Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Vacationing in North Dakota...

Posted 8/06/19 (Tue)

Because it’s summer, people go on vacation and it seems like there are a lot more people from out of state visiting us than in years past.

I have no way of quantifying what I believe, but just have a hunch.

One obvious way to build this argument is in the number of people who are staying in small-town parks. Drive into any park, big or small, and look at license plates around campers and you’ll instantly get an idea of the magnitude of this.

For instance, lately there have been a number of vehicles from West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Why would anyone from Pennsylvania want to vacation in North Dakota?

For them, it’s new territory unlike what they are used to seeing. For some it’s putting another check mark on their bucket list of visiting all 50 states with North Dakota being the last of the 50. For others, they may work here such as a temporary summer job.

Regardless, it isn’t just Minnesota and Iowa anymore. We’re seeing people from all over the United States and Canada.

To break this down even further, for some reason, residents of Ontario are targeting our state. Many of them, of course, are traveling through to other destinations. But there’s something I never thought I’d see in North Dakota, and that’s vehicles with Ontario license plates parked in small towns and next to campers in the parks.

If you talk to them, they’re from all over the province: Toronto, Brantford, Windsor, Kingston, London and my favorite, Mississauga.

Also in recent weeks, I’ve met people from Florida, New York, Connecticut, California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Michigan, Missouri and New Mexico. All of them are either here on vacation or working here in jobs outside the oil field.

The person I spoke to from New York, who has lived her entire life in Buffalo and New York City, said she had never been to North Dakota before and was processing how different it is from western New York and Gotham City.

I told her the closest I had been to Buffalo was looking at the skyline from across Lake Erie on the Ontario side.

So this young lady got a corporate job in New York City and moved there from Buffalo. At one point she wasn’t feeling well and went to a doctor. The doctor told her she lacked Vitamin D.

OK, why would you need more Vitamin D in New York?

Her answer was that she was inside a corporate office building all day and when she left work, the skyscrapers of New York City blocked out direct sunlight and created a Vitamin D deficiency.

It’s hard to believe, but if you’ve been in a big city, it doesn’t take you long to realize buildings can actually do that.

You won’t notice it in Florida or Texas because the sun is almost always overhead. But the farther you go north, the worse it gets because unless it’s smack dab on the summer solstice, the sun’s position moves and shadows become elongated.

Anyway, she came to North Dakota, has been here about a month and loves it. She said, “there is so much sky and you can see forever because of the flat landscape.”

We know that, but it’s interesting hearing it from someone else.

I met some people from New Mexico who wanted to see something different than the desert Southwest. They are used to sage brush, triple-digit heat in the summer and red soil and they wanted something totally different.

So they chose North Dakota primarily because somebody told them July and August were good months to be in North Dakota. They believed it, drove up through Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota and have been touring North Dakota, discovering those hidden gems off the beaten path.

I met an elderly couple from Regina who go south for the winter –  to Minot. These unique snowbirds have found an interesting way to spend their retirement years.

They chose Minot because it’s reasonably close to Regina, they’ve traveled here a lot over the years and are familiar with Minot and surrounding area.

Their real joy is in the friends they have made here. They love it here. They play cards, they go out to eat, they go to hockey games and shop in the mall.

Yes, they can do all that in Regina, but they have a whole new set of friends in North Dakota who keep them happy six months of the year.

There are a lot of examples like this and maybe North Dakota is on the map, contrary to Rand McNally’s atlas that left us out.