Where I Come From, You Do Not Drive On Lakes

This past summer I lived for three months in South Dakota while I interned with Monsanto. It was an enjoyable internship experience. I got to see a lot of beautiful scenery, learn a lot about corn and soybeans and I was thankful I was able to try living in the Dakotas for a three month period and not on a permanent basis. Their summers in the Dakotas are extremely mild compared to hot and muggy Alabama summers, but I wanted to go and see what winter was like. During Christmas break I paid a winter visit to South Dakota, and let me tell you it is an entirely different ballgame than what I am used to.

ImageTemperatures were below zero the majority of the time I was there. The wind chill was anywhere from -13 to -45, until I got off the plane in Aberdeen, I had never felt temperatures below zero. However these low temperatures are very conducive to recreational activities that I have never participated in like snowmobile riding and ice fishing.

Ice fishing was what I was most excited about getting to attempt on my trip. Zack, who preaches at the church I attended this summer agreed to take me. So he got out the fishing rods the night before we went and got them all ready to go. I was surprised at how tiny they were!

ImageThe next morning we woke up early, I put on almost all the clothes I had brought with me (literally, even my pajama pants) and we drove to Pickerel Lake about 60 miles east of Aberdeen. Pickerel is a big fishing lake, a beautiful area I frequented this summer to watch sunsets and walk. Zack brought along his wife Elizabeth and their two year old son Isaac. We pulled up to the lake and Zack instructed us to roll down our windows “just in case the car fell through the ice.”

ImageI did a double take. In Alabama our lakes hardly ever freeze over, much less do they freeze where you can walk on the ice, MUCH LESS DRIVE ON IT! But sure enough there were vehicles scattered all over the lake.

ImageWe started out across the lake in their Honda Accord. The snow was blowing which made it hard to see the tracks made by other vehicles. We made it a few hundred feet and got stuck. I didn’t have on my coveralls yet, but Zack and I jumped out to push the car out of the deep snow we had got stuck in. We drove out to where some of the other vehicles were. We got out and sure enough you could walk around, it was tough to tell you were even on ice because it was covered with snow except for a few patches here and there.

ImageZack and I drilled some holes in the ice with his hand auger.

ImageThe auger makes a nice little 6 inch hole. You have to have some way to drill a hole, the ice is so thick you cannot break it by hitting it with something. The ice was about 3 foot thick.

ImageAfter you drill a hole you can use a fish finder or even just drop your line in and see if you get a bite.

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We finally decided on a spot and set up our ice shack. Ice shacks reminded me of campers, you have some that are super fancy and some were super simple.

ImageThe one we used was a little pop-up deal that fit nicely inside a hard sided case.

ImageIt isn’t made of much, but I was surprised how warm it was inside, especially because we had a space heater since little Isaac was along. Just being out of the wind helped. The wind was so strong we had to made sure someone was in it so that it did not blow away!

ImageThe kind of fish that we were fishing for are pan fish like blue gill and crappie. You can barely feel their bite so the strategy was to watch the tip of the rod for movement. Since we had Isaac along in the shack with Elizabeth and I, it was very hard to do and we had little luck.

Imageeing able to go ice fishing was definitely a new experience, ice of that proportion was new to me. I am now by no means an experience ice fisher. If someone who is a seasoned ice fisherman was to read this, they will probably laugh at my description of the endeavor and terminology, however for an Alabama gal, I was doing good to be out there sitting on a frozen lake.  I would like to try it again sometime, can you ice fish where you live? What has been your experience?

Webster South Dakota ice fishing

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South Dakota is a Different Ballgame in the Winter

This summer I spent three months in South Dakota. The weather was SO NICE. After enduring Alabama summers for 21 years to get to spend a summer where there is little humidity was such a treat. I can only think of one day where I actually thought, “whew, it is hot.” I decided a few months I wanted to go back in the winter time and see what it is like. I got a good taste of what it is like, when I landed in Aberdeen, SD last Thursday it was -13, when I left on Sunday the wind chill was -46. It cold, but a different kind of cold.

