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.