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"Really? I didn’t know that state existed." "I went to Billings once." "Isn't that up by the north pole?" All these quotes were responses from people in Nashville, Tennessee when told that my family was from North Dakota. Go ahead, read them again now that you know what they're for. Pretty bad, huh? But they're all real answers.

But anyway, I'm here today to talk about what it's like being a North Dakotan on vacation. To start off, we drove to Fargo and ate at Fuddruckers (and I still don't know why we don't have one here in Bismarck), then kept going to Minnesota.

Now, here's the first point I'd like to make; we hearty bunch o' North Dakota folk drive pretty relaxed. People in Minnesota drive differently. Real differently. I'm positive that these people actually want to get in accidents, cutting people off and going thirty miles over the speed limit all the time! And would they obey common courtesy of the road, such as 'Don’t go in reverse on the Interstate?' NO! Instead, these drivers think that the rules of the road weren't meant just to be broken, but also shattered, kicked, harassed, and spat upon.

So I say to you now, North Dakota drivers, that you’re awesome! Give yourselves all a pat on the back!

Anyway, enough of my complaining. As we left Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes and 10,000 near accidents, we headed down through Iowa. Fortunately, their drivers are a lot better. In fact, the whole state was a lot like ours. Kudos to the state of 10,000 corn stalks.

We drove through Iowa pretty much non-stop so we could get to St. Louis, Missouri. I came in contact with a famous person here. While driving to the hotel, coming back from the St. Louis Arch, I got to see Atlanta Hawks coach Lenny Wilkens driving in his car! It looked like him, the license plate was from Georgia, and it was customized with the words ‘MPW1’.

As we drove over the mighty Mississippi into Memphis, we saw a pyramid! In fact, it was the third biggest pyramid in the world! We went to the Titanic display inside the pyramid, which was a cool audio tour of a bunch of stuff recovered from the Titanic and other factoids about the ship ‘that couldn’t be sunk.’

The second day we were at Memphis we went to the big draw of the city. I’m talking about, uh-huh-huhf course, Graceland, Elvis Presley’s mansion. We got to see everything from Elvis’s report card to the Lisa Marie airplane. The gift shops were numerous and hard to avoid, as well. In fact, all the exits were blocked by a gift shop you had to at least walk through. Pretty tricky thinking, Priscilla.

Also, the merchandise there was unrivaled. Feel like spending $300 on a Cabbage Patch Kids Elvis doll? Or how about a pen with a floating Pink Cadillac that moves back and forth in front of the Graceland mansion? Actually, I fell and got two of these pens.

One thing I have to say that North Dakota has over the southern states is speed. In the south, everybody is slow. No, really, just plain slo-o-o-w. Painfully slow. There is no such thing as fast food! One reason is because of all the heat and humidity. In the south, the heat slows a guy down. In the north, you've gotta move quickly so you can stay alive with all this cold weather we have!

So, as we left Memphis, we all decided that we had too much Elvis music, except for my dad, who could listen to it all day. But once we got to our main destination, Nashville, Tennessee, we soon were very glad we decided to go there.

We went to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Boy, the fuss that this place puts up about country music would actually make you think it was enjoyable. No, no, I did enjoy it, but after seeing Garth Brooks have a guitar duel on stage three times, you just get plain sick of country music. Bleah. I deem Nashville the land of 10,000 Garth Brooks appearances-every day.

Also in Nashville was the restaurant to beat all restaurants–John Andretti's Car-B-Que! Just listen to the name! A car being barbecued? Barbecuing on a car's radiator? No, you went inside of a garage-converted-to-a-restaurant and pick up your food. The food was really good, and there was a ton of racing memorabilia.

We also went to the Grand Ole Opry. This was almost like a time warp to the 1950s. You had this big stage with a huge curtain, these cheesy advertisements, and a big barn in the background of the stage. Also, we saw Garth Brooks again. Luckily, he wasn’t having guitar duels this time.

Once it was time to leave the Music City, we wanted to get home as quickly as possible. We drove to Kansas City and then rushed up through South Dakota (without touching one foot on the ground) and into good ol' North Dakota, where we got to go to Fuddruckers in Fargo again. Then we dashed home to Bismarck.

After being through all those states, I can safely say that North Dakota, the land of 10,000 fenceposts, has them all beat in almost every way thinkable. The drivers in ND are better, the burgers in Fargo are better, the service at McDonald's is unrivaled, and we don't have so many corn stalks.

Come see the unedited versions of all my Bismarck Tribune articles on the web at http://www.btigate.com/~funkboy
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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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..."Really? I didn’t know that state existed." "I ...

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