I got a lot of experience driving on ice and show while in South Dakota. I don’t know how people know where to park in parking lots at Walmart, Target etc. because you cannot see the lines. Image

 

There were huge piles of snow some the size of buildings, in every parking lot from where it had been plowed after snow showers. Image

 

I found it interesting that corn was stored out and uncovered. After asking Mr. Tom from church he said that the corn was actually best stored that way, it was frozen and would not loose its quality. Image

 

Streets if they were paved were pretty  much ice and snow. Image

 

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I was able to visit with my trainer from Monsanto. We ate at our usual cafe in Webster, this was a treat. Image

The snow was very pretty, but there was a lot of it and it was so cold, it is not going anywhere, anytime soon. ImageImageImageImageImageImage

It was interesting seeing the fields so bare and snow covered. ImageImage

 

Frozen lakes was a new concept to me. I had the opportunity to go ice fishing (there will be a separate post on that later). We drove on the lake, which was somewhat terrifying at first, but then after drilling holes in the ice that were 2 1/2 feet deep I was reassured I had little to worry about. Image

While I was out and about in Webster on Saturday the temperature hit a whopping 0 degrees. 

 

 

 

 

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One of my favorite things about South Dakota was getting to see some beautiful sunsets. I was able to sit on a hill and watch the sun go down on the plains on Saturday (from the warmth of my vehicle of course). Sunsets are always a great time for reflection and to be in awe of the beauty of God’s creation. ImageImage

 

After visiting South Dakota during the cold months I have no idea how they deal with the snow and ice for 5 months out of the year. I can see where it would get old. I am glad to have experienced the brutal winters they have and I most enjoyed getting to visit with friends from church and my trainer. Stay tuned for a post on ice fishing, let me tell you it will be something else. 

The 86th National FFA Convention Is Underway!

The 86th National FFA Convention Is Underway!

So today kicked off the 86th FFA Convention in Louisville Kentucky. This is my fifth convention. I went to convention first in 2008 when I was serving as a state FFA officer for Alabama. I loved it so much I … Continue reading

Whoop! Auburn Beat the Aggies and We Were There To See It!

When they announced the football schedule the 2013 season my brother and I started discussing how we could make it to College Station for the Texas A&M game. We booked flights in January and FINALLY the weekend arrived.

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We arrived in Texas and our first stop, being the conservative, American, Bush loving tourist we are stopped by the George Bush Presidential Library.

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I had heard to much about the Aggie Yell Practice they have each Friday night prior to home games. That was one item on our list of things to do we were not going to miss, we had been up a long time, but we made it to midnight.

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It was interesting, not many people could explain what was going on, but it was still something to see. They do not have cheerleaders at A&M, but have yell leaders who are male. They give signals to inform the crowd of the cheers. It was interesting to see and experience.

yell aggies

Emily and I got up pretty early on Saturday morning to get prepared for the game and we left the house dressed up and ready for the 2:30 game. Driving through College Station on a game day was not bad, we just couldn’t figure out where the fans were. It was 11:00 and there was not that many people out, parking lots were not too full, a stark contrast from Auburn game days.

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It is 11am and there are not that many people, where is everyone?

Parking at A&M was frustrating, you could only park in a lot, their campus is huge, one of the largest land-wise in the nation, but you were not allowed to park on any grass, you had to pay to park in a lot. A&M’s tailgating reminded me more of what you would see at a NFL game, in parking lots, actually on tailgates of vehicles. We attended a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences tailgate, a great networking opportunity, and was able to meet up with a friend of mine, Anna, who is at A&M finishing up her master’s degree.

