Tag Archives: Moving to North Dakota

How Cold Is It In North Dakota?

After having lived and worked in North Dakota since 2011, this Winter of 2017-2018 feels like the coldest to me.

On January 1, 2018 I had to drive past the town of Hettinger, North Dakota on my way to work in the very early morning, my job site was not far from there.  The National Weather Service reported that at this time, Hettinger was the absolute coldest place on Earth, at -41 degrees Fahrenheit.  Yes, the coldest place on Earth, go look it up, here is one link http://cool987fm.com/a-city-in-north-dakota-reached-the-coldest-temperature-on-earth-for-jan-1-2018/

When I got out of my truck that morning, it did not feel that bad, because it was absolutely still.  However, you could tell that it was very cold.

Through December and January, we keep having these -17 degree Fahrenheit days, with some amount of wind, and it is just miserable.  I don’t want to go to any store, I don’t want to go to the gym, I don’t want to go anywhere, for any reason.  I just sit inside my apartment.

One of the reasons that I don’t want to go anywhere, is because of a lifetime of experience.  I have had to work on a broken down vehicle in the snow, ice, and wind more than several times in the past, and I don’t want to ever have to do this again.

I have one extra vehicle at the apartment where I live, and in order not to take up a parking space in front of the building, I park it on the street.  The rule in the City of Dickinson, is that you can’t leave a vehicle parked on the street for more than 48 hours.  So every two days, I have to start and move my extra vehicle.  When it is above 0 degrees, it starts fine.  When it is below 0 degrees, I have to get my battery jump start box, and connect it to the vehicle battery to start it.

Walking out to my vehicle with thermal underwear on under my pants, a hoodie under my heavy winter jacket, and gloves on, wiping the snow off the windows and hood, trying to start it, opening the hood, picking up the battery jump box, making the battery cable connections, and getting back inside my vehicle, my fingers were too numb to feel the ignition key and hold on to it to turn the ignition.

From experience, like the one that I just described above about jump starting my vehicle, I know that this cold weather in North Dakota can be very, very dangerous.  When you are outside in this weather, it does not take long, just a matter of minutes, before you can begin to have severe pain and numbness in your feet and hands.  Even with gloves on, I began to have pain and numbness in my fingers, to where I could not feel or hold onto a car key.

Some North Dakotans would want to call “bullshit” on this.  Let me tell you about this.  A company that I have worked for in the past in North Dakota, called me at the beginning of February to ask if I could work for them 36 hours per week.  I asked on what days, and I said no that I couldn’t, though I would like to.  I said that a friend of mine, who has also worked for them in the past, needed a job, so I would call him, and try to get him to do it.

This friend of mine, who is older than me and has lived in Dickinson for his entire life, had just had a conversation with me where he was telling me, “It never bothered me to work out in the cold.  I mean, you have to dress for it, but it never bothered me any.”

On his first or second day of work at this job that I told him about, where he had to spend 85% of his time in either the vehicle or a building, and only 15% of the time outside, he called me and talked to me for several minutes about how cold it was, how unbelievably cold it was, how horribly cold it was.

I want to conclude this blog post with a strong warning about some things that you need to do in North Dakota during the Winter.  Everyone needs to dress for what the weather is outside, not what you expect it to be like in the vehicle you are riding in, or the building that you are going to.  You may be involved in a vehicle accident or a vehicle break-down before you arrive at your destination, and may not have a warm or running vehicle to stay in.

Women, teenagers, and children in North Dakota have the bad habit of dressing for where they are going, like a warm building, business, or house, and they are very under-dressed for being outside.  It is exactly the case, that they are expecting someone else to drive by and rescue them, or come and get them if they have an emergency.  This is a bad idea.

If you own a vehicle, I recommend buying a good quality hand-carry battery jump box, one that is rated at least for 800 peak amps, to keep in your vehicle.  These cost about $80, and they often have a built-in air compressor and emergency light.  I have jump started other people’s vehicles and trucks about five times with mine, and about twenty times on my own vehicles and lawn mower.

