Where do Minnesotans go to vacation in January? I suppose typically most opt for a warm sandy beach in the Caribbean or a cruise to the southern islands. But what fun is that? Why not experience winter to its fullest; why not magnify our Minnesota conditions even further?
Well last week I ventured to north-central North Dakota. In Minnesota we have 20 inches of ice on our lakes and the wind chills are driven by twenty-five mile per hour winds. In North Dakota the ice is now 30 inches thick and forty mile per hour winds irritate sub- zero temperatures to even greater depths.
Yes, I spent the middle of the week in the icy tundra of Devil’s Lake. Certainly we have perch and walleyes and pike in Minnesota, but maybe they are bigger or more numerous in Devil’s Lake in North Dakota? Devil’s Lake is an interesting phenomenon. It’s a lake that has grown immensely in the last ten to fifteen years- where the extra water is coming from is open to discussion. However the fishing has also gown and now even Minnesotans venture to Devil’s Lake to fish.
North Dakota is another white and brown landscape, somehow different from my familiar patch of flyover country, but indeed a fine version of flyover country and well worth the drive. Either North Dakota is an extension of Minnesota, or vice- versa; I’m not sure which, but we do share a kinship. We are a pretty hardy lot. Each day I saw dozens of folks up well before daylight, scraping windshields, getting buckets of minnows, and coaxing stiff truck engines to life in the sub-zero cold. Lines of headlights traced a trail onto the frozen lake and ice augers hummed merrily in the arctic darkness as we all sought access to the murky water below with our jigs and hook-laden minnows. What could possibly be more fun? Would we give this up for a crowded, noisy, sandy beach? Could the Hedonistic luxury of a cruise-liner compare to a miles-long, three foot thick sheet of mid-winter ice, roaring and quaking beneath our feet?
We actually find winter on the frozen plains to be good for more than just making commercials for four-wheel-drive trucks and heavy duty batteries.