For years, we've been hearing about other people's adventures fishing in North Dakota. Two years ago my cousin Yer and brother in law Seng gave us some frozen white bass that they caught in North Dakota. They were so good and it's been on my mind ever since.
I've been craving white bass so I asked my husband if we could take a fishing trip to experience it. My cousin Yer has been there before and so we decided to go on a fishing trip Memorial Day weekend to Devil's Lake, North Dakota. It was a 4 hour drive from Madison, WI to St. Paul, MN to meet up with my parents and my cousin Yer Vang. We left St. Paul at 11:30 pm Thursday night and got to Devil's Lake around 5 a.m. Friday morning. My friend Valerie Her and her family also drove to ND for white bass fishing.
The water was tranquil and calm at Tiger Bay. We stayed here for a bit to test if the fish were biting. My dad reserved a boat at Woodland Resort so we drove there next to get the boat. My dad has a boat but decided not to haul it 6 hours to Devil's Lake so he opted to rent a boat to try out the lake. He rented a 17 ft Alumacraft boat with a 4 stroke motor. It was $195 ($205 with tax) for a full day rental. We own a Ranger Z520 bass boat but it was too far to haul it from Madison. My husband, dad, brother Toby, and nephew Chanze fished on the rental boat. I drove my mom and I to meet up with my cousin Yer.
My mom and I drove around the lake. We drove by Graham Island State Park. It is a beautiful place with trees in the water and rocks surrounding the highway. Since I was driving, I was not able to take some photos of the pristine scenery.
We then decided to drive over to Spirit Lake Casino to see the guys fish on the boat. I parked outside the casino and my mom and I took a short 1 hour nap. Then my cousin Yer stopped by the casino to pick us up and we decided to hit up a fishing spot close to the first gas station we approached when we got to Devil's Lake.
We then drove all the way north west to Six Mile Bay on Highway 2. We saw a lot of parked cars and Hmong people fishing. We fished along the shore. Later I called my husband and sent a screenshot of my location for them to come to us because the fish were biting. They came on the boat and fished for a while, then decided to return the boat and come fish on the shore with us.
Later when it got dark, we went back to the hotel and got some rest. My husband got up early at 3 am and headed back to Six Mile Bay to fish. Fishing was successful and the journey was well .... pretty amazing and unbelievable to say the least.
What I liked about the trip:
Best tasting white bass fish I've ever had. The fish in WI do not taste as good.
If you get a hot spot, the fish bite like no tomorrow!
The white bass are HUGE! I think they are large at this time because they are spawning. The average fish we caught were 18-19 inches long and 3.5 pounds.
Spirit Lake Casino buffet is only $7. It's buffet food but it beats eating at McDonald's.
Competition is fierce. The adrenaline rush is a sure bet.
Lots of Hmong people (can be good or bad).
Huge social experience.
Being outside with nature
Being in the country, away from city life
The roads are pretty well kept. Some construction going on but not too bad.
Boosting the local economy. Our Hmong people vacationing in North Dakota brings income to the local businesses, hotels, casino, bait shops, boat rentals, restaurants, etc...
To see my mom and dad's excitement! The smiles on their faces when they caught a white bass was precious! They loved the experience and want to plan another trip.
I had a personal tour guide, my cousin Yer and brother in law Seng! It helps if you go with someone who has fished there before.
What I DID NOT LIKE about the trip:
Bugs. THEY ARE EVERYWHERE. Some bugs look like mosquitoes but they are not. I was actually quite frightened initially but after learning they don't bite, I was able to tolerate them lingering around me. Using bug spray helped a little. They SWARM everywhere especially on the sides of car windows. If there's a breeze, they aren't a big nuisance.
People WITH NO MANNERS or ETIQUETTE. Most of the people fishing around the area were Hmong. There were some caucasions and other asians but they didn't hover over your shoulder. The caucasions fished where they had plenty of space and elbow room. Meanwhile our fellow hmong comrades were shoulder to shoulder. I was told this is the social norm and the hmong who fish there have just come to accept this behavior. NOT OK with ME!
