Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Summertime is vacation time

Wick's World


August 3, 2017

“Summertime,” where “the fish are jumping and the cotton is high,” conjures up images of sun, swimming and most importantly, family vacations. Everyone needs a break from their routine and an easy way to meet the needs of our annual summertime getaway is to load up the family car and discover the wonders of Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Wisconsin. If you are wondering why our friends from the south, whom I lovingly refer to as “Iowegians,” didn’t make the list, let me borrow a line from South Dakota singer-songwriter Tom Peterson’s debut album, “Black Hills Gold.” “There’s an Iowa Driver on a Sioux Falls Street.”

A fun vacation is a safe vacation, so buckle up, put on your sunscreen, drain the alcohol from your body’s system, add sufficient alcohol to your vehicle’s cooling system, get a good night’s sleep and squeeze into your gas-saving Prius.

One time my wife and I simultaneously asked, “Which direction do we go?”

We took a left and by nightfall found ourselves literally walking on a 100-degree blistering moonscape. We passed one of South Dakota’s best vacation spots at Chamberlain and drove the extra 100 miles to enjoy America’s desolate, yet awe-inspiring Badlands. The next morning took us farther west to the wondrously stunning Black Hills where a vacationer is always the winner, whether it’s by holding Four Aces in a Deadwood Saloon or viewing four presidential faces carved into the Black Hills mountainside.

Put the gas-saver in reverse and head back to Dakota’s eastern border where we spent last weekend at Strawbale Winery’s Folk Off and Rib Challenge Festival. Backed by the Red Willow Band, Bruce Preheim, “The King of South Dakota,” belted out a fan favorite “Trash Can Boogie.”

Earlier in the day I bumped into an old college friend, Chris Ginsberg, who had been “living in isolation in Wyoming for the past 35 years” and had just returned to her old hometown of Sioux City, Iowa, a place where they complain about South Dakota drivers. She spoke of this particular line from Trash Can Boogie, “Sittin’ on the Back Porch behind the Chimes Café.”

“My grandfather not only owned the Chimes Cafe, he later opened another one in Nebraska. When I told him that a song had been written about the trash cans, he acted like he could have cared less,” Chris sadly stated.

If you missed last week's festival, the Sioux Falls area referred to as “The Heart of America” has another one coming. About 30 miles south is the event described by Gaynor Johnson.

“My wish is that long after I’m gone, people will still gather in this magical place called Newton Hills and celebrate life, nature and, of course, good music at the Sioux River Folk Festival.”

Once you cross the Minnesota state line, speed limits skyrocket to 80 mph making anywhere near I-90 a quick vacation destination. Sioux Falls is four hours from the Twin Cities and only six hours from a favorite vacation destination, my hometown of Chamberlain, South Dakota. The small, yet bustling little town separates the prairie farmland from the Wild West at the Missouri River. The man-made Lake Sharpe makes for some of the best walleye fishing in the Midwest. If the fish aren’t biting during those lazy, hot summer days, throw in a line anyway. The river is chock full of walleye and sauger, bass, crappies, northerns and many varieties of catfish, including the pre-historic spoonbill catfish (paddlefish) so you are bound to enjoy the thrill to discover whatever has taken your bait in this incredible river. If you are really lucky, like my cousin’s son Ben Hoffer, you may catch the extremely rare and primeval pale sturgeon.

One can swim or sail, Jet Ski, water ski or take a steamboat ride on this marvelous body of water. If you insist on catching walleyes, come back in the fall when the water changes temperature. Chamberlain then offers the added bonus of pheasant hunting. Nowhere can a sportsman do better than bringing home their limit of both walleye and pheasants in an eight-hour day.

Get off your couch, put the potatoes back in the bin and pack your vehicle. There’s still time to take the vacation we all deserve: Head west young man.


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