Icelandic State Park | October 1, 2020

Come May, my husband and I found our normally jam-packed schedule substantially, uh, lightened – and so we decided to take the opportunity to introduce our two sons (and ourselves, in most cases) to some of North Dakota’s historic sites and state parks.  On one of those trips, we were barely out of town when it became apparent the boys were gearing up for some pretty turdy behavior, and so we abandoned ship on our destination and pulled into the nearest park to let them burn off steam.  That park happened to have a lake in it, my husband happened to have a new fishing license in his pocket and an old rod and reel in the trunk, and that stop just so happened to spark a deep love of fishing for our two babes.  From that point on, all of our travel plans have included fishing.  I should also note that very few of those excursions have included actual fish.

Last weekend, we packed up all our gear – rods, bait, tackle boxes, chairs, a complete change of clothes for a five-year-old with a knack for getting dirty just by existing in the universe, snacks, bottles of water, a bucket, and a magazine that I apparently felt needed to see North Dakota because I had brought it with everywhere and had yet open it – and headed to Icelandic State Park.

Icelandic State Park is located a few miles west of Cavalier, and so we stopped in town on the way to get ice cream see what was what.  Not only did we find chocolate drumsticks, but we also found the He-Mart & Co.  My husband was so excited about the potential of a whole mart filled with stuff for Him and his Related Company that he barely got the car into park before sprinting inside.  He emerged 10 minutes later with three teeny-tiny jighead hooks and advice from the shop owner: jig a bit of bait close to the dock and the fish would come biting.

Because we are terrible parents, we made our children actually hike around the Park first before any fishing would take place.  The trails in Icelandic State Park are honest-to-goodness autumnal fairylands, brilliantly designed in very short (less than a half-mile) segments that are perfect for people like me who like being outdoors, but don’t want to commit to the outdoors.  The best part of our absolutely perfect hike was that the floor of the trail was covered in three-to-four inches of red, yellow, and orange leaves that swished as you shuffle-stepped.  At one point, our nine-year-old stopped shuffle-stepping midway across a crunchy wooden bridge to say, “This place sounds great.”

Anyway, we finally shuffle-stepped our way to the fishing dock.  My husband and Nine got to work tying on and baiting the new hooks, while I gave our five-year-old my most-repeated, most-ignored lecture about not just flinging his line every which way because, while he had yet to catch a fish, he had hooked all of us at least a dozen times.

After a few errant flings by Five, Nine convinced him to follow the He-Mart instructions, and so they both dropped their lines in the water right off the dock, and gently bobbed them up and down.  I picked up my magazine and flipped open the cover.  And then both boys started shrieking, because Five had CAUGHT HIS FIRST FISH EVER, a little perch.  Maybe three minutes later, Nine got a perch…and then another, and another.

After 30 minutes of fishing, the bucket held a dozen perch and one catfish.  We took a million pictures, said goodbye to the fish, and released them back into Lake Renwick (the photo above is my husband and Nine bidding the fish adieu).  I never made it past Page One of my magazine.  It was another great day in beautiful North Dakota.

And speaking of beautiful North Dakota, this week’s news has a lifesaving mattress purchase, a 48-hour relief group, and a course-setting hole-in-one.  Read on.

Fargo’s Willy Kautzman has volunteered every day (except Sundays) for 18 years at the St. Francis Thrift Store. (Fargo Forum)

West Fargo’s Brianna Normand was on the phone with a customer when she realized the woman was having a stroke, and so she called paramedics and stayed on the line until she knew all was well. (KVRR)

I thought this story was going to be about a Farm Aid program, but it was actually just a group of 60 awesome neighbors who brought combines, grain carts, semis, and people together to help Lane Unhjem finish his harvest after suffering a heart attack. (Washington Post)

Killdeer high school senior Brendon Gibson is one of only a few delegates to the Congress of Future Medical Leaders – a position that can only be nominated by a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. (Dickinson Press)

Sixteen-year-old Claire Upton has the community of Fargo rallying around her as she navigates a possible Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome diagnosis. (KVVR)

“Nice Idea is a free entrepreneurship program for North Dakota middle and high school students where they learn to be creative and entrepreneurial, connect with mentors and actual problems that need solving, and showcase their ideas to win support to make those ideas a reality.” (Valley City Times-Record)

