With talk of Canada separating into two countries and an American presidential election looming, it’s time we North Dakotans have a serious conversation about merging with our lovely compadres to the South. A state filled with nice people, national landmarks, and, of course, ranch dressing. That’s right: Arizona.
We’re all already there anyway.
As the last Halloween trick-or-treater sneaks one more piece of candy before bed, scores of retired, semi-retired, and perpetually-cold North Dakotans put their leftover hot dish in the deep freeze, set their front light timers, and head to the airport in search of a place with so little precipitation that a person need never wash their car.
Without any basis of fact, I can confidently say that roughly 20% of North Dakota ups and flies to the Grand Canyon State for the winter. East coasters go to humid Florida; North Dakotans like us some dry heat.
And don’t think I don’t get it. For the last couple of winters, my family and I have had the good fortune to spend a few gloriously warm days in the Phoenix area. We have interacted with dozens of people on those vacations, and 95% of them were from our fair state. The nice couple in the coffee shop? Born and raised in Oakes. The girl working at Legoland? Originally from Fargo. The guy in downtown Scottsdale we grabbed to take our photo? Wearing a UND sweatshirt.
On one of the trips, we took the kids to an old, remote mining town; and, as what typically happens with my children, they had such a good time eating scorpion lollipops and watching the mock shoot-out that they fell to pieces as soon as they returned to the car. We made it roughly 10 miles before we decided to abandon ship and stop at the first place we saw for lunch: an out-of-the-way fried food palace with rows upon rows of picnic tables hooked together for friendly dining. The place was surprisingly packed, and so we found an open spot and introduced ourselves to our tablemates – who, it turned out, were from Grand Forks. The people next to them heard our conversation and leaned over and introduced themselves – because they were from Devils Lake. As we were remarking on the coincidence of it all, one of my husband’s friends spotted us and came over to say hi. His dad followed, because I knew him from work. So there we were, hundreds of miles from home, surrounded by home…and wearing tank tops in February. Heaven.
North Dakota summers are perfect for Arizonians.
I know two people who are actually from Arizona: my friend Elizabeth, and Noel, the fellow who drove the golf cart at our Phoenix Resort because, like North Dakotans, Arizonans know that walking more than 10 steps between your car and your destination is for rubes. It was 68 degrees, and Noel was wearing a parka and wool beanie. After some gentle ribbing, I commented that he must love the summers in Arizona, since he’s obviously cold-averse. Noel scoffed and replied, “No one stays here in the summer. It’s too hot!”
Well, Arizonians, do I have the place for you.
Arizona’s punishment for glorious nearly year-round weather is your hot summer temperatures. North Dakota’s reward for putting up with difficult winter weather is absolute perfection in the summertime. The average July temperature in North Dakota is 82 degrees. You know what you can do at 82 degrees? You can go for a pontoon ride at the lake. You can go for a swim in a myriad of outdoor waterparks. You can go for a bike ride or a hike or a picnic or whatever outdoorsy thing you like to do. You can go to the Badlands, which is sort of like the Grand Canyon but with fewer tourists.
You can live in any of the wide variety of housing vacated in the summertime by our area college students, or you can make friends with a North Dakotan and have them stay at your house in the winter and then stay at their lake cabin in the summer. Symbiosis!
Of course, there are many other benefits to North Dakota: we, too, have a deep love for taco meat; we’ll put basically anything in hot dish (cactus, anyone?), and both of our states border another country, so we can have long discussions about the hilarious quirks of our favorite Canadian and Mexican tourists. And, of course, we like baseball, too – in fact, we’ll not only put you on one of our summertime beer leagues, we’ll drive you over for two-for-ones after the games. Talk about a win.
It’s nice (t)here.
You’re gonna love this.
We’re all hockey.
Arizona is the fastest-growing hockey market in the United States. Guess what is America’s State of Hockey? Well, it’s Minnesota; but North Dakota is adjacent to Minnesota and we are right behind them in terms of players per capita. The number one state for USA Hockey-registered players per capita is Alaska, two is Minnesota, and three is North Dakota. Alaska is also beautiful, but North Dakota is closer.
For the discerning Arizona parent or grandparent who wants their child to keep up their development over the summer months, North Dakota offers a wide array of hockey camps and open ice for your skating pleasure. And my fellow North Dakota hockey parents, if we need to spend a weekend in a rink, a tournament in Scottsdale doesn’t sound too terrible.
We also have the opportunity to create a two-team-one-state D1 hockey program – you know, like Alaska. Arizona State is independent of any hockey conference, which means they could easily slip into the National Collegiate Hockey Conference. As a goodwill gesture, North Dakota State University Football could switch to the Pac-12. I mean the Pac-13, ammiright?
I could go on and on with all of the benefits to merging our two beautiful, un-temperate states, but I’m too busy brainstorming possible name changes. Dakizona. Narizona. Aridak. Best Dakota. Or, if we want to retain individual names, we could try out North and South Arizona…or North and South Dakota – and South Dakota could become East California, because all of those Californians are going to need to move somewhere with electricity. Or we eschew it all for MegaKota. I hear that’s a thing.