People who are ready to pounce on your spot if you move an inch. Whenever my husband bent over to get a minnow or whenever he turned around to place his white bass into our cooler, some dude would jump or nudge himself into my husband's spot. I stood next to my husband and my dad. My mom was next to my dad.
People who stand right behind you and cast their rods right over your head. This is darn right ANNOYING.
People who smoke while fishing and throw their ashes right where you are standing. Maybe they are trying to get rid of you, I don't know. Sorry, not giving up my spot.
People (who you don't know) pretend to come over to talk to you and then start fishing right next to you. Next thing you know, two more of his friends are standing next to you squeezing you over.
People who cast their lines over yours and then they reel in their line and also get tangled up with your line so you lose your fish.
People who brought their infant babies and then don't calm their babies when the babies cry. Go feed your baby, the fish can wait.
People who don't know how to park and block your exit. Even when I asked this girl to move her car, she ignored me and walked down the hill to go fish.
People who don't pick up their trash.
Know your daily limits for white bass. In North Dakota the limit for white bass is 20 per day per person. Please refer to the ND Fish and Game rules.
80 white bass maximum posession per person at any point in time. So if you buy an annual license and you are there for 4 days and got your limit, you cannot catch any more fish on the 5th day because you'll go over the 80 max possession limit. If you buy a 3 day fishing license you can only get a max possession of 60 white bass per person (20 first day, 20 second day, 20 third day). Do not get this confused.
Separate your days catch. If you are there for more than one day, keep your fish separate and know the count per days catch.
Always account for how many people are in the car and total fish count. We Hmong people travel in large families so if you put all your fish into one car, make sure you never drive alone somewhere transporting all the fish with you. For example: going to the gas station to use the restroom or going into town to buy more bait. If the DNR game warden pulls you over and you are transporting all the fish in your vehicle, you will be slammed with fines if you are transporting everyone's fish and you are the only person in the car. Remember, your daily limit for white bass is only 20. Same concept can be applied for other fish and fish restrictions. It doesn't matter how many people are traveling with you, if they aren't in the car when you get pulled over and the fish count is over your limit--- YOU WILL BE FINED!
The bait shop inventory is limited so go there prepared. There's a Walmart in town but the selection for lures, hooks, and other fishing products is limited.
There's some spots you can't shore fish because the land belongs to the Native American Indian Reservation. You have to buy a license separate from the Indian Reservation.
Game wardens are everywhere. If you see a lot of hmong people fishing in one spot, chances are not too far down the road there's a DNR game warden waiting to inspect your fish count.
Wear sunblock and bug spray. Don't wear flip flops, they are not safe to walk down on the large rocks.
Be careful where you step, some big rocks look sturdy but once you step on them they start to roll. I tripped a few times and my dad collapsed/fell.
There lots more people on the weekend than on a weekday. Holidays also attract higher traffic.
Replenish your coolers with ice. We used dry ice (wrapped) in some coolers and it worked out great.
Where there are lots of hmong people, that's where the fish are biting. I didn't believe it at first but after experiencing it first hand, I can say it's true.
Why do Hmong people want to get the daily limits?
Our people like to share our food. We have big families and usually when we hunt or fish, we always invite our friends and family over to share the enjoyment with us.
Some people believe we take too much white bass but I believe catching white bass is legal per each state's restrictions.
To feed our large families.
To give away to our relatives and friends.
We drive far to get there. If we lived close, we probably could get them fresh and not need to get so many for our effort.
Me and Valerie
Me and Yer
HOT SPOT as of May 25, 2015 - Sixmile Bay by the bridge on Highway 2
Hot spot this week but once spawning is over with, the fish will most likely move to another location. Sorry can't help you out there! Right now at the time we were there, we used live minnows with a small sinker. The HOT corner spot is on FIRE! If you go too late, you won't get this spot because people fish all night and DON'T leave.