Grand Forks will soon have a community orchard with apples, pears, plums, grapes, raspberries, elderberries, asparagus, and more – and also garden tools available for use. (Grand Forks Herald)

Keene’s Mariah Thompson is selling Ethiopian-made handbags to raise enough money to build a home for eight orphans and a house mother. (KX Net)

For the past three years, volunteers in Hillsboro have taken a day to make the city pretty. (Hillsboro Banner)

The newly-formed Mandan Fire Relief group has made it their mission to make the first 48 hours a little easier for victims of fire. (KX Net)

More than 1,000 pounds of food was donated this year courtesy of Minot’s Hunger Free Garden. (KFYR TV)

Napoleon’s old Model A fire truck is now up and running thanks to Assistant Fire Chief Andy Hilzendeger. (Napoleon Homestead)

Fargo’s Dave Schultz got his fifth hole-in-one in the same spot as his first, both setting the course record and providing a nice moment to celebrate Dave’s father, who passed away two years ago. (Fargo Forum)

(Like the story above?  Check out last week’s tale of a very windy bike ride.)

Nice news of the week – July 2, 2020

Happy Almost-4th of July!  Did you know that Prairie Public has created a two-minute video on life in North Dakota in 1776?  You can check it out here.

And you can learn all about the nice things going on in the state voted “The #1 Place to Be in the Event of a Zombie Apocalypse” ( in this week’s news.  Read on, and have a safe and relaxing weekend!


Two ninth-graders from White Shield School are spending their summer building an earth lodge. (KX Net)

Valley City residents created a beautiful garden in honor of a fellow community member. (Valley City Times-Record)

Elbowoods’ Melvin Klaudt is being inducted into the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame. (Minot Daily News)

North Dakota is one of the U.S.’s top 10 job markets (specifically, number 10) weathering the pandemic, when looking at unemployment, change in employment, exposure to industry sectors, and number of job seekers. (Grand Forks Herald)

Despite the fact she’s not the totally ideal candidate – she has donated only to find out her iron levels were low – Minot’s Paula Bachmeier has been giving blood for 47 years. (Minot Daily News)

Before he passed away, Fred Hector Jr. created The Hector Foundation to help “ordinary people or the common man” in North Dakota. (Fargo Forum)

Forth Berthold’s Lauren Good Day has been featured in Vogue for her clothing line, titled “Matriarch” – which she says is “cultural appreciation, not appropriation” and open to all.  As a bonus, all of her models are from the MHA Nation. (Grand Forks Herald)

If you’re going to be near Devils Lake on July 3, check out Max’s Gordy “Crazy Fingers” Lindquist at Stump Lake Village! (Devils Lake Journal)

Dickinson’s Richard and Joan Hintz celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary with a vow renewal, courtesy of CountryHouse Residence for Memory Care. (Dickinson Press)

Fargo’s Joseph Lewis is organizing campfire chats to discuss racial equality. (KVRR)

Bottineau’s Miranda Schuler has put together a military display honoring PTSD Awareness Day. (KFYR TV)

“Fossil Country” is coming to soon to PBS. (Bowman Extra)

The Killdeer Rodeo will have a record-number of participants – over 1,000 cowboys and cowgirls – at this year’s event, starting today. (Dickinson Press)

Happy 100th birthday to Wyndmere’s Eleanor Bommersbach! (Wahpeton Daily News)

Nice news of the day – November 7, 2019

Do you live in Bismarck and have a few extra hours to share?  Heaven’s Helpers Soup Café is looking for volunteers to help serve meals.

And do you have a few minutes to read today’s news – about a new idea to combat opioid addiction, a new AED location, and improved rural communication?  If so, read on.

This fall under the “Teach a man to fish…” concept: North Dakota held a 6-week workshop on how to manage chronic pain without opioids(KX Net)

I recently heard a deeply-moving story where a person’s life was saved by his family thanks to an AED (Automated External Defibrillator, or a small machine to shock your heart during a heart attack), and so it’s amazing that Hettinger Public School was able to donate one to the Hettinger Armory. (Adams County Extra)

The Rural Community Grant Fund has given out $4 million since 2012 to help improve infrastructure in North Dakota – including in Killdeer, who recently received a grant to make their communication even better. (Dickinson Press)