- Devil’s Lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. Fifty years ago it didn’t exist. A hundred years ago it DID exist and paddleboats busily moved cargo all across it.
- Devil’s Lake has no outlet. It has grown to inundate many thousands of acres of farmland.
- Devil’s Lake is expected to rise until it merges with Stump Lake, and then flow naturally into the Sheyenne River, though the lake has not reached this level in approximately 1,000 years.
- Some people want to create an outlet on Devil’s Lake to regulate the water level. Canadians do not. They don’t want this isolated ecosystem and its incompatible salinity and sulfates to flow into Lake Winnipeg.
- The lowest point in the state of North Dakota is the northeast corner where it meets the borders of Minnesota and Canada, in the form of the Red River of the North.
- Devil’s Lake is not full of carp. But it could be. The Red River Valley basin has “common carp” which, if they invade Devil’s Lake, have no predators and reproduce rapidly.
- North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S. It is also the third least populous.
- North Dakota’s state population of 670,000 in 2010 is one-third the total of King County and about equal to the City of Seattle.
Favorite North Dakota billboard: “Hunt With Your Kids” with picture of proud dad looking at 10yo holding two rifles.
Another billboard: “Be an American, use ethanol”. Well, if it makes the fuel better and lowers the cost, then I’ll buy it. But I won’t buy it to simply subsidize our farmers.
North Dakota is the land of long, straight roads. Every so often I take a short break on a little-used overpass and watch the traffic go by.
Indications of late spring and heavy rains are all over. The fields and gullies are muddy and pools of water everywhere. A few side roads are underwater. A farmhouse is on slightly raised soil in the middle of a lake that must be 1/4 mile across. Obviously it should be a tilled field.
I continue through the flooding with no problem. The freeways are open and traffic is light. Later, on my return trip, this was no longer the case. Flooding would return and close I-90 again two weeks later; I avoided Minnesota and North Dakota on my return.
Coincidentally, Minnesota contains cities named “Barry” and “Wendell” not far apart. So I scooted over there for souvenir photos with my first name and middle name.
My host, John M, is a farmer in Graceville, Minnesota. He has the latest farm equipment and lets me climb around in their cabs, play with the controls and make motor noises with my mouth. I love these things! And new John Deere tractors are wonderfully high-tech with all sorts of computer controls.
The farm toys are great fun to climb around. John and his two boys show off their equipment, opening doors and inspection panels all over. The feeling in the high-tech cab of the John Deere 9670 combine was quite futuristic, with thumb controls on a joystick. I kept looking for laser turrets and guided missile launchers.
John’s farmland is on the Continental Divide. He drove me around his fields at sunset. Just before entering his driveway, he stopped. John pointed left and said “that field drains south to the Missouri River.” Then he pointed right, “that field drains to the Red River of the North.” I’d never thought about the north-south continental divide before and here I am on the middle of a road surrounded by miles of apparently flat land that divides our country’s water systems.
I sleep upstairs in his daughter’s pink frilly bedroom. Her colors and trinkets and decorations of motivational phrases make it a whole ‘nother world from the trucks and farm dirt outside the window.