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Congratulations to Samantha Vang of Oroville, CA for winning the main giveaway! Congratulations to Nancy Pierce from New Hampire who won the lotus flower wand. Congratulations to Koobmong Kong from MN who won the powder food coloring.
I had the most amazing caribbean cruise EVER! This was my first time cruising. I found a great deal with Carnival and booked online two weeks before departure. My husband and I chose to cruise to celebrate our 22nd year anniversary. Along for the journey my sisters Song and Myra, brother Toby, and Song's fiance Erik came for the journey. We took the Western Caribbean cruise which sailed to Cozumel, Mexico ... Belize City, Belize ... Roatan, Honduras ... and Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. We decided to get a room with a balcony because I don't like confined spaces without windows. It was a few hundred dollars more but totally worth the money spent. Cruising in Hmong is "caij nkoj".
Prior to boarding airplane Print the airfare tickets. Complete online forms for Carnival. Print the boarding passes for Carnival. Print luggage tags for Carnival and keep in a folder.
We flew out of Minneapolis to Miami the day before boarding the cruise ship. We packed pretty light and had carry ons only. It is snowing here in MN so we didn't want to take any chances with plane delays or possible cancellations. We departed out of MSP at 6:30 p.m. and arrived in Miami around 11 p.m. January, 30, 2015. When we arrived in Miami, all the places to eat were closed in the airport! We boarded a shuttle to a hotel and ordered late night pizza. The next day the hotel shuttle took us to the port of Miami around 11 a.m.
Saturday, January 31, 2015 Boarding Process in Miami, FL day of Carnival cruise boarding
Once we got to the gate for Carnival Glory, we handed our bags/luggage to the concierge. They will tag your luggage and within a few hours your bags will be delivered to your room. Then we proceeded to go through the first check point to show our boarding passes and passports. We proceed through a security check point similar to that like the TSA security checkpoint. Then we went up the escalators and filled out some health forms. Next we proceeded to another checkpoint where we receive our Sail & Sign cards. You also get your picture taken. These cards are synced to the credit card on file when you register online prior to boarding. We waited until our number for our section was called and then we boarded the ship!
On the ship, we went to the Lido deck 9 and toured the 10th and 11th floors. Then we went back down to the Lido deck and ate the buffet. We went to our room and checked out our cool balcony. It was awesome! The ship departed Miami at 5 p.m. and we sailed into the night.
Sunday, February 1, 2015 Sea Day
We toured the ship and ate tons of food. We also visted the casino and played bingo.
Monday, February 2, 2015 Cozumel, Mexico
We got off the ship and walked to the port. We saw many people hold up signs for tourist excursions. We met a guide named Javier and he was holding up a sign for an all inclusive day at Chankanaab Park which includes snorkeling, tequila tasting, sea lion show, and see dolphin swim. This was a Carnival excursion. Cost was $79 per person.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015 Belize City, Belize
To get to land, we had to take a tender boat which was about 20 minutes from ship to land. We had to get some tender stickers and wait for our tender boat number to be called to board. Once we got to shore, we walked into the market place and saw many tourist excursions for sale. We booked a cave tubing plus zip line excursion from Belize Cruising for $90 per person. It was a local excursion and not sponsored by Carnival.
Our driver was Thomas. It was a 45 minute ride to the Mayan Jungle. My husband wore his crocs shoes so he didn't have to rent any water shoes. Me on the other hand, had to rent a $3 croc shoe. It was another 45 minute uphill hike through the Mayan Jungle to the Crystal Cave. I didn't have any bug spray so I got bitten about 10 times all over my body. The cave tubing was awesome. Our guide Stephanie was excellent. After cave tubing, my hubby and I went zip lining. We almost didn't make it back on time because the tender boat was supposed to leave at 4:15 pm. We didn't arrive back until 4:35 pm. However we weren't the last people because a Carnival excursion to the Mayan temple was late so we were exceptionally lucky! If you are on a Carnival excursion, they will wait for you if the tour is late. If you are on a private tour, too bad you are out of luck and the ship will leave without you!