Probably the most important thing to keep in your vehicle in the winter in North Dakota is a heavy sleeping bag.  If your vehicle does break down in the winter in North Dakota, and you think that you might have to walk more than 1/8 mile in below 0 degree Fahrenheit weather, you should probably try to stay in your vehicle.  Even if you were wearing thermal underwear, a heavy winter jacket, winter shoes, and winter gloves, you would become extremely cold after walking 1/8 of a mile.

Watching Mexican Work Crews In North Dakota

In a recent blog post, I wrote that I was sorry to see Mexican work crews in the oil fields in North Dakota. I didn’t want to see English speaking workers displaced by cheaper Mexican labor. I didn’t want to see the wage rate go down in the oil fields either. After watching three Mexican work crews recently, I changed my mind.

I have worked construction in Florida, Texas, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, and North Dakota. One of the biggest problems that I had in construction, was the dirt bag construction workers, the White Trash. Most of the construction workers acted like pirates, trying to do everything except doing the work right, and still wanting to get paid. There were some that took pride in their work, these became foremen and superintendents, but I have seen bad foremen too. In general, it seemed like construction workers felt like they were being wronged, and they weren’t going to give you their best work, especially if they thought you wouldn’t know or find out. Also, it seemed like a rush to get the work done in order to go to the bar, get drunk, get some meth, get some crack cocaine.

These three Mexican work crews that I have been watching are very good. The biggest thing is that they all get along with each other and they work together. The second biggest thing is that they shut up and work. There are about nine of them, and they all work together like bees or ants. They all stay busy at tasks, nobody has to get on anybody, they just work steady and focused. As a sign of how well they work, they all have nicer vehicles than me. It appears that they have a lot of money, because they earn a lot of money getting work done.

Not all Mexicans are like this, but I would give these guys all the work I had if I was an oil company. They are a pleasure to be around. I think that I have learned an important lesson from watching them: shut up, complete the work, and stay out of trouble. Hope I can do it.

Living A Life That You Don’t Want In North Dakota

At the apartment where I live in Watford City, I have gotten to know some of my neighbors. In the parking lot, the license plates read: Florida, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming,Texas. I know that these people don’t want to be here, I don’t want to be here.

I am in my late 40s now, and in Watford City, I often say to myself, “Where has my life gone?”. I am not senile yet, I know how I got here. It all started with me wanting to try to live a happier and better life. I had graduated from a university with a degree in engineering. I had lived in a large city and worked my way up, earning more and more money.  I had saved up enough money to not have to work for three years, I hated the city, and I wanted to move.

I did not want to live in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, or Mississippi, because I thought of those states as being “ignorant and backwards”. Every one of those states looks like paradise to me right now. I messed up, I messed up. There was no one telling me and explaining to me that that is my culture, that is where you belong, you won’t fit in or be happy anyplace else. Most of this blog consists of me trying to figure out why the people in North Dakota are so unfriendly, inhospitable, unhelpful, uncooperative, and why the women try to look and act unattractive. Rather than me having to explain it in blog post after blog post, somebody from the South my age would just say, “Well, yeah.”, meaning, you’re not telling us anything we didn’t already know.

When I moved, I moved out West. Some small towns in Colorado were O.K., but there was no place to work. Colorado Springs was too much like the Rat Race that I had left. I lived in some small towns in Arizona, enjoyed them very much, but few places to work. Did not like Phoenix. Lived a few places in Idaho, was ready to settle down, and did. The Mormons in Idaho have a preference for Mormons, and they made it seem to me like I had made a mistake in moving there. I wished that I would have tried living in Montana and Wyoming.

Looking back at my life, it wasn’t a mistake for me to ty to live out West. It seems that I spent too much time in Idaho, when I wonder where the years went, they’re there, wasted amongst the Mormons. The bad economy in Idaho, caused me to go to work in North Dakota. For the past four years, whether in Dickinson, Utah, Texas, or Watford City, it has been small oil field towns where it is hard to find a place to stay or a place to eat. I can’t believe my life has turned out like this.

