Day Job

Posted by Derek
Aug 14 2008

The days are few and far between where I stop long enough to forage up something to call ‘lunch.’ I also seem to skip breakfast too often, so it’s a rare treat to actually be able to sit down and have something to eat at a reasonable hour. Today, it’s a steak sandwich at a little place on the Lake Loop Road called ‘Jerry’s.’

I’ve been thinking as I wait for the meal to leave the kitchen - I don’t think I’ve actually ever explained what it is that I do. Most days I’m not certain that I understand it myself.

I live on the shores of Lake Metigoshe, nestled in the scenic Turtle Mountains in northern North Dakota. We’re technically international waters, because the lake straddles the Manitoba border. If you stop at just the right place on the lake, a perfect line slices through the forest where the border lays. On the western shores, immediately south of the border, a road actually goes up to where this swath of treeless land begins. A series of intimidating 3-foot tall cement pylons and a 10” x 8” yellow sign indicate that it might be a bad idea to step across this imaginary line. There’s a picture on my photo site (also neglected): Tax Dollars at Work

About three years ago, the lake flooded. Water washed up into the lower floors of a great number of cabins. Idiots in speedboats ran around the lake at their usual high speeds, leaving their boat wakes to suck out landscaping and retaining walls as they crest over shore. My current employer was working on a brick patio; there was a pile of sand beside the location to be used as fill for the base. After the waters receded it looked like a minefield. Fish had used the nice sandy bed for spawning.

I’d come up for a few days of relaxation. My mother had been working with a real hillbilly of a guy for a year, doing seasonal dock installations and removals, the aforementioned landscaping, and firewood processing. So, I show up, and the water is lapping at the forward 4’ tall posts holding the cabin up. Both stunned and amused by this, I go along with them on the barge to take photos of the lake as they work. Then, I helped hook up chains to docks and lifts to try and help - it’s hard work for a two-man crew, even with a crane on the barge to do the big lifting.

Three years later, I’m still here, doing the same things: lake work, landscaping, firewood processing. We’ve also done demolition and remodeling; gutting a basement damaged in the flood, removing the water damage, and putting up new insulation and such. I’ve also learned a lot about mechanical work: I just finished a rebuild of the engine for the barge. I routinely have to fix wiring on the trucks. No matter how neatly and cautiously I bundle up the wires so they won’t get hung up on obstacles and get torn out, someone finds a way to do it.

Food’s here.

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2 Responses

  1. Dave D says:

    Re: the road on the west side - you obviously mean Solpers Road… :) and when my family still had a cabin over in the Shores Addition, I remember walking up TO the border. Actually, when my siblings and I were younger, we actually walked up OVER the border into the resort just beyond (if memory serves me correctly, it was called the Holiday Hills). This resort has/had a small store and which had Mackintosh’s toffee and which is not sold in stores south of the 49th for some reason… I’m not sure if I recall seeing that sign the last time I walked up, but I do remember the border fence, the gap in the trees, AND the use of telephone poles for posts. :)

  2. Derek says:

    I’m honestly not sure if that store’s still there - I remember doing the same thing, except we pulled up to their gas dock by boat and walked up from there. There’s a bunch of new cabins along that shoreline now… :(

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