Since moving to Watford City, I've realized a few similarities between the New Frontier and Fargo.
Wherever you're driving, it takes a long time to get there.
Both cities are on the edges of the state. Watford City is about 40 miles from Montana. Fargo is right on the Minnesota border with the Red River.
While it can be inconvenient to drive hours and hours to get to one place, I can appreciate that drive. Especially since Labor Day weekend will find my at Devils Lake.
Crossing North Dakota to Devils Lake from Watford City takes you through pretty much most of the state. The Missouri River, the rolling plains, the Prairie Pothole Region, even a little bit of badlands are all visible on this drive from Highway 23 to Highway 2. to the lake.
Devils Lake also has a special place in my heart since my family has been fishing and camping there for decades. We've been vacationing there since before the lake flooded big time, tenting at the old Grahams Island State Park campground in the mid-1990s.
I used to deplore the rough waters and big waves as a little kid when we motored in from a day of fishing. In 1998, we once faced a tornado over the region from inside our truck in the Wal-mart parking lot. Memorial Day weekend in 2003 brought three days of rain. We watched Ronald Reagan's funeral on TV during our big family vacation in summer 2004. Michael Jackson died the day I caught a 21-inch walleye from the shore near the primitive campground in '09.
Big things happen at Devils Lake.
It's been in the recent past that I've explored the region around the lake. I explored Sullys Hill National Game Preserve in June 2015. I hit all the lake region towns the same weekend, from Minnewaukan to St. Michael to Fort Totten.
As a child, I stuck to the lake itself, beach combing the shores for old tackle, then refurbishing and rehooking crankbaits to sell with my sister at a Lake Sakakawea boat ramp in summer 2007. But that's another story.
I head out for Devils Lake tomorrow, site 121 at Grahams Island State Park. A lot has changed these past four months, mostly good changes though. To me, Devils Lake is a solid rock in a raging sea (pun intended). We'll always be going there.