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We made our way to the stadium, the majority of the ~6,000 Auburn fans in attendance were in the upper end zone. Their stadium in in three separate sections the student section takes up one whole side and holds around 30,000 people! Very impressive, this is where their “12th Man” sits. Their students didn’t get there extremely early, but they were packed in around kickoff. To be 30,000 strong I didn’t think their student section was that loud, they got that way towards the end, I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and sayit was the wind or where we were sitting, but I’m not convinced.

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In case you missed the game report, Auburn was able to hang in there with the Aggies and Ol Johnny Football. Auburn scored a touchdown with about a minute and 19 seconds remaining which was plenty of time for A&M to score again. The next 1:19 was the longest of my life.

It came down to a few seconds and a final down and as Johnny was tackled in the backfield, cheers of victory filled the air in the Auburn section. I am pretty sure I picked Emily up and swung her around. We screamed and hopped and hollered. It was great.


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I had previously been 0-5 on the road, now I am 1-5 so we’re making progress.

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I will never forget this game and I am so glad I will be able to remember it with Emily, Kira and Krista.

We stayed and cheered some more, sang the Auburn Alma Matter and then headed for the car. The entire time I was at Texas A&M we never had anyone give us  a hard time, be rude to us, bark in our faces, scream at us etc. It was such an enjoyable experience, the best away game experience I have had thus far.

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Few Last Highlights of the Weekend:

1) We got a great deal on a rental car for obvious reasons. We dubbed it the washing machine it had the motor of one and was about the size of one. Good thing we didn’t actually have to drive it to Texas.

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Emily Jones “Traveling around Texas with the two tallest people I know in the “washing machine.” #compactcar #tincan #cantstoplaughing #tallpeopleprobs #goodtobeshort”

2) BBQ- Texas Brisket….enough said. Everything else was good whether it was sausage or turkey. Tex-Mex was also great. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

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3) We got to meet some great people, worship with the congregation out there which reminded me a lot of Auburn. A special shout out to Amy, Chandler, Emily and Taylor who let Emily and I stay with them.

Texas A&M has probably been one of my top 2 away games I have attended. It had all the elements of a great weekend. I have two more trips to games this fall so Arkansas and Tenneessee are going to have a lot to live up to. The experience was great, but coming home with a win over Texas A&M…. priceless.

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New School Year, Domain, Look, Series

I have successfully survived my “last first day of school”. I should have got my brother Brady to take my picture this morning before I left with my backpack and lunchbox, however it was 5:45am and I don’t think he would have appreciated it very much if I would have woke him. Needless to say I am very happy to be back in Auburn, I was able to have a turkey sub from BBQ House for lunch so it has been a good day.

Anna Leigh Peek BBQ House

 I started a few days later than the rest of Auburn students because last week I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the AgChat Foundation’s Agvocacy 2.0 Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. 

AgChat 2013

Photo Courtesy of Chuck Zimmerman

Since my major is Agriculture Communications I was so excited to be going to a conference that was all about social media and agriculture. I was able to finally meet folks I have followed on Twitter and Blogs for years now. We also had a swap on Thursday night where we swapped items from our state with others. I came home with some pretty awesome swAG.

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At the conference I was able to learn from some of the best Ag-vocates out there. I was able to learn how to use some social media platforms I have not really considered like Pinterest. I even learned a few tips about Facebook (I thought I had mastered the Facebook) I have been motivated to blog more and was even motivated that I now have my own domain (www.ALfromAL.com) and have left blogger to come to Word Press. 

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We had a great panel discussion there with guest panelist which included a mom blogger, nutritionist, blogger and a chef. It was a great reminder of why we were there, even though they are very educated individuals they still lack a great understanding of food and where it comes from and also shows we still have so much work to do. I have came home energized and hoping to do more blogging on food production and just more writing in general. So a few things to look for in the coming weeks:

1. Harvest Posts- harvest is coming up so why not show it? I hope to show how food leaves the field on its way to your plate. 

cotton harvest Alabama

2. Football Posts: Auburn Traditions / Fun Facts on Mondays and Tailgate Recipes on Fridays. There will also be travel stories at least from Texas A&M hopefully some other schools. 

