Bismarck and Mandan are both fantastic communities for a great number of reasons, I'd suggest sharing the vibrant Missouri River is near the top of that list. There are some places you can bring the kids down to the water and stake your claim on a stretch of beach, but access to those areas often means a bit of a hike or a steep climb down the riverbank. Yet on the river, there are near endless stretches of pretty pristine beach along with small bays where the water is much warmer and the current won't carry you to South Dakota. But, you'll probably need a boat to get to those areas.

You my friend need a "Pontoon Buddy"!

For the record, you could also have a boat buddy or a Jet Ski buddy. Me, I just enjoy the peace and serenity of puttering up and down the river on a pontoon. Pull up to a beach or sandbar, haul out the grill and games, and let the good times roll. It's a real taste of summer and it only takes a couple of trips out on the water to ease that FOMA feeling (Fear Of Missing Out). I moved here in 2001. I went 10 years before finding a pontoon buddy. In that case, the pontoon owner was a girlfriend of a coworker and seemed to tolerate me just fine. They broke up when he moved away for another job. I was a casualty of that divorce and it would take nearly 10 more years before I "buddied" up again.

Skipping the details, pontoon owner Cassie is a friend of Dawn, who is related to my girlfriend Brenda. So a few weeks back, we get an invitation to spend a few hours out on the river. Heck yeah! Our company must have been acceptable as we were invited back out again! Heck yeah! THANK YOU CASSIE!!

There's kids having fun.

Ziggy the dog having fun.

So how can you find a pontoon buddy? I'm sorry to say it has to happen organically. If you try to insert yourself on the boat, you may risk being seen as a pain in the butt and loose your buddy card.

I'm really writing this as a suggestion to pontoon owners. Invite someone you know out for a ride on the river. You may discover they have enough "river rat" in them to make your afternoon a more enjoyable experience.

If not, vote 'em off the boat- but at least you gave someone a shot at enjoying one of Bismarck/Mandan's greatest treasures.