Lots Going On…

Written by: Rodney Wilson

We will start out this week’s column with a congratulations to now Brigadier General Michael Walters as he accepted his promotion this past week in Washington, DC. Chewy, as we kind of all got used to calling him, was the 5th Bomb Wing commander from 2020 to 2022. As history will probably have it, Col Walters commanded the Minot Air Force Base during the height of the COVID 19 pandemic. There were no previous “best practices” when it came to COVID 19. Col Walters and Col Menuey from the 91st Missile Wing just made it work. Resolve, resiliency, determination…all words that will describe those two volatile years at Minot AFB.

I was able to have three personal interviews with Col Walters. Once before the COVID 19 pandemic, one in the height of the pandemic, and one right before he left Minot AFB for his position at the Pentagon. Col Walters was always very straight forward; I think today’s journalist would label his approach as being brutally honest. Even though Col Walters would have a list of prepared questions from the Northern Sentry, we would always manage to address and approach other topics, most often those that involved the Airmen and families of Minot AFB.

Best of luck to Brig Gen Walters and his family. I am sure we will touch base once again in the future.

Another First
On my calendar I often keep track of “weird weather events.” This entire winter falls into that category. From the prediction of the National Weather Service, we will go from 60 degrees above zero, to one degree above zero in less than 24 hours. North Dakota has always been known for wild swings in weather, but the record between a low and a high in 24 hours is 59 degrees, and we may break that record!

And the robins have returned in February. Wow! How can that be? I was peering out the window at my back yard and low and behold in the back yard water puddle was two robins. My wife confirmed that yes; indeed, there were two robins in the back yard, on February 20th.

I have noticed that local meteorologists have kind of given up on explanations for the winter of 2023/2024. El Nino winters are not unusual, and neither are 60 degree temperatures in February. What is unusual, and I think it has us all scratching our heads, is the continuous warm weather pattern that has left very little snow on the prairies and brown, open fields. As we move our way toward spring (maybe we are already there), we still need to remember some of those early spring snowstorms that have roared their way across the Dakotas leaving piles of snow and closing schools and highways. Is that what I predict? Probably not. But it can happen, right?

Still Time
I had a short chat with a group of friends who spent Sunday at the Bottineau Winter Park. They had a great time, and the weather was excellent. You may be getting a bit tired of me talking about BWP, but the reality is that they have had great snow and have been making snow at BWP so families can ski, board, and sled all the way through Easter. Plan a trip North and enjoy the fun.

Wildlife Trails Offer Winter Viewing
Several of the State Parks have trails that would normally be catering to cross country skiers, snowshoes, or even fat tire bikes. The trails are still open, but obviously not available for normal winter recreational activities. That is the glass half empty story. The glass half full story is that the temperatures have made day trips to the parks a great family outdoor adventure. One local park was reporting a lot of tent camping activity because the weather was so nice. The warm winter has certainly created some unusual opportunities.

Best Kept Secrets
The open winter will give you an opportunity to drive through Theodore Roosevelt Park, North Unit near Watford City.
We have often winter camped in the North Unit. Winter is a good time for wildlife viewing as the animals that are normally active during the winter are easy to spot. Yeah, some hibernate, but there are still a lot around. It’s a day trip worth taking.

Today’s Chuckle
A woman walked into the kitchen to find her husband stalking around with a fly swatter. “What are you doing?” she asked. “Hunting flies”, he responded. “Oh.. Killing any?” she asked. “Yep, three males, two females, “ he replied. Intrigued, she asked, “ How can you tell?” Three were on a beer can and two were on the phone,” he said.

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