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3.  Summer Internship- a few posts looking back on my experiences with Monsanto this summer in the Dakotas 

South Dakota Sunset Internship Anna Leigh PeekIt should be a fun fall and I am going to try to enjoy it as much as I can seeing that it is my last fall in Auburn as a student. Keep up with my adventures here!

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Adventures of the Traveling Minions

Thanks to McDonald’s Happy Meals I have had some travel buddies the last few weeks, a trio of minions. 
 
I hated to part with them so they journeyed with me from South Dakota back to Alabama. 
 
 
They rode with my boss and I to the airport. 
 
 
Went through security and waited on the airplane
 
They were very excited for their first plane ride. 
 
Lucky them they got a window seat.
 
Enjoyed a seat back magazine. 
 
The obeyed all posted and lighted signs (staying buckled  no smoking). 
 
Endured a layover in Minneapolis. 
 
Safely arrived in St. Louis and took the shuttle to the hotel.
 
Worked on a marketing presentation.
 
Slept Good. 
 
Very good. 
 
Ordered room service. 
 
Made sure to stay fresh. 
 
Made it back to Alabama riding in my backpack. 
 
They are adjusting well to life in Alabama. Sitting on the front porch 
 
 
and drinking sweet tea. 
 
I think they’ll like life at the Peek house. 

Seeing the Sights of the Black Hills

This last weekend a friend from Auburn was supposed to fly up to the Dakotas to visit and see the sights. Due to flight problems they were not able to come, but because I was already half way across the state I still decided to go on as planned. My first stop was in Wall, SD at Wall Drug Store. A fun, and free attraction as you get close to the Black Hills. They offer free ice water…why not stop?




I left wall and headed toward Mt. Rushmore. I had been previously with my Dad and Brady and loved it so much I wanted to go back. At dusk each day they have a lighting of the monument and a program explaining its importance and a little about the presidents on the mountain. It is definitely worth your time if you can be there at that time.



This particular Friday was also Flag Day. It was a beautiful evening and there were a lot of military men and women there and they were all recognized on stage.






Saturday I visited Wind Cave National Park. It is the 6th largest cave in the world, 3rd in the United States. It was very different from other caves I have been in. Not many stalactites and stalagmites. I am sure to spelunkers it was something to see. It looked like corrugated cardboard to me. It was very interesting and the $9 tour lasted an hour and a half. Definitely worth the money. And…you get to see buffalo! They are everywhere and if you aren’t careful you might just hit one at night.








After seeing Wind Cave I journeyed over into Wyoming and visited Devil’s Tower.





I was also able to drive over into Montana. The east side there is not much to see, but it was still pretty.



It turned out to be a great weekend trip. It was a wonderful weekend to be out and about seeing the sights of our beautiful country.




