.

Sure, you can get Pizza Corner pizza at most small grills and bars in the metro, but there’s nothing like getting it right from the source.

Opened in 1977 on the corner of Second Avenue and Main Street (hence the name) the red décor and comfy vintage vinyl booths give the café as much flavor as the pizza.

Get outside

Couldn’t make it to Newman Field earlier this summer? No problem. The RedHawks are on fire, standing at the top of their league.

Four regular season games are left against the Laredo Lemurs at 7:02 p.m. today, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with playoffs to begin next week.

Playoff tickets went on sale Thursday and can be bought online at www.fmredhawks.com.

For a more laid back vibe, a number of fall softball leagues will pick up where the summer hard-core hitters leave off.

Fargo Slow-pitch started Aug. 20 but that doesn’t mean you can’t catch a game at nearly any area diamond.

Other ideas:

• Gas prices usually rise around the holiday weekend, but a traincation allows you to avoid the road rage and just enjoy the view. Fargo is home to a busy Amtrak station at 420 4th St. N.

While the trains can take you nearly anywhere, a roundtrip to North Dakota’s famed Bakken area can be snagged for less than $100.

Hotels might be harder to come by, but if you have a place to stay, it’s not a bad way to check out the oil boom.

• Check out Thunder Road.

The amusement park known for its miniature golf also has a go-kart track, batting cages and offers laser tag.

Thunder Road is only open through September and won’t open again until April. Already operating on fall hours, the park opens from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends, said owner Dan Isom.

• Take a Friday trip to Fergus Falls, Minn., and enjoy a tour of the famed Kirkbride building.

The ornate Regional Treatment Center has a rich history as well as rich architecture. Built in the early 1900s. It currently stands empty while the city tries to decide what to do with the 800,000 square foot building.

Tours are offered at 2 p.m. Fridays. Reservations can be made by calling (218)736-5328.

The Otter Tail County Historical Society and Museum was scheduled to close its summer long exhibit, “Minnesota’s Third State Hospital” a tribute to the city’s former state hospital. However, Missy Hermes, education coordinator for the museum said the exhibit will be extended due to an overwhelming positive response.

“It’s been fabulous,” she said.

A second exhibit on loan from the Minnesota Historical Society titled, “Coming of Age the 1968 Exhibit” is also showing now until October.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530