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 Roatan, Honduras
We got off the ship and walked to the port. This port was built by Carnival so it was exceptionally clean and beautiful. We booked an excursion for Tabyana Beach which was a 30-40 minute drive. Cost was $39 per person. My husband loved the snorkeling and he captured a lot of footage on his GoPro Hero 3 camera.
The picture below is a picture of a beach built by Carnival. We didn't get a chance to visit it but it looks beautiful.
Thursday, February 5, 2015 Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
This was another port that had tender boats. I must have seen about 9 ships on this port. When we reached the port, we saw a local excursion for snorkeling at the stingray sandbar. Cost was $39 per person. It was about a 20 minute boat ride to the stingray sandbar. The stingray sandbar was so beautiful and magical that I felt like I was in heaven. The stingrays swim around you. I got to kiss one!
Friday, February 6, 2015 Sea Day
I had major sunburn and broke out into a rash. It was a good day to just relax and enjoy the ship.
Saturday, February 7, 2015 Disembark ship
We got up early and ate breakfast. Disembarking the ship was a bit confusing. Since we brough carry on luggage, we took our luggage and proceeded to floor 3 to disembark. We then had to go through customs. Disembarking can take anywhere from 1 - 3 hours. After we left the Miami port, we proceeded to the airport to rent a car since we were staying an additional 2 days in Florida and flying back home on Monday, February 9. We drove down to Key West and spent a night there. We then returned to Miami Sunday night and stayed at a hotel.
Lessons Learned on First Time Cruising
Pack light, carry on preferably.
Beverage package for soda costs $6 per day per person. It was inconvenient for us because we had to also buy the $4 Carnival bubbles bottle and it an only be refilled at the bar which you have to show your Sail & Sign card and sign a receipt every time you get your bottle refilled. If you forget your bottle, they will fill a glass cup for you. If you are still within the Miami port, you are taxed $0.13 cents each time you get soda.
The formal dinner - you can order anything on the menu really. However, we often ate at the buffet first and then we ate the formal dinner later since we were signed up for the late dining option. Early dining starts at 6:30 p.m.
The ship can get a bit rocky when it's stormy. If you are prone to motion sickness bring some dramamine or accupressure wrist bands.
Even though you are at sea, at night can get chilly, so bring a sweater or light jacket.
Book your excursions early, they may sell out fast if going through Carnival.
If you find a cheaper price online for any same excursion that Carnival also sells, bring a printed copy of the price and Carnival will match it 110%.
Book through Carnival if possible. If the tour is late by any chance, the ship will wait for you. If you book local and are late, bye bye.
If there is a tender, get up early and be on time. Excursions on shore won't wait for you.
The mini fridge items in your room are not free.
All you can eat food almost any time of the day and night! The buffets are open almost all day except during 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Don't worry even if you are hungry at that time, you can still eat at Guy's Burger Joint or the Blue Iguana Cantina. Every evening you get a formal sit down dinner at one of the assigned halls. For us, we were on the 8:15 p.m. schedule and we had the same waiters serving us all week. They were very nice. We had two elegant nights where you dress up in formal attire. They weren't too strict on the formal rules.
You are charged a daily rate for service tips. For our cruise that was about $12 per person, per day. It is split between the stateroom service and the dining room service. You can also tip more if you so wish. Carnival automatically adds an additional 15% tip for any alcoholic drinks you order at the bar. For shore excursions, the tour guides do ask for tips at the end of the tour. We did tip our tour guides in cash.
CRUISE CHARGES For balcony stateroom 2 people
Cruise Rate $1,428.00 ($714 per person, it was advertised on the site around $619 per person but when we selected our room this was the price)
Taxes, Fees & Port Expenses $263.26
Total Cruise Charges $1,691.26
We did not take the vacation protection insurance.
Airfare was about $300+ per person at the time we booked.
