Woods & Water: Recent blizzard brings back memories of past storm

Published 8:00 pm Friday, March 1, 2019

Got snow? If you need some, I am willing to part with some of my over-abundance of the fluffy white stuff. For years, my brother-n-law Lynn has been sending me pictures of the storms they have experienced in Nome, Alaska. For the first time, I am actually not impressed by the pictures of snow he sends because I have plenty of my own to take pictures of.

In looking back, I believe the last time I have seen a blizzard like the one we just experienced was in the spring of 1965. I was a young guy, driving milk truck for Conger Creamery. In those days, we had both cans and bulk milk to pick up. The low guy always started on what was referred to as the “long route.” This was all cans and took most of the day during the winter months. I started working there in the late summer of ’64 and jumped right into the proverbial fire. Carrying milk cans was not an easy job — each can must have weighed in at approximately 100 pounds. The former driver, whose name was Norm, had done this route for some time, and he was referred to as the legend of can truck drivers. I was told he would always carry two cans at a time and could deadlift them into the truck from a complete stop without swinging them. I took this as a personal challenge and commenced to hone my milk can-carrying skills. After a while, I was able to do whatever the legend of milk truck drivers could do. By the fall of ’65, when I went into the service, I was lean, and I assume that I had little or no body fat, which wasn’t a popular thing to measure back then.

In March of ’65, I was hauling a load of skim milk to Albert Lea and it started sleeting, so I decided that taking a gravel road was the safer way to go. I took the Conger Road, or what some referred to as “the old Wilson Highway,” which was gravel at that time. There were deep tracks in the mud that were covering the road. As I rounded the curve above Upper Twin Lake, the rear-end of the truck started sliding towards the ditch. That’s when I decided if the truck went over that steep drop, it would do it without me. I had the door open and was standing with one foot on the gas pedal steering the truck around the curve. I was actually thankful for those deep ruts in the road because they kept me from sliding off and ending up in the lake or worse.

Email newsletter signup

The sleet turned to snow, which then turned into a blizzard and didn’t seem to want to stop for a couple of days. I made it back to Conger and was eventually snowed in. Myself and two other co-workers from Albert Lea slept in the creamery that night, and when the snow finally let up the next day, we tried to get out to some of the farmers to pick up their milk. A lot of them were snowed in so bad we couldn’t reach them. It was hard on the farmers; when they ran out of places to put the milk, they had to dump it down the drain.

When the roads were finally cleared enough to get through, we made it back to Albert Lea. That’s when it started snowing again, and the wind started blowing. Before you knew it, we were experiencing a second blizzard. This time we were snowed in at home, and to show what it was like, the hill on Bridge Avenue from the fairgrounds north was pretty much nonexistent. It looked like the road was flat. Power poles were only protruding out of the snow a couple of feet.

My dad and I walked to the Northside Confectionary to pick up some tobacco, milk and bread. He was going alone, but I wouldn’t let him and insisted on going along. The snow was so packed in that we walked on top of the deepest part without breaking through.

When the roads were finally open, there was actually a snow plow, road grader and a semi-truck totally buried in the wall of snow that lined Highway 16 between Albert Lea and Alden. I probably shoveled more snow in the year that I drove milk truck than I have the rest of my life.

I am lucky that I have a family that doesn’t want me to do much shoveling — for this, I am very thankful.

Gov. Walz’s
budget priorities

Sustaining Minnesota’s white-tailed deer/addressing Chronic Wasting Disease: White-tailed deer are one of the most popular species to hunt in Minnesota. Deer hunting provides a $500 million economic boost to the state’s economy. Chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, threatens this treasured tradition. The governor supports an urgent response to combating CWD to protect Minnesota’s economy and community prosperity. The governor recommends $4.57 million from the general fund in fiscal years 2020-21 and $1.1 million annually thereafter to combat the disease, including surveillance and response, enforcement and outreach to landowners.

Angler surveys to inform fisheries management: Minnesota’s 1.4 million anglers contribute over $4 billion annually to the state’s economy. Fishing is an integral part of our culture and contributes to our high quality of life. Angler survey information is critical for tracking trends in fishing pressure, angler catch, harvest and angler attitudes and preferences.

State trail maintenance: Minnesotans enjoy unforgettable trail-based experiences that inspire them to pass along the love for the outdoors to current and future generations. State trails operations and maintenance funding have not kept pace with a growing trail system and rising costs. For example, while the number of paved trails has grown by 150 miles over the last decade, operations and maintenance funding has fallen by $900/mile. With an estimated traffic of 1.8 million visits each year on 1,500 miles of trail, state trails generate substantial tourist travel and economic benefit supporting businesses and communities across the state, especially in Greater Minnesota. The governor recommends a $2 million general fund investment in fiscal years 2020-21 for state trail maintenance, to promote healthier communities and strong local tourism economies.

There were more that were of no less importance, but space doesn’t allow me to list them at this time.

Boat hosts still needed for the Governor’s Fishing Opener

Until next time, we have been getting good responses for our need of fishing hosts, but we still have a long way to go to reach the number of hosts needed to make this event a success. I would like to encourage anyone who is a registered boat owner and has been considering being a boat host or knows someone who might be interested in the Governor’s Fishing Opener by being a boat host to sign up online. The easiest way to do that is by going to www.mngovernorsopener.com. Look for the search box and type in boat host, click on search glass and it will take you to the page. Select boat host information and follow the instructions. You may also stop by the CVB office to pick up a registration form or call me at 507-383-2231 for more information. This is our chance to showcase this great community that we choose to live in and one that we are proud to call home.

Please remember to keep our troops in your thoughts and prayers during the year of 2019. They are the reason that we are able to enjoy all of these wonderful freedoms that we enjoy today.