It is kind of like finding yourself in prison. You do things during the day. You go to eat. You read the newspaper. You watch TV. You read your mail. You exercise. You take a shower. But you’re not going anywhere, you’re not getting out. The people around you are mostly a reminder of your confinement. In Watford City, like prison, you can only dream about the life you once had: Waking up to a warm clear sky, looking out at harbor full of boats, people of different nationalities chattering while walking to the store, red and yellow hibiscus flowers, fig trees, sea grapes, palms, walking to a white sand beach, dogs playing, everyone smiling, everyone happy…. Here in Watford City, the best thing you have is the CENEX Gas Station: Waking up to the sound of trucks idling, the smell of diesel in the air, dirty oil field workers in a hurry to get to a location in order to smash their hand…

Somebody, please go ahead write the comment, “Well if you don’t like it, you can leave!”

A Brief History of Oil Production in North Dakota

I have stated several times that the purpose of this blog is to provide useful, truthful information about Dickinson, North Dakota, so that people from out-of-state will know what Dickinson is like, and so that people in Dickinson can see what other people think about Dickinson.  Later, one of the things that I was trying to accomplish with this blog, was to point out some of the bad things about Dickinson so that they might be changed.  Then, I just went ahead and started trying to change things myself by writing some blog posts such as “Helpful Advice to Women in Dickinson”, for instance.  I was trying to be helpful, I am trying to be helpful.

I found something that probably everybody in the United States should read, the WordPress website titled “A Brief History of Oil Production in North Dakota”.  I mean it, not just people in North Dakota, or people thinking about moving to North Dakota, everybody in the United States should read it.  The reason why I say this, is because this website explains the historical relationship between the demand for oil, the price of oil, the exploration for oil, and the production of oil in North Dakota.  The creator of this website collected the most insightful and accurate newspaper articles about oil production in North Dakota from the past 65 years.

“A Brief History of Oil Production in North Dakota” does not contain speculation, or opinions from the website creator, it presents articles from the past, that were recording what was happening at that time, or what had already happened in North Dakota.  There have been three different boom periods of oil production in North Dakota: the exploration and discovery boom in the 1950s, the oil price boom of the late 1970s, and the technology boom beginning about 2005.

The articles in the website explain at particular points in history, what the price of oil was, what oil exploration was going on, what oil production followed, the wealth that was created, the influx of people that occurred, and then the eventual decrease in oil production.  Again, I want to reiterate, the oil boom and bust occurred in North Dakota in the 1950s, then again in the late 1970s, this is completely documented by the newspaper articles in the WordPress website “A Brief History of Oil Production in North Dakota”.

The old newspaper articles state that the oil boom in North Dakota in the late 1970s came to an end because the price of oil dropped.  The oil prices are given through that time period.  Other old newspaper articles tell about the population of Dickinson, North Dakota going from 16,000 to 22,000, the struggle to build housing and infrastructure, and then the population going back to 16,000, leaving Dickinson with $25 million in debt.

I was surprised and amazed to see that the newspaper articles from the 1980s, that describe the boom and bust that occurred from about 1978 to 1984, describe almost exactly what happened here from 2005 to right now.  I didn’t know.  Nobody told me.  Who else knew?

I guess I am not the smartest person.  But how in the world did Halliburton, Baker Hughes, and Occidental build these huge buildings in Dickinson in 2012, and not know that they were at the end of the boom to bust cycle?  How did all of the large property developers that built about 1,000 new housing units in Dickinson in 2012, 2013, and 2014 not know that they were at the end of the boom to bust cycle?

I believe that I wrote somewhere in my blog, about being at the right place, at the right time, like Phoenix in the 1970s, or Tampa in the 1980s, where there was uninterrupted growth and expansion for the next thirty years.  Who knew?  I guess that there were some people that saw things clearly: warm climate, year-round activity, inexpensive property, easy to develop, vast amount of land available, no limit to expansion.  I thought that I would have liked to have arrived in Williston or Dickinson in about 2007, that would have been a great time to get here I thought.  After reading the website “A Brief History of Oil Production in North Dakota”, I realized that not only did you have to get to North Dakota at the right time, you would also have to have known when to get out.