There is a place where not far from my hometown, which, since my childhood, still holds the secrets to life. It was a place where we were free. Free to do whatever we wanted to do, say whatever we wanted to say, it was our place, our river. It was a simple place, no paved or asphalt roads for the commotion of busy traffic, no tall buildings to block out the sunlight, no sense of time to feel rushed or anxious, no effects from the outside world. It was a beach on the coast of Lake Sakakawea called “Little Egypt.”
I grew up on a small farm just east of Williston, ND, which is located on the far western side of the state. This area of North Dakota is well-known for its beautiful badlands and rolling hills of buffalo grass. Most popular, is the great Lake Sakakawea with its luscious landscapes and sandy beaches of plenty. Recreational areas around the lake are unlimited and always welcoming.
The lake was named after the Shoshone Indian woman who had aided the expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark of 1805. The purpose of the expedition was to map the unknown area of the Missouri River and find a possible water route for trade and travel to the Pacific Ocean. Soon settlements were constructed within the valleys of the Missouri River. “Energy sources beginning with hydropower, and later lignite fired generating plants, came into being in the 1940’s and began with the federal government’s construction of Garrison Dam on the ‘Big Bend’ of the Missouri” <http.www.visitmcleancounty.com/ recreation/lake.html>. The length of the dam expanding over 2 miles had multiple purposes. Farmers downstream were provided with flood protection, the Lake of Sakakawea was formed providing many recreational purposes for the communities all around. The damming of the river flooded an area of nearly 165,000 acres creating the massive Lake Sakakawea. The process formed a lake second only to the Great Lakes in terms of volume of water and length of shoreline.
The hydroelectric dam provides low cost power to numerous farmsteads and small towns of the expanded region. The lake has also provided for some of the fines walleye and salmon fishing within North Dakota.
It is also known, for the prehistoric looking paddle fish. These huge fis h have been the prize possessions of many great fishermen. I once saw the enormity of a paddle fish in a picture, it was just a big as a grown man. It looked like it could have swallowed a small child whole.
Growing up, my two cousins, Becca and Leslie, and I did almost everything together. Since junior high we were literally inseparable. Leslie was one year younger than I and Becca was her younger sister by two years. We normally would just bum around my grandma’s farm, which was just a little walk from our houses. When I got my license at age 15 a new life of freedom began for the three of us. I was driving us everywhere in my parents’ old wagon. Sometimes we would go to town just to go to the...