I Found a Gem in Rothsay, Minnesota

In the two weeks I have been in South Dakota I have put 2,250 miles on my truck and eaten my fair share of local eateries. The only problem with local places is you can never tell if it is a dump or if is a awesome place. Thankfully I have been riding around with my trainer Carrie and she has eaten at most of the local places in the 6 counties she covers and she usually warns me which ones to stay away from and which ones are good. (Thank you Carrie)
On Friday however I was out on my own over in Minnesota and I had been on the road for 4 hours and it was time for lunch and I did not have Carrie along to seek her counsel. I had just picked up 16 bags of seed from a dealer in Rothsay, Minnesota and was going to deliver them to a farmer over in North Dakota. According to my sometimes trusty Tom-Tom (see previous post Tom-Tom Knows Best if You Listen the First Time)  there was one restaurant in the town. I was a little worried that there might not be anything else so I decided to give it a try.
The town was absolutely dead, but I found the place with little problems. Ole and Lena’s was the name of the place, it seemed like a strange name for a restaurant in a small town. I pulled up and thought they were closed because there was no one there (not usually a good sign). Went in and I was the only one there, but it was a very tastefully decorated place, full of local memorabilia.
The menus were made to look like newspapers. The menu had a wide variety of choices. They even had some lunch specials like a hot pork sandwich, beef sandwich, salad etc. I was quickly taken care of by a waitress. She of course suggested a pizza.
The pizza choices were very interesting. I was kinda in a hurry so I just played it safe and ordered the Uffda pizza which is basically a meats pizza and some bread sticks. The bread sticks were amazing, in my opinion better than the pizza.
None of it tasted like frozen pizza neither the bread sticks nor the pizza.  The marinara sauce tasted like it was made out of freshly chopped tomatoes. Overall it was very good. It was a little pricier than I usually pay for lunch, but it was definitely worth it. If I am ever back in the area I will be stopping again. Not long after I got there the place filled up with customers and you can tell they have a lot of local clientele. I would have never guessed that I would have found this good of a pizza place in a tiny town like Rothsay (pop. 494) but you just never know!

Tom-Tom Knows Best (if you listen the first time)

I like to pride myself in being pretty directionally savy. Back home I can tell you pretty much where any road is until you get into subdivisoions. I will admit however I was a little worried about finding my way around in South Dakota. Afterall, most of their roadways are streets or avenues and they mostly are numbers and not actual names like O’Neal, Pepper etc. On the first day I was here I figured out a very helpful fact.
Avenues run North to South and Streets run East to West.
This doesn’t help me remember what road is which but I at least know what direction I am heading.
Another thing that helps is that most of the counties are on the grid system. Basically every mile there is a road. Not necessarily a travelable road, but a road.
Limestone County, AL (top) vs. Day County, SD (bottom)
My Tom-Tom which my brothers gave to me for a high school graduation gift, has been very helpful for the most part. No matter where you are the address numbers are not always right, but it usually gets you within close proximity of your destination.
Tuesday I was sent to Mitchell, South Dakota for a siminar. I left about 5:30am I made it without any issues and even had time to visit the Corn Palace.

When I left Mitchell I was to go to Conde, SD to pick up some leftoever seed from a grower. When I left the farm with their seed I typed in my Tom-Tom my home adderss. It said it was 80 miles! Let me assure you it was not 80 miles. How did I know this? These hills. Yep, those with the windmills.  

I see these hills every Sunday and Wednesday on my way to church. I knew that I was just on the other side from the main highway I needed to take me home and it would be quicker to go over them vs. around them. Seems logical right?
I told Tom-Tom I wanted the shortest, not quickest way and off I went. I am always leary of Tom-Tom when he tells me this:
However, in South Dakota practically every road is dirt! So if you hit avoid unpaved roads you will never get to wherever it is you are trying to go.
So here I go along the dirt roads trying to figure out how to get over the big hills to the otherside to take a “short cut”. I go down one road Tom-Tom told me to go down and I basically ended up in someone’s backyard. It might have been a road at one point, but not anymore. So I quickly turned around and left. This happened several more times. It would tell me to turn and I find this:
Or this… (which you can tell was a road, but now has a fence in front of it)
I finally got over the hills and all I could find was signs I take very seriously out here.

Long story shorts, many roads, many backups, turnarounds later. I had to give up and go back the way Tom-Tom suggested in the beginning. I could see where I needed to go, there was just no way for me to get there unless it inovlved me plowing through a farmers field, mud hole, or pasture. I saw some beautiful scenery and animals along the way, but it got later and later and I was ready to be home.

Tuesday was Mr. Glenn’s (I live with him and his wife) 80th birthday and I was planning to make him a peach cobbler. I finally found my way home and had time to make the cobbler. Moral of the story, just do what the Tom-Tom says the first time unless you want to take the scenic route.