Ice fishing in Minnesota
My girlfriends and I were inching a car across the surface of a frozen lake, said Angela Frucci in the Los Angeles Times. “The snow was blowing sideways, and the temperature had dropped to 10 below zero.” Then we heard the ice shift ominously beneath us. We were in the midst of a two-day ice-fishing trip to Mille Lacs, a large lake in northern Minnesota whose tasty walleye is justly “venerated.” Some people don’t see the attraction of ice fishing. But I grew up doing it, and love the meditative feeling of waiting for a bite, followed by “the magic of a fish appearing out of nowhere through ice, like a rabbit out of a hat.” Each day we rose at 6 a.m., piled into our vehicles, and set out for the parts of the lake where our guides told us bigger fish feed. We obtained fishing tips—and the occasional tow out of a snowbank—from the area’s “deeply obsessed community of winter fishermen.” I didn’t catch a fish. But I “found nirvana contemplating the interface between solid white and black liquid ice.”

Utah’s deep-sea diving
Bonneville Seabase is “an aquatic center in, of all places, the desert outside Grantsville, Utah,” said Stephen Regenold in The New York Times. At almost a mile above sea level, and 10 miles from the Great Salt Lake, experienced snorkelers and scuba divers can swim year-round with thousands of saltwater fish, “from flitting minnows to a pair of 9-foot-long nurse sharks.” Over the past 20 years, the husband-and-wife team of George Sanders and Linda Nelson have put more than a million dollars into building the “interactive aquarium,” which consists of three different pools with differing depths and ecological environments. One cold morning, I drove up a lonely desert road for my first dive at Seabase. I suited up in scuba gear, dove to the bottom—and nearly ran right into a sleeping shark. After getting my bearings, I went down to take another look, actually running my hand over the eerily still black form. I took a few deep breaths, “then gave the shark a final touch and stroked away, kicking carefully.”