For shore excursions, it can cost anywhere from $39 to $100+ per person. You can plan and budget $100 per day per person as an approximate. You can save money by not doing a shore excursion and just visiting the port if you like.
You also are charged $12 per day per person for gratuity services (stateroom service, dining room service).
Bubbles (unlimited soda package plan) costs $48.30 per person ($6 a day per person)
Gambling money (if you like to gamble)
Sail & Sign card is charged for anything you buy on the ship.
Total Charges Overall: approximately $3,000
Overall this was an excellent experience and you will love the crystal blue waters of the Caribbean. If you are looking for advice on a cruise, consider Carnival! It's got great pricing and much more affordable than the other cruise lines. Next time we will try the Eastern Caribbean cruise!
[Photo I took of Mt. Everest at Animal Kingdom in Orlando, FL]
This past year has been an extraordinary year of my life. I've never had challenges as quite as this before. I find that each year of my life gets more and more complex. I've been running on empty for the past year. I just needed to take a break and press pause.
These are the reflections of my 2014 I wanted to share with you. I hope the lessons I learned will help you in some small way.
No matter how crazy life gets, hold onto your anchor. In 2014, my anchor was Song and Nancy. I would not have made it through the year without these two special ladies. They were with me every step, every foot forward on this journey. Whenever I felt like I was floating away, they kept me strong.
Every effort counts, no matter how small. I started 2014 with a bang ... exercising at the YMCA every day from January to end of February and then I quit going. Everyday during that time, after work my family and I went to the White Bear YMCA, Woodbury YMCA, or Coon Rapids YMCA. Oh how I miss going there so much now. It was fun exercising as a whole family.
Saying goodbye to my material possessions. My house finally sold in April since I moved to MN. As much as I was happy to get it sold, I was also sad to say goodbye to my home. I'm now mortgage free! I still miss my kitchen and my house, sometimes I still drive by it. Most of my wardrobe I can pack up into two bags.
Eat more fish. Every time I ate some fresh sashimi and fish, I felt so good. Too bad I didn't get to go fishing much at all in 2014. I will make a better effort to go more in 2015!
Don't work yourself to exhaustion. I am guilty of that. I worked myself to the point of exhaustion for many months. I slept for 1-3 hours a day, 7 days a week. Some days when I rested my head, I thought that I would not wake up. Never again will I ever put myself through so much agony. That kind of suffering is not natural.
Take a break. I went to Florida with my Vang family in August. It was our first vacation as a whole family (mom, dad, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, hubby, son) since 20 years ago. We went to Disneyworld! Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios, and Siesta Key Beach. In November, my husband and I went on an adventure driving down south. We visited Georgia and North Carolina. I needed to see the world ... We didn't have a plan, just drove with the help of Google Maps.
Add more color to your life. I went through a MAC lipstick phase. Part of it was psychological, I knew I had to change. I needed to break free from the comforts of what I was accustomed to. I made bold choices in 2014.
Hug more people. I didn't get to socialize much in 2014. I really missed my friends. Thanks so much to the friends who made it a special date to see me in 2014. Sky & Donnie, Tasha & Matt, Aimee, Sarah, Valerie, Michele, Kayla, Ytevia, Macy, Nicki, and Molly. You may not know this but in 2014 is the one year that I hardly socialized with anyone at all. Seeing your lovely faces, made me so happy. *tears*
Bad things happen for a reason. In 2014, I had no work life balance. The signs were there. I suffered greatly because I am the type of person that braves through challenges. Sometimes it takes us falling into darkness to realize we need to reshift, reclaim, and rebuild ourselves.
It's okay to cry. Yup, 2014 was a year I cried a lot. Sometimes we go through life never noticing other people's tears behind their smiles. Everyone struggles in their own way. Everyday we are trying to champion our daily life battles. Overall, I've been really tested in 2014 ... emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I was very lonely in 2014.
These are some pictures I took on my visit to the House on the Rock in Spring Green, WI back in October. It's a very interesting place to visit. There are 3 buildings that have various collections. This will most likely take 4-5 hours to tour all 3 buildings. It's fascinating. Wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking a lot.
I went on a road trip to Georgia in November. It was a 12 hour drive from Wisconsin. My hubby and I drove through Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia. On our way back, we stopped in North Carolina for a few days and drove back home through NC, TN, KY, OH, IN, IL, and WI. So many thanks for my hubby's cousin Myndi and her hubby Vam Tsav for hosting us while we were in Georgia!
My friend Nicki took me to this awesome vietnamese bakery called VN Tofu in Norcross, GA. It has the most selection of vietnamese bakery goods I have ever seen in my entire life!
This is a picture of my hubby's cousin Myndi, my friend Nicki and I. It was taken at the Hindi temple in the Atlanta suburbs. This place is gorgeous!
Hindi temple. Beautiful and majestic place.
My friend Nicki and I at an indian buffet. Nicki is a sweetheart! We met on Twitter and became friends. This was the first time I had met her in person. It's so wonderful knowing that we can talk as if we'd known each other our entire lives. She's super cool and I enjoyed hanging out with her! This place had the best pineapple juice/drink from a fountain I have ever tasted in my life. It was so refreshing and good that I kept going back for more.
Me, Myndi, and Nicki at the indian buffet. I was hungry I forgot to take a picture of my plate.
My good friend Molly and I in Winder, GA. We've known each other over 20 years. I surprised her on her birthday! This was the first time in nearly 20 years since we last saw each other in Fresno. She's a sweetheart and a caring friend.
Some yummy food my hubby and I made at Myndi and her hubby's house in Winder, GA. Hubby made the fish dish. I made the blue crab. Myndi made the pork and greens.
VN Tofu bakery goods
VN Tofu bakery goods
VN Tofu bakery goods
This is Assi, a korean supermarket as large as Walmart.
Assi korean grocery store - asian pears!
Assi korean grocery store
Assi korean grocery store - snow crabs
Farmers Market - blue crabs
Farmers Market - peeled garlic, what a convenience!
Farmers Market veggie stands
Some chinese grocery store, I forgot the name.
Chinese grocery store - ox tails, so beautiful
Picture of the Smoky Mountains.
Picture of me in the Smoky Mountains.
Picture of me at the Biltmore Mansion gardens in Ashville, NC.
Picture of me at the Biltmore Mansion Winery in Ashville, NC.
Biltmore Mansion in Ashville, NC. You should see it at least once in your life. It's about a $50 fee per person and you get access to the mansion, winery (free wine tasting), gardens, and trails. If you do plan to go, I suggest going early so that you can have enough time to view everything. I went on a self guided tour but you can also pay for a guided tour which gives you access to more rooms in the mansion. I went at my own pace and it took about 1.5 hours to walk through the entire house. The views of the mountain are breathtaking. Gorgeous views... You can take pictures everywhere except inside the mansion. There's lockers nearby so you can place your items before you enter the mansion. Make sure to bring quarters for the lockers!
From my Instagram photos of the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, NC:
I took this photo on my trip home from Door County in 2012. I am reminded that we are beautiful inside even when we don't see it in ourselves.
Whether you are having a bad day on the job or someone did something to upset your day, always remember that beyond today ... tomorrow will bring a better day. Everyone has bad days. These are the things I do for myself when I am having a bad day or bad week.
Talk to a friend/loved one I instantly feel better when I am able to share a load with a good friend I trust.
Listen to your favorite songs Listening to your favorite songs can help put your mind at ease. I love listening to instrumentals because they soothe my soul.
Hug Hug a friend, hug a pillow, hug a teddy bear! The warmth of touch does something special to the soul. Who says no to hugs?
Write down one thing you love about yourself I write down one thing I love about myself. Sometimes when I am feeling down or feel self doubt, I remind myself of the things I like about myself whether that be a hobby, skill, or attribute.
Go for a walk Going for a walk can help clear up your mind and relieve stress. Just being outside breathing fresh air can help re-energize your body as well as your mind.